cabbers
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Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:08 am

Ok
So I have read a few posts on why having some on-board flash, even just for boot-up, and then moving the heavy lifting read-write cycles to an alternative ( as I do with some of my Pi's SD>USB), is a no-no, and would mean a bottom up revision of how the Pi is structured/built.But for me, booting off the SD card is the biggest SPOF it has-nothing else has failed on the 2 years I have used countless Pi's. As a result, I now tend to use OpenWRT on smaller units like the TP-703, just because I dont have to use a SD card to boot off-and even on those, once I am passed the initial boot, I use a 8GB mini USB for log retention/write use etc etc.

Can some of the board tell me why having some flash would be such an issue to engineer? As the OpenWRT is great, but is limited in the packages it offers, compared to the Pi. I have heard its cost?-how much would it add to the current $35.I have gone down the route of using superior SD cards (based on recommendations from here) and using USB,but I still end up with corruption-eventually-to the point I dont reboot my Pi's, when I should, for fear off not coming back up (some of the Pi's are in remote locations).

cheers

cabs

jamesh
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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:15 am

Cost is one reason, convenience is another. SD cards are easy to use, easy to swap, easy to upgrade and cheap. You can have different sizes.

Remember the board is designed for education. If you want industrial, try the compute module, which has built in flash.
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RaTTuS
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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:21 am

Sdcard , flash sticks, emmc , SSD
all use the same technology [to some extent]
all of these will fail after many writes [how many will depend a lot on the fab plant they where made in and how much is left of errors]
my orignal Pi - [2012] is still running on it's SDcard that I got for it ]

Code: Select all

uprecords
     #               Uptime | System                                     Boot up
----------------------------+---------------------------------------------------
     1   130 days, 15:49:43 | Linux 3.6.11+             Wed Dec 18 19:52:36 2013
     2   112 days, 08:14:35 | Linux 3.6.11+             Wed Aug 28 12:33:35 2013
     3    91 days, 05:20:26 | Linux 3.12.24+            Mon Jul 21 10:54:30 2014
     4    77 days, 00:36:37 | Linux 3.12.24+            Mon Oct 20 16:15:16 2014
     5    71 days, 22:59:51 | Linux 3.6.11+             Tue Mar 12 08:37:44 2013
->   6    52 days, 17:24:17 | Linux 3.12.35+            Mon Jan  5 15:52:24 2015
     7    43 days, 23:35:53 | Linux 3.10.25+            Mon Apr 28 12:44:21 2014
     8    39 days, 21:42:05 | Linux 3.12.20+            Wed Jun 11 12:20:40 2014
     9    33 days, 23:26:17 | Linux 3.6.11+             Wed Jul 24 12:35:39 2013
    10    32 days, 17:49:08 | Linux 3.6.11+             Thu Jun 20 17:30:57 2013
----------------------------+---------------------------------------------------
1up in    19 days, 05:35:35 | at                        Wed Mar 18 14:52:14 2015
no1 in    77 days, 22:25:27 | at                        Sat May 16 08:42:06 2015
    up   935 days, 03:53:25 | since                     Tue Jul 17 12:46:07 2012
  down    19 days, 17:37:09 | since                     Tue Jul 17 12:46:07 2012
   %up               97.933 | since                     Tue Jul 17 12:46:07 2012
it make it easy to none brick the device - just put in a new sdcard

the cost is all part of new board design , added material - more stuff to go wrong

mini usb sticks will fail [I've had a few] after a lot of writes
a mechanical HD is best for long term storage [YMMV] - well velum / stone will be better - it all depends on storage conditions
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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:25 am

It's great being able to duplicate / reset a Pi's function simply by changing SD card...
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cabbers
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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:45 am

Cheers for the reply guys-on the comment about the industrial module, yep, but no Ethernet?-so adding cost with the IO module to support that.Might give it a run, although I do prefer the current "box" and practical nature of the Pi form

I get the idea about choice/new image/easy to source and replace-just that I would like the choice to boot off the flash OR removable media-at the moment, and it looks for the foreseeable future, that choice wont be there ;)

cheers

cabs

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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:49 am

One can avoid damaging the file systems of SD card by mounting them as read-only at boot time. Then you will have a system as sold as OpenWRT.

Instructions on how to do this or Debian are here https://wiki.debian.org/ReadonlyRoot

I presume this also works for Raspbian. Has anyone here tried such a thing?

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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Feb 27, 2015 10:18 am

I have a couple of sdcards setup so the root partition is on a hard disk
the only writes the SD card gets is when I upgrade the OS ...
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cabbers
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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Feb 27, 2015 12:26 pm

Heater wrote:One can avoid damaging the file systems of SD card by mounting them as read-only at boot time. Then you will have a system as sold as OpenWRT.

Instructions on how to do this or Debian are here https://wiki.debian.org/ReadonlyRoot

I presume this also works for Raspbian. Has anyone here tried such a thing?
I have looked at a few posts on T'Internet around this, and is possible (I think), but it's a way of getting round (potential) card corruption.Which takes me back to my initial point :-)

Anyway, asked my questions, got my answers-maybe it might be in the Pi 3 :-)

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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Feb 27, 2015 1:29 pm

Probably not in Pi3 (whatever/whenever that may be). Simply because the SD card is so much more convenient for the huge majority of users, despite occasional corruption issues, and it would add cost for the whole user base, when only a few people would really need that option.
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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Feb 27, 2015 2:06 pm

jamesh wrote:Probably not in Pi3 (whatever/whenever that may be). Simply because the SD card is so much more convenient for the huge majority of users, despite occasional corruption issues, and it would add cost for the whole user base, when only a few people would really need that option.
With all due respect, that's an assumption on your part.I would like the Foundation/engineering staff to ask the question, as with the new Pi 2 moving up a few gears, I'm not sure what would be in the Pi 3 (Gigabit Ethernet maybe, or in-built wifi etc etc)

cabs

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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Feb 27, 2015 2:17 pm

well the Pi3 will have dual gig Ethernet and SATA and 8GB RAM etc because I want it
[well I don't but .....]

give it 3 Years and we'll see ....
my bet is that it will ahve the same form factor but I could be wrong

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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Feb 27, 2015 2:26 pm

cabbers wrote:
jamesh wrote:Probably not in Pi3 (whatever/whenever that may be). Simply because the SD card is so much more convenient for the huge majority of users, despite occasional corruption issues, and it would add cost for the whole user base, when only a few people would really need that option.
With all due respect, that's an assumption on your part.I would like the Foundation/engineering staff to ask the question, as with the new Pi 2 moving up a few gears, I'm not sure what would be in the Pi 3 (Gigabit Ethernet maybe, or in-built wifi etc etc)

cabs
Hmm. I knew about the P2 a year ago and do have some visibility of Foundation future plans. Any Pi3 is some years away.

That said, whilst I cannot categorically say there will be no flash in any Pi3, I expect it to be extremely unlikely for the reasons outlined above, and a couple I did miss was backwards compatibility, and keeping the same price point. That's important.
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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Feb 27, 2015 2:28 pm

James
Fair points but I live in hope :-)

thanks

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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:41 pm

One of the true beauties of the Pi is the fact that there is no persistent state in the board. There are lots of both practical and theoretical advantages to this.

Adding onboard flash would break this.
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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:54 pm

On the "use the right tool" theory...

If you really want on board flash, take a look at the Cubieboards. At least the Cubieboard 1 and Cubieboard 2 have on board flash. They will first look for a bootable SD card, and if not found, boot from the flash memory. (I boot them from an SD card but mount an SSD as the root file system using the on board SATA II connector.)

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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:58 pm

I'm a little surprised there isn't a small 3rd party compute module io board yet.

The compute module does have onboard flash. ..
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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:29 pm

mikerr wrote:I'm a little surprised there isn't a small 3rd party compute module io board yet.

The compute module does have onboard flash. ..
It does seem to fit the job but the cost of the "official" IO does put it out of the ballpark for me.

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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:49 pm

RaTTuS wrote:I have a couple of sdcards setup so the root partition is on a hard disk
the only writes the SD card gets is when I upgrade the OS ...
Neat idea.

My Desktop (i.e: PC) Linux is on a USB drive. Works OK, I guess. Don't know what I'll do when it finally gives way (although that won't be for a few years).
I'm happy to help.
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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Sat Feb 28, 2015 4:16 am

mikerr wrote:I'm a little surprised there isn't a small 3rd party compute module io board yet.

The compute module does have onboard flash. ..
I think there have been a couple of attempts at that. Basically a daughter card with the SoC and a base board with everything else. Not sure how they've worked out.

The big problem with trying to make an "alternate Pi" is getting the SoCs. Hardkernel tried it with the Odroid-W. Once their initial supply ran out, the weren't in a position to order enough from Broadcom to interest Broadcom and the product was discontinued. With the 2836, the situation is probably tougher. At the rate Pi2Bs are selling, and how new the SoC is, there probably *aren't* any of them going to anyone who wasn't lined up to buy them before the Pi2B launched. If someone comes along and wants to duplicate the Pi2B, Broadcom will probably say something on the order of, "Sure. How many hundreds of thousands are you willing to commit to, per quarter?" Now since the best selling SBC that I know of--other than the Pi--has sold on the order of 250K, there aren't likely to be very many companies willing to commit to that kind of volume in the SBC market.

So far as I can tell, nearly all SBC companies are quite small. Even if one assumes that the 2836 costs $5 each, it is unclear that there are any SBC makers that have the resources to commit to buying 100K SoCs per quarter for--say--one year, because that would be a $2 million contract. (By comparison, at the current production rates being bandied about, at least 5 *million* Pis will be made this year. It could even be more like 7 million to 10 million, depending on what assumptions one makes.)

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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Sat Feb 28, 2015 10:56 am

W. H. Heydt wrote:
mikerr wrote:I'm a little surprised there isn't a small 3rd party compute module io board yet.

The compute module does have onboard flash. ..
I think there have been a couple of attempts at that. Basically a daughter card with the SoC and a base board with everything else. Not sure how they've worked out.

The big problem with trying to make an "alternate Pi" is getting the SoCs. Hardkernel tried it with the Odroid-W. Once their initial supply ran out, the weren't in a position to order enough from Broadcom to interest Broadcom and the product was discontinued. With the 2836, the situation is probably tougher. At the rate Pi2Bs are selling, and how new the SoC is, there probably *aren't* any of them going to anyone who wasn't lined up to buy them before the Pi2B launched. If someone comes along and wants to duplicate the Pi2B, Broadcom will probably say something on the order of, "Sure. How many hundreds of thousands are you willing to commit to, per quarter?" Now since the best selling SBC that I know of--other than the Pi--has sold on the order of 250K, there aren't likely to be very many companies willing to commit to that kind of volume in the SBC market.

So far as I can tell, nearly all SBC companies are quite small. Even if one assumes that the 2836 costs $5 each, it is unclear that there are any SBC makers that have the resources to commit to buying 100K SoCs per quarter for--say--one year, because that would be a $2 million contract. (By comparison, at the current production rates being bandied about, at least 5 *million* Pis will be made this year. It could even be more like 7 million to 10 million, depending on what assumptions one makes.)
I think Mikerr meant a carrier board for the compute module, the trouble is that making a general purpose I/O board for the compute module that has the right features will probably cost more (once you add the compute module) than just buying a B+ (especially now, while 3rd party suppliers are dumping their B+ stocks cheap).
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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Sat Feb 28, 2015 11:21 am

This has been as usual done to death, just another I really want the RPF to produce at no extra cost to me a product even if they lose money

As heydt stated someone else did try and did not get very far http://www.hardkernel.com/main/products ... 0610189490
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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Sat Feb 28, 2015 11:32 am

BMS Doug wrote: I think Mikerr meant a carrier board for the compute module, the trouble is that making a general purpose I/O board for the compute module that has the right features will probably cost more (once you add the compute module) than just buying a B+ (especially now, while 3rd party suppliers are dumping their B+ stocks cheap).
Yes, but just noticed and backed openPi which is mostly what the OP describes for £55 (£29 ex compute module)
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wi ... makers-and

Image
http://wirelessthings.net/openpi/
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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:11 pm

mikerr wrote:
BMS Doug wrote: I think Mikerr meant a carrier board for the compute module, the trouble is that making a general purpose I/O board for the compute module that has the right features will probably cost more (once you add the compute module) than just buying a B+ (especially now, while 3rd party suppliers are dumping their B+ stocks cheap).
Yes, but just noticed and backed openPi which is mostly what the OP describes for £55 (£29 ex compute module)
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wi ... makers-and

Image
http://wirelessthings.net/openpi/
An interesting board, it's nice to see that it's achieved funding.
I couldn't justify £55 for one of these while a B+ is just £20 but I have no need for onboard flash.
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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Fri Mar 13, 2015 3:49 pm

Another possibility might be to use a more rugged micro SD card, but they can get pricey.

I've seen swissbit cards used in some products. They put in a number of built-in safe guards, but you might be paying $20 a gig or more for it depending who you can source it from.
http://www.swissbit.com/index.php?optio ... Itemid=480

Edit: Actually some of the prices on Mouser aren't terrible. 16GB is about as high as they go.
http://www.mouser.com/Swissbit/Embedded ... 4qZ1yxxwsy

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Re: Question on why no onboard flash

Sat Mar 14, 2015 2:39 am

Buy a modern Pi that uses micro SD cards. Stick the said SD card in the slot and glue it in with hot melt glue or similar. Then you can pretend it has onboard flash.....
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