Distributed home computing

I first saw the Ars Technica article on the Intel Compute Card announced a CES this year. Incredibly skimpy on details of course, with “more coming mid-2017”, I none the less read all the articles on it I could find: gizmodo (good pics and usefully factual), techrepublic (quite a bit more IoT hyperbolic and click-baity), liliputing (more good pics and sparse, but good details), and a few others that were mostly regurgitation without any value add.

Intel’s Fact Sheet on the Compute Card was a bit trickier to dig up, but useful. Of course, I want to have some sense of the tech specs now – how much compute, RAM, IO and what kinds of ports will it integrate with, how much power will it use, all the nitty gritty details.

It really looks like Intel is making the play for the “replaceable IoT computing unit” based on some of the pictures, but honestly the first thing I thought of when I saw it was “Who’s going to make a “dock” that you can slot 10, 20 or 30 of these things into?

Make them glowing white glass and the scene deactivating HAL from 2001 comes immediately to mind.

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It’s wacky-out-there, but a distributed computing backplane of these isn’t entirely insane. We’ll have to see how the economics bear out, and it’s not like there’s an “easy interface” for adding applications into this kind of space like you would with a Mac, IOS, Android or Windows device – but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Folks are doing the rough equivalent with Raspberry Pi’s, which are probably in the “slightly less capable, and definitely less expensive” realm than the compute cards. Canonical coordinated to do the same kind of clustered thing with the Orange Box which I’m guessing will be closer to the same price point as the same number of cards.

There’s so many reasons why this wouldn’t be a home computing solution, although I’d love to have a mechanism where compute resources could be extended by plugging in a few more modules, and the whole setup operates as a pool of computing resources. For now I’m going to stick with the small stack of NUCs and a cheap netgear GB switch.

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