A 4-way cluster backplane

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Re: A 4-way cluster backplane

Postby Transcendental » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:22 am

9600 wrote:Flemming (Sundance) and I have discussed the possibility of an open hardware backplane that would accept 4x Parallella boards and route signals, provide power and things like breakout.

Is this something that people would be interested in? If so, what features might it have?

I'd envisaged something along the lines of:

  • some 0.1" pitch breakout/headers
  • high-speed (Samtec?) connectors for connecting backplanes together and attaching peripherals
  • status LEDs
  • a means of routing eLinks and FPGA pins between Parallella boards and the above

Bearing in mind that it should be pretty "dumb" and the aim would be for it to be reasonably low cost.

Cheers,

Andrew


Hello Andrew and Flemming.

What is the current status of this very useful initiative (or its revised version)?
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Re: A 4-way cluster backplane

Postby Sundance » Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:49 am

Hi Everybody,

The critical components - the Parallella itself! - has started to ship in quantities now, so maybe the time is right ?

The biggest question is really if we can get enough commitments to build a batch of 100x of these??
- and until Adapteva has shipped the entire backlog, it might be difficult.

Flemming
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Skype: Flemming_Sundance
Company Home Page: http://www.sundance.com
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Re: A 4-way cluster backplane

Postby Janos » Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:30 am

Post 2:
dezldog wrote:I think that would be a great Kickstarter!


:)
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Re: A 4-way cluster backplane

Postby alex999 » Sat Jun 28, 2014 2:02 am

Hi Sundance,

just checking... I see that the 4 way high-speed back pane was discussed last in 2012. Any chance there might still be something happening around this? I would gladly pay USD 150 - 200 for this kind of solution. More if it had an integrated power supply/fan system (so that I can stop fooling around with these things myself)

Thanks, Alex
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Re: A 4-way cluster backplane

Postby Sundance » Sat Jun 28, 2014 9:08 am

Hi Alex,

The 4-way back-plane/break-out is not commercial viable, as expectation of actually selling price is too low; your 'pledge' of UDS150.00 would just about pay for the cost of components, assembly, test, etc. - and I appreciate that it sounds strange that a Parallella is USD99.00, but a simple board like the 4-way cluster would be USD299.00.

I believe that Adapteva will soon start to ship a breakout as seen a specification on the Forum


Furthermore.. - it's not a good idea :shock: - as connectivity between DSP Cores is restricted

What really would be a good idea is a Parallella as a Host Controller with an ARM + Master Epiphany and then mount this on a board with 4x Epiphany chips with dual-pipe, but that, I am afraid, is not commercial viable either :| - as would be in the region of USD999!

Flemming
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Re: A 4-way cluster backplane

Postby alex999 » Sat Jun 28, 2014 9:07 pm

Thanks, Sundance, your comments are very much appreciated.

The 4-way back-plane/break-out is not commercial viable, as expectation of actually selling price is too low; your 'pledge' of UDS150.00 would just about pay for the cost of components, assembly, test, etc. - and I appreciate that it sounds strange that a Parallella is USD99.00, but a simple board like the 4-way cluster would be USD299.00

I re-read your previous discussion on the forum, and I think what you are saying is that any 'backplane' solution would include high speed components, which require more elaborate/expensive connector hardware and would be hard to assemble by the hobbyist like myself (I am a software engineer, with basic soldering skills) Hence they would be somewhat expensive. I follow that argument, and In the light of that information I would be OK to increase my pledge to USD 400-500 for a solution that would be able to connect 4, better 8, 16 or more (but I'm OK to start with 4), Parallella boards using native "elink". It should fit both 16 and 64 Ephiphany core Parrallella boards. I have no problem with the Parallella board being much cheaper, because now that the board is really out, and being sold in numbers, I and many others in my application area (genetic algorithms, neural nets) will be screaming for scale soon. A higher price is OK, because I expect to immediately buy tens of Parallella boards, hundreds later, but only a limited number of backplanes (hopefully)

Furthermore.. - it's not a good idea - as connectivity between DSP Cores is restricted. What really would be a good idea is a Parallella as a Host Controller with an ARM + Master Epiphany and then mount this on a board with 4x Epiphany chips with dual-pipe, but that, I am afraid, is not commercial viable either - as would be in the region of USD999!

I totally agree. From my vantage point, the way Adapteva has packaged the Epiphany chip onto the Parallela board is great for some applications (low power real-time parallel computation out in the field or by hobbyists), but not so good for others (machine learning) where near infinite scale is a must and where the necessary dynamic partitioning of the algorithm onto groupings of cores would be very much hampered by the involvement of Ethernet connection speed boundaries.

The perfect is the enemy of the good. I rather have a somewhat suboptimal solution now than wait for Adapteva to solve this problem, which might take a very long time because they now seem to have other priorities (e.g., get the 64 core problems under control, scale their operation) Your expertise seems to be ideally suited for a quick solution, the time is right, and (if you explain the need) I would accept higher pledges.

What do others on this forum feel?
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