BeagleBoard.org, an open source hardware group, has launched a credit card-sized motherboard for $89. It is based on an ARM processor and can be used for robotics, gaming and medical devices. Named as the BeagleBone development board, the motherboard is targeted at the open source hardware COMUnit, including hobbyists and engineers who write code for hardware with open source specifications .It has used the Linux-based Android and Ubuntu operating systems in its hardware.
At over 1.5 billion Dhrystone operations per second and vector floating point arithmetic operations, the BeagleBone is capable of not just interfacing to all of your robotics motor drivers, location or pressure sensors and 2D or 3D cameras, but also running OpenCV, OpenNI and other image collection and analysis software to recognize the objects around your robot and the gestures you might make to control it. Through HDMI, VGA or LCD expansion boards, it is capable of decoding and displaying multiple video formats utilizing a completely open source software stack and synchronizing playback over Ethernet or USB with other BeagleBoards to create massive video walls. If what you are into is building 3D printers, then the BeagleBone has the extensive PWM capabilities, the on-chip Ethernet and the 3D rendering and manipulation capabilities all help you eliminate both your underpowered microcontroller-based controller board as well as that PC from your basement.
The board is apt for embedded systems running specific application, and could also be used in audio-visual systems and projectors. However, it is not applicable for smartphones, tablets or PCs. The USP of the board is that it is available at a pocket-friendly price. The BeagleBone measure 8.6 cm x 5.3 cm (3.4 inch x 2.1 inch).
Important Features at a Glance
- Board size : 3.4″ x 2.1″
- Shipped with 2GB microSD card with the Angstrom Distribution with node.js and Cloud9 IDE
- Single cable development environment with built-in FTDI-based serial / JTAG and on-board hub to give the same cable simultaneous access to a USB device port on the target processor
- Industry standard 3.3V I/Os on the expansion headers with easy-to-use 0.1″ spacing
- On-chip Ethernet, not off of USB
- Easier to clone thanks to larger pitch on BGA devices (0.8 mm vs. 0.4 mm), no package-on-package memories, standard DDR2 vs. LPDDR, integrated USB PHYs and more
The BeagleBone uses a TI AM3358 ARM Cortex-A8-based microprocessor. Announced on October 31, 2011, the main processor is available for as little as $5, uses a 0.8 mm ball-grid array and standard DDR2 memory, making this board easier to clone than other BeagleBoard designs. Te cost of the device ultimately up to the distributors, but the suggested retail price is $89. I am confident this will give some room for people wanting to make clones can do so at a very competitive cost.