A Parallella Hardware Update 13


 

Parallella Hardware Status

Since late July we have sent out approximately 40 Parallella boards to early-backers and driver developers/volunteers. Before sending out some of these early boards, we did spend a week “dog fooding” the Parallella boards and we can conclusively state that as long as they are well cooled, they are solid!  With hardware, you know you are getting close to having a product when it “disappears” and just works. The videos below show some of the fun things we did to test the boards.(we also ran benchmarks like this one.)

For rugged early adopter types that are willing to bolt a fan to the board and run it as a headless server (no monitor), the Gen0 Parallella board is definitely useable, but  it is clearly not the product we set out to build when we started the Parallella project. This post will review the experiences of early Gen0 users and summarize the things we still have to do to ship the remaining 6,300 “Gen1″ Parallella Kickstarter boards.

Building the World’s Most Efficient Beowulf Cluster in 30 Minutes

Psychedelic Video Showing 16 Parallella Boards Running

Gen0 Kickstarter Backer Feedback:

  • “The first impression is that the board is small, very small and very dense. It appears at first a bit bigger than a credit card but in fact the PCB is an exact match.”Kickstarter Backer @tnt
  • “It’s amazing that so much is packed into such a small size and yet the connectors are still in relatively sane positions. On the table it looks bigger than a credit card but holding them next to each other the circuit board is exactly the same size sans the rounded corners.” — Kickstarter Backer
  • “First, thanks for the early board it looks very well designed…If all goes well this weekend I will have published an early version of the meta-parallella yocto layer ready for you on Monday.”  — Kickstarter Backer
  • So I got my first parallella board yesterday. I don’t have much to report other than that I plugged it in and it worked. The circuit board is literally credit-card sized and really packed with components – very impressive. With 1G ram and the dual-core arm the base cpu seems quite nippy too…BLOGKickstarter Backer NOTZED
  • “Once its up, I have run it for at least a day, much of which was actually working away. I have a big old fan in front of it.  Feels solid.” – Kickstarter Backer

Gen0 Kickstarter Backer Projects:

  • A self described “jaded software engineer”, NOTZED explains his plans for using the Parallella platform and his early experiences with the board. READ MORE
  • Hacker guru @tnt shows how to fix some of the “issues” on the Gen0 board. As much fun as these hacks can be we are sure many of you will appreciate the changes we made on the Gen1 board: READ MORE
  • Thanks to the awesome development speed of Nathan Rossi we now have the beginning of a Yocto meta layer for the Parallella board: https://github.com/nathanrossi/meta-parallella

Good News:

  • Thanks to our new board guru friends in Europe who found and solved several issues related to our HDMI design at the board and FPGA level, we now feel confident that we will have all major display functionality flushed out soon! We are hopeful that we can announce a long term collaboration with these guys soon…they are simply awesome!
  • The Gen1.0 board is back from the fab and the board assembly starts tomorrow. We are doing a pilot run of these Gen1 boards and expect to power them up sometime next week.  Once we have the boards built up, we will be able to show conclusively that we have solved the overheating issue that plagued the Gen0 design. For a more in depth explanation of the improvements made in Gen1, please see this THREAD.

Bad News:

  • The ~8,000 16-core Epiphany III chips needed for the Parallella Kickstarter board shipments have been delayed in packaging and will only be out of the factory on 8/26.
  • Due to one of the HDMI issues found we are now doing one more quick board spin before releasing the Parallella board to production.

Great News:

  • After 5 years of having to constantly “do more with less” it finally looks like our ship has come in! I can’t say more than that for now, but I will say that the stronger Adapteva is financially the more likely it is that the Parallella platform will be a long term success!

A huge thanks goes out to all of our Kickstarter backers who have been so incredibly patient and supportive over the last year! We are almost there!

Sincerely,

Andreas Olofsson


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13 thoughts on “A Parallella Hardware Update

  • Reply
    the_summer
    That's great news. I am curious how the rev1 boards will perform. I just have one question: Are the 667 MHz for the Zynq the end of the line or is there room for improvement (maybe after adding a heatsink)? I thought I remembered reading something around 1 GHz, but maybe I am wrong.
    • Reply
      Sylvain Munaut
      @the_summer: Teh zynq exists in different "speed grades". The one used in the parallella is only rated for 667MHz. You can of course try to overclock it but it's not specified for frequency above that.
    • Reply
      Andreas Olofsson Post author
      The Zynq7020/7010 is unlikely to get to 1GHz. AFAIK 1GHz is referring to the higher end Zynq7030/7045 parts...but I am sure some Parallella users will try overclocking the part.:-)
  • Reply
    roberto
    About benchmark. To me, if there is not x16 coprocessor active ( i mean, with software that does not take advantage from), then the board is a "normal" ARM, and also not so fast. (there are already arm dual or 4 core for purchase running at 900-1200Mhz). So, i hope as soon as possible to see coprocessor "at work", to "give the turbo" to dedicated applications. I'll continue to follow the site waiting for good news. cheers
  • Reply
    Jason
    Great news. A question about the PEC_NORTH, and PEC_SOUTH connectors. Will these enable the direct connection between multiple Epiphany chips out the box, and if so will you also be selling the means to do so? If not what would be the best way in testing out or using this feature? Thanks.
  • Reply
    Andrew Back
    @Jason That's right, and if you look at the Parallella Cluster Kit you will see that it includes the necessary Epiphany link connector cables. http://shop.adapteva.com/collections/parallella/products/parallella-cluster-kit
    • Reply
      Jason
      For those of use looking build larger systems will the "4 board-to-board flexible Epiphany link connector cables (up to 10Gb/s total bandwidth per cable)" be available separately? If so any ideas on pricing and number in package?