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New Single Board Computer Lets You Swap Out the CPU and Memory

Unknown Lamer posted about three weeks ago | from the until-the-pinout-changes dept.

Hardware Hacking 122

ganjadude (952775) writes "I stumbled upon this little scoop and thought the Slashdot crowd would be interested in. The new kid on the block, known as the HummingBoard can handle faster processors, more RAM and will fit the same cases for the Pi. Also, you can expand the memory and the CPU is replaceable! The low end model starts at $45 and the high end costs $100. So tell me guys, what are you going to do with yours?" $45 model is a single core iMX6 (an ARMv7) with 512M of RAM, the $100 model has a dual core i.MX6 with 1G of RAM. Full specs.

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122 comments

So you can reuse the PC board? (2, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about three weeks ago | (#47391681)

PC boards aren't that expensive. What's the point?

I'd rather have fewer connectors. Fewer points of failure.

Re: So you can reuse the PC board? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47391719)

Fewer points of failure? I don't think the connectors contribute much to the points of failure unless you are constantly swapping components. I could be wrong.

Re: So you can reuse the PC board? (5, Funny)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about three weeks ago | (#47391741)

Yes, you are wrong. All sorts of nasty stuff grows between connectors like barnacles.

Re: So you can reuse the PC board? (1)

maroberts (15852) | about three weeks ago | (#47392425)

You just have to make sure you keep your connector clean and well maintained!

Re: So you can reuse the PC board? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47393117)

No joke. See Tin Whiskers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whisker_%28metallurgy%29

Re: So you can reuse the PC board? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47393265)

I laughed at the barnacles comments, knowing what he was talking about.

Tin whiskers still happen with or without connectors. There is something else that makes connector contacts less than desirable for maximum reliability, I don't remember what that is.

Re: So you can reuse the PC board? (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about three weeks ago | (#47393423)

There is something else that makes connector contacts less than desirable for maximum reliability, I don't remember what that is.

Vibration?

Re: So you can reuse the PC board? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about three weeks ago | (#47393561)

Oxygen

Re: So you can reuse the PC board? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about three weeks ago | (#47395141)

Solder is unreliable compared to physically pushing two bits of metal together.

When was the last time you heard of an electrician get out his solding iron when wiring up a house?

Even twisting wires together and putting on those twist on caps is more reliable.

Re: So you can reuse the PC board? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47391767)

Or you can design once, and scale as needed for any given deployment scenario.

Re:So you can reuse the PC board? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47392133)

That is like saying you'd rather remove a USB port and solder it on so you don't wear it down.
It's not like you will be removing it constantly.

Re:So you can reuse the PC board? (1)

gabebear (251933) | about three weeks ago | (#47392533)

It's a similar problem. Except since this is a much larger connector(100 times as many pins?) with smaller pins(1/4 the size?) and uses a specification that is used by far fewer people than USB it's MANY MANY times more likely to have an issue than a single USB port.

In reality computers solder USB all the time for lower-bandwidth devices(e.g. Bluetooth, WebCam, SD reader, InfraRed, ethernet, WiFi, etc). It's dramatically cheaper and slightly more reliable than including a full USB port because you don't have to worry about charging phones(1000ma+) on a port that will only have a 250ma device on it or buy all the interconnects. The actual chips for most of this stuff are pennies. To build the same thing with interchangeable interconnects raises the power budget, the component budget, and the QA budget...

Re:So you can reuse the PC board? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about three weeks ago | (#47392433)

What I can't believe is that they compare this weak sauce single core to a NUC, it'd be like comparing a Pinto to a Porsche as they really aren't even in the same class.

If you want something crazy affordable to compare to a NUC then check out the new AMD AM1 Jaguar kits, like this you can swap CPUs but unlike this the smallest you can get is a dual core APU while for $100 you can have the quad Athlon APU and all the chips are based on the same Jaguar chips they use in the PS4 and XBone. I've built both the Sempron dual and Athlon quad and I have to say...they are fricking great! The Sempron makes a great ULV server or basic netbox while the quad makes for a decent desktop or really nice media tank. The new APUs have hardware acceleration for all the popular video formats and they are crazy low power draw so making silent systems with them is pretty trivial. the only caveat is get the faster RAM as with APUs the RAM speed makes a difference when it comes to graphics performance but other than that they are great for DIY systems on the cheap.

But units like the NUC and AM1 are why I think the days of ARM being used on anything but ultra cheapo Chinese crap are numbered, as both AMD and Intel are dipping into single digit power draw territory while having an IPC that just curbstomps ARM. I've said it before and it looks like time is proving me right, you just can't scale up ARM without blowing the power budget while both AMD and Intel are getting better with each rev on power while still keeping a huge IPC lead. If this trend continues there just won't be a point in using ARM for anything but bargain basement as they just won't have the performance to compete with AMD, much less Intel.

Re:So you can reuse the PC board? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47392939)

especially if intel can keep pushing down their power envelope, they might even end up losing out on mobile as well.

All of ARMs "advances" were provide by other companies and groups, like those guys in austin who fixed their shitty design and gave them cortex, and qualcomm who designed their own compatible cpu cores instead of plopping the crappy block provided by arm in their socs....

Re: So you can reuse the PC board? (4, Informative)

Big_Breaker (190457) | about three weeks ago | (#47393451)

I built a baytrail server and its amazing for the cost and power budget. The Intel HD graphics aren't for gaming but it can serve and render media on a sip of power. The HDDs are by far the biggest power hog. I struggled with these ARM chips and their custom distros enough. The ability to be on x86 with well supported peripherals is well worth it - gpu especially. Need to run some wintel stuff now and again? Virtualbox works fine. On the other hand ARM chips always have their issues with proprietary gpus and their binary blob drivers rife with kernel compatibility problems. And you find yourself stuck in a back alley of "mostly" compatible software and patches.

You might hate sucking up to Intel but at least the drivers work. I might be burning 7 watts instead of 5 but that's nothing in the overall power budget. And baytrail is much much faster than IMX6.

Re:So you can reuse the PC board? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47394579)

Pinto to a Porche? Ha ha try a Vespa scooter to a Honda Civic.

NUC's are woefully underpowered devices as well. The only advantage these ARM devices ever have is energy use. That's it. A NUC might sit there and consume between 20 and 200 watts, idle. An ARM device might consume 10 watts at max (5V @2A) So from an economical stand point it makes more sense to pair one of these with each TV/computer screen in your house at 140$/each than to run any NUC or old x86 hardware.

By comparison the cheapest NUC is the Intel NUC BOXDN2820FYKH0 Celeron N2820 @ 155$. At 7.5 Watt TDP (36 Watt PSU , 3A @ 12V) it's requires 30% more energy just to idle. That CPU has a passmark of 1052, or about 10% of a current i7-4770K (10,291 Passmark, 84 Watt TDP, ) The most powerful NUC's are 19V @ 65 Watts. Those have a 15 Watt TDP (i5-4250U) and a Passmark of 3508, at 450$ roughly 3X more powerful than the cheapest NUC and 1/3rd as powerful as the highest end non-NUC desktop Intel part.

To put things in perspective, the Passmark on an iPhone @ about 1000 is around the iPod Touch, while a passmark of around 3500 is the iPhone 5.
On the Android side, 1000 is the Samsung Galaxy S, while 3500 is around the point of the Cintiq Companion or Samsung Galaxy S4

There is enough overlap to basically go "a NUC is a better toy than a mobile device" but at the same time, a mobile device has enough power to supplant all the lowend desktop parts at half the energy use. So for something that is never powered off, the mobile device wins. Leaving passive chargers plugged into walls however causes that energy to be wasted regardless of the device being used.

Re:So you can reuse the PC board? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47394655)

BTW comparing a mobile devices Passmark to a desktop device is not equal, (Notice the top line passmark mobile devices have scores exceeding the top of the line Xeons) I ignored this intentionally because I was looking at the power draw.

http://www.computingcompendium.com/p/arm-vs-intel-benchmarks.html
The Intel 2830 (not the 2820 as above) is 1605 Geekbench 3 Multicore, while the A6 in the iPhone 5 is 1296 on the same benchmark. The i7-4770 is 16774, and i5-4250U has 4600. So a more direct comparison would be the Apple A7 at 1938(32bit) and 2564(64bit) would beat the Intel 2830, but fall a little shy of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (2771) and 805(2878.) All the ARM parts fall short of the i3-3217U at 3095 (2288 passmark)

Re:So you can reuse the PC board? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about three weeks ago | (#47395189)

I failed to see where you stated the idle power consumption of the NUC's you were talking about
PSU maximum output current is a pretty bad way to determine that.
TDP is the thermal limits. Chips can use more for short periods and will use much less when idle.

btw, those PSU's also need to power the hard drive, memory, chipset, wireless card, etc...

Re:So you can reuse the PC board? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about three weeks ago | (#47392613)

The use case for swapping the CPU/RAM module yourself looks pretty weak; but it would appear to make sense for the manufacturer: This 'hummingboard' appears to be their existing 'MicroSOM' [solid-run.com] product attached to a fairly rPi-like breakout board.

If they already make and sell those, they'd likely have to churn out a lot of hummingboards before the savings on connectors makes it worthwhile to integrate the CPU directly with the board.

Just think of what you can do with this! (5, Funny)

kamapuaa (555446) | about three weeks ago | (#47391707)

A bunch of nerds could order one, then wait six months for it to arrive. They could install a version of Linux on it, play around with it for about 20 minutes, and then talk about how maybe they'll use it for XMBC. Then they could just let it gather dust on some shelf until it gets thrown away in a few years.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47391721)

Porn

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47391737)

I already have an Arduino just for this task (well except the XBMC part).

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47391755)

I have 3 pis:
One is a git repo and my personal web site.
One is in a robot my daughter can control from her mums.
The last is waiting to be put into a robot my daughter can have at her mums to I can play games while my daughter is away.

Just because you are an unimaginative turnip does not mean we all are.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47391771)

Just because you divorced the woman you married and had a child with, and furthermore this child doesn't even live with her own father, doesn't mean you have to be mean :(.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47391781)

Does somebody need a hug?

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (1)

johnsie (1158363) | about three weeks ago | (#47393045)

Negative guy being negative. Move along. There's nothing to see here.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (1)

ajb673 (862254) | about three weeks ago | (#47391815)

I've been looking into making 1 or 2 of my pis into a robot too. Would you care to share any designs and info?

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47391833)

Oh FFS, A Pi is totally unsuitable for a robot. The thing chews tonnes of power and is huge - use a real micro controller and don't ask for advice on slashdot. If you don't know what you're doing - start small and build from there. Learn. It might take you two or three years to get to the point that you can get your robot moving, but it will be more worth it than just following some-one else's plans.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47391917)

As always this depends on your needs, if you want something to play with then they Pi works great, the full computer under the hood give you the freedom to be lazy (evil I know) and does simplify your build. I really don't want to think about getting Wifi, a camera and all the rest working on a "real micro controller", I just want it to work.

I know what I want, and have a reasonable fixed time in order to do it, so I am willing to ignore battery and space requirements to get it done. So for me the Ras Pi makes an amazing base for a robot.

Re: Just think of what you can do with this! (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about three weeks ago | (#47391921)

One of the most famous personal robot (Nao) uses an Intel x86 processor, which is bigger and uses more power than a Pi.

Re: Just think of what you can do with this! (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about three weeks ago | (#47393441)

And I'm sure it communicates with a number of microcontrollers to perform the real-time IO, rather than crippling the CPU with those tasks, and doesn't carry a giant completely unused GPU around with it that uses far more power than the CPU.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47392023)

What an obnoxious dick you are.

The parent already has 1 or 2 pis and is wanting to have a play around FFS. They did not imply they wanted to learn the complete in-and-outs of robot design and building, FFS.

Head in ass much?

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about three weeks ago | (#47392079)

The power consumption of the RPi (especially if you're not using the GPU) is tiny in comparison to anything with motors in it. I'd rather trade a slight reduction in battery life for being able to use a rich programming environment than save a few mW and be forced into a constrained microcontroller development environment. It might be different if I were planning on mass producing a few thousand and needed to save costs, but for a hobby project or even a prototype I'd happily overprovision on CPU power.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (4, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | about three weeks ago | (#47392211)

You can actually run the RPi quite well on batteries. I was able to get 4 hours, 23 minutes [developerodyssey.com] running the Quake 3 demo loop. the battery life wasn't much better when sitting idle, about 5 and a half hours. I used a pair of 18650s in a USB charger/power supply. That's plenty of battery life for a toy robot.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47391871)

Sure - I'm using a Dagu Magician 2WD Robot Chassis [dawnrobotics.co.uk] as the base. The motors are connected to a L298N [youtube.com] which is in turn is connected to the Pi and a 5v mobile phone battery pack. This allows the low powered (3.3v) Pi to power the more demanding (5v) motors.

The Pis power comes from a second mobile phone battery pack, it gets it connectivity from a USB Wifi dongle and finally vision from a Microsoft LifeCam VX-5000. The bendy bit keeps the camera snuggly in the chassis without need to screws.

Software - I'm using mjpg-streamer [sourceforge.net] to stream content over HTTP and a small home made Python application to provide a REST-like web API to control the motors. This is not perfect as the streaming is not designed for real time, so if it falls behind it does not easily catch up without hitting refresh.

It was a fun project, cost ~£100 in total and took less than a day to build and put the basic software together for.

The second project I want to do is attach a Robotic Arm [maplin.co.uk] and a bunch of cameras to a Pi as well as a small in car TV screen. Then using a better video conferencing solution than mjpg-streamer have a static robot at my daughters house which will allow me to be able to play basic board games over The Internet.

Hope that helps, good luck with your project.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (5, Informative)

abroun_dawnrobotics (3734465) | about three weeks ago | (#47393493)

Hi there, First of all. Thanks for posting a link to our website (Dawn Robotics). We're a small company so notice a traffic spike even with just a Slashdot comment. :) Secondly, for people who are interested in building Raspberry Pi robots, we sell a Raspberry Pi camera robot kit [dawnrobotics.co.uk] that doesn't require any soldering and which you can drive around using a web interface on a tablet, smartphone or PC. We also have blog site [dawnrobotics.co.uk] with lots of robotic and Raspberry Pi tutorials. Cheers Alan

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47392725)

> One is in a robot my daughter can control from her mums.

I sense a disturbance in the home life, as daughter's robot goes roaming into the computer room while daddy is home, fapping to Internet porn. And a second disturbance in the child custody rules as it shows up on YouTube.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47393229)

Some of us aren't unimaginative turnips, we just prefer spending time having sex with our girlfriends than nerding away on yet another dev board. Besides, 95% of people I've seen who bought a pi haven't done a damn thing with it and ended up using it as a slow-ish XBMC device which is often getting very little use.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47393529)

You will notice the reference to a daughter. Sex with girlfriend, yeah that happened.

> 95% of people I've seen who bought a pi haven't done a damn thing with it

So, unimaginative turnips. That is fine, you don't have to buy a second one. Now for Meaningless Statistics - 100% of the (fairly small) number of people I know have done something with their Pis. Not always something great, but have their Pi doing something. Most of them have families (wife or husband and kids) and jobs that have slowly taken them away from coding full time. Then sex with your partner is still an important aspect of your life, but so is the Other Things you love doing. If you love tinkering, playing video games or masturbating to pony porn you should work it into your life else you will grow resentful for the bits of your life you are not doing and incorrectly place the blame on love ones instead of on you.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (1)

present_arms (848116) | about three weeks ago | (#47393717)

we just prefer spending time having sex with our girlfriends

*looks at site name* You Liar

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47394043)

I have 3 pis:
One is a git repo and my personal web site.
One is in a robot my daughter can control from her mums.
The last is waiting to be put into a robot my daughter can have at her mums to I can play games while my daughter is away.

Just because you are an unimaginative turnip does not mean we all are.

So your wife left you because you spent all of your time playing with electronics?

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47394589)

It could be worse: "your home so soon" 8 o }

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (1)

excelsior_gr (969383) | about three weeks ago | (#47395019)

unimaginative turnip

If this isn't the insult of the week, I don't know what is!

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about three weeks ago | (#47392059)

They actually make good NAS boxes if you can find a board with some SATA ports. I also use one as a server for gathering weather data from my weather station and GPS for a local stratum 1 NTP server. Not as useful as the NAS but an interesting weekend project.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47392369)

What sort of PSU do you use, and what sort of case do you put the whole thing in?

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (1)

BlackHawk-666 (560896) | about three weeks ago | (#47394029)

I tried using a Pi for NAS but it was let down massively by the slow 100mbit networking and the way it shared that connector with the USB (which had the attached external hard drive). It was only able to push about 30mbit in one direction and 60mbit in another - and let me tell you, transferring a bunch of 2GB video files at 6MB/s is not a lot of fun.

I replaced it with a WD MyBook Live - which has a Power PC processor and 1gbs network connector. The MyBook Live runs Linux making it easy for me to add Transmission and BTSync to it. Potentially I could also load up Git, SVN, or a host of other Linux software.

I can transfer files back and forth at approximately 700mbit/s (70 MB/s), over 10 times the speed of the Rapsberry Pi. It supports SMB, NFS and Apple iTunes shares out the box, so works great with XBMC.

The drive cost me $50 more for a 3TB unit that a regular 3TB USB3 drive - which is on par with the cost of a Raspberry Pi and a drive of the same size.

The Pi is great for a lot of things, but a NAS is not one of them.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47392213)

Cynicism and unhelpful self-loathing aside, my two Raspberry Pis are
operating 24 hours a day in productive employ, thankyouverymuch. And one
of my biggest beefs with them is that they almost have enough power for
me not to worry about them, but not quite, and while the rest of the ARM
world is going gangbusters with Moore's law they stagnate at single core
700MHz. With no public plans to go any further with it.

For a $35 board though the cost of the ZIF connectors don't really make
it worth it, just buy a whole new board when you want more. Let the
manufacturer have a common platform if they want, but there's really no
great investment in the rest of the PCB that makes it worthwhile to keep
it even after the CPU is obsolete.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (2)

jellomizer (103300) | about three weeks ago | (#47392245)

It's funny because it is true.
Perhaps if I worked for a company that allows some time for me to tinker on my own project for a while, like google, then I may get some use out of it. But for the most part by the end of the day I don't even bother using a computer.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (2)

caseih (160668) | about three weeks ago | (#47392721)

Very much this. While a few people are doing cool things with robotics, remote sensing, or UAVs with these small SBCs, most sit and gather dust.

Those actually putting their SBCs to use are by far in the minority. I have plans for my Pi to do some remote sensing work, but so far they are stalled. So it's in a drawer until I find time.

My drawer is full of these devices including Pis, GuruPlugs, and SheevaPlugs. Theoretically useful, but never quite panned out. Could make nice file servers, but honestly a hackable NAS box that also runs linux is probably a better buy. If I need a web server facing the internet, I'm better off hosting it somewhere. If I need a local web development server, a virtual machine or my existing desktop machine fits the bill much better. Tried to use a Pi for XBMC, but it would crash during video playback every 20 minutes or so. Not very encouraging.

I'm also tired of messing with the various and sundry ARM boot loaders, since ARM is such an non-standardized platform.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47394935)

You can not really blame the products for your own inabillity to see your projects through. perhaps all the haters just arent into electronics tinkering - or they already love a different brand of micro. I do not complain that i have no use for tampons so they should not sell them. When i need green paint i dont whine that the shop also carries glue even if it is of zero use to me.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (1)

TClevenger (252206) | about three weeks ago | (#47393991)

Yes, THANK YOU. Wake me when there's a low-powered $35 RasPi-like board with an x86 chip on it.

Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47394955)

No thanks, wake me when you have unicorns.

(iow: you are a self-entitled brat.)

Reads like an advert (1)

adycarter (261257) | about three weeks ago | (#47391747)

one of the more blatant slahvertorials?

Re:Reads like an advert (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about three weeks ago | (#47392363)

No, I just found it and it was only posted for a couple hours, I didnt see it and thought id share. Simple as tgar I have no stake in this company

Re:Reads like an advert (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about three weeks ago | (#47392489)

it only took 2 days for them to accept it too, Im shocked, shocked I say.being slashdot and all, I expected this 3 weeks from now!

Not impressed (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47391793)

Considering you pay $135 for this UDOO Quad [udoo.org] why would this be at all interesting?

Re:Not impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47391853)

You're right. Why would you want something that is cheaper, smaller, and more modular?

But why stop there when you could point out that full sized PCs only cost a bit more money and can do way more. Sure you could use these boards for small, embedded applications, but every single application of them would be much more impressive with a full computer hanging off the back of them.

Re:Not impressed (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about three weeks ago | (#47392215)

hmmm Twice the size and twice the price. Ever consider that not every problem needs $135 thrown at it? That's what made the RPi so popular to begin with.

It's very good to options, even if they may not impress you specifically.

Re:Not impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47392449)

The only thing the Raspi has going for it is the Opensource driver stack. Or am I wrong? How easy or how hard is it to hack together a Linux system that runs on a generic ARM board? Because I can buy a cheaper dual core smartphone that runs at 1+GHz. Probably not directly supported by mainline Linux but the hardware is definitely there, if some OEM would be charitable enough to share the source code for their kernel blobs.

Re:Not impressed (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about three weeks ago | (#47392797)

If you have to ask, you'd probably find getting linux running on a randomly selected phone (especially if you don't mean 'Android/bionic libc' when you say that) to be a bit of an adventure...

The Broadcom part in the rPi isn't actually all that open, even by the low standards of eccentric arm SoCs(graphics support, especially if you want X rather than Android, isn't a pretty picture on the ARM side; but the 'VideoCore' graphics system is a particular oddball, and dominates the rPi's chip); but it has the advantage of Broadcom in a helpful mood, as well as a large userbase working with exactly the same hardware.

Assorted phones and tablets of the world...less so. At the higher end, people who buy them tend to be disinclined to tear them open looking for GPIO connectors (if there even are any, which isn't necessarily the case), and the low end of the market churns fast enough that knowing what hardware you are getting can be a bit of a challenge.

Re:Not impressed (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about three weeks ago | (#47393565)

There is no such thing as a "generic arm board", there are a load of SoCs out there which while they share the CPU core design they are very different in pretty much every other way. The differences don't end at SoC level, there are many differences at the board level too. Most pins on a modern SoC are programable to multiple functions and if you want things to work then the important ones need to be programmed to match the hardware you have on the board. Enumeratable "plug and play" busses are they exception not the rule.

If you have documentation than porting the bootloader and kernel is likely to be hard work but doable, without documentation it is going to be extremely difficult. In my experiance kernels intended for andriod often have problems running regular linux userlands and vendor kernels are often way out of date. Also a serial console is needed to debug/troubleshoot this stuff and most phones/tablets don't have an easilly accessible serial console.

Once you have a usable bootloader and kernel then getting a generic linux system up and running is fairly easy. Of course if you want to use specific features of the chip (e.g. acceslerated graphics) then you will have more work to do.

FrisT psoT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47391805)

here, but what is the ooficial GAY

Banana Pi, Cubieboard, ODroid, BeagleBone ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47391831)

For the tinkerers and nerds, it's wonderful that there are more and more small single board computers to choose from. (Please spare me your jokes about /. and nerds.)

However, as a more casual user, I find it increasingly hard to pick the right board for a given purpose. I know the RPi is good as a basic XBMC box (it's a tad slow, but it's pretty good at audio/video decoding due to hardware acceleleration in the GPU). I know it's bad as a NAS (for example, due to poor performance of the network interface). But that's about what I know.

Does anybody have some decent guide which suggests hardware suitable for specific purposes? Like, consider this if you want to run OwnCloud, that if you want to control sensors and alarms, etc.

Re:Banana Pi, Cubieboard, ODroid, BeagleBone ... (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about three weeks ago | (#47391887)

consider this if you want to run OwnCloud

Of those listed, the only one with which I have any experience is the Pi and, for OwnCloud, it was pretty awful. It did install, but owncloud ran incredibly slowly — I tried to tune the PHP installation, but I couldn't make enough of a difference to make it usable. I found much the same with wordpress.

A VM Debian image on a more robust server did the trick...

Re:Banana Pi, Cubieboard, ODroid, BeagleBone ... (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about three weeks ago | (#47393667)

It's difficult to tell for sure without benchmarking individual applications. Having said that some general points

The odriod line like the Pi have USB based ethernet (though some odriod models have multiple USB busses from the SoC unlike the Pi) and no SATA ports, I'd avoid them for anything storage/network heavy. IIRC they are also lagging behind in terms of getting kernel support upstream. On the other hand when it comes to CPU power they are at the uppper end of what affordable arm boards offer.

The IMX6 based stuff (wandboard, cubox etc) seems like a pretty good all round choice, make sure you get a model with SATA if storage is important to you.

Most of the boards have some sort of GPIO but sometimes it's on awkward connectors or the software is immature. For some applications a board with a dedicated IO processor like the UDOO (or the arduino Tre when it's released) may be worth considering.

Nothing New, not relevant (2)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about three weeks ago | (#47391883)

There are plenty of development boards that come as a base board with several CPU/RAM options on a daughter card. Just the fact that it fits in a raspberry pi case may make it a bit more interesting for some people. However, if you're truly into developing, you're either going to stick with the pi or get the board with the hardware specs you need and not worry about the form factor. If you're into the Pi as a consumer, it's most likely because of it's media playing capabilities. Unless this board will support XBMC with proper hardware acceleration, it's not going to be relevant for those folks either.

Silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47391919)

The price in not competitive with other products out there. For $65 excluding shipping you can get a 2gb ram quad core odroid with Mali Gpu and many USB host/gpio/UART connection.

Re:Silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47394981)

Thats twice the price for something im going to mess with as a toy... obviously you are either rich or not paying for stuff yourself. perhaps you arent the target market for this device. but obviously you have to complain :(

sure, but can you (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47391923)

*masturbates furiously*

Where's the cheap board with gigabit ethernet? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about three weeks ago | (#47392029)

I've thought about buying a second or third Raspberry Pi (I'm happy with the first, an XBMC media center) to act as an independent, always-on Bittorrent device and web server, as my ISP now offers gigabit ethernet with no throttling or caps. However, the Raspberry Pi's network speeds are slow to take advantage of gigabit ethernet: the ethernet has to share the USB bus with everything else connected to the device so you get less than 100mbit. Last time I looked, the hobbyist boards with gigabit ethernet were twice the price of a Pi.

Re:Where's the cheap board with gigabit ethernet? (1)

quitte (1098453) | about three weeks ago | (#47392171)

The i.MX6 has Gigabit ethernet -however the bus it's connected to can not fully handle it. So this might be close to what you want?

Re:Where's the cheap board with gigabit ethernet? (2)

kwardroid (1466409) | about three weeks ago | (#47392183)

Get an OpenWRT supported router for this task (you don't need to actually use it as a router though)

Re:Where's the cheap board with gigabit ethernet? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about three weeks ago | (#47392389)

Care to recommend a cheap gigabit router with OpenWRT support? The cheapest gigabit router I could find when my ISP upgraded my connection was 70€, so the same price as one of those more expensive hobbyist boards I mentioned. What I am really holding out for is a gigabit device around 35€.

Re:Where's the cheap board with gigabit ethernet? (1)

kwardroid (1466409) | about three weeks ago | (#47392441)

You are getting your PIs (incl. SD and powersupply) very cheap, 70 EUR is what I paid for a TP router (TLWDR4900 (got it for being dual radio)).

Re:Where's the cheap board with gigabit ethernet? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about three weeks ago | (#47392485)

You are getting your PIs (incl. SD and powersupply) very cheap

The Pi can be powered by any old USB phone charger, and I suspect that many people have a drawer-full. As for the SD, I already had one in an old camera I don't use any more. Those are not real hassles in buying a Pi. Only the case required me to go out of the way to get it.

Re:Where's the cheap board with gigabit ethernet? (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about three weeks ago | (#47392227)

I don't think a faster Ethernet connector would help. Even on my 20 mbit connection, using bittorrent on the Pi causes crashes because the SD card can't keep up with the I/O load. Didn't crash when I used a USB drive, but the performance was still terrible. Downloads were much slower than on my computer.

Re:Where's the cheap board with gigabit ethernet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47393119)

Agreed. USB and the many network connections typically required to run bittorrent are both rather cpu heavy at least for a low power device. Finding a device that supports sata or at least usb3 would make a huge difference, likely much more than what would be seen with an upgrade to gigabit ethernet.

Re:Where's the cheap board with gigabit ethernet? (1)

BlackHawk-666 (560896) | about three weeks ago | (#47394081)

Skip the Pi and get a WD MyBook Live instead http://www.wdc.com/en/products... [wdc.com] . It's got 1gbit networking, 1-4TB sized hard drives, a power PC processor and runs Linux. Mine has been slurping torrents off the net happily for the last 6 months. These cost a little more than the same sized hard drive with only USB3 but more than make up for it with utility and speed. You can run a web server on them, they have one installed already in fact.

Re:Where's the cheap board with gigabit ethernet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47394737)

I'd be scared to use any proprietary NAS/NAS-like device because the weak point isn't the drives but the PCB/Power supply. I've had no less than 3 external hard drives die on me (That makes it a 60% fail rate,) none of them being the physical drive, including one WD. Unless there is a standard "NAS" firmware like there is a standard Tomato/WRT54G firmware for NAT routers, I'm never touching those.

Ultimately the best option for NAS are x86 devices because most of those run FreeBSD (FreeNAS) using ZFS with multiple drives. At least then you're not held hostage to a proprietary system.

i would rather pay more for.... (2)

arbiter1 (1204146) | about three weeks ago | (#47392069)

I would rather get one the tiny boards from company like AAEON you can drop a super low power i3 or i5 intel haswell cpu in to. Yea cost more then this but it will play anything I throw at it. Before anyone says that this will to, well since relies on a hardware decoder for most its work, problem I have is I have a lot of media that is 10bit color space which likely that hardware decoder will be useless with. example: http://www.aaeon.com/en/p/3-an... [aaeon.com]

Re:i would rather pay more for.... (1)

fnj (64210) | about three weeks ago | (#47392529)

I was actually impressed with that board; no hint of pricing from the manufacturer so I took the time to look up somebody selling it.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? $963.75? And for all its super high power CPU and ample IO the RAM maxes out with 8GB in a SINGLE SO-DIMM slot! Then, let's see, you still have to make your own enclosure.

I fail to see how there could be a single user who would not be infinitely better served at far lower cost by an Intel NUC or similar.

shvertisement of the one true Sla (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47392071)

So, a computer with "only one" motherboard, and having sockets for removable ram and cpu? That was a new thing and stuff during the Vietnam War.

There is a use (1)

quitte (1098453) | about three weeks ago | (#47392151)

If the i.MX6 had, as microcontrollers do reconfigurable output pins it would be useful to have different io options. since the cpu board has the hard part done: connecting the memory and dealing with bga - it becomes a lot easier to create your own io board. So to me it makes sense. It's not about upgrading CPU/memory - but upgrading (or sidegrading?) the io options.

Not good enough (1)

folderol (1965326) | about three weeks ago | (#47393353)

To be worthwhile, something like this has to be the first; the best; unique.

This is none of those.

"Swap out" - LOL (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47392175)

I believe the word you AMERICANS are looking for is "change". Most likely "change you can believe in", since you have become a nation of retards...

"Swap out" indeed.

Re: "Swap out" - LOL (0)

PoconoPCDoctor (912001) | about three weeks ago | (#47392199)

Been away for some time now from /. A.C. swoops in and uses such respectful terms like "retard?," and knocks President Obama? You are SO not brave. I would suggest minimizing or eliminating the A.C.. Bring back real moderation. Most commenters here are very smart, but stuff like this brings down the level of discussion. Btw, so as not to veer to far off-topic, I have a PI yet to be used. Saw a nice internet radio project recently. The cabinet was beautiful (his dad built that) and the son set up the PI.

Re: "Swap out" - LOL (1)

PoconoPCDoctor (912001) | about three weeks ago | (#47392257)

teh google - http://www.instructables.com/i... [instructables.com] 47 builds for inspiration -http://makezine.com/2013/04/14/47-raspberry-pi-projects-to-inspire-your-next-build/

Re: "Swap out" - LOL (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about three weeks ago | (#47392261)

eh, there's ArsTechnica for that kind of thing. Or of course, you know, the /. comment filters that can also make the ACs invisible to you.

That said, I haven't really figured out what to use my Pi for yet. I have enough old smartphones to throw at random little projects that could use cameras/audio/touchscreens/wifi, and an Arduino Uno that does a better job at little ADC/DAC projects. Critically, I have only one monitor with an HDMI port, and my my PC is connected to that. Best I could come up with so far is just a device I could use to throw the BSOD screensaver up on LCDs at work or in public.

Re: "Swap out" - LOL (1)

PoconoPCDoctor (912001) | about three weeks ago | (#47392351)

Cool. Forgot about the filters. The BSOD screensaver project sounds fun. What I like about the Pi and these other one-board projects is that they are not "buy something and turn it on." You have to really think and learn about Arduino scripting (???) I read a bit more about the project - so the scripting by Arduino controls the stations that the radio can play - plus, it is limited to Google Play. The same guy built an interactive coffee table with LCD screens - hopefully coffee proof - so I am leaning towards the internet radio due to time constraints.

Re: "Swap out" - LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47392553)

Brave or not, he is DEAD ON TARGET.
--
"Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair" - George Washington
"Let's tear this place apart, destroy everything that is exceptional, bankrupt it, and turn it into a cesspool" - some fucker called Obama

It is called a SOM (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47392743)

This already exists and it is how people have been developing/deploying embedded processor-based systems for a while.

Interesting. (1)

YukariHirai (2674609) | about three weeks ago | (#47392771)

Interesting idea, and it is in general terms good that different options are appearing on the market. With that said, I see no compelling differences between this and the Raspberry Pi for my uses. Replaceable CPU/memory? Meh, $35-odd to entirely replace the whole computer is below my give-a-damn threshold. More CPU grunt is kind of nice, but to begin with anything I'm doing with something in this class of computer is not something that needs a great deal of that. More RAM? More or less the same thing as with CPU grunt. I've still got the earlier model of RasPi with only 256MB in active service as my ssh/torrent/whatever box, and it works just fine with such little memory.

Plus, the Raspberry Pi is a popular platform with its particular hardware features well supported by a variety of software. I imagine this thing's SoC has a different hardware mpeg4 decoder than the RasPi (if it even has one), for example, meaning you couldn't just take a RasPi build of XBMC and use it with this.

Still, if you do need something that's the size and approximate cost of a Raspberry Pi but with a little more power, or the same size and a bit more costly with a bit more power and more RAM, good for you, you now have another option.

Re:Interesting. (1)

joh (27088) | about three weeks ago | (#47394233)

The RPi has some very notable disadvantages: Not enough RAM, slow ethernet, too few USB ports. If you want to run such a thing as a low-power always-on Linux micro-server the RPi really sucks. It also doesn't run Debian or Ubuntu. It's a nice toy and totally usable for many things but it also has some really tight limits. Just running a web server with PHP against a database can be too much.

A faster CPU, 1 GB of RAM and dedicated ethernet (instead of sharing the USB bus) can help a lot here.

Is it really a single board computer? (1)

AC-x (735297) | about three weeks ago | (#47393283)

Is it really a single board computer, if the SoC is on a separate board?

Looks more like a mini, more powerful version of the Raspberry Pi Compute Module with a Raspberry Pi like breakout board.

Those SoC modules themselves could be useful on their own if they sell the sockets to use on custom circuit boards...

Just A Thought (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about three weeks ago | (#47393329)

How about a 64gig DDR3 model? For my 3D printer controllers I need memory.

Re:Just A Thought (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about three weeks ago | (#47393695)

Not likely to happen any time soon, these arm SoCs simply don't have the memory busses to drive the number of ram chips you need to get that much ram. Heck even the mainstream desktop platforms from intel/AMD pratically max out at 32GB.

Re:Just A Thought (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about three weeks ago | (#47394129)

Why would you need 64GB of RAM for a 3D printer controller? Your main computer doesn't even have that much RAM and the files you're sending to the 3D printer aren't anywhere that huge either.

How about More RAM Memory? (1)

ramorim (1257654) | about three weeks ago | (#47393875)

Why this 1 GB RAM limit-thing in all this little boards in the market? Why we still have no access to little ones like this with at last 4 GB of RAM memory?

Re:How about More RAM Memory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47394745)

RAM is Memory [youtube.com]

Oh great (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about three weeks ago | (#47394127)

The Arduino had mis-aligned connectors, the Raspberry Pi had mis-aligned ports and now people make compatible clones by copying the same stupid mistakes.

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