16-core Adapteva Parallella for sale (basically a multi-core RPi)

Levi Pearson levipearson at gmail.com
Mon Apr 28 11:20:17 MDT 2014

On Mon, Apr 28, 2014 at 9:20 AM, AJ ONeal <coolaj86 at gmail.com> wrote:

> It's designed for people who want to experiment with parallel processing.
> However, I don't think it requires quite as much effort as you make it out
> to be. It's not like the time before the RPi and BeagleBoard when if you
> needed an SBC for business use you were stuck with the burden of purchasing
> one from some company with an index.txt as their website, but they knew
> you'd buy it even without documentation because you had no other option.
> There's an SDK and docs and a community around it.
> https://github.com/adapteva
> http://www.parallella.org/quick-start/
> http://forums.parallella.org/

You can experiment with parallel processing on your PC. You can do it
with much more interesting hardware on an old PS3 that still supports
installing alternate OSes.

The difficulty I'm talking with is *not* with obtaining the hardware.
That was never very hard, though it used to be a lot more expensive
than it is now.  The difficulty and effort is that of getting
something interesting and motivating as a hobbyist out of a bare C
compiler and the basic libraries to communicate between processors.

The Arduino was successful because it had a whole bunch of libraries
to do interesting things, and a custom easy scripting language to
extend it.  The RPi was successful because it had a ready-to-run Linux
distribution and drivers for the video hardware so you could plug it
in and be playing your MP4 videos without tons of effort, and take
advantage of pretty much any already-written Linux software.

The advantages that the Parallella hardware has over Arduino and RPi
(FPGA fabric and parallel co-processor thing) require specialized
skills and/or tools to use. Undoubtedly there will be a few hard-core
hobbyists that do cool things with it, but the vast majority of
hobbyists who could do something interesting with an RPi will not be
able to take advantage of anything but the ARM cores.

I've been programming embedded systems based around SoMs and SoCs
professionally for a long time now, and I've been following the
hobbyist developments closely, so my analysis of the matter is not
entirely uninformed.  I hope you find a good home for your board and
recover some of your investment in it, but I just wanted to ensure
that anyone considering it was clear on exactly what it was. For the
right kind of hobbyist, it would be an excellent board, but I think
those are a relatively rare breed.


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