I’ve previously reviewed the Pine64 SOQuartz here on the site and found that if you used Armbian it was a feasible alternative to the CM4. The compatibility with other IO boards varies wildly though. We’ve definitely seen mixed experiences using the CM4 Blade when using the SOQuartz for example.
I was curious if I got a hold of one of the official Pine64 SOQuartz Blade boards if the experience would be better. Today we will review the Pine64 SOQuartz Blade IO board and see how well things are working at time of writing.
The Pine64 SOQuartz has a 1.8GHz ARM Cortex-A55 processor as well as a Mali-G52 Bifrost GPU. Onboard ram is LPDDR4 and has variants of 2GB, 4GB and 8GB available.
Links: Pine64.com, Amazon.com*, AliExpress.com*
The Pine64 SOQuartz Blade is an official Pine64 expansion board meant to provide a 1U compatible Blade-size I/O board (very useful for data centers as well as clusters).
Links: Pine64.com, Amazon.com*
The Geekworm copper heat sink set is designed to fit many different single board computers. It uses thermal conductive adhesive which many “cheap” heat sink kits for SBCs don’t have. Eliminates hot spots and reduces throttling. Can be further enhanced by powered cooling over the heat sinks.
Links: Amazon.com*, Amazon.ca*, Amazon.co.jp*, Amazon.co.uk*, Amazon.de*, Amazon.es*, Amazon.fr*, Amazon.it*
These are from the Pine64 wiki page here.
- SOQuartz BLADE Baseboard Dimensions: 200mm x 40mm x 15mm
- Input Power:
- DC 12V @ 3A 3.4OD/1.3ID (IEC 60130-10 Type E) Barrel DC Jack connector
- microSD – bootable, support SDHC and SDXC, storage up to 2TB
- USB – USB2.0 Host port (with header for setting OTG ID pin)
- Expansion Ports
- 2×20 pins “Pi2” GPIO Header
- M.2 slot
- PWM fan header
- OTG ID jumper
- GPIO voltage, select 3.3V or 1.8V
- PoE Enable
Let’s start with the packaging. The blade ships in a clear hard shell like this:
Everything is wrapped in an anti-static bag. I’ve mentioned it before in my other reviews but I’m really happy to see all of the manufacturers moving away from shipping these in little boxes like Raspberry Pis used to/still are. They always got crushed. This will make it to you intact.
Now let’s take a look at the blade itself:
Here you can see where we mount the M.2 NVMe drive. We can also see a jumper labeled USB_OTG_ID.
There’s a fan connector on the right hand side of the blade as well as a HDMI port. SD Card slot, UART and a USB 2.0 port are on the left as well as the PoE Ethernet port.
Now let’s look at the bottom of the board:
As you can see there isn’t much to see on the bottom here. It’s well built and sturdy like all Pine64 devices I’ve used.
Testing the Blade
I first prepared a SD card on it with the Armbian image available from the Pine64 wiki here. Next I took the SD card and put it in the Pine64 Blade. I connected the HDMI as well as a keyboard and then plugged in a network cable connected to a PoE port to see of it would power itself purely from the Ethernet connection.
Here was the result:
Excellent, no power cords! Everything worked the first try. The WiFi is working but you must have the external antenna attached like I do in the picture. It won’t work well without it.
I went through the initial Armbian configuration and finally it’s time to test some NVMe performance with the SOQuartz!
You can verify the performance of your SSD on Pi Benchmarks using the following command:
sudo curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/TheRemote/PiBenchmarks/master/Storage.sh | sudo bash
Here are the results:
Category Test Result HDParm Disk Read 377.76 MB/s HDParm Cached Disk Read 371.45 MB/s DD Disk Write 144 MB/s FIO 4k random read 33684 IOPS (134736 KB/s) FIO 4k random write 7064 IOPS (28258 KB/s) IOZone 4k read 83772 KB/s IOZone 4k write 39826 KB/s IOZone 4k random read 43358 KB/s IOZone 4k random write 80605 KB/s Score: 14,559
The full Pine64 SOQuartz Blade benchmark can be viewed here on Pi Benchmarks.
This is PCIe 2.0 performance we are seeing out of the drive. This gives excellent speeds and is using true NVMe! It’s not PCIe 3.0 performance but I definitely would not expect that at the price point of the SOQuartz (which the CM4 it’s competing against doesn’t do PCIe 3.0 either).
One of the few ways I know of to get PCIe 3.0 performance in the single board computer world right now is to jump up to a Rock 5B.
Pros / Cons
- Only costs $29
- Supports PoE (power over ethernet)
- Supports NVMe and has a dedicated M.2 slot with mounting sizes 2230-2280
- Image support continues to be lacking while Pine64 works toward mainline kernel support (use Armbian in the mean time)
It’s not clear to me how much the kickstarter Blade is even going to cost or when it’s going to be more generally available. If this is already available to buy somewhere I apologize but I legitimately couldn’t find where to get one (or anyone selling one on eBay or anything like that).
EDIT 2/11/2022: This has since been made clear to me. It will be about $64 for the basic version at time of writing. The full kickstarter page can be viewed here for more details. There are different packages available for the kickstarter project intended for the CM4.
This product however is very real. You can buy it today for $29.99 from Pine64. I definitely recommend pairing it with the SOQuartz if you get one. I haven’t tested it with the CM4 yet to see if everything works properly but I will do that in a future article. I’d be surprised if the kickstarter CM4 board doesn’t cost more than the Pine64 SOQuartz + Blade combined.
I really like that I can use this without having to use up any of my power adapters or AC plug spots or anything else. I have plenty of PoE-enabled network ports around so it’s very likely I’ll continue to use the Pine64 Blade in a setup like this as a server. I may buy a larger NVMe drive to put in there like a Crucial P3 4TB drive* and make it a storage server.
If you are investigating wanting to use one for a server or multiple of these for a cluster I’d definitely recommend picking up a Blade + SOQuartz and seeing if it may serve your use case. I’ve had great experiences with Pine64 with my Pinecil as well as this blade and they make a lot of other cool stuff / are a great company.
The software/image support is lacking but they themselves will tell you that (and they do if you read through their wiki pages) as they are working toward mainline kernel support. That will be a glorious day for the SOQuartz and other boards they are working toward this goal for once it’s ready (and from the wiki tracker they’ve made significant progress but you can see some things still need porting such as the fan driver). Therefore I do not recommend this for absolute beginners at this time as the image support is limited.
In other words it’s still a bit early to buy in so I recommend it for developers or experienced users mostly. A lot of you out there that might be waiting or trying to get your hands on that other blade are probably more than qualified to make this work as well as I have here. If you have enough experience to be working with the Compute Module 4 though realistically you’ll probably be fine using Armbian with it.
Armbian still seems to be the best choice to use with the SOQuartz (especially for people just starting out with the board) but there are other options like the Manjaro (requires USB to TTY serial console). I’d definitely recommend trying it for anyone who is comfortable with compute modules (and using a USB to TTY serial console) and has a use case for a blade setup like this!
Don’t miss my Pine64 SOQuartz review here
I’ve also reviewed the Pinecil soldering iron from Pine64 here
I have had 6 of these blades running now for a few months with production workloads, they work great for what I want. I want a linux server with nvme and ethernet, that will do me just fine. They are good for pimox and k3s and that will fo for me. At the price they are, you can’t go wrong.
Wow, that’s the biggest setup I’ve heard of so far with the Pine64 Blade, very nicely done! The value is pretty incredible here. I was pretty impressed with it as well.
Thanks for sharing!
Here’s a pic of them in my dirty cab with the 19 inch rackmount I 3D printed for them I’m currently working on building a 10inch rackmount, 2U high with 80mm fans for cooling: https://imgur.com/a/AApDWDv
It’s beautiful! I love how you have it racked. That’s a really cool 3D printed rackmount enclosure. I was actually really curious what yours looked like. It’s very impressive, thanks for sharing!
As an early backer on several Pine64 projects I can say I will never buy one again. They regularly release cheap “clones” of things they see that are popular and never fully back it with software support. I backed the original Pine64 and the Pine Stamp which has since been rebranded to the Padi probably to escape all the criticism they received. Their hardware and software has always been second rate.
You’ve criticized Ivan for having multiple revisions over the course of some time. Do you have any clue how hardware development works? Of course it has multiple revisions. He is just doing it in the public unlike most companies. I’ve received the blade personally and am the US distributor for the beta blades (https://twitter.com/dtaivpp/status/1618993402720456706) and can tell you that the product is real and it works. JetBrains is already using it in their production environment to serve users on a daily basis. Can the same be said for the soquartz-blade?
There are so many uninformed and just bad takes in this blog that I cant imagine you are not being paid to shill Pine products. Maybe you should take the fact that no one is talking about it as an indicator that no one is interested in buying it because the reputation of the Pine group is not a good one. Best of luck in your endeavors tinkering to get the soquartz-blade to work. I flashed an os and have been using my compute blade with full software support for 2 weeks now without issues.
Yes! I am directly comparing them with Pine64’s process. That board exists. This one doesn’t. Pine64’s board also has multiple revisions. Why do you think I am against multiple revisions? Why doesn’t he just release the damn board?
I believe it works. Pine64 has already proven this concept works. We already have it. We will see how well Ivan’s works when we get it. That’s cute you have a beta version of the board as a distributor. Let’s see what real people end up getting (and when). It must be fun to be in your exclusive club but it doesn’t really mean anything for regular people does it?
Ivan has my personal permission to make as many board revisions as he feels he needs to. If people think I’m against this I have no idea where that’s coming from. I want him to get the board done and into your hands. Everything else is nonsense.
Nobody is paid to shill Pine64 products that I know of. I’m not getting paid at all for writing this. If you click that Pine64 link (or you can hover over it to make sure if you’re qualified enough to do that) I can guarantee you I won’t make one penny. There’s no such thing. There’s no referral codes. There’s no free product. Good luck wrapping your head around it and twisting my motivations to be evil while defending an absolute mess of a project that is vaporware at this time.
That’s disgusting that JetBrains is using it in their production environment when all of those people are waiting. What a great project. How many boards did JetBrains get while all of you got none? This project is even more dirty than I realized then. That’s quite funny you think this is a *good* thing. The project has been backed by ordinary people since what 2021? Yet the enterprise clients / distributors get their gear first. Yum.
I’m not sure why they even wasted one on you to be honest as a distributor. You should send your board to one of the early backers of the project. That’s really gross. What would you even do with it as a distributor other than distribute it? I guess because it’s a “beta” board but again I would say let the early backers beta test it then. I’m sure they’d be more than thrilled to do so. How does not every single one of those precious boards go to someone who is like reward tier 100 million? I bet they’d provide better beta feedback than you too simply because the early/big backers are going to be the most passionate about it. A lot more so than some distributor.
Sure, all of the special people have their boards already. Do you understand that’s one of the main CONCERNS I had about the project? That that isn’t fair?
This would be like Jeff telling me “I received one already”! Jeff would never do that though because that was exactly one of my points/criticisms I was making of how this project has played out. Don’t you understand that is part of the problem? When key individuals only are getting sent product while a bunch of funds continue to be raised and nothing else gets shipped that is very concerning.
Considering you are a distributor your perspective makes sense. It wouldn’t make sense for any ordinary person. You do not seem to have the self-awareness to realize this. Your arguments actually make them look *worse*. Do you think people are going to love hearing that you and JetBrains and all of these special people already have their boards? You think a backer from 1.5 years ago is going to like that and think that’s fair? Only an idiot would think that’s fair or someone completely lacking in self-awareness. I hope Ivan tells you to shut the hell up about this and stop talking about how you already have your gear and these enterprise clients already have their gear. That’s not making this project look better.
I suppose people smell blood in the water when someone admits a mistake but I can assure you that if people want to keep stopping by I will happily keep pointing out the project’s problems, comparing it to the already completed Pine64 board, pointing out the special treatment and distribution of this project and anything else you would like to bring to my attention that is bad that I wasn’t even aware of yet. I’m not worried about putting up my mistake of initially misjudging their project up against all the mistakes that have actually been made here by the project itself. I’ve simply got a lot more to work with. I’m sure it gets worse if I continue to go down this rabbit hole with you guys.
If you have more information you’d like to share about how distribution really works in this project with us I’d love to hear it. I’m more than willing to cover this whole project in a proper well-researched article if that’s what you guys want (you don’t). The word “scam” won’t be featured anywhere in that article because that’s not true. You won’t find the truth much more flattering though and that’s just with what I already know. If I go all the way back into the history of this project what will I find? If I go into that Discord what kind of nonsense am I going to see that I’m not aware of yet (especially going back in time as far as it will let me)?
I can’t help you sir. That’s clear. I’d suggest that you are the fan here and not myself.
I think we should take a break on this…
Ivan has them running at JetBrains because that’s where he works. He builds things like these blades, custom Mac mini brackets for mounting and remote controlling huge numbers in racks, etc. as part of his work there.
He’s been running various versions of the Blade testing them in production at his day job to make the boards better, and wasn’t comfortable going to production, ordering thousands of units, because he likely doesn’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to risk on production for a board that isn’t being built by a major corporation.
Even with companies like JLCPCB etc, you order a batch, then you realize manufacturing requires a lot of little tweaks for better reliability. You order another batch, then you realize a component doesn’t work because some traces are too close to something else. You order another batch, then realize the placement of something is just off when you try putting it in an enclosure… etc. etc.
He was doing that almost entirely on his own, and finally opened up a small batch to outside testers once he was comfortable getting more feedback before going to a kickstarter. Here’s the whole production history.
Ivan’s been incredibly open throughout the design process, detailing every step on Twitter, Instagram, his website, and now also on Discord as he’s gathering feedback from those who are participating in the Kickstarter.
Thanks for sharing the history! I definitely see what you mean. There have been a *lot* of versions of these. That’s a great write-up of everything. You can actually see a few different generations of PCB manufacturing throughout those like the very early prototypes. That’s fascinating and you can see it kind of growing up. I recognize the Compute Blade 0.9 RC2 model from your video on that (that’s the version I always picture of my mind when thinking of this at least).
I definitely understand and agree on the prototyping process for these. A lot of these tweets go back to 2020 so this is a very long prototyping process. You’re right though that navigating this process as an individual is not easy. The services that are available today were not available in 2020 that would have really helped him through this process. Some of the major ones that would have helped this project are only within the past year or two even.
I’m completely okay with taking a break on it for sure. I definitely wish no ill will toward Ivan or the project. I haven’t been involved in any of it to the extent you have. Taking a break would be my preference too because as I was suggesting in another comment here I wouldn’t want to keep engaging on this without doing a full deep dive myself / investigation. I legitimately know very little about him or the project (clearly).
I know you wouldn’t vouch for him like this though if you weren’t certain and I believe you. You’ve basically explained the inconsistencies in the project that I hope people can understand / recognize why these are “red flags” in the first place. It doesn’t mean anything nefarious / evil was going on necessarily but it’s always something worth investigating. I definitely jumped to the wrong conclusions. All of my things I got wrong were from looking at previous failed projects / scams and just looking for those red flags. Those red flags always have potentially legitimate explanations though and you’ve definitely provided them all here.
I said somewhere else that I wouldn’t apologize to Ivan yet but that’s not true. I will apologize to him publicly for calling his project a scam because it’s not true for sure. What I meant was I did mistake some of the red flags I’ve outlined for malicious behavior but it turns out it’s, as you said, he’s going through the process as an individual and the process is pretty overwhelming (and changes faster than I can keep up with). I am still deeply skeptical but you vouching for him and the facts you’ve provided here about the history of the project are lessening my skepticism. I’ll never be immune from information and well-reasoned arguments for sure.
You’ve all convinced me that this board is going to happen for sure (with both your arguments and the amount of money that has flowed into it that I’ve seen). I didn’t really get an answer from anyone on lead time / how long it’s going to take but I assume that information is going to probably become available before too long now that the goal has hit it’s funding minimum (and seemingly has enough extra that it seems unlikely to drop below that before April). That’s something to still keep an eye on because it’s like, are we talking 3 months? 6 months? A year? Any remaining skepticism I have is related to when people will get it at this point if that makes sense.
Thanks as always for your well-reasoned and well-sourced and professional calm demeanor. I’m personally at the wait-and-see stage for what the timelines are. I definitely meant it when I said if this becomes available and everything looks good I would buy one and even cover it on the site. There are just still a lot of reasons to be cautious particularly until it’s clearer as to “when”. I definitely hope you won’t hesitate to let me know if I’m getting things wrong going forward. I truly don’t take it personally (unless people make it personal which there was a little bit of that in other comments but even then people had some good arguments that convinced me on parts here and there).
I’m grateful to you and others who pointed out anything I’m completely missing / got totally wrong / etc. and there was quite a bit of it. I can’t promise to always get it right but everyone is always welcome to let me know if I got it wrong just like this and what the truth/reality is. I can also promise to give a little bit more of a benefit of the doubt going forward. I felt like there was enough data to reach some of those conclusions but in fact there were a lot of unlikely coincidences at play. That means I need to adjust my margins before I reach that certainty because that’s a mistake for sure and something I need to / will learn from.
Thanks Jeff and take care!
You too! And hopefully he’ll be able to sell the Blades after the Kickstarter somehow, maybe through a partner like Seeed or DFRobot or something… I would love to see custom boards like it available in general sales just like Pine64 has been good about doing.
I’d love to see that too! This has always been my dream with the compute module world as it’s such a great idea to have a modular approach to a lot of these capabilities. Need NVMe? You can use a I/O board that has it. Need dual or 3X WAN? There’s I/O boards for that too!
The blade form factor is so nice with the PoE capabilities. I’d love to see them sold through a partner. Seeed is a company that I was actually thinking of that offers a lot of the PCB and assembly services. No idea how they would compete on price with some of the other options out there but as a partner they could probably be a valuable asset as far as even potentially helping to produce some or all of the board depending on how good they actually are. It’s a fantastic idea!
I hope to buy Ivan’s blade after Kickstarter. Right now, I’m putting together another Kickstarter projector, the TuringPi cluster. I’ve got two NVIDIA Jetsons and want to fully populate it. But there’s $$$ involved. The add-ons look more complex than choosing options in ordering a car.
Its great to see you pumping out the content and the Pine64 SOQuartz Blade expansion board looks to be an affordable alternative to the unobtanium Raspberry Pi CM4 with some welcome additions such as PoE and actual PCIe 2.0 NVMe speeds.
Again the lack of software options may put some users off (myself included due to inexperience working with say Manjaro) but Pine64 deserve praise for the efforts being made to get mainline kernel support for their devices and the build quality is top notch for what you can expect to pay but I wish they had a few more distributors as most of the time its a struggle finding stock of accessories or boards from the official site and the 30 warranty is disappointing unless you purchase from AmeriDroid or one of the EU sellers who offer extended warranty as per local consumer laws.
I look forward to seeing how it pairs with the RPi CM4 in a future post and until then keep up the outstanding work! Cheers from Australia…
Hey Razor Burn,
Thanks so much! I definitely agree with you about the distributor situation. I actually don’t make any money linking to the Pine64 products (except the Pinecil which is on Amazon) and nobody else does either I’d imagine. That’s definitely one part of the puzzle as to why nobody has ever covered this board (outside of the fact that Pine64 themselves doesn’t seem to promote it yet because they know it’s not ready for general consumers).
I couldn’t find a single example of anyone reviewing the SOQuartz Blade anywhere. My article is already #3 on Google for searching for Pine64 SOQuartz Blade. That’s some pretty easy ranking (as easy as it gets). The only one beating me is the Pine64 wiki as they should.
I think they’re worth covering because they’re good products. I can’t believe people have pumped almost 500,000 into that kickstarter for something that only YouTubers have received best I can tell (basically a scam). That’s a pretty common scam too. Send the products to a bunch of influencers then take half a million dollars in money before you even start producing the board.
The kickstarter says if they don’t hit $500,000 it’s all or nothing. I couldn’t advise staying away from something more than I would that kickstarter Blade board. It has all the hallmarks of a pretty classic tech hustle. I can’t believe those still aren’t available as a lot of the videos promoting them are at least 1 year old. That thing was announced in 2021 and a lot of the videos are from back then and not only can you still not get one, they’re threatening the whole thing will be canned if their all-or-nothing kickstarter campaign doesn’t hit $500,000.
You can see why I hold such a low opinion of how technology is covered by almost the entire industry. Here we have a *real* product that actually works and there’s NOTHING out there about it. The scam kickstarter product sent to a bunch of influencers and nobody else? It’s everywhere and it’s not even real other than some prototypes best I can tell. People have thrown over $400,000 at some scam trying to get one of these and Pine64 is selling it for $29.99.
It’s sad because I don’t even think any of those influencers had bad intentions. They’re just following the incentives. You get mad views and coverage because nobody else can get it and cover it because it’s an exclusive product only sent to “special” people. The only problem is when it turns out to be a hustle/scam and then all the influencers look like morons. The same thing happened with all the crypto hustles and that wasn’t very long ago either. This is the same thing.
I’m sure some other people will cover it now though. Anyone getting sent free product isn’t going to cover this Blade. Only the people paying attention and who understand that the market is fragmenting right now will pick one up and cover it. I’m noticing more and more of a growing and stronger alternative board community every day including within media. It’s mostly the smaller guys but there are some YouTubers like the “Gary Explains” (284K subs) account as well as “ExplainingComputers” (900K subs) and some others who are growing in influence and are daring to favorably cover things like the Rock 5B I saw recently. These YouTubers covering more general / alternate boards are now already bigger than or quickly catching up to the Raspberry Pi YouTubers. Some of these guys were originally Raspberry Pi YouTubers but they’ve evolved which is why I know who some of them are now.
My calculation as always is to cover the best and most cost effective equipment out there. Not all of them can be directly monetized through links but my calculation is that the SITE should be useful and if people are using the SITE then I’ll do fine over the long term because most of them are available on other distributors like Amazon or AliExpress that do have some monetization. Since most of them have it I don’t have to worry about the one product here and there that there’s no way for me to monetize. The idea is that if I’m writing valuable content it will work itself out as people will keep coming back as you do for the new content. This gives me some freedom to cover stuff that I know I can’t monetize directly as the overall site is the bigger goal (and having people keep coming back).
I think you are making the right decision waiting for them to finish mainline kernel support. I really tried to drive home in the conclusion that for some groups of people this already makes sense to buy but until mainline support comes it’s going to be more painful than it should be (especially when it comes to choices for an image). I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on them though and I’d imagine they can finish up mainline support this year if they push on those last remaining items on the wiki that haven’t been completed yet.
I definitely think for anyone caught up in that kickstarter scam though it makes infinitely more sense to try to pick up one of these and pull your money out of that thing if it lets you (I’m not sure how it works). Yes, the image support isn’t perfect but at least this thing is real. You’ll make a lot more progress working with real hardware from Pine64 even if it still is under development than you will with vaporware/theoretical products. This is one of the grosser ones I’ve seen as it looks like they are saying the whole thing will be cancelled if people don’t pump another 100k into it by May. Wow. Even if they return that money if it doesn’t reach 500K they wouldn’t be doing it this way if there wasn’t some sort of scummy profiting going on.
Thanks again and take care!
I just checked and that 500K goal is gone from the kickstarter page (it says they’ve met it now). Literally yesterday when I wrote this it was all-or-nothing. They completely changed the page too. All of their reward tiers for people pledging money are gone that were such an obvious scam and what people *always* do when they’re trying to raise a bunch of money like this for something that hasn’t actually been made outside of prototypes. This stuff was there YESTERDAY when I wrote this. That is *HILARIOUS*. Someone heard me. This was updated TODAY.
It seems the heat has been turned up by me pointing out this product already exists and costs a lot less than I’m positive they will charge for it. If even a few of their backers saw this article in their feed I’m guessing that raised some really uncomfortable questions. That’s very fascinating how 100K just appeared overnight. I wonder what really happened with this behind the scenes and who pledged that money. Who just decided to donate 100K the day I published an article about their competitor board that has been available for a while for $29.99? Somebody who my criticisms here hit pretty close to home for I’d imagine and doesn’t want to be caught up in an influencer scam like all the people that have been with other tech products / crypto.
I couldn’t recommend staying away from the kickstarter more. This is *DIRTY* what is going on with that kickstarter campaign. I can’t believe someone donated 100K to that right after this was published. It went from 423k yesterday to 523k today. That’s a lot of money and you can verify everything I’m saying for yourself. One person literally donated 100k to this overnight. That doesn’t just happen. Someone is scared/threatened. It’s been completely whitewashed now / cleaned up to look respectable now that the scamming phase of the project is over / playing all the games with reward tiers. Ewww. Just don’t. Either they already had that money and they put it back in there when they got called out or someone who has been involved donated/pledged it to protect their reputation.
Either way this project is not to be trusted. Even if this product gets delivered now it only means that they could have done this at any time. They had that 100k that could have came from somewhere at any time and it was only when it was clear to them that they could no longer afford to linger in the “reward tier” stage of the scam that it stopped and they finally moved to the production phase. It might even result in people getting a legitimate product eventually. That doesn’t make it not a scam though. It’s still a scam because they’ve been jerking people around this whole time instead of just making it and delivering it. Now there are already *released* clones!
Now you can just buy a clone from real companies that already exist for a lot less money (thus you can see why they’re panicking). This article was not a part of the plan. They wanted to keep getting their backers to keep pledging their hard earned $10 or $20 inching toward it when in reality this whale could have came in and funded it whenever they wanted. I have no doubt they would have continued with their old deadline crying right up until May that they weren’t going to make it and it was going to get cancelled if this didn’t happen. If any of those backers actually get one they have me to thank for them not getting it 6-12 months later it would seem.
See why you don’t want to work with these guys even if it’s getting delivered eventually? They’re playing games with you. The money was there this entire time and it just appeared when it was needed / convenient. Once a competitor is on the scene it’s time to stop fooling around and trying to squeeze another $5 out of each pledge and move forward. That’s exactly what just happened. These people are honestly scum. They extracted every $ from their pledges they could while it was convenient and nobody knew of any competition. The MOMENT that turns inconvenient all of the money appears and everything about “reward tiers” vanishes. That’s how you know that you’re being toyed with.
I’m guessing part of the reason they did this is that until the goal is met people can withdraw their pledges. Once the goal is met though it “locks in” the money because presumably then the project owner has started to move forward and use that money toward manufacturing so they’re not going to take it back at that point. That 100K coming in was probably to prevent anyone from pulling their money *OUT* once they realized this was available already (and for CHEAP). It moved the project into a new phase meaning people probably are locked in now. It’s just another confirmation that this kickstarter project is as dirty as it gets. The situation is definitely not how they are presenting it. This actually protects them from people backing out now even if they want to change their mind / realize there’s better options available.
In other words even their cleanup operation after this publication is just meant to lock you in so you can’t back out now. It’s just another step that is purely to their benefit just as delaying the project saying “we don’t have enough money!” was. See how this works? You’d have been better off if they didn’t do this because then you could have cancelled your pledge and ordered a Pine64 Blade. That’s exactly why they closed this avenue to you with their own money (or someone they had caught up enough in the scam they felt they needed to put up the money to protect themselves). Immediately. The second this was published almost it feels like.
I’m surprised they didn’t just offer me $10,000 to delete the article. It probably would have been a lot cheaper than going through Kickstarter which takes their own cut and I might have taken it since with that 10K I could have bought hundreds of cooler products to cover for the site here with that money. Someone has that much money to throw around over this and nobody even offered to write me a check? It would have saved them a lot of money although it would have also empowered me to do even more content like this so they probably don’t want that either.
To anyone covering alternative boards that may be reading this: it looks like this one struck a nerve. A 100K nerve. This one is probably worth picking up and covering if you are doing media like me especially for alternative boards. I’ve never seen such a hostile and obvious response from industry insiders to an alternative board being introduced and it should make everyone curious as to why. They really, really hate this one in the Raspberry Pi ecosystem or maybe it’s just the company behind this kickstarter blade. They’re scared to death of it in a way that has surprised me. They aren’t being hostile to me though personally. I haven’t heard a word. By making it much more difficult for people to back out they’re being hostile to their existing pledges and that’s not really new (having all those pledge tiers and reward stuff is just another form of abuse/milking).
I’m sorry to anyone who just got their money locked up in the scam due to me publishing this article (when my understanding is you could have taken it out before the goal was reached and it moved into the next phase). They just chained the doors on the fire escapes to keep you in (at great expense to someone). I can’t emphasize enough that 100K is 1/5 of the total this scam has raised in the MULTIPLE YEARS this has been going on (I see references in 2021) and that appeared overnight. Wow. If it’s any consolation you’ll get your CM4 Blade much sooner than you would have otherwise. This was scheduled to keep milking you guys until May until this article was published and then all the money suddenly appeared (like magic!). Hopefully some of you have the funds/resources to just order a Pine64 Blade instead to play with in the mean time.
I figure it is time to put a stop to this grift and hopefully people understand that in the end. At least now they have to produce something and aren’t full time fundraisers anymore. You’ll get something even if it’s 6 months to a year from now / ended up costing 5x as much as the Pine64 Blade would have (which would arrive in a few weeks if you ordered it today in the US or sooner depending on your part of the world or if you pay for expedited shipping). It’s better for the buyers than getting the same board but an additional 6-12 months later than you would have otherwise. Like I said that kickstarter has been going on for so long that the clone boards are arriving (and this one won’t be the last).
It probably also moves up the timeline of when I should publish the article on testing using the CM4 with the Pine64 blade earlier than I was planning. I’m guessing they probably already know that it will work with the real CM4 just fine but I still need to test it myself and publish the findings.
I can confirm the Compute Blade is real, the production of the board is already arranged (Ivan is not a fly-by-night scammer AFAICT… he’s been ver communicative on Twitter, Instagram, and Discord), but of course as with any Kickstarter there is always the risk of it not being shipped.
The reason it has taken so long is the entire project was conceived of, developed, tested, and produced by one individual (Ivan). He produced a batch of 100 or so ‘RC2 boards’ and sent them to people who pre-ordered pre-production units a few months ago. Most of those I can confirm shipped and are in use (except for a few where there were weird shipping exceptions), and many of the beta testers have provided feedback via Discord leading to well-documented support for all board features already.
I put a lot of faith into this thing (enough that I made a 2nd video on it once I was able to test the RC2 version of the board!), and I have no financial incentive in the production or sales of the blades—I actually ordered the 10-node cluster so if it goes belly-up I’m out $1000 🙂
The reason Ivan put the high goal is he could not produce *any* blades without meeting a 7.5k production quota, with the manufacturer he is working with. And he also secured a batch of CM4s that he is selling for a slight markup because after months of trying to get them from Raspberry Pi (and failing at that), he finally bit the bullet and paid for a batch from a reseller at cost (plus shipping).
But as I mentioned in my video a couple weeks ago, other boards like the SOQuartz do work with this blade. And the CM4 also worked in the SOQuartz Blade (which was a pleasant surprise).
Finally, as to the 100,000k overnight—following along in the Discord, there were a lot of orders where a business that is planning on using the blades + rack units had to put in an order through their typical bureaucratic process… and I know more than one hosting company who is planning on deploying at least 1U of the blades for CI or other hosting purposes.
The project had over 6,000 people signed up to get notified once the Kickstarter went live—seeing 729 backers at this point, that seems like a typical ratio of people who are interested to those who purchased boards.
Thanks a lot for the inside information (or it sounds like a lot of it is from the Discord servers as well)! I actually thought about asking you about this but only because I knew you had got one of these boards at one point and I’d watched your testing of the SOQuartz in there. That’s what actually got me curious about this board when I saw it on Pine64’s site! I also tried to slip some things in there that might hint I wasn’t specifically talking about you with a lot of my criticisms here about YouTubers (such as things like people getting sent all of their gear for free while I know you buy this stuff and I knew you’d bought quite a few of your alternative boards such as the Rock 5B but I’d missed you already had the Blade as well!).
I’m sorry I missed your coverage of the of the SOQuartz Blade. Jeff you might legitimately be the only other person in the world (at least on English Google) that has covered this and I missed it my first time. I did google for “SOQuartz Blade” and looked at the first 10 results and there you are at #12-13 or so. The only other stuff I saw initially was cnx-software coverage of it originally being announced. I just didn’t go down far enough. I’m so used to seeing you in the top 5 or so whenever you write something so I legitimately missed it! The top results are terrible too other than Pine64’s official ones. I take it you aren’t officially involved (I didn’t think you were originally either) since you have an order in.
I accept that there’s definitely more going on here that I don’t know about and this definitely helps. I hope people can understand why it was hard for me initially to accept this was a coincidence with the amount of money involved and the timing from a completely outsider perspective. I ordered this…. it had to have been weeks ago and maybe even close to a month ago. I forgot it was even coming and it just showed up a couple of days ago. The timing is mind blowing that would happen in a long-lived project like this on basically the same day and it would move into the next phase.
I apologize for assuming the worst about Ivan and the project. It sounds like this stuff was in the works and that this was incredibly weird timing that such a huge volume of orders / drastic project change would all happen right at the same time (especially when from my perspective no one had ever covered this board). I’m not a fan of any of the reward tier stuff but honestly it’s kind of a part of the kickstarter type of industry so I get it as long as people aren’t being abusive with it. That kind of stuff reminds me a lot of the crypto meltdown worst practices which didn’t help with me assuming the worst type of behavior.
I see your coverage here and would definitely agree the Pine64 Blade board is pretty basic. I’d also guess by your 10 for $1000 that these cost approximately $100 a piece (but it might be more complicated that that) but roughly speaking. I honestly think that’s fine if it has different / more capabilities than the Pine64 version for sure. It looks like there’s a basic and dev version and that the basic version is cheaper than $100 and is closer to about $64.
It won’t go belly up with how much money it has now. That’s impossible. It should cost a fraction of this to just go through one of the many PCB manufacturers but it sounds like they want to do it old school like we would 10 years ago. That’s why they are getting beat to market by everyone. Do you really need to set up some kind of big fab operation like this to make a compute board IO board PCB in 2023? I feel like there are dozens of companies that email me every week that would make this product for me. They’d be delighted to. Just the 150K it has made since I published this is *way* above any minimums you need with a lot of the custom PCB companies anymore. That would even be big enough to get your pricing down depending on the shop you’re working with (and certainly if you shopped around).
I get that it’s a passion project but that’s what makes it all the stranger to me that they want to set up such a complex operation instead of just have someone make this for you. That’s more than enough money to do so many times over. I feel like it would have ended up being cheaper too just having one of the many specialty companies take care of this if you have the great idea and people who want to buy it like this. It would have also had the advantage of people not waiting a year+ as you would just continually be buying more (and getting better prices as your order sizes increase). This seems like an ancient way of doing it. I’m surprised they can compete (and maybe they can’t, time will tell). It still seems like only 100 of these exist (but that will be changing shortly) so it’s all theoretical for now.
That’s exactly what Pine64 did though. They designed the board in their headquarters in California and then they just shipped it to some fab in China to make (historically at least for quite some time but it doesn’t matter, whoever is smart and good at making them cost effectively is fine to send it to). And you know what? It’s here. You can buy it today and it’s cheap. It’s hard for me to look at that kickstarter and say that’s the way to do these things.
I really wish he would just do the same thing Pine64 did with that project and hire a fab. They can do it cheaper than someone will ever be able to put together some project-specific fab for or whatever it is he’s saying here with the 7K minimum quantity for “enterprise quality and environmental sustainability”. That’s crazy in 2023 in my opinion. I can assure him he should check the current prices/limits again. Does he understand you can upload the schematic online to dozens of fabs and the boards will essentially show up in the mail? These are services available to *me*! He might have to use a hot plate solder some components but even I’m working on learning how to do that right now using custom-ordered PCBs. There are plenty of services that do all of the components/soldering too and it’s hard to see it coming out to $100 a board from any of them (at least for larger orders).
I 100% accept that it’s not a scam though. It’s just very old school. It’s been a very, very puzzling process to observe and try to wrap my head around why on earth this could possibly be taking this long and cost so much money to make a custom PCB knowing how easy and cheap those services are (and widely available even to small creators). This individual cannot possibly outcompete a professional fab (or the services surrounding them) on… anything. Not price. Not technology. Nothing. The more he needs the cheaper it gets too! With the numbers he’s talking this should be easy to get made. There’s so many choices to have just been having these made this entire time (and he could have even switched fabs for more favorable terms as he got bigger). When I read the kickstarter description about anything he’s doing that he isn’t just paying a professional to do (other than design the board which hopefully was done a long, long time ago considering there’s already prototypes) all I see is lost time and money and a higher price.
This should have been as easy as uploading the schematics on the internet to a web site. That’s what Pine64 did. That’s what the other clones will do. We have the pricing and availability results of Pine64 but we are awaiting this one (at least the availability part for sure, the pricing may stay the same). Time will tell for sure.
Thank you for setting the record straight before I went on believing this about that kickstarter project for too long when there’s actually a lot more going on. That’s very much appreciated. Take care!
Some more insights on KS campaign (from a beta tester)
The only blame I would cast on Ivan is the habit of having complete control on the whole process. And being a damn perfectionist. He made a custom PCB just for the fan units 🙂
“old school” you say, and I can somehow agree with you. Ivan is not backed by a big company as a Pine64, and he feels all the responsibility to deliver a quality product.
About custom ordered PCB: the first batch of CARDS (not PCBs) sent to beta testers was checked by him one-by-one (and the fab he used made some mistakes) since they are not just plain PCBs but also have quite a number of components on them.
A big-backed company can afford a “oh the card was bad, have a replacement and throw away the 30$ card we don’t care” since they work in far bigger numbers.
Having 7k with PCB, components and reliable soldering lead to that price. Maybe with 100k (or with a company like Pine who gives all kind of cards) I guess the number could be way more lower.
About the financing: 400k was done in the first 12hours from the campaign launch, and my best guess that quite a portion of this was raised by the enthusiast beta-testers who put their hands on this and had a chance to check this is quite real. 100k was added following the common logarithmic curve in this case.
A good point and a bad point on you:
First, thank you so much for showing a good Raspberry alternative. I’d like the idea of having a low power (even lower than CM4 due to A55 vs A72 cores) card to run a cluster.
Sofar my experience with RPI clones was limited to Orange PIs and they run quite well.
For the others the usual was “ok we made a good HW product, now let people get mad on SW”
First time I read of Soquartz the sw support was “not so brilliant “. Happy to see it evolved (the sw page is still a mess, but I trust you). And you almost convinced me to give this one a shot (as soon as I have funds)
bad point: I got scammed quite some times from IGG/KS, and I agree the campaigns should be chosen wisely nowadays. Starting insulting an unknown person “for a scam backed off by a famous youtuber” is a lack of background check which is, at least in this case, widely available. And this makes me a bit upset.
Besides, you had the nerve to apologize, and this is a good thing.
BTW, I again thank you for the good work on alternatives. Alternatives always show you there is a different way of doing thing, and sometimes the different way is overall better, or it fits better your needs.
thank you. take care!
[using my nick I use in cyberspace to comment… real name is in the mail 😉 ]
Welcome! So PCB services are a lot more advanced than this. I mean everyone has heard of PCBWay right? Look at the PCBWay order page. It’s not 2013. They will assemble the board for you. It’s not just PCBs. There’s a thousand services just like PCBWay. You wouldn’t even want to use PCBWay if you’re big. That’s just one *everyone* should know about because even YouTubers do paid promotions of it. This is easily available and cheap. There are actually paid staff that will guide you through all of this. They’re really good!
I remember the era you’re talking about. It was only a few years ago. Back then they wouldn’t assemble. If you look now though they *all* assemble. This stuff has advanced incredibly quickly. It has advanced faster than you or I or anyone could possibly keep up with that isn’t working with PCBs/boards every day. It has changed so fast that the scene is actually completely different today than when Ivan started the project. That’s just another part of my point.
I don’t believe I apologized to Ivan. I’m not prepared to do that yet. I apologize to you guys for not understanding some of the finer details of how this kickstarter camnpaign works. To be honest with you I think the whole project is trash. I don’t see it. I don’t see how this is better than just using a real BOARD service (not PCB, I shouldn’t have called it that because like I said that’s 10 years ago thinking). I do not believe this kickstarter project is the way to do things. I also definitely do not apologize for my overall criticisms of YouTubers and the way a lot of this stuff is covered on there.
I feel bad for people who have their money wrapped up in it as I’d imagine that we will get more clone releases before you get that board in your hands. At least now I understand people can pull their money out until the April deadline. That was another misconception I had.
You could probably just upload Ivan’s design to PCBWay or another one of these companies and get one a lot faster. It will definitely cost more than $100 if you just get one but it will turn out fantastic. Maybe someone could even pool a bigger order and order a bunch of them and get the price down. Which is exactly what I am suggesting Ivan should have done with the entire project in the first place.
As far as doing a background check on Ivan I was never trying to background check him. I’m not trying to figure out if he’s done shady things in the past. I wasn’t looking into his personal history. Background checking people is not what I do. I just saw a shitty project that costs a hell of a lot of money and is way, way overdue to be delivered. I started looking for reasons that was the case. I mistakenly found malice where the answer was actually incompetence. I assumed he was bad when really he’s just doing a bad job. I’m sorry if this is too harsh / mean for you guys but I don’t think you’re understanding where I’m coming from here.
We don’t have to wait for it to be delivered to judge whether Ivan’s process was more expensive than Pine64s. It was. We don’t have to wait to see if it will take longer than Pine64’s board. It did. Therefore we don’t need to wait to judge whether this was a bad way to do this project. It was. It took longer and is more expensive than if he just used a traditional process. Period. That is already a fact *today*.
I don’t care how great of a guy he is at all. It’s still not done. It should have been done by now. I’d never accept any company taking this long either and would just tell people this project is either stalled or dead.
It’s pretty rare for me to make a factual mistake on the site. I think my mistakes just show how bad and mind boggling this project is. I really don’t see it as about me but for any parts that are about me I think I’ve apologized and explained / accept that it’s not a scam. This is a bad, way overdue project. We have no idea when you guys will get your gear. None. The fact that there’s even so much room for interpretation is pure incompetence. Nobody can figure out what hell this guy is doing from the outside. If I wanted to background check him I’d have to join the Discord but I honestly don’t care. I don’t care how great of a guy he is. I only care why his project is so expensive and so late wnen this is not something that is hard to do in 2023.
Thanks so much for your response on the alternative boards. I definitely think the SOQuartz is worth a shot (or the SOQuartz Blade). There’s a lot of ways to use these. You don’t have to give up the CM4. You can use these together or interchangeably. I think it’s definitely a powerful tool for everyone to have!
I really appreciate your kickstarter comments about scams too. I don’t hate kickstarter theoretically but one does need to be careful. The more things like reward tiers and stuff I start seeing the more skeptical I get and you should definitely understand that. Once you start seeing a lot of games being played with the pledges it’s really not a good sign.
Again, I apologize for calling it a scam, but it is a terrible project. I don’t take that back. I’m not on board and I won’t be ordering one. I’d be very curious when you guys actually receive these though (legitimately). If I’m wrong about the product I’ll buy one if this just comes out and is widely available and everything is great. I just see no reason to expect things to go that smoothly from the track record. There is another way to do things and it is called literally the way everyone else does things except for Ivan.
Thanks for your comment, I hope I wasn’t too harsh but I just wanted to explain my positions. I agree 90% with you but I think I’m still just not there with the project overall even if we can understand why the project is the way it is. Take care!
It appears that the Compute Blade has been getting some added attention with some posts on popular sites such as CNX and an interview with the guys on Tom’s Hardware Podcast for those interested where he explains the project.
Hey Razor Burn,
Thanks for sharing that! This is the #1 article on my site now. It has blown past everything else in only a few days. In fact my traffic overall is up about 25% sitewide since I published this. Most of it is amp traffic so I must be showing in people’s Google News and other feeds. I’d say people are very interested in products like this. It’s more popular in traffic already than even my big hits over the past few months including articles with 100+ comments.
I thought this might drop off in a day or two but my site doesn’t really work that way ever (even though I know that’s the traditional publishing model that you get all your hits/clicks in the first day or so) and indeed it’s only picking up steam. This is ranked/Google traffic and today is higher than yesterday already surprisingly.
It’s hard to say if it’s because they’re looking for information on that project or if they’re looking for information on the Pine64 Blade. Either way they’re finding out about both and I think that’s a great thing! I think his project will end up being the more premium option (in both features and price) and there’s definitely a place to have a low-end option like this and a high-end option using a CM4 and that future Blade launch.
This attention is going to bring more clones as well. Count on it. This project has kind of been flying under the radar. I really didn’t know much about it outside of Jeff’s video that I’d seen a while back. Pine64 might have been the only one that noticed this was being made and then when they released their clone nobody knew what it was (nor do they seem to be marketing it because they’re working on mainline kernel support for the SOQuartz as well as the Blade). It was not just released recently or anything like that either. Just hardly anybody noticed or covered it best I can tell.
That’s why this was so easy to rank on. Jeff is the only other person who has ever covered it. Now that the other companies see the Toms Hardware interviews about the major Blade project at least 2-3 more of them are probably making one of these now. This just seems to not be a thing very many people knew was even being worked on (or already existed in the case of Pine64’s).
I’ll even name one. I’ll be surprised if Radxa doesn’t come out with one of these as well with all the compute module stuff they’re already doing. If that kickstarter isn’t starting to move *immediately* into production there’s a good chance we’ll see one from Radxa first (or at least announced and probably going up for pre-order). There’s honestly not a moment to lose. The hour is quite late already. Radxa has not been disappointing with their recent releases either. If they weren’t already going to do this it would be almost irresponsible for them not to do it now. It’s such an obvious play for them and they have a *ton* of Compute Module experience already.
It’s understandable they’d be promoting it and doing interviews as the goal was just reached. Only time will tell if that attention / promotion at this time though was in fact a gift or a curse. I’m not sure they understand how much danger they’re in and how late it already is right now. I’m not sure they understand who they are going to be competing against very shortly here even if they aren’t worried about Pine64’s version. If they aren’t worried about Radxa’s version or some of the other cloning companies they’re completely insane. Radxa would be coming for the mid and high end both. It will take them a fraction of the time anything on the kickstarter project took because they’re literally a professional board cloning company with many years of successful releases. They already have all of their partners / facilities and they know how to work with all of these parts and produce them quickly and cost effectively.
If it released today they’re only competing against Pine64. Surely nobody thinks that will be the last though. I definitely don’t think that. I again then go back to what is the lead time for the project? Because I kind of have a better idea of the lead time of the unannounced clones than I do the kickstarter still because I know how long it will take them to clone stuff like this from years of experience watching and covering them do it slowly to the Raspberry Pi and now slowly to everything else. It’s less than a year realistically even with prototyping and all of that. They’re just really, really good at cloning boards (quickly and cheaply). They weren’t always though. It took them a long time to get good at doing it with a lot of old and terrible forgotten models along the way paying for the experience that they now have.
I’ve no way of knowing how many people bought the Pine64 Blade from this article because I don’t make any commission from Pine64 so I don’t have the numbers. The traffic #’s tell me that a lot of people are for sure hungry for something like this whether they are trying the Pine64 one or they are jumping into the kickstarter project. I’d imagine the answer is that both are happening depending on people’s needs / preferences and that’s a positive outcome for sure.
You make some strong arguments and I’ll clarify this type of device isn’t really targeted at me so what do I know but judging by the funds raised on Kickstarter and the interest this blog has attracted there clearly is a market that largely remains untapped.
Then again I’m in two minds as my initial thought is that the Pine64 version/s exist yet rarely get mentioned and you can argue its down to the poor reputation for software support, although your reviews show its more than capable for its purpose. They obviously have done a poor job marketing both devices as I’ve only really seen yourself, Jeff and maybe Jean-Luc from CNX review the SOQuartz/Blade and the odd mention elsewhere that it was in the works but took little notice as its not something I see myself really using and judging by comments the consensus is that the idea is fantastic (largely from backers/users) or mixed (needs some work/why bother/expensive or well priced).
I agree that Radxa could easily jump in and “design” something similar and it would certainly help push sales for their own Compute Modules but I assume they’re in a similar boat to RPi and can’t get enough supplies to manufacture the volumes necessary to make the project viable and I see Pine64 showing stock on their shop so I just don’t see the mad rush to buy this type of device but the hype for the Compute Blade is real but I just don’t see how revolutionary it is compared to the Pine64 one that anybody can buy now…?
You’re correct that the time is now and surely somebody in marketing at Radxa has seen the attention Ivan has garnered and with reports that his units are scheduled to ship August 2023 (all going to plan) there is plenty of time for a clone to swoop in take advantage of the hype (real or manufactured) and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen soon as the concept is clearly achievable and wouldn’t cost too much to manufacture in bulk quantities for one of the bigger players so watch this space but what I do know is that the project is real and has been a success with pressures to get units out their and into backers hands.
You can be proud knowing that your blog was one of the only few covering this as many have since popped in to show faint interest and the comments have been spicy but you’re right to question things and I’ll happily admit I was wrong to be sceptical and wish Ivan well as the pressure is really on to get units ready and into peoples hands and there’s nobody to blame if we see newer clones released as his success is sure to attract interest from other vendors/manufactures looking for a piece of the pie…
Great work covering these obscure devices and hopefully somebody at Pine64 reaches out to you for advice as you’re one of a handful of reviewers willing to purchase their units and share honest reviews so surely they could listen as they’re ahead of the trends for some products but largely ignored so makes sense to seek the opinion of a respectable reviewer/user but I’m not holding my breath nor suggesting you go down that avenue as I appreciate the transparency and honesty that your blog brings to the tech community… Take care!
Hey Razor Burn,
Great points for sure! So I’d rate August 2023 as pretty good if they can hit that. I don’t think they’ll be in disastrous shape if that’s the kind of timeline we’re looking at here as far as other blade clones are concerned.
It’s anyone’s guess what will be available/announced in 6 months though is the only caveat I would add. I mean at this point you have to wonder if the Compute Module 4 is about to be passed up altogether by a RK3588/RK3588S variant. I’d guess that Radxa and others are working on 8-core Compute Modules that will use the CM4 connector/form factor.
One could argue “well the CM4 is really cheap compared to what those will be”! Sure, but if people have enough money to be building clusters of blades with CM4 and the cost of the kickstarter blade then I would say it should be no problem for them to afford a Radxa / Orange Pi / Pine64 / whoever 8-core RK3588/RK3588S version. If you’re using the CM4s with high memory capacity those are not cheap or easy to get either.
What I’m saying is that I won’t be jumping in the kickstarter. I’ll buy one when it releases if it makes sense to still do so. I’m saying it may not though. This is a high-performance product and I don’t expect the CM4 to be the high-performance compute module choice for very long. This already happened with the RPI4 and nobody is trying to impress other people with a RPI4 cluster anymore because that’s a lot more well-understood to be obsolete. I don’t think the CM4 is far behind it. I think we’re a RK3588S or RK3588 variant away from the CM4 looking just as old/obsolete as the Pi 4 does today.
It seems risky to pre-order a cluster that won’t be available for 6 more months when not only will there likely be more blade clones announced/available by then but it might not even make sense to use the CM4 at all by that point given what has just happened in the SBC market with the standard non-compute boards.
Again, if they were available today all of the math I’m doing here goes away. In 6 months though with what has been happening? The Orange Pi 5 and Rock 5B launches were not even 6 months ago. Neither of them. Not even close. Think about how much has happened in that time and how much sentiment toward those types of boards have changed. Think about how the Pi 4 is viewed now vs. before those boards were released. That was only the very tail end of 2022 like November/December.
We have at least twice that long to go until this board will theoretically launch so from my perspective it just seems like all bets are off. I know I mostly mentioned the risks with the project but there’s also risk with the CM4 frankly also not making a lot of sense to use anymore by that time so I wanted to explain that in depth. The CM4 is almost as old as the Pi 4 but the Pi 4 has a year or two on it. It too will be made completely obsolete this year I’m officially predicting.
Building a high-performance cluster of these seems insane to me. They aren’t cheap or easy to get and if that changes by August the most reasonable explanation would be because nobody wants CM4s anymore because there’s a RK3588/RK3588S version with 8 cores and potentially even PCIe 3.0 if they go with the RK3588 proper. Again, 6 months ago nobody thought the Rock 5B or Orange Pi 5 would stomp the RPI4 so bad that it’s widely considered to be obsolete (I mean yes, I thought it would and I pre-ordered it for that very reason but I didn’t think that so many other people would think it so quickly). Those only launched about half that time ago.
People can keep saying the “better support” arguments and depending on what they’re doing it may still make sense for them. For an objective person who isn’t tied down really strongly into an ecosystem though or dependent on proprietary libraries/code within the Broadcom chips themselves I can’t imagine that by the end of this year that it will make any kind of logical sense to a reasonable person to build something like this with Pis/CM4s. Just like if you aren’t tied in with Raspberry Pi it’s a no-brainer to look at the Orange Pi 5 vs. a RPI4 and be like, yeah give me the 8 core monster that I can just buy today at a normal price.
If people reading this don’t think the exact same thing is going to happen to compute modules I don’t know what to tell them. The Pi ecosystem has very little hold over a reasonable person investigating the best hardware to build a cluster with. The people who are comfortable with the Pi may build one of these but I think they’ll have cluster envy pretty quick when they see a RK3588 cluster of these.
The CM4 is not new technology. We’re literally just waiting for the same thing to happen to it that happened to the Pi 4 in my view. It’s just another reason the hour is very late for this kickstarter project. The CM4 will not be the performance choice for very much longer even for doing something like this. We already know what’s coming with the RK3588/RK3588S. We already know it can’t compete. There’s not really much of an indication they’ll even try to compete for the high end. It’s going to be hard for them to even catch up at this point.
The CM4 is the last holdout for Pi performance fans. I’d have to imagine that is who is buying this blade. I’d just advise them to be prepared for it not to look very attractive as a solution to other people by the end of the year. The CM4 is going to end up being the cheap option just like the Pi 4 will be only considered the cheap option SBC (when it becomes available in sufficient quantities, which it still isn’t, and won’t be any time soon). It will not be a serious performance option just like the Pi 4 is already not a serious performance option today. That will happen this year.
Given that it seems like a tough sell to build a cluster of like a dozen of these to me. That’s what like $100 each blade if you use the Pro version and then what, $100 for a 8GB RAM CM4? Or are people using lesser CM4s? That would be $1200 in blades + $1200 in CM4s for $2400.
Well if you had a RK3588 version you’d only need half as many to have the same # of CPU cores. If someone had to buy 6 RK3588 versions (let’s say they’re $120 to give the CM4 the benefit of the doubt) and let’s say Radxa also somehow managed to make their blade cost $100. That still only comes out to $600 + $720 for a total of $1320.
It would only take $1320 to build a cluster with the same # of CPU cores using a more modern CPU. That’s vs. $2400 for CM4s + the pro blade. That’s what I mean by “if this still makes sense to buy at that time”. You can also what I see what I mean by saying be prepared for this solution to look *very* unattractive to other people by the end of the year. Those are really really ugly numbers if you just think through it. This will be something that is embarrassing to say you invested that much money in when you see how cheap you can do it with the RK3588/RK3588S and the upcoming competition.
If anyone doesn’t see it coming they haven’t been paying attention to the rest of the SBC market. It will also require twice as many blades and compute modules to make a cluster with the same # of CPU cores and that is *definitely* not greener to use twice as much hardware for the same power so not even the green part will be too impressive when you only get 4 CPU cores per entire blade/module out of it. I don’t think there will be much to be proud of as far as being green when people build a cluster as powerful as yours that uses half the modules/blades (and cost less money).
Even if people take exception to the values I calculated you can change them to whatever you want. Make the Radxa blade and the Radxa CM8 (or whatever you want to call the RK3588 version with 8 cores) cost more than my calculations. It won’t make any difference because you just need a lot less blades and a lot less hardware to hit the same #’s using a more modern CPU. It won’t change the outcome / conclusion even if people quibble with me putting the CM4 at $100 for the 8GB version or whatever their issue was with my numbers. Don’t they see? It doesn’t matter. The cores outnumber the CM4 2 to 1. There’s no version of this where the CM4 isn’t the way more expensive solution than what everyone should already know by now who remotely pays attention to SBCs is coming.
Just so nobody mentions it yes I understand the RK3588 CPU cores are 4 big/4 little and it’s not a 1:1 comparison with the CM4 cores. Again, it doesn’t matter. Break that down however you’d like and add / subtract some CM4 blades or Radxa blades and it will still cost a lot more. If you look at the benchmarks for the CPU though even taking all of that into account it’s undeniable how much more performance they are capable of. I just simplified it for the explanation in this post but again it will not change the outcome if you tweak or quibble with these.
Their answer to these issues would be “but the Pi ecosystem / support!”. Watch how little that means with numbers like that. Watch how quickly it changes. We’re already watching it in the non-compute module world. I remember the Pi ecosystem being built and if people think the “support” it enjoys today always existed they either weren’t there or they have very short memories. I helped build it and I can assure people that it wasn’t just as bad as the major alternative boards today, it was *worse*. The alternative ecosystems are rising fast and I’m helping to build them as are countless other people around the world. The support is catching up real quick on these alternative boards as more people buy and use them.
The reality is that Raspberry Pi just hasn’t done anything. For years. They can’t even produce their old models in sufficient quantities. There’s no new Pi 5 coming they say in 2023. They’re pretty much just flailing around and we’re waiting to see if they can even manage to produce their *old* boards in sufficient quantities that anyone even notices. Meanwhile the competition is moving so fast that they have already released their “Pi 5” generation (and people like it!).
I know my post makes me the villain to a lot of Raspberry Pi fans. I covered Raspberry Pis because they were cheap and easily available for everyone to buy and participate in technology with. I cover Orange Pi and Radxa boards and other boards now for that exact same reason. That’s called being consistent. I’m doing the same thing I’ve always done.
I have no loyalty whatsoever to Raspberry Pi and in my eyes it is them who has betrayed us (the maker community) by prioritizing IoT manufacturing operations over us (which is where all the Pis went, a lot of them are in some of my older Helium crypto miners, you’d be sick if you knew where they went). I really don’t think it’s going to get any better for Raspberry Pi fans at least not in 2023. They’re less attractive every single day.
Here’s where a lot of Pis went. The Pi 4s all went into RAK helium miners (google it). There were *millions* of these sold (it was the last cryptocurrency bubble/gold rush). They sold you out for crypto miners (me). I still got the Pis this whole time because the Raspberry Pi foundation does not give a shit about any of you. They sold them to miners / crypto companies and anyone with a big stack of cash. That’s the truth. The people with money (namely people ordering thousands+ Pis at a time) are more important than you. Have you been able to buy Pis? Look up when those Helium miners were manufactured (hint, it’s the “shortage”).
Hell no I’m not a Raspberry Pi fan because I know where those Pis have been going this entire time unlike any of their fans. I watched it with my own eyes as MILLIONS of these miners (there were 3.5M backordered at one point) were shipped out while no normal person could get them (and still can’t!). They’ve been doing this for *years*. This is not a guess. Those are the “commercial customers” being prioritized. Giant mining companies (and industrial-size scalpers with the means to set up their own companies and order huge quantities to scalp you with).
Hilariously even the mining companies are switching away from Raspberry Pi now. Here’s a updated RAK miner with a Rock Pi powering it instead. That’s because they literally exhausted all the supply and had to find alternatives. There were no more Pi 4s to be sold to them. If there would have been though they would have got all of those too. Even if it becomes available though they won’t go back because there’s better (and cheaper) options available now. That was a one time thing because the Pi was in a unique position at the time in affordability/availability which they’ve completely squandered and lost at this point.
Bringing the old thing back at the old price (or even with some price raises in some cases like the Pi Zero) is not going to do the trick. They’re way behind at this point. They’ve wasted their past several years on top while their competition has been working furiously. It won’t work with most of the commercial companies and I don’t think it will work with most people as they continue to be exposed to things like the Orange Pi 5 and Radxa Rock 5B. In the Orange Pi 5 review someone just posted they upgraded their Home Assistant instance from the Pi 4 to the Orange Pi 5 and they can’t believe how incredible of an upgrade it is.
Now I just showed where the Pis have really been going for the past couple of years. Does that look consistent with their mission of promoting open source and everything they pretend to be standing for? Do you think they should have sold millions of those to miners instead of the creator community? I don’t and I actually financially benefited from everyone getting screwed by having them run my mining equipment this entire shortage. I still don’t like it even though I benefited because I actually care about the missions they pretend to care about and know they’re faking it and just moving as many boards as they can to whoever has a big enough pile of cash to be treated as a “commercial customer”.
The shortage didn’t just come from nowhere. The miners started the shortage frankly just like with GPUs. They just went into different types of miners (mostly Helium). Their response to this shortage was to stop selling them to individuals altogether and to prioritize commercial customers with the idea that their livelihood was at stake. If they had not changed their policies the shortage wouldn’t have been *nearly* as painful for anyone. You still would have had your shot. The decision was made that your Pis would be diverted though and would never make it to an official reseller. They went straight to companies like the ones making all of those miners. That’s who they gave up on the creator/maker community for. You be the judge on whether that lives up to your expectations of what you have of Raspberry Pi in your head. It didn’t for me.
It’s an act at this point. It wasn’t always an act though. I don’t know when they sold out but they did. Please, anyone who doesn’t believe it google what is powering these Helium miners and when everyone bought them. Good luck trying to explain those Pis in miners away. That’s real and you won’t believe how many of them were made (even though a lot of them aren’t being used now because Helium miners make less than 10 cents a day for the most part, what a waste of Pis). It’s honestly undeniable and I’ve known this for a long time even though I don’t talk about it much. It honestly makes me sick when I see they are true fans and really believe in the mission and all that when I know the truth and how unworthy they are of the reputation they hold to some in the open source community (a community I’m a proud member of). It’s really gross and I’m sure for a lot of Raspberry Pi insiders it must be really gross too. This is just another business trying to make $$$ (or at least that’s how it’s being operated).
I’m not saying that one should switch their allegiance to Orange Pi or Radxa. I’m saying stop thinking that way. It’s not real. Don’t be a fan. They don’t know your name or care. They’re a business and their job is not to be your friend. Buy boards appropriate for whatever project you are doing that are being sold at the time for a reasonable price and offer good performance. You don’t have to start wearing a Radxa t-shirt. Please don’t. Just take the “fan” stuff out of it and look objectively at the scene and get what you need. Don’t be so afraid of the “support” anymore on these other major boards. It will be better than you think / are being told. If Radxa stats putting out bad or overpriced products or starts fumbling on their availability I will turn on them instantly. On a dime.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! It’s not an easy question for sure. A lot can still change before this will be available and that’s why I’m advising some caution here. We’re still 6 months out from when this might be available too and this is what I see *today* having absolutely no insider information or knowledge of these companies or their operations. It’s really just common sense and paying attention realistically and I hope my lengthy post explained why. Take care!
Funny you mention the viability of RK3588 as I recall seeing work teased by Radxa (CM5), Banana Pi (RK3588_CV1 SoM), Forlinx (FET3588-C SoM) back in 2022 so we’re nearly there but pricing will play a big factor as so far much of the devices are too expensive, with the exception of the Orange Pi 5 and some extent Rock 5B and as you’re well aware the mainline kernel support just isn’t there yet but its only a matter of time before we see replacements for the overpriced CM4 which is non existent!
You’re spot on about people needing to look at things objectively as this tribalism does nobody any good as Coke and Pepsi are equally bad for you (jokes aside) and RPi, Radxa, OPi could care less whether you own 10 of their boards or none as it all comes down to $$$ and RPI has demonstrated that it values its industrial clients more than the average consumer so from a personal perspective they can no longer rely on my business as talk is cheap plus the alternatives are out there be they ARM or X86 and for MCUs you have so many options such as ESP32 that means one doesn’t need to rely on a Pico for smaller projects but thankfully supply and pricing still makes the Pico worth it so the RPi Foundation get some praise from me on that aspect.
Its great to see the comments coming in at the OPi 5 Thread as people feel confident enough to share useful tips which is great to see and I’m delighted that somebody has worked out how to get Home Assistant working as its something I’d be keen to do so great work! You’ve built a great platform here so don’t let the detractors but you off as its better to be true to oneself than sellout and I’m not ashamed to say that I have learnt a lot these last few months having frequented the site on a more regular basis. Thanks for sharing the links and I’d be happy to see you do a future review if/when the “Blade” becomes available for general sale as it would make for a great read but in the mean time stay safe and take care!
Hey Razor Burn,
Thanks, I’d heard of the Radxa CM5 before but didn’t know if it had this! I did look up a reference here. It does indeed have it:
Eight-core Rockchip RK3588 really packs in the power, offering up to 16GB of RAM and a 6 TOPS neural network coprocessor
Yep, that thing is nasty! I don’t see it available for purchase yet but this article is from 5 months ago. It’s definitely going to be ready before too long if they announced it 5 months ago. It’s not just my speculation that it’s coming. That’s definitely happening for sure.
This is exactly what I was talking about but the details you gave helped me find sources. I knew without seeing this that this would be the case because we already know from their flagship board launches such as the Rock 5B and Orange Pi 5 that this is basically their current-gen CPU across the lineup of major RockChip partners. In other words they’ve already showed us their hand with their flagship boards this generation. This is their current generation CPU for sure and we’ll see it across the lineup (whether it’s RK3588 or RK3588S which it sounds like the Radxa CM5 will be the S variant).
The Radxa CM5 is going to take the performance crown for compute just as the Rock 5B / Orange Pi 5 have in the more traditional SBC form-factor. It’s just a question of when it launches but since it was announced 5 months ago I’d say that likely before the kickstarter ships this will be available for at least pre-order if not outright.
I’d honestly love to get the kickstarter Blade and review it still. It would be interesting to test it with the Radxa CM5 as well as the Pine64 SOQuartz (which Jeff did test that one on his pre-release one he has with mixed results). It’s another reason to be cautious though because compatibility testing with other boards with the kickstarter one has not been promising thus far. It doesn’t mean the Radxa CM5 wouldn’t work better with it but it’s a concern and there’s reason to believe from the previous SOQuartz compatibility testing that there may be issues.
I see every reason to wait and see though. He has enough money so you don’t have to worry about that sinking his project if you wait until the deadline. People could just wait and see what the landscape looks like. The truth is in 6 months or even 3 months this may look very unattractive even as inconceivable as that might seem today. This stuff has changed very, very quickly. I honestly think anyone who is cautious and takes this approach will probably find with each passing day it seems like a worse and worse idea and that there are more and more options popping up that look better every single day. If things are going fantastic then go ahead and grab one before the deadline closes.
It’s nothing personal against Ivan or the project. It’s just way too late. They literally couldn’t have entered a more dangerous market at a more dangerous time to be stuck in prototyping for 3 years while promoting it so all the clones who know how to do this quickly can beat them to the punch and be more than ready for them. They could have had an empire if they launched this a year or two ago but they won’t even be the first to release this now. Pine64 gets that honor.
It’s not clear to me it will launch before the CM4 is obsolete (at least for high performance compute module work). That’s up to Radxa and how fast they’re moving (probably fast). From what I can tell this is due to inexperience but there has never been a more unforgiving time to be flashing all of your plans like that and have your production still be this far out. I know that’s kind of the kickstarter model but that’s why you really can’t use it for an idea like this. It needs to be weirder / more unique and not in a market absolutely dominated by some of the best cloning companies in the world or this is going to happen (and not just with SBCs either). You’re begging to get cloned before you can launch doing that (and they were). Now we’re at the point where the CM4 itself is about to be cloned/obsoleted and is several years into it’s lifecycle. Not a good outlook in my view.
Thanks for sharing that and everything else you’ve said here!
Thanks for the detailed clarification Jeff and apologies to Ivan and yourself for any offense as my comment meant no harm and I truly wish Ivan and his backers success in seeing this project through where other startups have failed.
I recall seeing mention of the board on one of Jeff’s reviews and took little notice as its not really a product aimed at me but having read your comments and comparison with the Pine64 SOQuartz Blade left me scratching my head as one is a finished product costing $30 USD and is available for purchase whereas the other has seen 9 iterations since 2020 and has managed to raise over 500K USD on crowd funding in large part to the reviews of an influential Youtuber and at time of writing has no finished products and is openly marketing the device as “Powered by Raspberry Pi” and brandishing the RPi logo so questionable marketing not to mention that the individual is a self described “hacker” then what does that tell you about the post sale support or commitment to the longevity of the product…? I see links to similar projects on the social media sites and a few cluster/server projects but hardly original or innovating and again no finished products for sale?!?!
Its not surprising to see very little mention of Pine64 devices as they tend to be targeted to more experienced users and I’d be surprised if Pine64 was sending out “free” devices to influential reviewers as was the case a while back with their first phone/laptop as the general consensus was that the ideas seemed great but unfinished and poor software so not really marketed to your average user but in this case we have a finished carrier board that spec’s wise looks close to the Compute Blade yet thanks to some clever marketing one gets the impression that the Kickstarter campaign is for a much needed device that will transform how you use your RPi CM4 (if you’re lucky to own one) despite other options that cost less and come with the same form factor but then again that’s due to Pine64 not marketing their version strong enough and hopeful your review/s wake people up to alternatives that may otherwise be unknown to a willing audience.
As for fundraising campaigns, I’m highly sceptical for a host of reasons and feel the risks out weight any potential savings and knowing that Kickstarter takes a cut if something fails should be enough to make you stay away and in this case 500K is more than enough to get production started for what is ultimately a carrier board and I’m sceptical they’ll manage to source the required number of RPi CM4 compute modules adding to any delays especially if RPi get wind that they’re using their logo openly but buyer beware and only time will tell if it actually sees the light of day or backers get swindled out of their funds…?
Of all the internet sites/channels out there I hold yours in high regard with the few that you mentioned as the content is educational, well researched and the fact you’re not obligated to any special interests fills me with confidence as I know I’m getting a genuine review/guide that isn’t afraid to critique so I hope the audience understands your message as its important as the last thing we need in the industry is to see another start up fail as we’re looking at significant amounts of money for what Pine64 have shown is achievable and a more than suitable replacement to the unobtanium RPi CM4 module or a substitute if you already have one and seek a carrier board for use in a server rack at an affordable price point.
You’re right to be upset yet as was the case with the recently launched Orange Pi 5 I’m hopeful you’ll be seeing more attention and recommend that readers go back and checkout your other work as you’ve tested plenty of cool gadgets and popular SBCs including some of the most comprehensive testing of the Raspberry Pi range on the internet so I look forward to seeing how the RPi CM4 pairs with the Blade and as we Australian’s like to say “Keep the bastards honest!” Take care!
Hey Razor Burn,
Great thoughts! I think you are right about Pine64 not marketing or promoting the board. The wiki materials say a lot of things that make it pretty clear that Pine64 knows they’re not ready for general use. It definitely makes sense they wouldn’t be sending any of these out for promotional purposes. The only people covering them are the people who are really watching these closely to be sure.
While I definitely jumped to some conclusions about what happened here I definitely do agree with you about the project. I have the same standing concerns you mentioned. What is the lead time going to be? When are these boards going to be in people’s hands? Is this actually enough money now or are there more rounds of fundraising? Will this ever turn into a product that is sold at a major retailer?
One thing that may help with the CM4 aspect of it is that I’d imagine that many people just ordered the blade as it looked like getting the CM4 module itself was an add-on or option. If they have a pretty large stock pile of these (or access to them) that would actually be a really huge benefit. If they’re able to deliver on that it’s huge but it’s hard not to join your skepticism there. Unless they’ve been stock piling them for a long time that’s a LOT of CM4s.
We just don’t know how many people chose the CM4 module option I suppose but it did raise my eyebrow when I saw it was even a choice. I think some of those options may go way back to better times (or actually worse or as bad of times that one could reasonably assume would have passed by now) though as this kickstarter has been around for a while. It’s definitely a fair question to ask if these are really going to be covered / available as a lot of time has passed since that option was created and it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to assume 1-2 years ago the Pi shortage could not possibly last this long.
It sounds like good things are to be expected testing the real CM4 module with the Pine64 Blade according to Jeff’s post here. That is fantastic news. I’m excited to try this and it should be a relatively easy and fun article to write to just put them through their paces. It might be good to do the NVMe testing on both the SOQuartz vs. CM4. I’m expecting the CM4 to win that fight to be honest but I’d like to have it. I’ll cover it no matter which way it falls.
It looks to me however like the CM4 paired with the kickstarter board will be a dramatically more expensive option. That’s assuming you get the CM4 for retail or perhaps with that bundle. As things stand today the CM4 + this board would be preferable theoretically but that’s not a real option and it will be at least months before that is happening. When this board is finally available we will have to look at Pine64’s progress toward mainline Linux kernel support. It could be a completely different picture by then because the kickstarter blade board is not competing today. It’s not ready today. When it’s ready we will have to look at it and see where things stand because I honestly have no idea when that will be.
It’s not really a matter of which one is better either realistically. I’d say the CM4 is definitely better at this time vs. the SOQuartz and I have no issue saying that whatsoever. My point is because of the differences in price/availability the SOQuartz + Pine64 Blade has a place. There’s no question about that. It will be the cheapest option so that automatically gives it a place. It doesn’t mean it’s the most premium option or the option with the best support. I think it’s fantastic though that it is an option though and it’s an option that’s available *now*.
I appreciate what you’ve said about the site here a lot. I definitely try to live up to the standards you laid out there. Any mistakes or things I got wrong here were honest ones and I tried to give my reasoning. I can definitely accept if there’s things I don’t know / I’m wrong and I promise to try to always live up to that. I don’t want to try to control a narrative or agenda. I just like to play with them and cover them and see what they can do / how they perform and I love that you appreciate that.
My Orange Pi 800 and official monitor accessories also arrived recently. My monitor review is mostly written since that came alone a day before the Orange Pi 800. It’s actually tiny and very light. I kind of almost want to have some for Home Assistant monitoring panels because they have such a small footprint on a desk/table (and you can wall mount them). I was terrified when the one Amazon review for it said that once you change the language it doesn’t stick once you turn off the monitor. That fortunately isn’t true that that guy must have either got a broken one or potentially an earlier revision that has since been fixed.
Apologies to you too for possibly causing a storm with my comments as I never attended to offend Ivan nor Jeff as I vaguley recalled seeing his review video and thinking the board looked cool yet not really my cuppa tea and only reacted after you posted your review of Pine64s alternative and naturally assumed the worst as you hear so many bad stories with crowd funding going bad so I truly wish Ivan success although it seems he chose a hard way at getting the product manufactured…?
I appreciate Jeff taking the time to correct me and in future I’ll be mindful not to name-names as I’d hate to have my ill informed comments take away from the important work that you do as I’m not in the business to besmirch any content creators and whether somebody works closely with a vendor/maker plays little part in my judgement so I’m happy to be corrected whenever I make an incorrect statement and greatly respect the honesty you and guys like Jeff demonstrate so hopefully no hard feelings!?
I’m happy to learn that your OPi 800 and monitor have arrived and will keep an eye out for both reviews, especially the monitor as I’m in the market for a portable display and the suggestion it could be used as a HA monitoring device sounds right up my alley and as great as the Wio Terminal is its somewhat limited to my requirements so I wait to see your findings in a future post… Thanks as always and take care!
Hey Razor Burn,
Thanks so much! Don’t worry about any of it. Nobody made me believe the things I do about the project. Jeff and some others have helped clear up the things I got wrong. It’s not a scam. It’s just… well… very non-traditional. Failing to grasp all of the intricacies of how this whole kickstarter scheme works is the crime I’m guilty of. I’d encourage people to not even try this one. Not all kickstarter campaigns are created equal. There’s lots of projects that will just pool your money with a professional board manufacturer exactly as I’ve laid out. All of those projects are done / delivered and many of them started AFTER this campaign. I accept my sentence / judgement for this. It’s not a big deal. It doesn’t turn the project into a buy.
The important thing for both of us though as you’ve laid out here though is that if people are right and we are wrong we need to acknowledge that and change our positions. Jeff and others definitely convinced me that this isn’t a scam and that Ivan is a bit of an eccentric doing a passion project. I will never say that again because I know better now. I’m convinceable and so are you and I think that’s really important.
Definitely stay tuned for more for sure, I’ll have those coming up before too long!
Kickstarter is definitely hit-or-miss, and even the best Kickstarters sometimes turn out rotten after years of people having trouble sourcing components, or working with manufacturers, or getting stuck with shipping/customs.
Hardware manufacturing + logistics for a new product is difficult even for companies that have been doing it for years—many people who do a Kickstarter campaign are doing it for the first time! So I often back a project (well, about one every year) mostly because I think it’s a great idea that I’d like to see come to fruition. Less in that I expect to get the product in a timely fashion!
I still have two other Kickstarters I backed last year that are a few months behind in shipping 🙁
Absolutely. I actually love the idea of kickstarter. It’s right up my alley as far as crowdfunding and power to the people and everything like that. It’s the rogue projects / bad apples and the headlines surrounding them that for sure makes me more skeptical than I should be about these.
I have participated in a kickstarter once before actually. It was for the Flipper Zero. I was going to cover it on the site but availability was so bad that I ended up selling it for $1000 (during peak madness) and buying a whole bunch of SBCs to review instead. For sure though there are great projects out there I agree!