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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Fri, 28 Sep 2012

The $99 supercomputer: Adapteva turns to Kickstarter for funding to get its massively parallel, fully open Raspberry Pi killer off the ground

Above: Adapteva's video of the prototype Parallella board running Ubuntu.

First netbooks died, killing off their Linux origins before that. Then big OEMs flirting with desktop Linux went from bang to whimper with nary a marketing push.

But the bright, shining light in open source hardware -- software-wise anyway, as the hardware ain't all that open -- has been the Raspberry Pi single-board computer that runs Linux, sips power and has a great deal of the world busy crafting enclosures, fine-tuning OS images and basically geeking out.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

But there will be competitors. Others that want to take the throne.

Chief among complaints about Raspberry Pi is the presence of closed-source chips on the board.

Well along comes Adapteva with an idea for a massively parallel collection of CPUs on a chip (either 16 or 64), also (electrical) power sipping but this time funded by Kickstarter and promising way more processing power, plus a fully open hardware design, all for (for 16 cores) or (for 64 cores).

That's if they get that Kickstarter money and get the project off the ground.

People are thirsting big time for these "supercomputing" ARM platforms, something cheap enough to play a niche role yet powerful enough to actually do some things.

The Parallella Project is looking for ,000 out of Kickstarter to produce the 16-core chip. If things blow up and they get million, they'll produce the 64-core version.

According to the Ubuntu Vibes write-up linked to above, the 16-core version will deliver 13 GHz of CPU performance, and the 64-core version will push 45 GHz. All that in 5 watts of power.

And they're pledging to open-source the hardware if this Kickstarter thing works out.