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Maker Shed Microcontroller Quick Reference Chart

  By Michael Castor , 2013/01/31 @ 1:30 pm With all the microcontrollers and single board computers on the market, sometimes it’s hard to see all your options. That’s why we made up this quick reference sheet for the 8 most popular boards we sell in the Maker Shed. This handy chart (which we lovingly refer to as the “Grid”) […]

Why Is the Cloud-Computing King

Why Is the Cloud-Computing King

By Evan Niu (TMFNewCow) |

I’m not referring to the meaning of life, mind you. I’m talking about the annual list of the Top 500 supercomputers in the world. When you look at that list,‘s (Nasdaq:AMZN  ) virtual supercomputer built using its Elastic Compute Cloud, or EC2, ranks No. 42, according to a recentWired report.

The reason that’s such a feat is that Amazon’s virtual powerhouse is in the clouds and its raw processing power is decentralized and spread throughout its global network of data centers. This contrasts with the old-school approach of calling up Cray (Nasdaq: CRAY  ) or Penguin Computing and ordering a multimillion-dollar machine, similar to what the feds just ordered sporting NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA  ) andAdvanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD  ) chips or this one using only ARM Holdings(Nasdaq: ARMH  ) -based NVIDIA chips.

Cycle Computing is a small company that helps researchers and businesses tap into EC2’s supercomputing power, and CEO Jason Stowe is naturally a big proponent of cloud-based processing. Stowe believes that while there is still a place to having one’s own dedicated supercomputer, those days are numbered as cloud-based supercomputing is able to increasingly satisfy what the market needs.

Amazon provides an option that is more affordable and can handle most things thrown at it. For example, Cycle helped set up a virtual supercomputer running 30,000 cores on EC2 for about $1,279 per hour. That may sound like a lot to the average user, but it’s chump change when compared with the alternative a researcher or business would face, which Stowe details:

If you created a 30,000-core cluster in a data center, that would cost you $5 million, $10 million, and you’d have to pick a vendor, buy all the hardware, wait for it to come, rack it, stack it, cable it, and actually get it working. You’d have to wait six months, 12 months before you got it running.

The takeaway is that even though Amazon’s solution doesn’t top the nosebleed horsepower of the No. 1 supercomputer, Japan’s K Computer, which is almost 44 times as fast, it offers what will satisfy what many entities need and does so at a fraction of the monetary and time expenditures.

EC2 sees competition from Microsoft‘s (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Azure and Rackspace Hosting(NYSE: RAX  ) , but you also don’t see those names within the first 100 spots of the supercomputer list.

It’s no wonder Amazon is the cloud-computing king.

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Raspberry Pi $25 PC on course for January arrival


The $25 computer project known as Raspberry Pi is set to go on salenext month.

The tiny computer, which runs Linux on an ARM processor and sports USB, audio and video out, as well as an SD card slot, was designed to be an ultra-low-cost computer aimed at children.

In a blog post picked up by Business Insider this week, its creators noted that the machine will be available in January following some additional testing on the hardware and software.

At launch the diminutive machine will be offered in two configurations, one at $25 and the other at $35. The extra $10 gets you double the RAM at 256MB, as well as the addition of an Ethernet port for getting online. Its creators have also announced the “Gertboard,” a small expansion board that can be added to the Rasberry Pi. Its purpose is to “flash LEDs on and off, drive motors, run sensors and all that other fun stuff.”

The computing project is the brainchild of game developer David Braben, and follows in the footsteps of previous low-cost computing initiatives like One Laptop per Child, which aimed a $100 price tag for Internet-ready laptops. There was also last year’s $35 tablet in India, which ran Google’s Android OS.