The Open Source Autarkic Laptop

A Raspberry Pi-like System on a Chip Design project that runs on 5mW

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Designed for writers first. A scenic detour from an all-purpose laptop. With an OS like Nanolinux but can run on 8MB RAM: ,  or 

Not designed to replace your productivity/performance-geared laptop, but to supplement it. (Though for writers, typing without distraction is the productivity). 

Unless this turns into the OLPC, in which it would be someone's 1st laptop:


This project seems realistically feasible within 1-2 yrs. However, I cannot do it alone due to the amount of engineering, money, and time involved. I don't know how many people it would take, but I imagine it would be somewhere on the scale of the developers for the original Raspberry Pi. Since this is intended to be a free and open-source project, I have no interest in owning the IP for this. I would rather see the project develop and then various homebrew manufacturers capable of producing the laptop's STL's designs. I don't expect anyone to know how the entire laptop  motherboard works if they specialize in only one or two technologies. But by recruiting specialists in each area, the product could be realized. Therefore, this project is designed to be interdisplinary and multidisplinary. See this post on how I think this project is like designing a space shuttle:

This is a niche product, understandably, at first glance. But the value of this product aims to look deeper and a longer view towards exploiting the power efficiency of a microcontroller and an IoT power management towards general purpose userspace applications.  Indoor solar panels could power an entire laptop, if the thermal design power (TDP) were limited to 5mW. I think it is better to set a limit and creatively determine how many apps could be designed under that, rather than allocating an "unlimited" or unconsidered TDP (above 100mW-30W). 

This design concept could be called "PowerFirst." That is, TDP is the first consideration of the laptop, when it is usually the last priority. There are many options when shopping for a laptop. Power consumption being the #1 priority is virtually non existent. By developing in this manner, PowerFirst is a starting point for "building-up"- that is, determining an efficient module or package of core applications- text editing, pdf reading, and then implementing more efficient solar panels and more efficient procesors (i.e Apollo4, 5nm Arm-A processors) as consumer solutions become available. Therefore, this laptop concept represents a platform, much like an ATX motherboard form factor doesn't change shape or basic I/O expectations- maybe PS/2 getting phased out after 20 yrs for all USB, but very long-term specifications, rather than ephemeral. 

Uninstalling unused apps and storing them on an uSD card, rather than loading all the apps into RAM, might be a way to save on disk space. Ideally this could boot the entire OS in RAM, but only one or two apps at a time. This is an exercise in constraints, and as my avatar suggests, I enjoy solving puzzles. The technologies (Moore's Law/Dennard's Scaling in terms of performance efficiency already exists at this power consumption level to run user-space applications, but they haven't been designed, assembled and programmed yet to work together. At the core, a mobile ITX-like motherboard with solar power manager & reflective/eink display connectors could be prototyped, using off the shelf components, but once the software and hardware...

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Raspup running on Rpi3B+ in a pi-Top (w/external monitor) uSD card written using Raspberry Pi Image Writer

JPEG Image - 4.20 MB - 03/20/2021 at 15:52


mpeg-tts - 35.94 MB - 03/20/2021 at 13:22


JPEG Image - 5.94 MB - 03/20/2021 at 13:18


JPEG Image - 5.12 MB - 03/20/2021 at 13:18


MPEG-4 Video - 36.38 MB - 03/10/2021 at 00:54


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