AB Open’s Andrew Back has published a look back at how the world of open source cellular networking has changed over the last six years, including the growth of the Osmocom project.

“As exquisitely arcane as it may seem to the uninitiated, cellular infrastructure is very much within the reach of open source development projects,” writes Andrew. “The challenge of creating low cost, open source wireless infrastructure platforms does to some extent combine those of ‘creating the PC’ — or commodity RF in this case — and the software stacks to drive it. Thanks to Lime Micro with the development of LimeSDR and LimeNET we now have this, and with BT/EE, Vodafone, ESA and others having recognised the scale of the opportunity and providing their support, development will now continue apace.”

Writing of the changes and developments he has seen since the publication of his article on the subject six years ago, Andrew walks through open source and open hardware initiatives from Osmocom through to the Telecom Infra Project, OpenCellular, OpenAirInterface Software Alliance, Myriad-RF’s popular LimeSDR and LimeNET families, and Radisys, among others, while singling out Osmocom core contributor sysmocom and the Osmocom community as having built “a software stack which also serves as a fantastic exemplar and one which we expect will play an important role in the future of cellular networks.”

Andrew’s full piece is available here on AB Open.

The Debian Linux distribution now has an official 64-bit RISC-V bootstrap in its ports infrastructure, allowing packages to be easily downloaded for use on the growing number of RISC-V devices on the market.

“We’ve been working in the last few weeks to do a (second) bootstrap of Debian for RISC-V, and after a few weeks of hard work it is now bootstrapped and has been imported into the Debian infrastructure, in particular, debian-ports,” explains Manuel Montezelo in the announcement post. “All packages that are uploaded to the archive by any of the hundreds/thousands of contributors are attempted to be built for each one of the architectures/ABIs almost immediately, so having ‘riscv64’ [64-bit RISC-V] as a Debian architecture is a quite critical step.

“This means that, from now on, anybody can download .deb packages targeted for riscv64 (rv64gc, to be precise) which compile successfully, often only a few hours after being uploaded to the archive (as long as their build-dependencies are satisfied). So we hope that this is a valuable resource, and that it helps to continue the development of RISC-V hardware, and that you can run it on your devices in the near future.”

As of the start of the week, around 4,100 packages – greater than 30 percent of the source available which is not architecture-dependent – had been successfully built, with architecture-independent packages bringing the compatibility up to around 65 to 70 percent of the complete Debian package archive. The whole build process, Manuel explains, is entirely automated, and is based on emulating RISC-V in software via qemu on Debian’s existing build infrastructure.

More information on the port is available on Manuel’s website.

Linus Torvalds, creator and maintainer of the Linux kernel, has officially released Linux 4.16 – and, despite the announcement taking place on April Fool’s Day, it’s no joke.

“So the take from final week of the 4.16 release looks a lot like rc7 [release candidate 7], in that about half of it is networking. If it wasn’t for that, it would all be very small and calm,” wrote Torvalds in the release announcement this weekend. “We had a number of fixes and cleanups elsewhere, but none of it made me go ‘uhhuh, better let this soak for another week.’ And davem [David S. Miller] didn’t think the networking was a reason to delay the release, so I’m not.”

The timely release of Linux 4.16 stands in contrast to the somewhat hairy development process for its predecessor, which was delayed at the last minute following the discovery of the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities and the issues surrounding their patches as well as a boot bug found by Laura Abbott.

Aside from the networking fixes and improvements, the key changes in the new release for embedded developers centre around minor fixes for the 32-bit and 64-bit Arm architectures, plus fixes for the RISC-V port introduced in Linux 4.15 including initial function trace (ftrace) support. The Linux 4.16 kernel can be downloaded from Kernel.org now.

Arm’s Jan Jongboom has announced the addition of a LoRaWAN stack to Mbed OS, as one of the new features added to the latest Mbed OS 5.8 release.

“Arm is heavily invested in advancing the LoRaWAN standard. We’re an an active member of the LoRa alliance, and we were the first company to demonstrate multicast firmware updates over LoRaWAN,” Jan explains. “Arm’s partners have been using Mbed as their main development platform for LoRaWAN devices for a long time. Semtech – the company that invented the LoRa modulation technique – has been publishing their stack on Mbed since the first LoRaWAN specification came out, and Multi-Tech’s certified mDot and xDot modules are among the most popular modules on Mbed. But up until now, every vendor has had to build their own LoRaWAN networking stack. That is changing in Mbed OS 5.8.

“In Mbed OS 5.8, Arm is adding a native, pre-certified LoRaWAN stack that works with any Mbed OS 5-enabled development board, and any available LoRa radio. The stack is integrated with other features that are important for IoT devices, such as Mbed TLS, Mbed RTOS, tickless mode, and deep-sleep APIs. This will allow device and module manufacturers to dramatically shorten their time to market, without having to develop their own networking stack. This is becoming more and more important, as the LoRaWAN standard is increasing in complexity with LoRaWAN 1.1 and adding features such as multicast and firmware updates.”

The stack is currently compatible with the L-TEK FF1705, Multi-Tech xDot, mDot EVB, and mDOT with UDK2 add-on development boards with built-in LoRa transceivers, or with any Mbed OS 5-compatible development board with either the SX1276MB1xAS or SX1272MB2xAS shield. The company has also published a guide to building a private LoRa network to help developers get started.

Arm has also announced a partnership with high-performance processor specialist Nvidia to bring deep-learning technology to Internet of Things (IoT) devices through dedicated hardware acceleration.

As part of Arm’s Project Trillium initiative on machine learning, the company has joined forces with Nvidia to integrate its Deep Learning Accelerator (NVDLA) architecture – giving, the pair claim, IoT developers an easy route to integrating artificial intelligence into their products.

“Inferencing will become a core capability of every IoT device in the future,” claims Deepu Talla, vice president and general manager of Autonomous Machines at Nvidia, of the deal. “Our partnership with Arm will help drive this wave of adoption by making it easy for hundreds of chip companies to incorporate deep learning technology.”

“Accelerating AI at the edge is critical in enabling Arm’s vision of connecting a trillion IoT devices,” adds Rene Haas, executive vice president, and president of the IP Group, at Arm. “Today we are one step closer to that vision by incorporating NVDLA into the Arm Project Trillium platform, as our entire ecosystem will immediately benefit from the expertise and capabilities our two companies bring in AI and IoT.”

The NVDLA open architecture is based on Nvidia’s Xavier platform, which combines Arm-architecture central processor cores with Nvidia Volta-architecture graphics processor cores on a single system-on-chip (SoC). More information is available on the official website.

Finally, the annual conference for developers of the GNU Toolchain, the GNU Tools Cauldron, is to be hosted at University of Manchester from the 7th through to 9th September 2018.

The GNU Tools Cauldron is an annual fixture in the calendar of developers of GCC, GDB, binutils and runtimes, etc. Having previously been hosted at venues including Google’s California headquarters, Charles University in Prague, University of Cambridge, and in Hebden Bridge as part of the Wuthering Bytes technology festival, this year the University of Manchester will play host.

The conference is free to attend and open to all, with delegates ranging from computer science students and compiler toolchain enthusiasts, right up to world class toolchain experts and senior engineers representing global technology companies. Talks tend to cover a wide variety of topics, including project status updates, porting to new ISAs and optimisation, to name but a few.

BoF (birds of a feather) sessions are also a regular feature and so far these are planned for C++ Modules and Build Systems, the GNU C Library, and RISC-V. On the Saturday evening there will be a conference dinner at Manchester Art Gallery, providing an excellent opportunity to socialise in informal surroundings and ask speakers those questions that you wish you had earlier in the day.

To find out more, register, and for submitting talk proposals, see the conference page.