This year, for Christmas, my children* got a Valve Steam Deck under the Christmas tree.  It's a pretty cool device that looks a little  like a monsterous Nintendo Switch, but it can run an impressive subset of the Steam video game catalog, games mostly designed to run on Windows PCs.  It manages this by sporting a custom x86_64 processor by AMD and running a customized version of Arch Linux that uses Wine via Valve's Proton tool.  The key point here, is that it is a tiny x86_64 compatible computer running Linux. So, of course, I needed to install Maple on it. So, I just paired a bluetooth keyboard, rebooted it into desktop mode and with a few small trick, bam, Maple on the Steam Deck:

There were a few small hiccups that required some work. I had absolutely no problems getting the Maple installer onto the device via a USB drive and no problems running it. I only ran into problems durring license activation:

Fortunately, I talked to our crack technical support team and they were able to identify this as a problem with Arch Linux not having full LSB 3.0 support installed by default. The process for fixing that is documented on the Arch Linux Wiki and involves just installing the ld-lsb package via pacman -- with the small additional wrinkle that you need to take the Steam Deck operating system out of 'read-only' mode in order to do that. But once that was done, I had a full version of Maple running well (albeit at 1280x800 resolution on a 7" display).

Since this device is designed for gaming, I was curious how fast it is compared to some other machines I work on. I chose an arbitrary benchmark of exactly solving a random linear system with integer coefficients.

N := 400;
A := LinearAlgebra:-RandomMatrix(N, N):
b := LinearAlgebra:-RandomVector(N):
v := [seq(cat(v__, i), i = 1 .. N)]:
sys := LinearAlgebra:-GenerateEquations(A, v, b):
CodeTools:-Usage(SolveTools:-LinearSolvers:-Rational(`~`[lhs - rhs](sys), v, dense = false)):

which it solves in decent time:

For comparison, this is 30% faster than the 32 core Xeon e5 workstation I do most of my work on, and only 5% slower than my notebook computer with an 8th gen Intel i7.  Not bad for a toy! (please don't make me sad by telling me how much faster this is on a Mac M1 or M2)

Let me know in the comments if you have other benchmarks you want me to run on the Steam Deck. Also, please let me know if you manage to get your employer to buy you a Steam Deck to do scientific computing.


*Okay, maybe it was a gift for me. Shhhh, don't tell.

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