YABA Project Seeks to Offer Multi-Platform Modular Edge Computing for the Industrial IoT

Powered by a Raspberry Pi — with more CPU cards planned — could YABA be just what open source IIoT needs to grow?

Engineer Giacomo Falcone has launched a crowdfunding campaign for Yet Another Backplane Architecture (YABA), described as the world's first open hardware and multi-platform controller, edge-computing system, and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) gateway.

"In the course of my experience serving customers with different requirements, I've found myself working with both expensive industrial controllers and low budget custom solutions. These last ones often resulted difficult to be adapted to the professional market and presented several limitations like flexibility, scalability and ease of testing," Falcone explains. "From these experiences I came up with the idea of YABA: new product suitable for the professional sector but, at the same time, low cost and open source, both in the software and in the hardware.

"The evolution of IoT, Industrial IoT, Industry 4.0, AI, machine learning, environmental analysis, etc has broadened the filed of implementation of information technologies in the professional sector. I strongly believe that times are now mature to introduce a low cost, open source alternative capable of satisfying the professional market requirements."

The heart of the YABA design is the Raspberry Pi single-board computer family, which serves as a CPU board — though Falcone has his sights set on offering a range of alternatives: "In the future I foresee boards based on NVIDIA, [Google] Coral, and RISC-V modules as well. The same is true for I/O boards. The slot-based modular system is using interchangeable boards and allows for different form factors, also including handheld devices."

These boards are then linked using a USB backplane, the USB Alternative Mode feature of which allows YABA to increase the bus types on offer to include high-speed LVDS/EtherCAT and I2C.

The designs - which currently exist only as prototypes and pre-rendered graphics - start with the YABA DesktopBox which includes a single backplane, one CPU board slot populated with a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+ and six device slots with a single Arduino ATmega32U4-based I/O board installed. Falcone indicates that if the campaign is successful more designs will follow, including a more compact CubeBox with just two device slots, the SlimBox with optional LCD mount, the rack-mountable RackBox, and the compact CardBox which can be connected to a DIN-mountable OpenBox backplane.

Falcone has opened the campaign with pricing set at $278 for early bird DesktopBox backers rising to $333 once the initial ten are claimed. All items are expected to ship in July 2020 — but, again, currently only exist in prototype form, meaning that shipment is not guaranteed on this date.

More information is available on the project's Indiegogo campaign page.

development boardinternet of thingsgateway
Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin.
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