W. H. Heydt
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Something I'd like to see. ( USB to SATA bridge )

Wed Jul 17, 2019 7:57 pm

This idea is driven off of two remarks made by Dr. Upton plus the failure of a product that came close, but didn't really get it right.

Background
Dr. Upton said (in an interview I read) that the RPT only wants to make products (other than Pis) that marketplace is either not providing or the items being built didn't get it right. He has also said (recently) that the RPT is looking at making a CM4.

WD Labs produced a "SATA Adapter" board, initially for use with the CM1, and later--as it turned out possible (sometimes)--for the CM3 boards. There turned out to be a couple of problems with this otherwise interesting carrier board. The first is that the adapter has only 2 USB connectors and no Ethernet connector, though it does have an HDMI connector. Since all of those are the "full size" versions, and all are along one edge (which, given the packaging and mounting does make sense), that's all there is room for. (And, I should note, the USB connectors are not stacked.) The second flaw is that, in my experience, the early boards fully supported booting directly from an attached SATA device (CM3L only, of course), later boards couldn't do that. I suspect an incompatibility in the SATA bridge, a problem that has been found in the wild with USB to SATA adapters.

Proposal

Therefore, I think that once the RPT launches a CM4, I would dearly love to see them build a *proper* CM4 SATA Adapter board. It should have at least 2 USB ports (USB 2.0 would be fine), Ethernet jack, and one HDMI output would be sufficient. It might be interesting to use the single PCIe lane from the SoC to be the mass storage interface, either as SATA or as single lane M.2. The common connectors--USB, HDMI--could be micro for all of me. It would be nice to retain one other feature from the WD board...an actual power button.

Note that if such a thing came to be, I would not expect to see it for two to three years....or more. If, in the mean time (once a CM4 goes into production) someone else wanted to step up and market such a device, go for it.

Discuss.

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Imperf3kt
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:00 pm

This isn't likely to happen.

I'd instead ask a 3rd party to begin a kickstarter campaign or similar.
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hippy
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:44 am

A decent and capable USB to SATA bridge would probably be of most benefit to people.

Andyroo

Re: Something I'd like to see.

Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:52 am

hippy wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:44 am
A decent and capable USB to SATA bridge would probably be of most benefit to people.
+1 for that (with cable)

A case that holds the disk would be good as well

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Imperf3kt
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:04 am

hippy wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:44 am
A decent and capable USB to SATA bridge would probably be of most benefit to people.
Of course, but is it something the raspberry pi foundation should be focusing on?
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Gavinmc42
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:21 am

The other day I did a google and found Computes are used on PC/104 motherboards.

I found something about PCIe and "OneBank" connectors.
http://linuxgizmos.com/raspberry-pi-cm3 ... 4-sort-of/

Some people are not holding their breath waiting of RPF.....
https://www.embedded-computing.com/indu ... -on-pc-104

I don't see a need on the normal Pi's for a OneBank connector.
But a CM4+ with the PCIe broken out might help the Industiral market.
I am not in that market so I have no idea if there is value there.

Could be another step for RPF into really taking over the Desktop by Pi6 and total world domination ?
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W. H. Heydt
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:45 am

USB to SATA cables I don't see as an RPT issue. Not unless they decide all the available ones are way overpriced and decide to source an inexpensive one. As for the cable issue of just what bridge chip is used--that is, will it work for boot over USB--I have hopes that that will be solved--for the Pi4B, at least--by updates to the EEPROM firmware as people bring cables that *don't* work to the RPTs attention.

hippy
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:07 pm

Imperf3kt wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:04 am
hippy wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:44 am
A decent and capable USB to SATA bridge would probably be of most benefit to people.
Of course, but is it something the raspberry pi foundation should be focusing on?
It would seem to fit Eben's willingness to step in where "the items being built didn't get it right".

To me it would be similar to having an official PSU - There are plenty out there which could or should work but it is pot luck for the user trying to find one which does. Products today may not be the exact same as they were previously, what once worked may not work as well now. It's hard to know what to buy.

An official product solves that problem, gives confidence it will work with a Pi, likely always will, does what a Pi user needs. That seems to go for SATA interfaces as much as for a PSU.

Anything which increases revenue, increases profits, is good for RPT, is good for RPF, and RPT are not constrained in what they do to that end.

But as to whether anything is appropriate for RPT to be producing, whether there's enough of a market, a business case for it, resources to do it; that would have to be for the RPT to decide.

Andyroo

Re: Something I'd like to see.

Thu Jul 18, 2019 2:07 pm

You could question why the Trading group makes a keyboard and mouse as their are many many cabled ones out there that work.

So I think the USB / Sata + disk would go great in a kit BUT would you expect NOOBS still on an SD card or the disk to have the OS on it?

Would you also detract folk from buying the Pi if it came in a 'Pi / keyboard / mouse / disk / power' set compared to a 'Pi / disk / power' set only? In my case, yes as I run them all headless (at the mo) but i'm not the target for this...

W. H. Heydt
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Thu Jul 18, 2019 4:39 pm

Andyroo wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 2:07 pm
You could question why the Trading group makes a keyboard and mouse as their are many many cabled ones out there that work.
There is a feature that the RPT keyboards have that others don't. The cable isn't permanently attached. It's just a USB-A to USB-microB cable. The built in hub is something you can find elsewhere, but in this case it fits well with the rather short cable on the official mouse.

Something I intend to set up some time just to test is to connect an official keyboard to an A+ or Pi3A+ and then connect a mouse and Ethernet adapter (and/or WiFi dongle for an A+) to the keyboard. That would actually make the A+ or Pi3A+ a fully functional system without adding a separate USB hub.

ejolson
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Thu Jul 18, 2019 4:55 pm

Another thing that an official RPT product does is improve reliability. As a huge variety of substandard USB power supplies are available from multiple sources, reliability is clearly the reason for the official power supplies.

The official development kit for the current compute module will need some obvious changes if a Compute Module 4 ever gets released. For example, since Ethernet and PCI express are built into the new SOC, I'd expect those interfaces to be brought out on the carrier board in a convenient fashion.

Do you think a compute module with 8GB RAM might be available before an 8GB Pi 4B?

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Imperf3kt
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:22 pm

A keyboard and mouse take next to no R&D, so it's simply a case of produce sell and profit, but this suggestion is different, it would require research and budget.
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piglet
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:34 pm

W. H. Heydt wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 7:57 pm
... I would dearly love to see them build a *proper* CM4 SATA Adapter board....
I'd buy one.

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Gavinmc42
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:38 am

I'd buy one.
I dare say there will be a buyer of anything RPF make.

But we need to consider RPF mission which is Education.
RPT has mandate to provide low cost computing for RPF's mission.

The Education market is not IT self sufficient , they rely on external providers for IT bits.
If you think about how a classroom of Pi's in setup, lots of USB drives would be an IT nightmare.
Hence why Netbooting Pi4 rightly has a higher priority than USB boot.
And why mouse, keyboard, power supply are also RPF products.
It saves the Education IT people form sourcing those bits from ???? suppliers.

What we users outside education want to see is very much secondary.
However, the licensees want to sell lots of Pi's and don't care who too :D
Those licensees sell lots to the industrial type markets.

So has the Education market requested a Pi netboot server Sata drive?
Will we see a RPF ED IT Pi server kit?
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W. H. Heydt
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:59 am

Gavinmc42 wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:38 am
I'd buy one.
I dare say there will be a buyer of anything RPF make.

But we need to consider RPF mission which is Education.
RPT has mandate to provide low cost computing for RPF's mission.
I'm familiar with that. Indeed, I've used that argument myself as a reason why some things are unlikely ever to be put forth as RPT products. However, it fails when you consider the CM, CM3, CM3+. What is the educational use of those products?
Hence why Netbooting Pi4 rightly has a higher priority than USB boot.
Much as I--personally--use USB booting and have never used netbooting, I wouldn't dream of disputing the priorities. If I get to anxious for USB boot to be released, I can always do what I did before it existed and use the simple workaround of putting /boot on an SD card and root on the mass storage device.
What we users outside education want to see is very much secondary.
However, the licensees want to sell lots of Pi's and don't care who too :D
Those licensees sell lots to the industrial type markets.
And there is likely the answer to "Why the CM* boards." What I think matters is whether or not enough SATA adapters would sell. I suspect not enough to make a viable market (but there is no harm in asking) since WD never made a go of it. Or...it might just be that not enough people knew about them and/or their flaws were just too obvious and a "got it right" would take off. For that matter, even many Pi users appear to be unaware of the existence of the CMs to start with.

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Gavinmc42
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Fri Jul 19, 2019 5:57 am

Yep, CM's is a different market.
Hopefully PCIe makes it to CM's.
CM's would make a good core for DIY laptops?
Could it led to more options than just PiTop things.
since WD never made a go of it. Or...it might just be that not enough people knew about them
Could not buy any from local suppliers in OZ :(
Not sure why but I suspect not mainstream enough for the whole of WD?

We get what RPF decides what we get.
Been using Pi's for 7 years and nowhere close to learning everything on them yet.

I can see netbooting as a useful way to test baremetal coding.
I use USBboot for the Zero's, it saves SD card wear and tear.
The capability to also do netbooting for Pi4's.
I did notice a recent update in the Piserver source ;)

Skipping the code, write SD, reboot, debug loop sill make Pi4 coding easier.
Duh, I forgot I can do this on new 2, 3 and 3B+.
Don't know why I want more stuff when I still have not tried existing stuff.

Lucky this is in the off topic posts.
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rpdom
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Fri Jul 19, 2019 6:27 am

Gavinmc42 wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:38 am
However, the licensees want to sell lots of Pi's and don't care who too :D
Those licensees sell lots to the industrial type markets.
Yes, and a major proportion of the profits from those non-educational sales go to funding educational projects.

So it is worth RPT (not RPF) producing and licensing hardware aimed at other markets.

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Gavinmc42
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:31 am

So it is worth RPT (not RPF) producing and licensing hardware aimed at other markets.
So we might see RISC-V SoC PCBs one day? er, kidding, a little ;)
Assuming you guys have free time from designing CM's, Pi5, Pi6 etc ;)

How much of the BCM2711 was RPT's and how much was BCM's effort?
70/30, 50/50, 30/70?

I suppose the Pi5 development effort/time frame depends on lots of things.
How much can be outsourced.
Lucky licensing makes manufacturing an outside responsibility, except the Zero?


Anyway the education market is still huge World wide.
People keep having kids and they need schooling.
Wonder how much can be done via YouTube on Pi4 now?
My kid learns so much that way we wonder why he needs to go to school.

RPF YouTube channel?
Hmm, I have never checked, is there one?
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Bakul Shah
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Sat Jul 20, 2019 12:32 pm

W. H. Heydt wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 7:57 pm
Therefore, I think that once the RPT launches a CM4, I would dearly love to see them build a *proper* CM4 SATA Adapter board. It should have at least 2 USB ports (USB 2.0 would be fine), Ethernet jack, and one HDMI output would be sufficient. It might be interesting to use the single PCIe lane from the SoC to be the mass storage interface, either as SATA or as single lane M.2. The common connectors--USB, HDMI--could be micro for all of me. It would be nice to retain one other feature from the WD board...an actual power button.
One obvious idea I had was to build a data center of Pis. With 64 Pi4s you can build a nice compute cloud with 256GB of RAM & 256 cores. Probably for $2-4K. But a lot of the hardware on each board will be wasted. Which leads me to thinking that I'd want three kinds of boards:
  • CPU board: 2711 + memory + PCIe bridge + some GPIO
  • IO board: USB3, M.2, ...
  • Backplane: N slots with a multi host PCIe bridge
The idea is to have a set of building blocks that can be put together in many different ways, from a small two board design with more IO than a pi4, to making a cluster of any number of Pis. But for the latter you also need a high speed connection fabric with scalable bandwidth and PCIe will probably do quite well. For scaling up you also need to worry about other issues like supplying enough power, cooling/airflow, etc.

Not sure if the RPF (or is it RPTL) folks would want to do all this but I hope they keep in mind this idea of a pi-cloud (and talk to me when considering the design of CM4)!

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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Sat Jul 20, 2019 1:34 pm

Bakul Shah wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 12:32 pm
One obvious idea I had was to build a data center of Pis. With 64 Pi4s you can build a nice compute cloud with 256GB of RAM & 256 cores. Probably for $2-4K. But a lot of the hardware on each board will be wasted. Which leads me to thinking that I'd want three kinds of boards:
  • CPU board: 2711 + memory + PCIe bridge + some GPIO
  • IO board: USB3, M.2, ...
  • Backplane: N slots with a multi host PCIe bridge
The idea is to have a set of building blocks that can be put together in many different ways, from a small two board design with more IO than a pi4, to making a cluster of any number of Pis. But for the latter you also need a high speed connection fabric with scalable bandwidth and PCIe will probably do quite well. For scaling up you also need to worry about other issues like supplying enough power, cooling/airflow, etc.
Dream on. The mods will be wielding the thread-lock key soon.

If you really think such products could be a commercial success, try offering RPF/RPT lots of money (multiply your data centre budget by at least 1000) to develop them.
Or talk to CPC Farnell about making you a batch of 5000 "specials", for similar lots of money.
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bensimmo
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:32 pm

TL:DR
A USB3 to SATA adaptor.
I have to actually agree, they did it with the WiFi Dongle before it was part of the Pi, they made. TV HAT because somebody in RPT/F and LibreElec links decided to. No education reason for that at all.

The keyboards are designed more than you think, the USB board is a custom thing iirc.
That and the mouse give you something that will work and add to the brand. It's good for people and parents looking at buying a present or more likely enthusiast/fan-girl/between/boy.

(Though if they make a new version were it can act as a case for an A+ and Zero that would be too kewl, without having to mod it yourself.).

But 2.5" is so last decade. It's all M.2. format now ;-)

But how many would they sell, that's the real question.

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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Sat Jul 20, 2019 3:12 pm

Imperf3kt wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:22 pm
A keyboard and mouse take next to no R&D, so it's simply a case of produce sell and profit, but this suggestion is different, it would require research and budget.
Hahahahahahahaha. "Next to no R&D". You have no idea how much pain it took to get those right!!
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W. H. Heydt
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Sat Jul 20, 2019 4:59 pm

Gavinmc42 wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 5:57 am
Yep, CM's is a different market.
Hopefully PCIe makes it to CM's.
Some of the folks in the CM forum were practically drooling over the prospect getting access to a PCIe lane. Unfortunately, some of them seemed to think that there were multiple PCIe lanes (if only...).

Given that the existing CMs simply expose every SoC interface they've got without any attempt to do anything with any of them, one would expect a bare PCIe interface on a CM4.
Lucky this is in the off topic posts.
Luck has nothing to do with it. When I start a thread like this, I put it here deliberately.

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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:04 pm

jamesh wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 3:12 pm
Imperf3kt wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:22 pm
A keyboard and mouse take next to no R&D, so it's simply a case of produce sell and profit, but this suggestion is different, it would require research and budget.
Hahahahahahahaha. "Next to no R&D". You have no idea how much pain it took to get those right!!
And a good job was done, so your (collective) pain was--at least in my opinion--worth it. I haven't actually tested them yet (it's on my agenda for today), but I have 2 keyboards, one in each color scheme (red really isn't my thing). My only issue with them so far--and it's not something that I think was avoidable, especially at the chosen price point--is that the "touch" is *terrible*. My wife (who used to test at 100wpm) tried one, and promptly put it down saying, "Nope. Not going use that, ever." However, I will mitigate that criticism by noting that the keyboards are not, I think, even targeted at people who make a living typing.

Bakul Shah
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Re: Something I'd like to see.

Sat Jul 20, 2019 9:10 pm

W. H. Heydt wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 4:59 pm
Some of the folks in the CM forum were practically drooling over the prospect getting access to a PCIe lane. Unfortunately, some of them seemed to think that there were multiple PCIe lanes (if only...).
There are PCIe expansion switch devices: 1 upstream, 2 or more downstream ports. This can be put on CM board as I suggested or on the backplane or an IO module board. CM4’s edge connector layout would not be compatible to older CMs so there is an opportunity to think through and come up with a design that can last for a few more Pi generations and allow for new uses. I’m sure Eben Upton & co are well aware of this.

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