[PD] Running Pd on a tiny (and cheap) computer

Scott R. Looney scottrlooney at gmail.com
Sun Jan 8 03:06:59 CET 2012

hi pierre and all - i'm also quite interested in this and have been
following developments in the R-Pi for this very reason . in fact i
recently started investigating whether or not i could run my live
Max/MSP processing setup (recoding in PD) on something like the Pi.
the 700MHz Broadcom chip onboard is as fast as an iPhone 3GS, and the
3GS was actually underclocked. depending on what you'd want to do it
might be able to handle it-there is also the tantalizing possibility
that the Broadcom video chip could be used to perform DSP (it wouldn't
be anytime soon, unfortunately).

i'd say a certain amount of realtime processing, especially audio, is
fine, unless you're using 32 granulators running full tilt with
spatialized sound. live video might also be a tall order, but i
suppose they could be networked together. i myself plan to use an
external USB interface from Tascam that has Linux support although
it's a bit fiddly to set up. it's a bit of an experiment to see if it
would run, but for $35 it's pretty cheap to try it out.

on the higher end there is the Beagle Board using an OMAP3530 for $149
(the Xm version) or the Beagle Bone development board for $89 (which
isn't really a small computer as it has no video out). Barring that
you'd be going upwards in cost past $200 for a MIni ITX board based on
a VIA or dual core Atom chip, getting you a MacMini sized computer.

as far as displays these are relatively cheap and plentiful. 7 and 9
inch screens can be found all over Amazon and eBay, although a few of
these use USB to output video. i want a screen/control interface so
the plan is to use a tablet with onscreen controls sending out OSC
messages to PD via a wifi dongle, or maybe directly over USB.
something like TouchOSC or Charlie Robert's Control app was my first

i'm curious what your exact requirements are. i was investigating how
much power an ARM 1176 could run in PD. there's some discussion of it
on the PD Everywhere group board on Noisepages where they were talking
about libpd running on a iPhone 3G and how much it could do (remember
these were underclocked, so technically the RPi would be faster).


On Sat, Jan 7, 2012 at 5:24 PM, Pierre Massat <pimassat at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi list,
> This is a topic which has been discussed a few times here already, but since
> things seem to be moving pretty fast, I'm opening it again.
> I would like to have a very small computer running Pd that could be carried
> around more easily than current laptops. It also had to be powerful enough
> to run Pd in rt.
> I've been following the Raspberry Pi project for a few months, but their CPU
> is only running at 800 MHz, and i think it'd be difficult to get reasonable
> rt performances.
> There's also the Dream Plug
> (http://www.plugcomputer.org/development-kits/dreamplug.html), which has a
> faster (though totally unknown to me) CPU.
> I have no idea if it would be hard to install Pd on these machines. Do you
> have any idea or suggestion?
> Also, do you know if there exist small (and cheap) displays that could be
> used with these computers? It makes no sense to me to buy a computer the
> size of a Arduino board if i need to carry a desktop display with it...
> Cheers!
> Pierre
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