May 29, 2012

Resultly at Technori and Swarm Computing

The past few weeks were really hot at Resultly headquarters. So hot, in fact, that we did not notice the sudden onset of the delayed mid-western summer with its lush greenness and weekend beachgoers.  Pulling all-nighters, going through tens of thousands of lines of code, examining static declarations and debugging parallel loops became a substantial part our lives for the past few weeks. Viva Redbull!  We sense the finish line, and our product is finally taking the shape that matches our vision. It has been a challenging time and, we strongly recommend updating a widely quoted line by Agatha Christie:

"Every man should build a house, plant a tree, and write a search engine."

Not sure about trees, and some of us are too young for houses, but definitely, one of the items can be crossed off the list above quite soon.

It is Tuesday, May 29th, and it is a slow start after a long Memorial Day weekend. Today, we are presenting Resultly at Technori in downtown, Chicago. Technori is a venue where start-ups like us meet, exchange ideas, present themselves and are offered a chance to gain more exposure. It is a celebration of entrepreneurship, and we are proud to be invited as one of a very few featured guests. It is a great opportunity to make a bold statement and we are proud to give a talk about our product. We are nervous, but also excited and the team is not in the working mood today. We decided to write another long awaited blog entry for our fans that would hopefully give yet another bit of insight into the way Resultly sees itself within the world of tech.  

Resultly is a small startup with only a handful of highly energetic individuals. We constantly push boundaries in search of novel and unconventional solutions that would permit us gaining the edge over our competitors. Resultly is a search engine, and the nature of our product requires a high level of distribution within our infrastructure. 

Heat generating server farms are really cool for Google, but for us, they are really expensive. The desire to reduce the cost and gain more flexibility brought our attention to a young British start-up with a really cute name - Raspberry Pi. Indeed, what could be better than a mix of mathematics and desserts. 

Raspberry Pi Foundation, surprisingly listed as a charity, offers an ultra cheap, highly integrated single-board ARM computer. The mission of Raspberry Pi Foundation is to promote computer education in schools. This is a noble goal, but private businesses recognized the value of the Raspberry Pi boards first. The initial shipment was sold out in a matter of hours. With the price of $25/$35 per board, there is a lot one could do with this technology. The demand is high and the Foundation is working on shipping more boards, but for now they are being sold on eBay sometimes 10 times more expensive than the original price. 

We were able to secure a couple of boards to scope their capabilities. Raspberry Pi Board has a single 700MHz ARM processor from Broadcom. The card includes graphic processing unit,  a couple of USB ports, LAN interface, audio, RCA and HDMI slots.  It has 256MB of internal memory, and it uses a Secure Digital card with an on-board socket as a storage. It is powered through the standard Micro-B USB interface, and it requires no cooling. A keyboard and a mouse can be connected to the board and we successfully tested the HDMI port on our wall 72” TV.

As far as the operating system is concerned, Raspberry Pi uses Linux as an operating system and supports  languages such as Perl and C but the the wisdom of the forums suggests that any language can be included as long as its compiler supports ARMv6 architecture.

Raspberry Pi does not comply with any standard form factors, and the boards are offered without any casings at this moment. We have a few rather interesting ideas how to situate these small computing units in our racks and to make this technology work for Resultly. With such a small price we can invest in hundreds and hundreds of Raspberries. Now we are paying $1000 for a Mac Mini, which we wrote about earlier. Each mac mini runs up to 4 virtual machines with an individual task. For the same price, we can accommodate 25+ Raspberry boards with a higher level of throughput, no cooling requirements, in addition to being one of the first adopters of this amazing technology. Swarm intelligence has arrived, and we are proud to be the first one to explore its benefits.