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posted by martyb on Friday February 14 2020, @02:50PM   Printer-friendly

Debian developer Jonathan Carter was recently given a MIPS64-based motherboard which he ran through its paces. The board has a Loongson processor which is intended for both general purpose and embedded processing.

The reason why I wanted this board is that I don't have access to any MIPS64 hardware whatsoever, and it can be really useful for getting Calamares to run properly on MIPS64 on Debian. Calamares itself builds fine on this platform, but calamares-settings-debian will only work on amd64 and i386 right now (where it will either install grub-efi or grub-pc depending in which mode you booted, otherwise it will crash during installation). I already have lots of plans for the Bullseye release cycle (and even for Calamares specifically), so I'm not sure if I'll get there but I'd like to get support for mips64 and arm64 into calamares-settings-debian for the bullseye release. I think it's mostly just a case of detecting the platforms properly and installing/configuring the right bootloaders. Hopefully it's that simple.

In the meantime, I decided to get to know this machine a bit better. I'm curious how it could be useful to me otherwise. All its expansion ports definitely seems interesting. First I plugged it into my power meter to check what power consumption looks like. According to this, it typically uses between 7.5W and 9W and about 8.5W on average.

The Loongson processors are developed at the Institute of Computing Technology (ICT) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in China in conjunction with the BLX IC Design Corporation, also in China.

Earlier on SN:
Is Low-Priced Computing Stuck With an ARM/x86 Duopoly? (2019)
MIPS CPU Architecture to Become Open Source Hardware in 2019 (2018)
Linux-Based, MIPS-Powered Russian All-in-One PC Launched (2016)

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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Saturday February 15 2020, @02:48AM (2 children)

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Saturday February 15 2020, @02:48AM (#958397) Journal

    Kodi menu animated transitions look a little unsmooth even on Pi4B, but probably better than Zero I'd imagine. I think I saw an explanation for it on the forums, related to the graphics pipeline or something. There is a setting somewhere to turn off animated transitions.

    I'm using 2 GB Pi4Bs for LibreELEC. They are marked down to $35 at Micro Center, lol. Pi4B adds H.265, 4K, and HDR support which is probably as much as any home theater would need. Hopefully, Pi5 will add AV1 hardware decoding, which would be good for YouTube.

    If you want to see low power computing demolish 100W+ computing, you should be tracking [] 3DSoC []. If realized, that would use ARM or RISC-V cores, at least 4 GB of memory, and should smoke desktop and HEDT processors. All within power consumption comparable to Pi Zero. It's possible that the performance increase would be so high that most people will switch to passive or quietly-cooled SBC and SFF systems. Or maybe the cooling will be focused on other parts of the system like I/O and networking.

    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
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  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday February 15 2020, @03:51AM (1 child)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday February 15 2020, @03:51AM (#958407)

    My major motivation for the PiZero is to keep the power consumption down - it will be the media server for both movies and music, in music mode there's no screen to drive but it can run for 4+ hours at a shot on battery so I'd really like it to draw as little power as practical. There's also the size thing, sure I've got space for a 4, but the Zero just looks so much cooler without all those un-necessary things on it.

    I've been wandering the Kodi menus and found something that's limiting the GUI refresh rate to 10Hz while video is playing - that's not the whole story, there's still a lot more than 100ms of lag in some cases, but it does explain quite a bit of what I'm seeing.

    My karma ran over your dogma.
    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Saturday February 15 2020, @04:26AM

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Saturday February 15 2020, @04:26AM (#958414) Journal

      I've got two Pi Zeros doing nothing, one with a nice HAT that adds a bunch of ports including 3.5mm. I might turn that one into an Internet radio player.

      Pi Zero is not expected to get an update for a long time, but maybe they will launch a new one before January 2026 when they end production of the original. You could imagine power consumption going down on the 28nm node, and possibly a move to dual or quad-core.

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