Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Parallella 16 "Desktop" a mistake?

I've been working with both the Parallella and the Jetson TK1 this week.  So far my experience with the "Parallella 16" has basically sucked.  50% of the time the network interface won't even come up.  100% of the timethe USB interface won't come up at all.  

Of the times I've been able to get the network interface to come up via DHCP on it's own it's been kind of a good feel to the computer itself.  However, it's instability and unreliable behavior thus far is making the Beaglebone Black look like a rock-solid-go-to-device.  Which is a SERIOUS DISAPPOINTMENT!

The USB issues apparently have been around for at least 6 months, and little or no REAL progress has been realized that an average user could employ.  Which is also VERY disturbing.  These computers where marketed as functionally working.  And at a fairly hefty price considering the work that will be involved for me to really make use of it.

The Parallella 16 "Desktop" comes with a LARGE heatsink that needs to be installed prior to powering it up.  (a simple process!)  With this heatsink in place, and the unit simply idling (doing nothing of use) the board temp. reaches it's acceptable high level (70c+) within minutes.  I placed a 120mm/12vdc fan next to it and the temp drops to about 46c.  in comparison I ran the HELL OUT OF the Beaglebone Black with a system load around 3!  And it barely got warm.

Needless to say, I'm seriously UNIMPRESSED with the Parallella at this point, not so much from it's ability to heat the room, but more to it's completely unreliable behavior when it comes to doing BASIC connectivity to the outside world.  USB and Networking are CORE to just about any device these days.  This shouldn't be THAT HARD for the boards developers to have working prior to sales!

All I can say is....pffff....on to something else unless they come up with something that will truly WOW me.  What a shame!

======================= UPDATE ============================

Okay so more putzing around with this machine.  Most likely this is ONLY an aberration.

I've seen others talk about how USB works and then mysteriously doesn't work.  SO take THIS information with a grain of salt.

Today I pulled replaced the 'headless' version of the 7010 FPGA and kernel with the "HDMI" version.

I also went into /etc/securetty and remarked out 'hvc0' and 'hvc1' which I don't think are required (but I could be mistaken).  Anyway dmesg showing the system was respawning hvc0 endlessly.   The respawns have stopped after a hard reboot. (ie. shutdown, power cycled).

Before the power-cycle I attached a 10-port usb-hub that has worked on all Linux boxes I have (and there's a PILE of them).  Attached to the usb-hub are 3 RTL TV Dongles, a wifi, a digital compass, and a usb microsd storage card.

Then I booted up Parallella and it came up just fine.  Without any network hiccup (this is the 3rd time today it came up ok via DHCP), I checked dmesg and no more respawning was happening.

Then I typed 'lsusb' and all the devices attached showed up via the USB!  I'm like WTF?

Well I've heard that the USB can be finiky and unreliable sometimes coming up and working and sometimes not at all.  So far in the 50 or so attempts I've tried to bring up USB at boot time it never would come up.  THIS was the FIRST time.

So I'll attempt some more power cycle/reboots and see how that goes.  I don't expect this to remain working.  But it would be nice!

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