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Author Topic: Dreamplug - First look inside the next evolution in plug computing  (Read 32493 times)
NewITMalcolm
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« on: 29 January 2011, 12:02:32 pm »

I have had the privilege of trying this one out and even taking apart to photograph.
The Dreamplug is certainly based on the Guruplug Server Plus but has brand new board layout, large heatsink,  no fan and digital Audio.
I have tested the new Audio playing an internet radio broadcast on Rythmbox whilst performing a package install with synaptic and quality sounded perfect through my PC speakers.

This will be much easier to Bespoke plug configurations restricted by the size of MicroSD you want to install.
The supplied MicroSD has a 50MB Fat partition for the Kernel and the rest formatted as ext3.
I tried a Guiplug with a similar partition configuration and it booted with no change required to the uboot variables.
Booting a rootfs from and SD was no problem with a couple of changes to uboot variables.
I did notice that it failed to boot with sheeva.with-linux.com kernels beyond 2.6.35.10.
It seems quite happy to use the standard Jtag units that work with the Guruplug.

We are awaiting a confirmed delivery date for our first batch from Globalscale, early indications are late March, and we will be taking Pre orders in February.


Internal MicroSD visible on the separate board and No Nand.



A standard Jtag is attached and works fine with the Dreamplug.
Notice the inserted SD card which does not protrude.
Power Supply connected via cable.



Underside of Board



Underside of case showing wall Mounting points.



Metal Heatsink fitted into case.



Dreamplug running the NewIT Guiplug software and powering the iMo Monster from the USB.










More information
http://www.newit.co.uk/documents/DreamPlug.pdf
« Last Edit: 29 January 2011, 03:57:26 pm by NewIT_James » Logged

NewITJames
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« Reply #1 on: 30 January 2011, 12:04:36 pm »

This looks promising. Thanks for sharing.

I can see a place for a rather big chip not soldered on the bottom side of the board (partly covered with the MAC address sticker).
Could that be a place for a NAND flash chip?
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NewIT_Jason
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« Reply #2 on: 04 February 2011, 03:02:31 pm »

Now available to be pre ordered: http://www.newit.co.uk/shop/proddetail.php?prod=DreamPlug
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stevenewey
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« Reply #3 on: 14 February 2011, 03:06:36 pm »

Given the option to separate the PSU, how easy would it be to source a (5v?) battery to run this thing for the best part of a day?
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NewIT_Jason
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« Reply #4 on: 14 February 2011, 07:08:55 pm »

Once we get the stock in we will be looking at this among other power options for the units.
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rmwebs
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« Reply #5 on: 16 February 2011, 11:52:37 am »

From what I can tell this just seems to be a re-packaged Guruplug. All they seem to have done is removed the NAND and replaced it with an internal microSD and added audio, then moved the power supply to a detachable box (probably in an attempt to solve the heat problems).

Am I correct here? I cant see anything different in the specs - still the same 1.2Ghz ARM w/512MB RAM.
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NewITMalcolm
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« Reply #6 on: 16 February 2011, 02:29:30 pm »


The removeable power supply allows the plug to be powered by 5v.
There is also the SD card slot which replaces the MicroSD and the device is Fanless and the Audio does include Optical out.

Quite a few positive changes. It is still the same CPU and memory but that just demonstrates how good they are.

 


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NewITJames
rmwebs
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« Reply #7 on: 16 February 2011, 11:13:07 pm »

Quite a few positive changes. It is still the same CPU and memory but that just demonstrates how good they are.

Oh dont get me wrong, I do agree that they are excellent and its great to see new products coming out. I just didnt expect it to still be on the older architecture when the new ones are due out so soon!

The Sheeva/Guru/Dream just seem a little behind the times when you've got the likes of the Cirrus and Nimbus punching in at 2Ghz. I would have thought that we'd have easily seen 1GB RAM at very least. Hardly expensive stuff these days. It just feels like GS are trying to gain a bit of cash back from the flawed GuruPlug.  Undecided
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tixy
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« Reply #8 on: 19 February 2011, 04:20:48 pm »

Do we know if the external SD card slot is on a USB bus like the GuruPlug server? Or uses a proper MMC contoller like the SheevaPlug?
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Confusticated
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« Reply #9 on: 20 February 2011, 05:09:22 pm »

Its a little suspicious that an ext3 filesystem has been used in preference to UBIFS (which suggests to me that it isnt supported by the hardware).
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Advocatus Diaboli - My agenda is not to give you the answer, but to guide your thoughts so you derive it for yourself!
NewIT_Marcus
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« Reply #10 on: 20 February 2011, 06:04:52 pm »

Its a little suspicious that an ext3 filesystem has been used in preference to UBIFS (which suggests to me that it isnt supported by the hardware).

The boot device is a micro SD card that is inside the Dreamplug. You can see it on the smaller circuit board that is attached to the black part of the case, in the first photo in James' original post. From what I understand, no-one is proposing that UBIFS would be a suitable choice for an SD or micro SD card; consensus is for UBIFS on NAND, and ext2 / ext3 on SD card, isn't it?
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Kuttel
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« Reply #11 on: 28 February 2011, 08:37:24 am »

Will you also offer a trimmed-down up-to-date version of Ubuntu for the dreamplug?
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« Reply #12 on: 28 February 2011, 07:03:52 pm »

Quote
no-one is proposing that UBIFS would be a suitable choice
UBI/UBIFS is specifically designed for use on, and is therefore most suitable for flash.
Quote
SD or micro SD card
Dont be deceived by  the interface, these are flash devices.
Quote
ext2 / ext3 on SD card
Neither ext2 or ext3 are suitable (safe) filesystems for flash. However the wear they cause
can be reduced by disabling filesystem features. With the features disabled, you loose the very benefits
that these filesystems provide over others (FAT32 would at least give you something back by being windows compatible).
 
SD, micro SD cards & USB flash drives are easily replaceable. Take regular backups, replace them when they die. Dont stress your built-in flash.
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Advocatus Diaboli - My agenda is not to give you the answer, but to guide your thoughts so you derive it for yourself!
NewIT_Marcus
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« Reply #13 on: 01 March 2011, 08:21:17 am »

Will you also offer a trimmed-down up-to-date version of Ubuntu for the dreamplug?

I don't anticipate the need for this. AFAIK the Dream plug will come with Ubuntu 9.05 on a 1G (?) micro SD card. Whatever packages are chosen for the default setup, they are unlikely to push a 1G card to its capacity. Any that you prefer not to use can be manually removed. The packages that I won't use will be different to the packages that you won't use.

We think that Debian is a better choice, and we will offer that, barring any unforseen technical problems.
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superpat
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« Reply #14 on: 01 March 2011, 03:03:08 pm »

@Kuttel

Ubuntu devs made a decision NOT to support the Kirkwood range of processors  ( I forget the proper name for the arch)

9.04 is the last version that will run on a Sheeva / Guru / Dream plug

You are far far better off using Debian and a light window manager. Ubuntu is very heavy on a Plug

cheers

Patrick
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