HP announced an 8-socket (32-cores) AMD server as you can read on heise online. Another very interesting platform is the Tyan Transport GT28, which is a 1U (!) server with two dual-socket mainboard, i.e. up to 16-cores (using AMD quad core processors) in 1U. 32 memory slots make room for a lot of memory and 8 gigabit ethernet ports and optional Infiniband provide enough network bandwidth. The interesting thing is that it’s two computers in one, so you can run two completely independent operating systems on it (without the need of a hypervisor like Xen). And the price is lower, because AMD processors that can be used in a 4-socket setting are more expensive than two-socket ones. Perfect solution, especially as the bare-bone is only around $1900.
Last week my new laptop finally arrived! Juhuu! After thinking quite a long time about different vendors and models I decided to buy a HP Compaq 6710b. Well, it was definitively time to buy a new one. The old one couldn’t run at 1300 MHz anymore, only at 600 Mhz because it produced too much heat. Furthermore it couldn’t even start with power supply plugged in. But even worse was the cut in the display from top to bottom which made it hard to read a text on it.
At first I had to finalize the Windoof Visda installation and had to take backups, which took hours. And it was so slow. Probably due to having only 1 GB of RAM. By accident, or by pure interest, I choose the 64-bit version of Windoof, which was the second fault ;-). It worked, but very slow.
After spending hours of backing up Windoof, I installed NetBSD. Wow! It worked like a charm. I used the amd64 version of NetBSD-4.0-RC4. Everything worked out of the box. I installed it within half an hour. Then I noticed that, while X was running fine, my video card was at that time not supported. As such, the resolution was not optimal (200 pixels missing left and right). I couldn’t manage it to install a specific branch (jmcneill-pm) of NetBSD-current, which promised support for the Intel GM965 chipset.
Then I tried FreeBSD 7.0-BETA3. Peng! It couldn’t even boot. After researching on the mailing lists, it seemed to be a problem with the bge network card driver. I can’t remember how I got it installed exactly. I think disabling most of the devices in the BIOS got me to the point where I could install it on the harddrive. Then, I checked out the 8.0-current version of FreeBSD and compiled the kernel myself. This then worked with the bge driver. So, now I’m running FreeBSD 8.0-CURRENT.
The cool thing, everything is working! Bluetooth, USB, 11g WLAN, Gbit LAN, graphic card and the two cores. And it’s pretty stable, despite the CURRENT version. Well, software-wise 7.0 or 8.0 has some problems, mainly due to some problems with Linux emulation (Flash), which don’t work yet with symbol versioning.
Last night I thought, cool lets use the remaining 80 GB of my harddisk and install NetBSD on it again and then use it with Xen. But after installing the GRUB boot loader I couldn’t boot FreeBSD anymore. I think either GRUB or NetBSD just wrote some blocks too much into the FreeBSD partition and as such destroyed the disklabel. After spending a few hours in the night without success, this morning I finally had a success. I remembered the size of the BSD partitions (I only had two, one root and one swap) and installed a new disklabel into that partition. Yeah, after running fsck, the file system was working again. But by accident, I installed FreeBSD 6.2 over my 7.0/8.0 installation, because I used a 6.2 installer CD do write the disklabel. Now I couldn’t boot into my system anymore. So I booted the installed NetBSD, fetched the FreeBSD 7.0 base system, booted via CD and extracted those files over the 6.2 installation :). After some further magic here and there it was booting again. Puh!
I really have to say that I am impressed by NetBSD. It is rock solid and has really good hardware support (actually better than FreeBSD in my case). And it’s the only operating system other than Linux that is capable of running Xen as Dom0. Once this graphics driver problem finds it’s way into NetBSD current (hopefully it will merged into the 4.0 release), it’ll undertake a new step and get rid of my native FreeBSD install, and try to run it within Xen.
With the STM32 Primer you get an evaluation board driven by an 32-bit ARM® CortexT-M3 processor, including LCD color display, USB, and everything wrapped inside a beautiful case, for just $32. I think it’s nice for building small games, like those found in a Gameboy.
If you are into sensor-networks, you’d definitively like to get a Texas Instruments eZ430-RF2500, which is a MSP430 based (16-bit) evaluation kit, including USB and a 2,4 GHz RF transceiver, for just $49. The same excluding the RF transceiver costs just $10!!!
So if you want to start with embedded development pick one of them. Not only are they cheap, ARM® and MSP430 are also great architectures.
Here are some pictures and facts about our new 1U server.
The case is made in Germany (DÄMO) and was indeed the most expensive piece at all:
Have a look inside of it:
- Intel P4, 2.4 GHz
- Tyan Trinity Mainboard with Dual LAN (GBit/MBit), on-board VGA and on-board Promise RAID.
- 512 MB Infineon DDR-SDRAM PC266, ECC, CL2 (this part seems to be out of production right now :(
- 2x80GB Maxtor Diamond Max Plus 6Y080P0, mirrored (RAID-1)
- Power consumption: approx. 120 Watt
Infineon, what else?
Should I mention that it is ?
ATTENTION: Don't run such a beast inside your room - it's simply too loud! The two radial blowers have a noise level similar to a vacuum cleaner.