Single Board Computer (SBC) category

Should you build or buy your next single-board computer?

by Markku Riihonen @ EDN Europe:

Does it make sense to design and build your own single-board computers? It used to be the sensible option for anyone concerned about matching features to production cost.
Traditionally, with your own board design, you have the freedom to add only the components that are absolutely vital to achieving the right level of functionality for the target application. But the relentless rise of the system-on-chip (SoC) device has changed that equation in a number of ways.

Should you build or buy your next single-board computer?- [Link]

1.7K Voters Choose From about 100 SBC’s — The Results of Linuxgizmos 2017 Survey

Each year, Linuxgizmos does a survey about Single Board Computers (SBC) to find out how many of hackers and makers are using each of which . The results this year show apparently, the domination of Raspberry Pi 3 over the other 97 boards by a proportion of 4-to-1. Raspberry Pi 3 was launched in the first quarter of 2016 and brought some enhancements to RPi2 especially in the CPU side which was 300 MHz faster than the RPi2 one, and an updated ARM architecture: Cortex-A53.

The scores for each SBC was calculated using a Borda scores format: (3 x first choices) + (2 x 2nd choices) + (1 x 3rd choices).

 

Survey Results. Image courtesy of Linuxgizmos

Raspberry Pi didn’t win the first place only, but also the second and the third places went to Raspberry Pi models — the new Raspberry Pi Zero W and Raspberry Pi 2 Model B a Cortex-A53 version of the Raspberry Pi 2.

Dozens of RPi-like clones where on the 98 list of SBCs. Only one has a good result; The Odroid-C2 was in the top 10.

Chinese cheap SBCs like Orange Pi and NanoPi Neo, the 8$ SBC,  which are among the leaders in price and performance on paper had poor results — Orange Pi Zero was in the 28th place and the 31st was for NanoPi Neo.

Even that the most used CPU architecture in the hobbyists’ SBCs is ARM architecture (83 of the 98 boards in Linuxgizmos catalog are ARM based), the list also has eight x86-based boards and seven MIPS-based boards. However, Udoo x86 came in the sixth place, and Aaeon’s Intel Atom based UP Squared came in the 13th.

Last year, the highest ranked from x86-based boards was Intel’s MinnowBoard Turbot Dual.

Talking about the most important features that makers look for in the SBC; Open source software and community support were the most important factors. The other important features are purely about technical specs, except for the price in 5th place and the open source hardware info in the 4th place.

Image courtesy of Linuxgizmos

 

Last but not least, the results of this survey seem to be North America- and Europe-centered as shown in the following diagram. The centric results have some logical explanation. The folks behind linuxgizmos said that SurveyMonkey is blocked in China,the biggest Asian country. Only eight respondents came from China.

To see the full report, please refer to linuxgizmos website, and you can see the linuxgizmos list of 98 SBCs with specs. A table of all SBC scores is available also.

ARM-Android open source platform for Linaro By Huawei

A development platform for the Android open source project (AOSP) has been created by Huawei. The ARM-based hardware is part of the Linaro open source collaborative engineering organization developing software for the ARM ecosystem.

Recently, Huawei has launched the HiKey 960 96Boards development platform to provide access to the latest ARM mobile technology for AOSP developers. Fortunately, You can find this new board  listed on the 96Boards website and is available through global distribution channels.

In fact, initial software support for the board is provided in the AOSP source tree based on the Android Common Kernel using the Linux 4.4 kernel release. Meanwhile, Linaro and Huawei are also working on the Linux 4.9 based Android Common kernel and maintaining support for the Kirin 960 SoC in the mainline kernel.org tree, allowing for the availability of multiple Linux distributions for this board in the future.

In addition, Huawei has released the source code with Linux and other open source libraries and programs for their Huawei Mate 9 / Mate 9 Pro and Huawei P10 / P10 Plus models powered by Hisilicon Kirin 960 processor. You can the source from Huawei open source page.

Full specifications of Hikey 960

  • SOC: Kirin 960 octa-core CPU
  • CPU: 4x Cortex-A53 cores to 1.8 GHz, 4x Cortex-A73 cores to 2.4 GHz
  • GPU: Mali-G71 MP8 GPU
  • Software: AOSP with 4.4 AOSP common kernel
  • Storage: 32GB UFS 2.0 flash storage, MicroSD card
  • Display interface: HDMI 1.2a up to 1080p plus 4-lane MIPI DSI
  • USB: 1 x USB 2.0 type C OTG port, 2 x USB 3.0 type A host ports
  • Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 with on board antennas
  • Camera: 1x 2-lane MIPI CSI, 1x 4-lane MIPI CSI
  • IO extended interface: 40 pin low speed expansion connector +1.8V, +5V, DC power, GND, 2x UART, 2x I2C, SPI, I2S, 12x GPIO, 60 pin high speed expansion connector 4L MIPI DSI, 2L+4L MIPI CSI, 2x I2C, SPI (48M), USB 2.0, PCIe Gen2 on M.2 M Key connector
  • MISC: 4x user LEDs, LEDs for WiFi & Bluetooth, Power button
  • Power supply: 12V/2A power supply recommended, 8V-18V/2A via 4.75/1.7mm power barrel (EIAJ-3 Compliant)
  • Dimensions: 85mm x 55mm

At this point, Hikey 960 is available for $239 on Amazon (USA), Seeed, Lenovator and many other stores.

“The HiKey 960 delivers on the goal of 96Boards to provide access to the latest ARM technology to the developer community, with support for the latest Huawei mobile SoC featuring high performance ARM Cortex-A73 cores coupled with the latest generation of ARM Mali GPU technology.” – George Grey, CEO of Linaro

Moreover, you can find information about the HiKey 960 board here and about running Android from here: http://source.android.com/source/devices.html. Also, Linaro is providing instructions for developers here: http://linaro.co/hikey960-start.