One of the most interesting demos at last week's DESIGN West conference was BeagleBone Black, a ready-to-use 1-GHz computer that retails for a whopping $45.
BeagleBone Black was announced last week by BeagleBoard.org, a small group of engineers interested in creating powerful, open and embedded devices. The credit card sized computer runs on Linux and is designed to be an open hardware and software development platform that makes it quick and easy to build systems.
BeagleBone Black includes all the necessary components to connect a display, keyboard and network. It's based on production-ready hardware and software. All of the components—including TI’s 1-GHz Sitara AM335x processor—are commercially available right now.
Carlos Betancourt, a marketing engineer for TI's Sitara processors, described BeagleBone Black as "truly" open source. He noted that open source software is not always as open as it claims to be. "When it comes to hardware, open source means you can buy all these chips and use them for your own design," Betancourt said.
BeagleBone Black includes 2 GB of on-board storage to run pre-loaded Linux software. It also offers the Cloud9 integrated development environment to kickstart development and keep the microSD slot available for additional storage.
The BeagleBoard.org ecosystem includes free access to documentation, example code and mainline kernel support for other software distributions like Ubuntu, Android and Fedora. BeagleBone Black’s kernel and driver flexibility allows users to easily integrate new hardware and software, according to the organization.
In BeagleBoard.org community includes more than 30 plug-in boards—called “capes” by the community—that are compatible with BeagleBone Black, including those to integrate BeagleBone Black with 3-D printers, a DMX lighting controller, a Geiger counter, a telerobotic submarine and LCD touch screens. More are on the way.
Do you have a creative project idea that can help change the world? Make it a reality by ordering BeagleBone Black now. A list of distributors is available at www.beagleboard.org/black. Initial quantities are limited. BeagleBone Black is expected to ship in volume by the end of May.
This is progress. I'm waiting for similar low-cost platform that can run something like a MythTV Frontend, including enough of a GPU to smoothly display HD content at least 1080p, 120Hz with motion interpolation.
What is the killer app for these tiny PCs? I can use an old laptop to stream media to my TV. A lot of the industrial applications I am familiar with are not so space constrained, so they don't need the miniaturization. Is there a big market for spider robots like in the video? Maybe low cost UAVs, or submerged applications (easier to seal a small volume)?
The media capabilities are to allow introduction to basic desktops or for kiosk use. The real capabilites for this are for developing embedded processing in sensors. Perhaps a handheld IR camera for thermal measurement, image processing for intelligent occupancy detection or security. Production line process control using wireless sensors. A device like the Beagle Board lets you do you prototyping ate a price point that won't cause the CFO to cringe, but then let you custom design your platform later.
perfect for battery/solar powered sensor servers/gateways.
security alarm with cameras , motion detection etc
perfect for a carpark spammer/advertising for shops (via web/bt) in car parks with wifi/bt dongle
If you get a board with sata (see comments above) make your own simple nas or database server (works great with node.js)
hook up some decent adc's and make a network based oscilliscope, remote telescope controller
perfect for a car computer
only limited by your imagination
The energy consumption of an older computer would pay for a new embedded computer fairly quickly. Unfortunately reusing computing is probably increasingly uneconomical compared to recycling it at a waste disposal site.
NTP server. It could be connected to 9, more or less, external stratum 2 or pool servers listed here http://support.ntp.org/bin/view/Servers/WebHome and then serve quality time to a home or organization network, provided of course NTP is inlcuded the Linux distribution that comes with it. For more accurate time one could use a local GPS clock. Lots of people use the Rasberry Pi for this. See here http://www.satsignal.eu/ntp/Raspberry-Pi-NTP.html
killer app for this tiny PC is .... SMART BOMBs for jehads...
just imagine, one can equip a model airplane with this PC integrated with camera, GPS, and some explosives.
it can fly 20 miles to a certain target with GPS guidance then switch to camera guidance for
the whitehouse bombed news will become reality...
someone interested in develop the open source code for free?
I don't know what the killer app is going to be but they certainly did the right thing by making it extremely open---all hardware and software docs are widely available and documentation is good. Already they have a large number of software and hardware projects for the platform---it's amazing how rapidly it progresses. I think they'll challenge Arduino on its own ground.
Interestingly there's a realtime Linux project Xenomai, so beagleboards are going into embedded control: motion, power, etc.
It is the convergence against expensive PLCs. If you want ethernet in most scenarios, the minimum price is around 500-700USD, any brand, Allen-Bradley, Siemens, Opto22...I suspect TI, Atmel and others are attacking that niche...even software from Microsoft or Linux are much more powerful than old ladder logic or bad text-structured
I don't think it is a direct assault by the IC manufacturers because the volume of the market combined with the support package of a PLC. However the indirect assault by companies abandoning PLCs and rolling their own control systems has to be serious.
If someone built a better software suite for one of the embedded platforms and a more robust IO interface, it could challenge head on.
Following my comments about convergence with PLC or even better, disrupting PLC markets, you can even buy very inexpensive I/O conditioners with RS-485 comms (easily implemented with 2USD RS-485 transceiver) and process almost anything in a less expensive way than most PLCs brands...
PLC brands should be careful, we may face the end of an era with these boards...
Looks nice. I'm getting more and more pulled to doing electronic projects for hobby. This would be good for an alarm system for my home and having it connected to a server ... mmm who needs a server while there are a whole lot out there now... I bet this little thing can run a script which will write things to twitter or facebook. even If some burglar comes in, It'll immediately post his picture on my page and all my friends can help me snatch the guy :). OpenCV for image recognition comes to the rescue.
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