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Tiniest Linux COM Yet?

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the go-small-or-go-home dept.

Wireless Networking 76

DeviceGuru writes: "An open-spec COM that runs OpenWRT Linux on a MIPS-based Ralink RT5350 SoC has won its Indiegogo funding. The $20, IoT-focused VoCore measures 25 x 25mm. How low can you go? Tiny computer-on-modules (COMs) for Internet of Things (IoT) applications are popping up everywhere, with recent, Linux-ready entries including Intel's Atom or Quark-based Edison, Ingenic's MIPS/Xburst-based Newton, Acme Systems's ARM9/SAM9G25 based Arrietta G25, and SolidRun's quad-core i.MX6-based MicroSOM. Now, an unnamed Chinese startup has raised over six times its $6,000 Indiegogo funding goal for what could be the smallest, cheapest Linux COM yet."

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76 comments

Internet of Things isn't (4, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 2 months ago | (#47131563)

Just like "Web 2.0" and other non-concepts, this term gets used to pretend something is a new version of something else, just because its "Internet". Its a small computer, just like small computers that are already in things. Get over it.

Re:Internet of Things isn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47131769)

I patented it as "Method and Apparatus for Allowing Devices to Access the Internet on the Internet". I have the sole right to use this IP and plan to leverage it to its fullest extent in my subsequent patent "Method and Apparatus for Allowing Devices to Access the Internet on the Internet on a Mobile Device".

Re:Internet of Things isn't (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 2 months ago | (#47133551)

I patented it as "Method and Apparatus for Allowing Devices to Access the Internet on the Internet". I have the sole right to use this IP and plan to leverage it to its fullest extent in my subsequent patent "Method and Apparatus for Allowing Devices to Access the Internet on the Internet on a Mobile Device".

For some reason, the above makes me think of the phrase "now all restaurants are taco bell"...

Re:Internet of Things isn't (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47131789)

There are quantitative differences that end up causing qualitative changes. When cellphones became sufficiently powerful to run a general purpose operating system, feature phones were replaced by smart phones, and smart phones aren't just faster feature phones with more memory.

Re:Internet of Things isn't (2)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 2 months ago | (#47131927)

Yes. This is more than "a small computer". The size of this device, coupled with its onboard WiFi is one of its basic properties. Although there have been smaller "computers": PIC devices would be a good example, the functionality of this is the game changer and could make it ubiquitous in pretty much any electronic gadget.

I would hope that the next version would focus on getting the power consumption down. A tiny little computer is no use if it needs a shopping cart to haul its batteries around.

It occurs to me that this is just the sort of device that the Raspberry Pi people could very well have come up with in the 2 or 3 years since since the Model A and B were developed. It's a shame they never took the concept further.

Re:Internet of Things isn't (5, Informative)

psergiu (67614) | about 2 months ago | (#47132097)

> It occurs to me that this is just the sort of device that the Raspberry Pi people could very well have come up with in the 2 or 3 years since since the Model A and B were developed. It's a shame they never took the concept further.

They did, in April: http://www.raspberrypi.org/ras... [raspberrypi.org]

Re:Internet of Things isn't (2)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 2 months ago | (#47131835)

Just like "Web 2.0" and other non-concepts, this term gets used to pretend something is a new version of something else, just because its "Internet".

Ordinarily, I'd agree. Too many "but on the Internet" patents granted, businesses started, etc.

Its a small computer, just like small computers that are already in things.

This is where I'll disagree. Sure, there's been small computers for a while. However, this is the first time these small computers are both cheap enough to be in too many places and complex enough to run a common free OS that provides an IP networking stack. Previously, small computers that could speak IP were too costly to be ubiquitous, and small computers that were cheap enough to be ubiquitous were too simple to speak IP. There really is a first time for many things, and I believe that right now is the first time for the ubiquity of small computers that speak IP.

Re:Internet of Things isn't (2)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 2 months ago | (#47132175)

The only reason they used to be too small for IP was because the people that wanted to buy these small computers weren't planning on hooking them up to a network. They were used in industrial controls and cars and other applications where network connectivity was a non-issue.

Re:Internet of Things isn't (2)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 2 months ago | (#47132257)

The people buying toasters tomorrow won't be planning on hooking them up to a network either. But those toasters will have IP stacks running in them, simply because the cost of adding that feature will approach zero as time goes on, but the value of having exclusive control over yet another avenue of delivering advertising to your home will remain.

Perhaps I'm being cynical and there's other reasons to put computers in toasters. However, the fact remains, a simple microcontroller is still cheaper than something that can run a full OS like Linux. The price gap is closing, though, and to suggest that this has nothing to do with the growing adoption of full-featured SoCs is ridiculous. That's been the whole saga of computers: as they get cheaper, they get squeezed into more and more places.

The popular adoption of personal computers, by ordinary people, in their own homes was one instance of a significant shift in the role computers played in society. Perhaps the popular adoption of smartphones will be seen as another such significant shift. It seems like the ubiquity of IP-networking in devices traditionally not associated with the Internet will likely also be seen as another significant shift. The main difference will be that instead of adding a large population of people to the Internet, we'll be adding a large population of odd devices. I'm not sure how that will be really useful, but then again many people had difficulty seeing just how the Internet would be useful to common people also.

Re:Internet of Things isn't (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 months ago | (#47134759)

SoCs with network access won't be replacing microcontrollers any time soon, if ever. There are two problems preventing them being commonly used in toasters, even if the price comes down.

First you have reliability. An 8 bit microcontroller is easy to harden and give a wide operating temperature range, ideal for use in something that contains multiple heating elements. It's not just the peak temperature that is a problem, the heating and cooling cycle is too. Everything from the type of ROM used to the density of the silicon makes 8 bit MCUs a better choice, and the complexity of an SoC is never going to go down.

Secondly you have the problem of getting network access. The user is unlikely to connect an advertising box to their wifi willingly, and to do so would require expensive controls to enter things like passwords. The only other option is to use a mobile phone network, but the cost is quite high.

Re:Internet of Things isn't (1)

MrNaz (730548) | about 2 months ago | (#47135579)

What if the toaster was free, so long as you had to deal with a screen on the side with speakers that played ads with sound while it toasted your bread? Sure, *you* wouldn't willingly buy it, and *I* wouldn't willingly buy it, but if enough of the market did, we may end up with that being the business model for toasters and nothing else being available.

Google, Facebook and and their ilk are doing that exact thing. Their services are all free* (as in getting raped at the train station after dark).

Re:Internet of Things isn't (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 months ago | (#47136247)

I don't think many people would accept a free toaster with ads, considering a basic one only costs a few Euros anyway.

Re: Internet of Things isn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47138513)

Would you like some toast? Some nice hot crisp brown buttered toast.

Re:Internet of Things isn't (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 months ago | (#47133665)

Sure, there's been small computers for a while. However, this is the first time these small computers are both cheap enough to be in too many places and complex enough to run a common free OS that provides an IP networking stack.

The only reason they used to be too small for IP was because the people that wanted to buy these small computers weren't planning on hooking them up to a network.

I assume that by "small" you mean "inadequate", because your comment makes absolutely no sense otherwise. The reason embedded processors used to be incapable of participating on IP networks is that it would have cost too much to embed that much CPU. Today that much CPU comes in your crackerjack box, even though they usually just give you a sticker these days.

They were used in industrial controls and cars and other applications where network connectivity was a non-issue.

It wasn't until the nineties that PCMs even went 32-bit. The cars of the eighties (even with sequential fuel injection) had single-digit-MHz speed, 8- or 16-bit microcontrollers. They weren't capable of operating the engine and speaking TCP/IP. Indeed, they tended to speak proprietary serial protocols at relatively slow baud rates, typically below 20kbps in the high end, if they even had a control interface.

Re:Internet of Things isn't (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about 2 months ago | (#47132991)

The problem isn't so much "speaking IP", a PIC18 can do that.

But when you want TCP, SSL, HTTP, support for several types of VPN* and so-on it gets harder and harder to implement on a small microcontroller and something a bit more powerful that can run a proper OS (albiet a pretty stripped down one) looks more attractive.

* VPN support is useful in "internet of things" type applications because you often want to deploy them where you don't have a public IP and/or you don't control the network and yet you would quite like to be able to remote admin them.

Re:Internet of Things isn't (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 months ago | (#47132195)

Unfortunately, the 'something else' that "Internet of Things" is closest to is probably SCADA, which we all know is Secure, Reliable, Trustworthy, and totally something you'd trust a bunch of data-grubbing silicon valley marketing weasels to sell to idiots with the intention of being connected to the public internet...

Re:Internet of Things isn't (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 months ago | (#47132775)

But just as "on the Internet" and "on a mobile device" let the USPTO hand out obvious patents to their corp buddies so too will "Internet enabled appliance" allow the corps and trolls to put up yet more roadblocks with obvious ideas appended with the catchphrase.

Re:Internet of Things isn't (1)

jonsmirl (114798) | about 2 months ago | (#47133363)

There is another similar project simultaneously up on Indiegogo from AsiaRF
https://www.indiegogo.com/proj... [indiegogo.com]
It was put up about a week later so its funding is not as far along. There are still a few Early Birds left.

It based on the same chip and around the same price. The main difference is that the AsiaRF module has already gone through CE/FCC testing and it is already in production. So there is very little risk of the project not shipping. Support for the AsiaRF unit is already checked into OpenWRT.

I find it interesting that they are offering to design and build 10 custom boards with wifi/Ethernet to your spec for $5000. Similar design work in the US/EU would be $30,000 or more.

all of it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47131569)

Could not tell as I am having a tl;dr day.

Is that the whole BOM or just the cpu?

Even pi which is 25-35 bucks you still end up at 60ish after all the other stuff you add in.

Re:all of it? (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 months ago | (#47132329)

It's the whole thing (RT5350 SoC (OpenWRT device tree file [openwrt.org] ), 32MB of RAM and 8 of Flash, along with the antenna and assorted support passives).

The board that provides wired ethernet and USB in their usual connectors(and presumably with the magnetics for ethernet) and a micro-USB +5v input is additional.

So you can get fully up and running for $20 (and a +5v source to apply to the correct contact), presumably good for adding a wifi connection and a moderately capable command-and-control module to something that can hang from the GPIO or USB data lines.

If you want the wired interfaces, and a little case, and need a PSU, because this isn't being integrated into something, it'll cost more.

Re:all of it? (1)

jonsmirl (114798) | about 2 months ago | (#47133437)

The $20 Vocore is for the module only. If you want the Ethernet, USB and power connectors you need to order the $40 Vocore+Dock choice. instead I'd recommend getting the $38 choice form the AsiaRF campaign. https://www.indiegogo.com/proj... [indiegogo.com]
AsiaRF is going to ship three months earlier and support for it is already checked into OpenWRT.

These unit aren't really the same thing as a RaspPi. RaspPi is oriented towards having a GUI and screen. These units are oriented towards networking and embedded control. The unit are also tiny - about one cubic inch. Many times smaller than a RaspPi.

Re:all of it? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 months ago | (#47133617)

That one does look quite competitive(the only detail I'm not sure about is that the one in TFA appears to have a chip antenna onboard, while the one you link to appears to have only an antenna connector).

In part it depends on what you are looking to do: If you are looking to put a brain and a wifi link on top of an existing project, missing connectors aren't a big deal. You patch in +5v, ground, a TTY to the microcontroller, and maybe a few GPIOs for blinkenlights.

If you do have some sort of USB hosting or routing duties in mind, the price of baseboards will end up biting you almost as fast as some of the sillier arduino shield stacks will.

(With RT5350 devices there is one other confounding factor to note when it comes to prices: It's the basis for a lot of deeply-unfamous-name 'mini router' devices: by way of example, I have a "HooToo Tripmate Nano [amazon.com] ", I think it was on sale for $15 at Newegg when I bought it. Popped it open, RT5350, USB and ethernet already onboard, 3.3v serial pads, actually labelled no less, on the bottom of the board. Less GPIO, and certainly no vendor cooperation in getting the RaMIPS build of OpenWRT installed; but the RT5350 is a very popular part in some very competitively priced devices, largely from vendors who don't exactly bother to lock bootloaders.)

Re:all of it? (1)

jonsmirl (114798) | about 2 months ago | (#47135139)

The AsiaRF one includes the small PCB antenna in the photo. The PCB antenna has twice the range of those tiny chip antennas. Since there is a jack there you can use larger antenna if you want. Another advantage to the PCB antenna is that you can move it around and aim the signal where you need it.

In Vocore's blog he says that his external antennas did not perform as well as the chip one. I suspect that is because he doesn't own the expensive test equipment needed to adjust his RF path to match the external one he picked. In general, bigger is better with antennas. He's also wrong about needing two antennas for 802.11N support on the RT5350.

I don't believe the RT5350 has a security unit on it so it shouldn't be possible to lock the boot loader.

IoT? Pffft. Out of style. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47131649)

I'm surprised they haven't migrated to the internet-dependent interconnection of things yet, that's what's hip these days.

What about Wi-Fi microSD cards? (3, Informative)

by (1706743) (1706744) | about 2 months ago | (#47131657)

These little guys appear to be running Linux, and some are even hackable (I'm not affiliated with any of these companies/blogs): http://www.monoprice.com/Produ... [monoprice.com]

http://haxit.blogspot.com/2013... [blogspot.com]
http://hackaday.com/2013/08/12... [hackaday.com]

Re:What about Wi-Fi microSD cards? (2)

petermgreen (876956) | about 2 months ago | (#47133027)

AIUI the trouble with those cards is that the only interface between the card and the thing it's plugged into is a shared storage array and said shared storage array is rather lacking in terms of good mechanisms to handle writes from both sides without corruption.

This kind of limits their utility for anything beyond their intended use of making it slightly easier to get the pics off your camera.

Re:What about Wi-Fi microSD cards? (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | about 2 months ago | (#47133089)

Yeah, I was wondering if you could use the onboard wifi as a client, as opposed to their intended use as a low-performance access point.

Of course, if small size / obscenely low power consumption isn't the ultimate goal, a Raspberry Pi has way more bells and whistles at about the same price...

Java (1)

Dan East (318230) | about 2 months ago | (#47131675)

A decade ago, this was predicted to be the realm of Java. An internet of things incorporating chips that natively execute Java bytecode, I'm thankful that hasn't come to pass. Even more so now that Oracle is in the picture.

Re:Java (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 months ago | (#47131737)

Yes, ARM sees to have become what Java promised to be.

Re:Java (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 months ago | (#47132423)

Wasn't the theory behind the Rise Of Embedded Java that companies would move between suppliers fairly rapidly (which they do) in order to keep BoM to a minimum and that those moves would involve disruptive changes of CPU architecture(which appears to be much more rarely the case) thus driving them to write as much as possible in Java for easy porting?

As it is, ARM doesn't exactly appear to be, um, strongARMing, licensees on fees, at least if the fact that MIPS is more or less standing on a street corner and begging people to care about them, and SPARC might actually be easier to download and burn into an FPGA than it is to buy premade at this point. Doesn't mean that ports are free and fun, since all the exciting details of platform drivers and dysfunctional bootloaders and such haven't been hammered out; but sticking to a single CPU architecture for extended time appears to be easier and cheaper than ever.

Re:Java (1)

Agripa (139780) | about 2 months ago | (#47133579)

Wasn't the theory behind the Rise Of Embedded Java that companies would move between suppliers fairly rapidly (which they do) in order to keep BoM to a minimum and that those moves would involve disruptive changes of CPU architecture(which appears to be much more rarely the case) thus driving them to write as much as possible in Java for easy porting?

I think it was a marketing hallucination. They were advertising this concept to replace 8 and 16 bit microcontrollers while JAVA had no support for unsigned arithmetic or the low level access needed for embedded applications.

Re:Java (1)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 2 months ago | (#47131895)

I still own my Dallas Semiconductor TINI. Runs Java, 40MHz, same size as a stick of RAM, and it's about ten years old. A decade ago, this was the realm of Java.

And assembly.

... Mostly assembly.

Re:Java (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 2 months ago | (#47131967)

I remember thinking there would be great future in Dallas Semiconductor "one wire" Java buttons, because they could be used to store RSA keys, and so on.

These days, the "one touch" Dallas Semiconductor iButtons seem to be very rare... although they would be nice to have as an alternative to a mechanical keyswitch in some situations.

Re:Java (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 months ago | (#47132449)

That market niche is actually doing better than most of embedded Java; but Maxim-Dallas' iButton package concept seems to have gotten pretty badly hammered, despite their mechanical virtues. A nontrivial number of the fancier contact smartcards run some flavor of teeny-Java; and fulfill the same basic role of being authentication devices powerful enough to handle their end of doing Proper Crypto; but smartcard form factor, contact-pattern, and external protocol seems to have mostly crushed 1-wire.

Re:Java (1)

matfud (464184) | about 2 months ago | (#47137815)

iButtons still seem to be popular in Point of sales systems (for staff authentication. But those are little more then a unique id in iButton format.

I have a couple of TINI's around here somewhere. Lots of IO options. Even ethernet (albiet very slow) not bad for a decade old 8 bit microcontroller (with some 32 bit internal extensions)

A lot of smartcards of almost any kind run java. Mostly beacuse of dumb mobile phones with enabled apps on the smartcard (not what you would call apps nowdays:). Orginially written in C for a variety of sim based processors they moved to standardise on java.

Most C&P bank cards have had them for the last 5 years

Re:Java (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 months ago | (#47132357)

A decade ago, this was predicted to be the realm of Java..

Not Java specifically, but Jini [wikipedia.org] , since Java didn't have a networking stack built-in and was too big (even then) to do cooperative processing/communications w/o requiring a far beefier CPU than most embedded devices could muster at the time (which is why Sun started the whole Jini project in the first place).

Re:Java (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 months ago | (#47132401)

I'm thankful that hasn't come to pass

Me too, because implementing Smalltalk on top of that would be a nightmare.

Re:Java (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 months ago | (#47133729)

An internet of things incorporating chips that natively execute Java bytecode, I'm thankful that hasn't come to pass.

Well, modern SIM cards run Java Card, is that creepy enough for you? Apps can be loaded onto the SIM by the phone any time it is active.

Not what I was thinking (2)

Megahard (1053072) | about 2 months ago | (#47131695)

Who else pictured Linux running inside a MS-DOS program?

Re:Not what I was thinking (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47131825)

Smallest .COM? That would be zero bytes, and on DOS 2.11 it would have the funny effect of running the last program you ran, if it was compatible with executing itself in place again.

Re:Not what I was thinking (2)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 2 months ago | (#47131851)

Smallest .COM? That would be zero bytes, and on DOS 2.11 it would have the funny effect of running the last program you ran, if it was compatible with executing itself in place again.

Now that is arcane knowledge.

This is /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47132639)

there be wizards here.

Re:Not what I was thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47134065)

Indeed. Give that man a neckbeard!

Re:Not what I was thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47132961)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loadlin

Complete gibberish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47131761)

open-spec COM OpenWRT Ralink RT5350 SoC Indiegogo IoT-focused VoCore

The only word I understood was "Linux".

Re:Complete gibberish (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 2 months ago | (#47131805)

OpenWRT = famous open source firmware for routers
SoC = System on a Chip (CPU, IO, RAM, Video, etc)

Re:Complete gibberish (2)

H0p313ss (811249) | about 2 months ago | (#47131873)

open-spec COM OpenWRT Ralink RT5350 SoC Indiegogo IoT-focused VoCore

The only word I understood was "Linux".

TL;DR

All I got out of this comment is "I am not much of a geek". You might be more at home on reddit.

Re:Complete gibberish (2)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 2 months ago | (#47132367)

What I got out of it is that he's not an 'IT Geek.' That's a specialized kind, ya know. Do you have a good understanding of the relative benefits of CMOS and TTL? How about the different types of lapidary grit?

I agree, though, that Slashdot isn't so much 'news for nerds' as it used to be. It's infested with IT types who think they're the whole community.

Re:Complete gibberish (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about 2 months ago | (#47133853)

What I got out of it is that he's not an 'IT Geek.' That's a specialized kind, ya know. Do you have a good understanding of the relative benefits of CMOS and TTL? How about the different types of lapidary grit?

I agree, though, that Slashdot isn't so much 'news for nerds' as it used to be. It's infested with IT types who think they're the whole community.

What I got out of it is that he's not an 'IT Geek.' That's a specialized kind, ya know. Do you have a good understanding of the relative benefits of CMOS and TTL? How about the different types of lapidary grit?

I agree, though, that Slashdot isn't so much 'news for nerds' as it used to be. It's infested with IT types who think they're the whole community.

So if an article has terms you don't understand do you whine about it or look it up? That's the difference.

Slashdot has always leaned towards the highly technical, and because of the specialization of technology it's unlikely that anyone is going to understand ALL the jargon.

A geek will look it up and perhaps even be a little excited to LEARN something, I don't know what to call someone who just whines that they weren't spoon fed.

Re:Complete gibberish (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47131897)

Open-spec: Open specification (i.e. you don't need to sign anything to get the documentation)

COM: Computer-On-Module, otherwise known as a single-board-computer (but smaller), usually a SoC (System-on-Chip) with very few other components

OpenWRT: Linux distribution with a focus on small installed size, spin-off from the Linksys WRT54G router firmware which Linksys had to make available under the GPL.

Ralink RT5350: System-on-Chip with a MIPS CPU architecture core and assorted peripherals (network interfaces, serial interfaces, etc.), made by Ralink.

SoC: System-on-Chip, a single chip (package actually) implementation of a computer system, including all necessary peripherals and interfaces.

Indiegogo: Crowdfunding platform

IoT: Internet-of-Things, marketing term for putting many small things on the internet which were previously too dumb to network (light bulbs, toasters, etc.)

VoCore: Product name of an open-spec Ralink RT5350 SoC based COM running OpenWRT for which the developers seek funding on Indiegogo.

Sorry, gotta say it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47131779)

That's what she said.

and my captcha is chastity lol.

because (1)

heezer7 (708308) | about 2 months ago | (#47131809)

CLOUD!

Re:because (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47131889)

when i was young i never understood why old bastards weren't excited about all the exciting new shit happening in technology now 15 years later i see why all this "new" shit isn't exciting at all...i think that's why start-ups really don't want old people, because old people realize how boring and unimportant it all is.

Re:because (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47132155)

Linux NOR Com is not your niche...

tiniest cock yet? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47131845)

jew or chink?

Re:tiniest cock yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47132185)

Hollywood...you have HUNGER for it...a GAME...:

http://www.upstartbayarea.org/storage/images/Rooster-1.jpg

Developer's blog (2)

hammeraxe (1635169) | about 2 months ago | (#47131859)

Here is a blog from the developer: http://vonger.cn/ [vonger.cn]

Judging from the entries this thing looks real enough

$45 for voCore plus dock isn't half bad (1)

Jailbrekr (73837) | about 2 months ago | (#47131885)

I've spent more for less. Best case I get a toy to play with in October. Worst case I do a CC charge back (assuming I can do one 6 months after purchase).

Plan 9 (1)

relisher (2955441) | about 2 months ago | (#47131899)

I was curious what sort of OSes could run on this thing beyond OpenWRT. Surprisingly, the minimum requirement for RAM is pretty large for OpenBSD, making it incompatible with this SOC, though I did find out that this fits within the system requirements of Plan9.

This tiny wifi enabeled computer has a killer app (5, Funny)

TalShiar00 (238873) | about 2 months ago | (#47131941)

Apparently it has a pin out dedicated to PORN ;)
  https://images.indiegogo.com/f... [indiegogo.com]

That's pretty small. (1)

bytestorm (1296659) | about 2 months ago | (#47131971)

So small, there's no room for mounting holes, aside from the through-hole vias. Is that normal for COMs?

Re:That's pretty small. (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 months ago | (#47132569)

So small, there's no room for mounting holes, aside from the through-hole vias. Is that normal for COMs?

The ones that expose a substantial number of I/Os often repurpose whatever flavor of DIMM or SODIMM socket is current at the time, since that's a well known, mass produced, connector that can handle the fairly touchy signal integrity demands of RAM and so is probably qualified for most assorted I/O stuff.

If you don't go that route, the alternative for getting that small is usually some sort of terrifyingly fiddly fine-pitch Hirose connector(Gumstix COMs are good examples of doing this).

Through-hole limits the number of lines you can break out; but is cheap and hobbyist friendly. Given that volume customers would probably just use the R5350 directly on their product's board, it's probably a fairly logical choice: if they make the board bigger, it becomes less useful for people who really need something compact, and (if you add the additional connectors, USB, ethernet, that the larger board would allow), starts to step on the toes of more powerful devices or re-purposed routers with their casings popped off; while, if they make it any smaller, they'd have to go with some fairly nasty, hobbyist-scaring, connector, at which point it'd just be a low-volume prototyping board for people who are going to go buy bare R5350s instead when production time comes.

20 u$s for a pcb (1)

cachimaster (127194) | about 2 months ago | (#47132061)

You might as well buy the bare chip for u$s 5, it's almost the same as this board.

Re:20 u$s for a pcb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47132131)

And how many people would be able to design and route the PCB and then reflow a BGA package for $20?

Re:20 u$s for a pcb (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 months ago | (#47134115)

You might as well buy the bare chip for u$s 5, it's almost the same as this board.

How much will you charge me to deadbug it to an ethernet socket?

Unnamed Chinese Startup (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47132169)

I love China and enjoy living here, but funding an "unnamed Chinese startup" is one step above flushing your money down a toilet in terms of likelihood of a return on your investment.

Why can't Microsoft do this? (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 months ago | (#47132209)

I know why, but sometimes I love to hear Microsoft people come to its defense. The short answer is THEY CAN but they have to start over to do it. For some reason, they seem terribly allergic to the idea.

Re:Why can't Microsoft do this? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 months ago | (#47133225)

The more curious question is why Microsoft can't sell this. They were perfectly capable of putting together .NET Micro [wikipedia.org] , which runs on fairly tiny stuff, and they've been poking at ambient embedded devices at least since SPOT and various DirectBand receiver devices. More recently, there was "Windows Sideshow", which more or less died without a whisper; but was a serious stab at making semi-autonomous devices, intermediate between ye olde serial LCD and the PDA/Phone/MP3 player that is just here to sync and then leave, work with full PCs in interesting ways.

On the research side (and even further from commercial success, since as far as I know they never actually deployed it), they put together a proof-of-concept [usenix.org] of using a small embedded processor to allow a PC to remain sleeping most of the time, while continuing to behave exactly as normal from the perspective of other devices on the network, by handing off tasks to the embedded device, which could then wake the host PC as needed to pass off results or respond to spikes in demand beyond its capabilities. (They never went beyond a demo, to my knowledge; but this seems like the sort of thing that could get very interesting if you took advantage of the CLR to allow a .NET application to move bits of itself between the host and the slave device, regardless of underlying architecture...)

Back when they were still flogging warmed-over piles of DOS with a layer of GUI and instability, the big mystery was why Microsoft was so incompetent. What mystifies me now is how they manage to turn massive supplies of money and talent into such comparatively limited success outside of their traditional markets.

Uses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47133777)

What would you use it for though? I can't think of anything.

More interesting as an AP (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 months ago | (#47134121)

If you combined it with PoE it'd make the perfect retrofit for old satellite dishes, e.g. Primestar. And in general, would make dandy small access points.

More interesting as an AP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47141771)

Or within an external USB enclosure and battery - the ideal PirateBox?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PirateBox

Wait, it's already "out there": check out Intenso "Memory 2 Move" WiFi/USB hard-disk, http://www.intenso.de/produkte_en.php?kategorie=35&&produkt=1383118261

Transcend wifi sd card runs Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47134211)

The Transcend wifi SD card has a tiny Linux system inside. Hacking and access instructions are here:

http://haxit.blogspot.ch/2013/08/hacking-transcend-wifi-sd-cards.html

TL-WR703N (1)

ukoda (537183) | about 2 months ago | (#47134493)

Why wouldn't you just buy a TL-WR703N that runs OpenWRT, is cheaper, available now and includes a case and PSU? http://item.taobao.com/item.ht... [taobao.com]

Re:TL-WR703N (1)

Anomalyst (742352) | about 2 months ago | (#47136017)

$38 to the door from amazon http://www.amazon.com/TP-Link-... [amazon.com]

Re:TL-WR703N (1)

ukoda (537183) | about 2 months ago | (#47137885)

That Taobao option is about USD $14, call it $15 shipped if you are in China. Amazon is convenient but seldom cheapest for Chinese products, this is http://www.aliexpress.com/item... [aliexpress.com] with free worldwide shipping for USD $21.55.

Whats with all the fuss (1)

Enrico Zanolin (3677687) | about 2 months ago | (#47143711)

8devices (http://8devices.com/) have been making basically the same thing for years now. Their original version was also Ralink based but their second generation device is Atheros based. Similar price point and a proven track record.
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