More than 60 hackers came from across the country and around the world to the Facebook campus this week to hack hardware designs at the second Open Compute Hardware Hackathon. The winning entry, a mesh network debugging tool, was announced at the GigaOm Structure conference and the team took home $10,000 in seed funding to further develop their project.
The hackathon was conducted in the spirit of the three pillars that support the work of OCP:
- Engaging an entrepreneurial demographic.
- Developing venture capital participation.
- Creating academic engagement from a research, IP contribution and hack participation perspective.
In the space of 12 hours, teams formed, concepts were fleshed out as designs, and in some cases, circuit boards were fabricated on the spot in minutes. This was made possible through support from Upverter, Tempo Automation and TechShop, whose collaboration allowed hackers to upload designs through Upverter which were then etched onto boards with Tempo Automation's maker box; TechShop provided the laser cutter for the templates and a toaster oven to solder the board.
The wide variety of designs submitted included:
- Creating a mesh network debugging tool.
- Extending robotics into the data center for lights-out operations.
- Fetching data from a car's on-board diagnostic tool in real time.
- Porting HipHop to create a cluster of 32-port ARM-based servers, using LLVM to translate from x86 to ARM.
- Reading drivers' brain waves to detect erratic and drowsy driving.
- Writing a BIOS configuration tool.
The entries were novel and well-thought out. In the end, the team behind the mesh network debugging tool won first prize, for submitting the most complete design.
Two other teams deserve mentioning however. The team behind the ARM servers was comprised mostly of winners of the Thiel 20 Under 20 fellowship.
The team behind the real-time car diagnostics met for the first time at the hackathon. They came up with their idea and a board design and managed to design and tape out the board during the hackathon.
The prize money was donated by SKTA Innopartners, with a matching grant from the Open Compute Foundation.
We'll have another hackathon later this year. Look for the announcements on this blog and the Facebook group.