back to article Black-eyed Pies reel from BeagleBoard's $45 Linux micro blow

Open-source hardware outfit BeagleBoard has formally announced a major revision of its BeagleBone board computer that ups the spec and downs the price. The BeagleBone Black's single-core processor jumps from its predecessor’s 720MHz to 1GHz. It’s a Texas Instruments AM335x system-on-a-chip, which uses ARM’s Cortex-A8 …

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  1. jb99

    Looks really good

    I want one now!

    The article says 1GB but the data sheet linked to says 800MHZ, which is it?

    1. Alan 6

      Re: Looks really good

      "The article says 1GB but the data sheet linked to says 800MHZ, which is it?"

      The datasheet is preliminary from January, so the spec has probably changed

    2. Spudbynight
      Facepalm

      Re: Looks really good

      GB and Mhz are both different units of measurement.

      1. JeffyPooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Looks really good

        MHz.

      2. Benchops
        Coat

        Re: Looks really good

        No, only one of GB and Mhz are different units of measurement. The other one is the same.

  2. brooxta
    Meh

    Headline misses

    Something about "Black Eyed Pies" might have been even better. Or "BeagleBone A8 the Pies".

    And actually, the Pi is "full Linux", just not as fast.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Headline misses

      So sorry not every headline, produced under incredible pressure, is comedy gold :-(

      C.

      1. brooxta
        Happy

        Re: Headline misses

        Very decent of you sir. Apologies for the nasty bout of grumpy old man syndrome.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Headline misses

        And you call yourself a journalist? Just kidding. Pithy headlines are an art that most of us can't master.

        :-)

    2. James Hughes 1

      Re: Headline misses

      Upvote on the Full Linux thing- the article is wrong - it's not a cut down version - it's a full version. In fact, I'm not even sure what a cut down version of Linux would be, or if it even exists. As to speed - well, that's in the eye of the beholder. Quite a bit of the slow speed stuff has some interesting improvements in the pipeline...

      This BB looks pretty good. As I said elsewhere, they must be selling close to break even at those prices - 5 chips on board compared to the Raspi's two must almost fill the $10 gap. TI might even be putting this out as a loss leader. I'd be surprised if the price stays this low.

      1. h3

        Re: Headline misses

        There is a few cut down versions of Linux at least one which is still used - uclinux and elks.

        These might be better for RiscOS than the pi (Afaik the graphics support for the beagleboard is the best - even though the pandaboard is better hardware there is no dual processor support in RiscOS).

        You have to remember TI makes those chips (Or I think gets them made these days but they already have the volume) whereas the Rasberry PI has to buy from Broadcom.

      2. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Headline misses

        Two chips on a Model A you mean, there's three on the Model B RPi - ok, one's stacked on top of another but you still gotta pay for 'em.

        The large amounts of GPIO on this new Beagle are what makes it more interesting to me than the RPi, although I don't think the AM335x series can drive two framebuffer monitors, which is a shame.

        It was the RPi that got all these new ultra-cheap SBCs started though, and for that I am eternally grateful.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is more to Linux than Ubuntu

    Let the downvotes start.

    Recently Ubuntu has become a pile of steaming dog droppings when compared to older releases.

    More downvotes.

    They seem to have a finger in all sorts of pies none of which appear to be making a difference to the quality of their core product.

    Then they have reduced their non LTS support period to 9 months. WTF?

    There are other distros available that run on a Pi etc.

    1. Rob Carriere

      Re: There is more to Linux than Ubuntu

      I'm sorry to hear life's so frustrating to you, but would you mind explaining what relevance your opinion of Ubuntu has to the article?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There is more to Linux than Ubuntu

        Pi runs linux, ubuntu is a linux distro, is that not tenuous a link enough to count?

        I used to use Ubuntu but not any more, moved away in favour of Mint, and I'd never consider using Ubuntu on a PI, I was looking at Arch considering the constraints. Running Ubuntu on a Pi is about as intelligent as running Windows 8 on a pentium 4. They've both got terrible interfaces, and neither would run very well on the provided hardware.

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: There is more to Linux than Ubuntu

        did you actually read the article?

        The subheading is

        Gigahertz-class pocket-sized ARM Ubuntu rig, anyone?

        1. Rob Carriere

          Re: There is more to Linux than Ubuntu

          @Steve Davies 3: So it is, and yes, you caught me skipping subheadings. The flimsy excuse is that my RSS reader seems to encourage that, but it's a flimsy excuse.

          I'm still confused as to the relevance of the particular objections given to the article at hand, though.

    2. Cameron Colley

      Re: There is more to Linux than Ubuntu

      I have to agree there are better choices for boards like this and the Pi than Ubuntu. For starters with something this low powered you'd expect to be using LXDE, [black|flux]box or even XFCE rather than Unity. Heck, can Unity even run on something with less than 2GB RAM?

      I would guess that's why Raspbian seems to be the default choice for the Pi.

    3. Andus McCoatover
      Windows

      Re: There is more to Linux than Ubuntu

      WTF????

      Let me gently explain by means of this buzzy stick.

      RPi doesn't run UBUNTU!!!! FFS! <BZZZT!!!>

      RPi is RISC/ARM architecture. Ubuntu runs Intel 386/AMD-64 CISC processors.<BZZZT!!!>

      Ubuntu has not been compiled for the RPi. It never will be. No need. <BZZZT!!!>

      (Damn, still breathing, I see...)

      The RPi is not designed to be a desktop.* <BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT!!!>

      That'll do it.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Tim Parker

        Re: There is more to Linux than Ubuntu

        "RPi doesn't run UBUNTU!!!! FFS! <BZZZT!!!>

        RPi is RISC/ARM architecture. Ubuntu runs Intel 386/AMD-64 CISC processors.<BZZZT!!!>"

        Last I looked, Ubuntu ran on ARMv7 onwards - and there were no plans to port stuff to support ARMv6 (as used by the Pi) so your first point is correct, your second probably incorrect (as I assume it was intended, difficult to say as it's rather vague) and your buzzer (IMO) is very annoying.

        1. Andus McCoatover
          Windows

          Re: There is more to Linux than Ubuntu

          Yep, you're correct. Ubuntu's 'skunk-works' seem to have produced Ubuntu-ARM-on-a-server.

          To test relative speeds. Doubt if it'll be ported o desktop, tho' interesting if they did.

          The buzzer? Blame the BOFH for that. I took in as surety for a few beers he cadged off me...

    4. khjohansen
      Childcatcher

      Re: There is more to Linux than Ubuntu

      So sorry, but Eadon is doing his homework now, and he can't come out to play 'till later.

      Run along now, there's a good chap!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So you upgrade from ARM11 to Cortex-A8, lose about 15% of the clock speed and lose the GPU?

    Losing the GPU is a massive loss, unfortunately. Simply cannot see this competing with the RasPi. The lack of serious GPU means it won't draw in the cheap media centre crowd, so it'll lose out on a lot of the community support. And at the end of the day Cortex-A8 isn't *that* much faster than ARM11, especially when you haven't got an obscenely overpowered GPU to hand off all the interface work.

    1. pepper

      Exactly. I was wondering where the video-out was. To me this looks more like a Arduino on steroids then a replacement for the Raspberry PI, which has the advantage of being a whole computer with IO headers.

      1. James Hughes 1

        I believe it has uHDMI out. The Mali 400 isn't too bad - not quite as good as the VC4 on the Raspi in some areas though.

        1. James Hughes 1

          @Me !

          Sorry, I said Mali 400 there (was thinking of Cubie) - It should be SGX530 I think. Which means no decent 3D or, I think, video encode/decode (it's a 7 year old part). It's about 1.6GFLops 3D (according to WIkipedia), whereas the Pi is over 15GFlops IIRC.

        2. pepper

          You are correct James, strange that that is omitted in the main post though..

          1. Tim Parker

            @pepper

            "You are correct James, strange that that is omitted in the main post though.."

            Strangely enough, I thought all the comments about lack of video out were some odd humour I was missing ! However, seems not - luckily, from the article..

            "The Black’s six-layer, 85mm x 53mm PCB holds all the above plus an HDMI port, 10/100Mbps Ethernet and a cylinder 5V power jack."

            That's been in there since I first read it, honest, so not just dropped in.

    2. Troy Peterson
      Megaphone

      I really wish people would stop comparing this to the Rasp-Pi... It's a completely different beast. It's not a mini single board computer, but an embedded controller that runs Linux... Like an Arduino, but different in many ways... It's also not correct to call it a beefed up Arduino or an Arduino on steroids... It's much, much more. I have 3 Beaglebones embedded in various projects that I've built... A 3d printer, and a couple of robots...

      The BeagleBone is not a general purpose computer! It's not ever intended to be hooked up to a display/keyboard/mouse and be operated as a computer other than during development or debugging, it's meant to form the guts of some larger device as it's controller... I only ever communicate with mine over ethernet. It does not need and should not have a GPU of any sort...

      Cheers,

      Troy.

      1. tentimes

        Do you think it would be possible to get it to control my vacuum cleaner? That's the kind of robot I want. Or one that does the ironing. Top of my list would be putting it in an R2D2 uniform and have it serve me beer.

        But, more seriously, what sort of things can you do with the Beagleboard?

        1. pepper

          @Tim Parker

          ... I have no words for my own failure. I must have read over it. Twice. My humble apology for confusing you, if I did as such.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not sure if ill informed or just RasPi FUD troll.

      @Lose 15% clock: Aparently you failed math because going from 700MHz to 1000MHz is an increase in speed not a decrease. Also this quote speaks for itself : "Compared to the ARM11 core, the Cortex-A8 is a dual-issue superscalar design, achieving roughly twice the instructions executed per clock cycle."

      @Lose GPU: I dont know whats specs you have been reading (Original BeagleBoard maybe?) but the AM3359 SOC has a SGX530 3D Graphics Engine...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not sure if ill informed or just RasPi FUD troll.

        "Aparently you failed math because going from 700MHz to 1000MHz is an increase in speed not a decrease"

        It seems I was reading a previous revision's datasheet, where the CPU is clocked at 600MHz unless it's connected to a 5V DC power supply. Either way 2000MIPS, while a step up from the RasPi's, is not a substantial amount of CPU computing in terms of a modern OS - especially not when the CPU will be unable to hand off much of the graphics work.

        "I dont know whats specs you have been reading"

        I said lose *the* GPU, as in, it has a completely different GPU with much reduced capabilities. The VideoCore 4 GPU puts out something like 25GFLOPS of general-purpose compute/1GPixel of graphics. The SGX530 has about 20% of the power under its hood.

        I'm not saying it's a bad device, I'm just saying it's not a device tooled up to compete with the RasPi. With the reduced graphics capabilities but massively increased GPIO and power options, it is clearly aimed at makers who want something a bit more capable than an Arduino without having to resort to the unholy Arduino/Raspi combination.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Not sure if ill informed or just RasPi FUD troll.

          >I believe it has uHDMI out

          It would appear so- the little port under the USB Host in the article's picture looks identical to a uHDMI port I have on a device in front of me.

  5. Justin Stringfellow
    FAIL

    512MB = fail

    1GB min, surely?

    No reason, other than it seems stingy.

  6. Steve Crook

    The board has rounded corners

    Surely that's just asking for a lawsuit.

    1. detnyre

      Re: The board has rounded corners

      Round corners to fit in an Altoids tin?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The board has rounded corners

        I think they put round corners just to say it fits in an Altoids tin. The dimensions are are slightly smaller than Pi and the square corners is the reason the Pi does not fit(per Raspberry Pi

    2. NIck Hunn
      Happy

      Re: The board has rounded corners

      I recall AutoCAD having a CTRL-R shortcut to do that back in the 1980s. I'm surprised it was never cited as prior art.

    3. JLH

      Re: The board has rounded corners

      Rounded corners are so it fits into an Altoid mints tin.

      http://www.walyou.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/mint_tin_pocket_guitaramp.jpg

      Those tins are the traditional case for US breadboard electronic projects.

  7. James 139
    Facepalm

    Ahh

    good to see that once again people misunderstand the Raspberry Pi.

    Its an "cheap educational device" for learning and experimenting with, not a home micro desktop PC.

    If it doesnt offer the power and speed you desire, youre not using it right, simple as.

    1. The BigYin

      Re: Ahh

      Wasn't part of the whole Pi idea to stimulate this kinda thing? Now I have the choice of two nano-PC-board-things to choose from. Cool!

      Both are good as learning tools, one has more juice than the other, but one draws less power than the other. Which one is "best" really depends on the problem you are trying to solve.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ahh

        "Wasn't part of the whole Pi idea to stimulate this kinda thing? Now I have the choice of two nano-PC-board-things to choose from. Cool!"

        ..and at that price, you can buy both, and whistle innocently, if you really want.

        It's not that long ago that little industrial embedded boards cost more than a midrange desktop PC in many cases, this sort of thing is an embarrassment of riches..

    2. wowfood
      Headmaster

      Re: Ahh

      Its an "cheap educational device" for learning and experimenting with

      No, it's a "cheap educational device" for learning and experimenting with. An is used before a vowel sound. I tend to avoid pointing out grammatical fails, but an / a just irks me for some reason.

      And now in an attempt to prevent downvotes, an actual response.

      The Pi doesn't offer the power and speed I desire, but that's why I desire it. I've always wanted to experiment with cluster computing, why? I don't know is probably the best answer to that, But buying a load of PCs is expensive, even buying the cheapest parts these days, as is the space and power it would use. But with a collection of Pis it's quite possible to create a miniature cluster which could be used for experimentation. Not only that but ti's easily extensible too. And the lack of speed / power actually proves more benefit since it'll be easier (in my mind) t work out a performance boost for each additional cluster. single core 700mhz addes = % increase vs quad core added, % increase, how much is that per core, how much of that is due to the RAM, connection, etc etc.

      The only thing missing from the Pi for me is gigabit ethernet. If it had that I'd be sold 100%, alas.

      1. handle
        Facepalm

        grammatical fails?

        "I've always wanted to experiment with cluster computing, why?"

        "I don't know is probably the best answer to that"

        "But buying a load of PCs is expensive, even buying the cheapest parts these days, as is the space and power it would use."

      2. fajensen Silver badge

        Re: Ahh

        I've always wanted to experiment with cluster computing, why?

        And now you can, sir - for USD 99:

        http://www.adapteva.com/

        http://tech2.in.com/news/cpus/adapteva-announces-first-99-supercomputer-boards/870896

        This will be hosting the targeting system core for my new line of autonomous killer robots ...

    3. MrMur

      Re: Ahh

      @James 139 The educational element was primarily so that kids could plug it in and learn using the communal TV in the living room like so many of us did back in the 80's. I've never used any of my Pi's for that but I gather it is too slow to do dev directly on the machine, so in that sense it doesn't quite hit the mark as intended, as far as I can tell.

      1. James Hughes 1

        Re: Ahh @MrMur

        Perfectly possible to do dev work on the Pi itself, esp. teaching. Scratch works pretty well, as does Python (and C etc). You wouldn't use it for main line dev work, but then, you probably have a desktop if you work in that area anyway. I use a Ubuntu desktop and cross compile to the Raspi, simply because I have the ability to do so. The work could just as well be done on the Raspi itself, just slower.

      2. MrXavia

        Re: Ahh @MrMur

        Nah, its fast enough if your not worried about a gui, and really, you should NOT be learning about computers using a gui, its distracting and takes away from the development & hacking that you can do on a pi...

        Personally I run mine headless, Just ssh into them...

        Once is being put inside a robot, another is being used as a DHCP & open cloud server

    4. Dapprman

      Re: Ahh

      Strange, I have distinct memories of it's backers harping on about how they were influenced by the likes of the Acorn Atom and ZX Spectrum and wanted some thing to throw at kids in schools to help influence them in to carrying on the UK tradition for tech thinkers and doers.

      The fact it can be used as a half decent PC was purely a side benefit.

    5. keep-it-calm-or-more

      Re: Ahh

      If you look at the i/o capabilities of this board then it actually throws a glove to the rpi experimenting wise.

      But for many hobbyists they already have the cheaper rpi and they will not upgrade just for the sake of an already outdated cortex a8 core. Raspberry is still cheaper than this thing here and does deliver the basics that most hobby things (robots etc.) need (robust i/o smashed with the power of common linux utilities out of the box).

      Since the mpeg-2 licensing has been worked out for the raspberry-pi it also has become a quite vivid multimedia board, just enough to deliver the hd video that people might want to use it for.

      The only real use case for this thing is where you already have something that almost works on a rpi but lacks 10-20% of cpu power or requires more i/o ports. That's a weird niche market to go after.

      If you really want to beat Raspberry PI - beat it's price.

      (and compared to a desktop from 2013 none of the two devices is anywhere remotely near a desktop experience - what you accept as 'ok' lag on your 3 year old htc phone (similar cpu's back then) is not ok behind a desktop).

  8. Anonymous3
    Linux

    I'll see your ARM core and raise you a SATA port. ;-)

    $49 for a proper miniature computer.

    1G ARM cortex-A8 processor

    Mali400, OpenGL ES GPU (which means a proper Open Source Graphics driver is in-the-works)

    512M/1GB DDR3

    100Mit ethernet.

    SATA

    http://cubieboard.org/

    FTW ;-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll see your ARM core and raise you a SATA port. ;-)

      "Mali400, OpenGL ES GPU (which means a proper Open Source Graphics driver is in the works and will remain there for years and years.)"

      Fixed!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'll see your ARM core and raise you a SATA port. ;-)

        >"Mali400, OpenGL ES GPU (which means a proper Open Source Graphics driver is in the works and will >remain there for years and years.)"

        >

        >Fixed!

        Runs Quake3 faster than binary blob : YES

        http://linux.slashdot.org/story/13/02/06/1417217/open-source-arm-mali-driver-runs-q3a-faster-than-the-proprietary-driver

        Source Code publicly availale: Yes

        http://malideveloper.arm.com/develop-for-mali/drivers/open-source-mali-gpus-linux-kernel-device-drivers/

        X11 display driver: Yes

        http://malideveloper.arm.com/develop-for-mali/drivers/open-source-mali-gpus-linux-exadri2-and-x11-display-drivers/

        There!? FUD Fixed.

    2. David Hicks
      Linux

      Re: I'll see your ARM core and raise you a SATA port. ;-)

      Excellent, that looks like a step in the right direction - IO has been a major bottleneck in these devices for a while, and having SATA available is a huge step forward at that price point. The only small ARM/SATA boards I've seen before came in around the $200 mark. Granted they had quad-core marvell chips in them, but still... looks like a great board.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: I'll see your ARM core and raise you a SATA port. ;-)

        Is a HD in a USB caddy that slow?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'll see your ARM core and raise you a SATA port. ;-)

          "Is a HD in a USB caddy that slow?"

          Well, it's partly because it's a bit slower, but also because if it's USB 1 or 2, things are poll/interrupt driven (I forget the term and several words atm, as I need more coffee). USB 3 can work in a more DMAish way.

          This might seem like splitting hairs, but when you're busy doin' thangs with the host CPU, the USB becomes a bit of a overhead (plus attached USB media devices get buffer underruns, also). SATA with a halfway-decent controller would be a lot nicer than USB 1 or 2- especially on a little machine with limited CPU power.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: I'll see your ARM core and raise you a SATA port. ;-)

            Point taken, but at the same time using the CPU as a gatekeeper helps to block potential memory exploits. FireWire has better throughput because of Direct Memory Access, but it also opens the door to potential memory exploits (and since FireWare was two-way you had to allow two-way access to the memory). Looks like a hard one to solve: place a gatekeeper and you lose the speed and efficiency advantages; don't and you risk memory exploits.

            1. Steve Todd
              Stop

              Re: I'll see your ARM core and raise you a SATA port. ;-)

              Don't be silly, having physical access to a machine is a potential security risk (especially an open board like the BeagleBone or the Cubieboard). Since SATA slave devices can't initiate transfer or destination address then no, this isn't enough extra risk to be concerned about, and it's much more important to offload tasks from the CPU when you haven't got much power to start with.

        2. Nigel 11

          Re: I'll see your ARM core and raise you a SATA port. ;-)

          Is a HD in a USB caddy that slow?

          No, but an SSD in a USB caddy is. Actually the extra power drain of a USB to SATA chip may be greater pain, if whatever you are doing is supposed to run off a battery. (In which context an SSD eats far less electricity than an HD).

          1. Chris Evans

            Re: I'll see your ARM core and raise you a SATA port. ;-)

            Errr I would expect an SSD in a USB caddy to be faster than an HD in a USB Caddy!

            Also I would expect any SATA interface on a motherboard to be connected to the SOC not via USB

        3. David Hicks
          Meh

          Re: I'll see your ARM core and raise you a SATA port. ;-)

          "Is a HD in a USB caddy that slow?"

          If it's USB 2.0, yes it is.USB 3.0 can be a lot better. But yes, even spinning rust on USB 2 is badly limited.

          If they had USB 3 then that would be just awesome, you can get some USB 3.0 sticks now that are coming up to 1/2 SSD speed, and that's awesome.

      2. Anonymous3
        Linux

        Re: I'll see your ARM core and raise you a SATA port. ;-)

        Up until the Cubie started shipping, the cheapest viable SATA equipped alternative I could find was the UDOO.

        Their succesful Kickstarer project will allow that project to progress towards commercial scale production.

        The dual core version @ $109 comes with 10/100/1000 Ethernet and WIFI.

        The quad core version @ $129 has SATA.

        http://www.udoo.org/

        http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/435742530/udoo-android-linux-arduino-in-a-tiny-single-board

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll see your ARM core and raise you a SATA port. ;-)

      And there are also these, all based on the SoCs from same vendor:

      http://www.marsboard.com/#specifications

      https://www.miniand.com/products/Hackberry%20A10%20Developer%20Board

      https://www.olimex.com/Products/OLinuXino/A13/A13-OLinuXino-WIFI/

      It's good to see competition in this space.

  9. Eugene Crosser

    Memory?

    Could be a contender as a "stick it to the back of the monitor" type PC if it had more RAM...

    1. Steve Todd

      Re: Memory?

      Nah, you can get a MK809 ii for less than that. It comes with 2 x 1.6GHz A9 cores, 1GB of RAM, WiFi, Bluetooth, 8GB of flash and a microSD slot. THATs a "stick it in the back of your monitor" machine.

  10. PhilipJ
    Thumb Down

    double the price, and you get a 1.7GHz quad core monster with 2GB RAM that consumes even less power than Pi, when idling at 200MHz

    1. Radbruch1929
      Thumb Up

      @PhilipJ: Which device?

      This sounds interesting, can you disclose which device you mean? Thank you very much.

  11. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: And in the Microsoft World

      "Blackberry PI"

      who?

    2. pepper

      Re: And in the Microsoft World

      ... You think Microsoft is going to convert XP to ARM? And aim at a developers market that is largely based on Linux, thus they would also need to create their own toolchain? The development costs would be through the roof and profits probably rather low. They are a software company after all.

      1. wowfood
        Trollface

        Re: And in the Microsoft World

        Could be worse, anyone here forseeing a stripped back Mac OSX called Apple Pie?

        I hear it's groundbreaking, and it has so many amazing patents like "Outputting a user interface... from a credit card sized device" and many other PC patents which were then used by apple with "for mobile devices" appended, except this time they've removed "mobile devices" for "credit card sized devices"

        It's pure genious, and it only costs £100 for something slightly slower than the Pi, BUT ITS WHITE!!! And it comes with a shiny white plastic box ABSOLUTELY FREE!!! You normally have to PAY for a box with your Pi, but the Apple Pie gives it away FREE! every time you buy one of their products for just £100!

        Such an amazing deal, I've already pre-ordered 5 so I can sell them to china for a profit.

        1. Darryl
          Trollface

          Re: And in the Microsoft World

          @wowfood

          Plastic??!! Cheap, nasty plastic??

          No thanks, I'll wait for the £150 version with the alumin(i)um case. After all, it's all about build quality.

    3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      @Eadon

      Should have used the Joke icon. Plus, I think you mean "netbook" rather than "notebook". Maybe spell-checker error.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Windows

      Re: And in the Microsoft World

      A scary scenario but XP? Not Win7 lite?

      . And looking at all those downvotes a titanium hat indeed!

    5. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: And in the Microsoft World

      "MS will re-release Windows XP - Blackberry PI (or BeagleBoard) edition."

      An ARM build of desktop Windows with a support lifecycle extending to 2018? If only.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And in the Microsoft World

      Yes, but the difference is that netbooks used top secret parts that were only available to the 5 biggest PC manufacturers in the world, so Microsoft was able to get all 5 of them in a room and twist their arms.

      That won't work with ARM powered devices, because there are hundreds of small Chinese factories who can churn them out. None of them have the necessary skill to make Netbooks, obviously, or they'd be making a killing selling them to the clamouring hordes that are pissing and moaning about Microsoft killing the netbook.

    7. Daniel B.
      Unhappy

      Re: And in the Microsoft World

      As much a laugh as I got from that, the real story for mass-market ARM netbooks already passed.

      Remember the Smartbooks? ARM-powered netbooks toting some Linux distro. The iPad came out and supposedly killed the market, but in truth MS and Intel joined forces and twisted the OEM's arms, a repeat of the netbook case. Except this time, they KILLED the product instead of hobbling it with Windows.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  12. Mike Tyler
    Meh

    I quite liked the look of this, but it's just over the price barrier that I can justify a quick purchase. Yes it's only $10 more than a Pi but its nearly £60 delivered in the UK.

    Nice to see some more devices at this level though.

  13. Tony Sweeney

    Wonder if it will fit in an altoids tin?

    The mechanical specification is on page 77 of the PDF and says it's 3.5" x 2.15". Anyone have an Altoids tin and a ruler?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Wonder if it will fit in an altoids tin?

      If the Pi is anything to go by, it's probably just a bit too big (too wide, mainly--an Altoid tin by my reckoning measures only about 2" even).

    2. Matt Piechota

      Re: Wonder if it will fit in an altoids tin?

      The tin I have here appears to be wide enough, at 2 3/16 and long enough at 3 1/2. With the rounded corners of the tin and the board, I'm guessing that's not an accident.

    3. graeme leggett

      Re: Wonder if it will fit in an altoids tin?

      If you're British, wouldn't it have to be a "St Bruno" or "Old Holborn" tobacco tin once used by your grandfather to keep screws in?

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Wonder if it will fit in an altoids tin?

        Old Holborn et al tins...

        You can buy these new and unpainted from tobacconists- remember them? Come in half size too!

  14. Number6

    Horses for courses

    If I wanted to do something that needed graphics I'd probably choose a Pi. If I wanted something that either didn't need graphics or only needed a simple GUI (a lot of industrial controllers could come into this category) then I'd consider the BeagleBoard. As it is, my Pi has been commandeered and lives behind the TV as a media centre, so I need a new one to play with.

  15. DrXym Silver badge

    A glance at the AM3358 spec sheet suggests it has a PowerVR SGX530 GPU core in it. It's probably enough to run a simple desktop although there is no mention of hardware decoding for audio / video and I doubt the CPU has the power to decode it in software either. The chip (and the board) seems more targeted towards control devices really as opposed the Pi which has slower but more media capable CPU.

    That said, the Pi isn't very good for media playback either, at least under the standard XBMC GUI. The UI is fairly responsive when nothing is streaming, but start streaming and navigating at the same time and the CPU chokes. A dual core or 1.5GHZ Pi would probably resolve these issues, or perhaps a simpler playback interface.

    There are also a LOT of very cheap Android stick / boxes powered by the likes of the Allwinner A10, A20, A31. Since XBMC is on Android now, there is a chance that these could be viable platforms for people who want to play media. What would be lacking is the community support.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "There are also a LOT of very cheap Android stick / boxes powered by the likes of the Allwinner A10, A20, A31. Since XBMC is on Android now, there is a chance that these could be viable platforms for people who want to play media. What would be lacking is the community support."

      I've given Android XBMC a try. Last I checked, its graphics support needs work. It was chugging on my Galaxy Tab 7.0+ (no slouch--1.2GHz dual-core Exynos and Mali 400MP GPU).

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        XBMC isn't the only solution on Android though. There must be dozens of DLNA clients on the store and they could be coupled with VLC or some other video player. Providing the media framework is hooked up to use hardware codecs, the performance should be okay.

        I think XBMC is a bit too fancy for its own good on low performance devices though. Even the Confluence skin is a bit of overkill. I expect a skin that dials back on the animation, transparency and overall memory consumption would probably squeeze a few % of performance which might make the difference between usable and unusable.

      2. Nexox Enigma

        XBMC on ARM works

        XBMC on Android has some issues, but if you take an Android set top box, remove the Android OS, and install just the bare minimum required to run XBMC, it works great. And there's (enough) community support from places like: http://www.j1nx.nl

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An option to run this on PoE would be nice and would simplify wiring and free it up to be used anywhere an Ethernet cable ran.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      I suspect voltage incompatibilities play into this. A good number of PoE setups use splitters at the device end in any event. Either device could employ PoE with help from a splitter.

  17. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Crikey...

    Raspberry Pi, BeagleBoard, and Arduino "fan boys" already...

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Crikey...

      What?! On an article about the Raspberry PI, Beaglebone and Arduino? Really? Who would have thought it!

      1. JeffyPooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Crikey...

        What next?

        "My NAND gate is better than your NAND gate !!"

        "My 63/37 solder is waaaaay better than your crummy 60/40 mix."

        Sigh...

    2. Horridbloke
      Happy

      Re: Crikey...

      This is great, it reminds me of when I was 12.

    3. Daniel B.
      Boffin

      Re: Crikey...

      Yes, it'll be like the old Computer wars of the 80's and early 90's!

      1. Steven Raith
        Happy

        Re: Crikey...

        I can hear the new playground taunts now. No more speccy bastards and commie twats, but who ate all the Pis, and Beagle-humpers.

        Good times!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oooo, Shiney.

    As the (happy) owner of two Raspberry Pis, I think this is great. The more choice there are the better, so far as I'm concerned. And it's good to know that there are cheap alternatives to buying a conventional desktop PC, for those of us who prefer Linux and get grumpy about UEFI.

    Although, speaking as someone still in the dark ages who doesn't have a TV with a HDMI socket, or even a monitor with a DVI socket, I won't be upgrading to a beaglebone until I've finally got around to upgrading my TV, so there are some of us who wouldn't even consider throwing away our pis....

  19. saif
    Linux

    Head...errr count error?

    I see more than 2 X 26 pins.......more like 100 pins altogether unless they are not all connected...

    The biggest driver in these devices is not the performance or resources or even price...it is the ability to generate a big enough community to create an inertia...The beagle board has a big enough geek community, but the pi beats on presence in wider culture rather than feature set.

  20. Anonymous Coward 15

    Does it have

    5V-tolerant GPIOs?

  21. ForthIsNotDead
    Thumb Up

    Go Forth!

    How about a £20 DIY Forth based computer? It's selling like hot cakes in Uni's and schools. They like the simplicity of the Forth programming language:

    "FIGnition Rève is the definitive £20 educational DIY computer! It works like an 8-bit home Micro: outputting to composite video and ready to be interactively programmed from the moment you switch it on. The Rève now has bitmapped graphics; sound and audio saving/loading as well as 8Kb of RAM; 384Kb of storage; an 8-key keypad and runs a variant of FIG-Forth. It uses USB for power; firmware upgrades and program downloads."

    https://sites.google.com/site/libby8dev/fignition

    Full disclosure: I have no affiliation with the above mentioned device, other than thinking it's ace.

    1. Andus McCoatover
      Windows

      Re: Go Forth!

      Great idea!

      Forth on a Pi? YES!! Years ago, I wrote a Forth interpreter for an 8085-based CPM machine. It took a weekend.

      I'd do it myself, but unfortunately I crushed my reading glasses with my zimmer frame.

      (Fignition is no contender. Specs? nah.)

  22. Sandpit
    Thumb Down

    I was interested in these things until I heard about the MK808. Makes these things look so overpriced and under achieving.

  23. IcebergTitanic
    Thumb Up

    The specs are unimportant really

    I think that the more important aspect of this is that we now have two different (three if you want to toss Arduino in) platforms for cheap, powerful computers on a small / hobbyist scale. Ignore the bits about whether or not this can be your new replacement desktop or your HTPC. Instead, imagine what can be done with this level of power in such a small, portable, CHEAP package? Build your own robots! Build even more cool high altitude experiments! Make your own interplanetary probe! How about deep sea exploration? The low cost of these platforms allows for a new revolution in homegrown science. This is a great thing! =D

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The specs are unimportant really

      @IcebergTitanic

      "I think that the more important aspect of this is that we now have two different (three if you want to toss Arduino in) platforms for cheap, powerful computers on a small / hobbyist scale."

      Well, there are more than three!

      http://www.marsboard.com/#specifications

      https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/getting-started-with-pcduino/hardware-tour

      https://www.miniand.com/products/Hackberry%20A10%20Developer%20Board

      https://www.olimex.com/Products/OLinuXino/A13/A13-OLinuXino-WIFI/

      Enjoy hacking! :)

  24. billium
    Linux

    @Sandpit different product / market

    @Mike Tyler Looking at my Farnell bill £66 for two inc VAT and delivery

    @Anonymous Coward 15 the i/o is NOT 5V tolerant

  25. Sandpit

    @billium

    I don't care what the target market is. The MK is a much samller, much more powerful device, more RAM and flash, with USB, HDMI, SD and WiFi that you can put Linux on. It does everything these boards do, much more and better for cheaper. You even get a case (which you can cut off if you want your device to look like an unfinished hobby mess).

    1. Daniel Palmer

      The mk808 doesn't have i2c, spi, masses of gpio or the BB's gpmc.

      The mk808 also only has very out of date kernel sources available and rock chip has no interest in actually respecting the GPL. Those TV sticks are fine if you to mess around with android but you can't use them for serious business (tm).

  26. Andrew Jones 2
    Thumb Up

    To everyone who seems to be commenting about some older board - HERE http://beagleboard.org/Products/BeagleBone%20Black is the new board - yes it has 3D accelerated GFX and it's expansion options (called capes) are quite impressive - see http://circuitco.com/support/index.php?title=BeagleBone_Capes

  27. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Why am I reminded of ...

    transputers .....

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