SoftIron & openSUSE Help ARMv8 Developers Leap Ahead
One of the biggest obstacles to adoption of a new hardware architecture is the build out of the software ecosystem. In an effort to support the build out of this critical part of the ARMv8 world, SoftIron released a new platform at the openSUSE Conference last Friday aimed squarely at the development community. The Overdrive 1000 platform is a smaller, desktop friendly version of the Overdrive 3000 platform they have been shipping since last year.
The significance of these systems, as compared to the vast array of developer platforms already on the market, is that most, if not all, of the low cost, development platforms on the market make use of the U-Boot environment. Many enterprise software developers are not familiar or comfortable with U-Boot, and thus are more likely to pursue this platform, which looks and feels more like the normal UEFI enterprise server environments they are used to working on.
An additional advantage of this system is that it has expandable RAM. Most ARMv8 developer boards ship with a fixed RAM configuration. While this and the U-Boot environment make the systems relatively inexpensive to produce, it also locks developers into an environment where they may not have sufficient RAM to build, test, and debug their application properly, especially if they are putting a lot of pressure on the memory subsystem.
Another important aspect of the Overdrive 1000 system is that it ships with openSUSE Leap 42.1 for ARMv8. This stable version of the openSUSE project provides a longer term, stable environment for desktops and development environments, as compared to the evergreen Tumbleweed version which closely follows the upstream environment. This stable environment is just what developers of enterprise applications are looking for.
Speaking for myself, this is exciting because it truly makes enterprise ARMv8 hardware affordable, and quiet enough to add to my personal lab environment here at home.