30 July 2014 Cape Town-based company Capsule Technologies has produced Africa’s first low-wattage, solar-powered desktop computer, the Impi Mk1. The hardy computer, built to withstand hot and dusty conditions, uses less power then an energy-saving lightbulb. It runs on the Android system and uses open source software to make it more accessible. With its 500GB hard drive and 4GB of Ram, the design features a standalone Computer Processing Unit (CPU) that allows the user to recycle e-waste by using secondhand hard-drives, keyboard and monitor. Franck Martinaux and Megan Vercuil, the team behind the computer’s design, told SAinfo this week that they wanted to develop a machine that used fewer resources, conserved energy and addressed the lack of infrastructure in Africa’s remote rural areas. “We wanted to offer the same chance to prosper for any African … rich or poor, in urban or rural areas, and to create the awareness of alternative means to get the same result, especially for people in those under-serviced communities where access to technology, services and information seems to be out of reach,” Vercuil said. It took Martinaux, a hardware and software designer and Vercuil, an IT and education consultant, a year to develop the computer, which runs off a mere 20 watts, as compared to the 200 to 400 watts used by an ordinary computer. “We identified a problem around the high electricity consumption of standard desktop computers and wanted to reduce the carbon footprint,” Vercuil said. “Ordinary computers can emit almost 220Kg of CO2 per annum. By using more efficient systems as found in the African computer range (such as the Impi Mk1) of PCs, this level of CO2 could be reduced by almost 70%, down to a mere 70Kg per annum. “But you can still do everything with 20W. Absolutely the same things as a standard laptop or a tablet,” she said. “IMPI Mk1 uses specialised systems, based on low-power computer processing units such as the Intel Atom 2550 dual core processor 1.86Ghz. These CPUs develop much less heat during operation, often less that 25% of the heat developed by a regular desktop CPU system.” Using it with solar power, Vercuil said, a typical application would be a school, a mobile ICT facility (container), or even an internet cafe where up to 20 machines could be powered and the cost of the solar panel optimised. “The computer comes with both an ethernet card and wireless card, and has built-in wireless mesh networking, which provides a community network between computers and does not need to be linked up through an internet service provider or cellphone subscription. This translates into a saving on infrastructure and monthly costs. “In addition, it uses Linux and Android and open source software like King Office or Libre Office, which has word-processing [capabilities] and spreadsheets. You can also access dictionary and wikipedia offline content,” she said. “We are developing the software layer to enhance Android to a top-level desktop environment which includes an ethernet network, printer drivers and CD burner software. This computer is as easy to use as a mobile phone is.” Vercuil said the computer was well-received during its prototype phase when it was tested by schoolchildren in Gugulethu and Khayelitsha, who enjoyed the game apps and the word processing apps in particular. She said they planned to do a more focused roll-out to gather evidence about the machine’s usability, performance and areas for improvement. “This is a work in progress since we became shortlisted for the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme to represent South Africa. “We are in talks with the Western Cape government to try and identify ways in which they may use, it such as MOD [mass participation, opportunity and access, development and growth] centres.” The company ran a Thundafund crowd funding campaign, raising R20 000 for research and development for the computer. The Impi MK1 is also an official project of the World Design Capital 2014, Vercuil said, which gave them “a great starting point for networking”. The computer is available from the company for R3 399, and Vercuil says they are currently talking to distributors. “Currently there are no products on the market that match our affordable price, and our expertise is specific. Computers are being sourced from overseas. “Our dream is to grow local expertise, and we are committed to use local people, whom we have committed to teach because currently services like firmware development for any kind of device are outsourced to India, and grow our economy at the same time by producing locally and create jobs.”
When we began 2016, the Intel® Cloud for All Opens in a new windowinitiative was about six months old and just taking flight toward the lofty goal of unleashing tens of thousands of new clouds. A year later, we can look back on 18 months of solid progress in the effort to close enterprise feature gaps in OpenStack, simplify private cloud deployment, and accelerate time to market for new, private, and hybrid cloud solutions.I’m proud of all that our team and our partners have accomplished. Together, we’ve made tremendous progress. Let’s look at a handful of the notable accomplishments achieved by the broad ecosystem that is driving the Cloud for All initiative forward.What a Difference a Year MakesTogether with Rackspace, Intel formed the OpenStack Innovation Center (OSIC) last year. The OSICOpens in a new window brings together teams of engineers to accelerate the evolution of the OpenStack platform and help ensure it is ready for enterprise workloads of tomorrow. Today, the OSIC hosts the world’s largest OpenStack developer cloud, composed of 1,000 nodes. More than 220 OSIC cluster users have engaged in more than 60 projects, with resulting contributions to 25 OpenStack projects, including more than 115 completed blueprints and more than 28,000 patch sets submitted. In addition, the OSIC has delivered more than 11,000 hours of training to over 200 individuals. From the beginning, increasing the number of upstream contributions to OpenStack has been a priority for the OSIC. This work helps ensure OpenStack’s long-term vitality among enterprises around the world.We have also expanded the Intel Cloud for All initiative to encompass multiple high-impact programs. These include the Intel® Cloud BuildersOpens in a new window program and the related Intel® Cloud Builders Innovation Fund, which has accelerated more than 20 software-defined infrastructure (SDI) reference architectures and hundreds of proof-of-concept trials. All the while, we roughly doubled the membership of the Intel Cloud Builders program, which brings together hardware and software solution providers to accelerate the progress of cloud, storage, and network solutions.Participants in the Intel Cloud Builders ecosystem and OSIC have closed many major feature gaps in the OpenStack platform, including needs related to high availability, services, rolling upgrades and deployment. For example, we have eliminated six out of nine known VM Live Migration limitations, doubled the number of core OpenStack services supporting rolling upgrades, and reduced deployment time from 26 hours to just six hours. This list could go on and on.Another exciting extension of the Intel Cloud Builders program was the launch of the Intel® Cloud Builders UniversityOpens in a new window. This program offers training on the latest technologies, practices and strategies for implementing or improving cloud infrastructure deployments based on SDI. And, best of all, the educational content is freely available with registration on the Intel Builders University site.Intel and VMware announced a network of Centers of Excellence aimed at accelerating cloud deployments. The centers drive custom optimizations, facilitate proof-of-concept testing and integrate cybersecurity best practices in collaboration with The National Institute of Standards and Technology.Intel worked closely with Microsoft to optimize the Windows Server 2016Opens in a new window operating system to take full advantage of the latest Intel capabilities that enable higher performance, tighter security, and enhanced management. Throughout development, Intel engineers worked closely with their counterparts at Microsoft on configurations designed to help customers and partners accelerate the delivery of market-ready SDI solutions. Launched at Microsoft Ignite last September, Windows Server 2016 is Microsoft’s most cloud-ready server operating system and management solution to date.In August, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCFOpens in a new window) announced the public availability of a 1,000-node community cluster, funded and operated by Intel. This cluster, which opened to a great community response, will empower the work of the CNCF facilitating scale testing of open source contributions. The CNCF cluster will allows the industry to test code and provide guidance, operational patterns, standards, and, eventually, APIs to enable the interoperability and optimization of container-based SDI stacks. With cloud native applications, you can package an application component once and reuse it across public and private clouds in a hybrid environment.Last but not least, we launched the 1.0 version of SnapOpens in a new window, our open telemetry platform that allows cloud administrators to easily collect, process, and publish telemetry data at scale. The Snap framework enables better data center scheduling and workload management by giving system administrators access to underlying telemetry data and platform metrics.Cloud Technology: This Is Only the BeginningAll of this work is advancing the cause of unleashing new cloud solutions. To that end, we’ve seen a substantial increase in adoption of cloud solutions over the past year, among organizations big and small. To name just a few, BMW GroupOpens in a new window, Volkswagen Group, and Tata CommunicationsOpens in a new window all deployed OpenStack clouds based on Intel® architecture.Building on this foundation, we are now putting greater focus on ensuring that our customers have choice in cloud providers with easy to deploy on premises and hybrid functionality. For example, we are focusing on container development and improving orchestration services like Kubernetes to enable workload portability, making it easier for organizations to move workloads across public or hybrid cloud environments. With efforts like these, the goal is to make it easy for organizations to write code once and then place the workloads where they best fit.Ready to get started? If your organization needs to update your IT infrastructure to keep pace with the digital economy, now is the time to investigate a hybrid cloud strategy. You can find many resources on the Intel Cloud BuildersOpens in a new window site, including reference architectures, white papers, solutions blueprints, and solution briefs.