A revolution is currently underway in the embedded industry. This revolution is embodied by the extremely strong ecosystems that have grown around hobbyist, DIYers, and Maker communities.
In turn, the maker movement is being driven by the availability of inexpensive and increasingly powerful microcontroller development systems, including the Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and BeagleBone, each of which offers its own values and its own differentiations.
Having said this, the majority of today's low-cost microcontroller boards are really focused toward supporting beginner and intermediate level projects -- there arenít a lot of low-cost options available for expert users.
This just changed with the release of the x86-compatible Gizmo 2 from the non-profit, open source GizmoSphere development board community. At US$199, the Gizmo 2 isnít the cheapest single board computer (SBC) on the block, but its price is more than justified by its features and capabilities.
The Gizmo 2 is built upon the CPU and GPU technology behind many of todayís leading video game consoles, data centers, and PCs. At the heart of the system is an AMD Embedded G-Series GX210HA SoC that boasts a 1GHz dual core CPU combined with a 300MHz Radeon 8000 Series GPU.
With a form factor of only 4" x 4", the Gizmo 2 can support eight USB ports, HD Audio In/Out, Gigabit Ethernet, and HDMI Video/Audio Out, along with 4x1 links of PCIe Gen 2 for the processor and 1x4 links of PCIe for the GPU. In addition to 1GB of DDR3-1600 SDRAM, there's a microSD card slot and a 2x Gen3 mSATA/mini PCIe connector.
Users also have access to the general-purpose inputs/outputs (GPIOs) along with SPI, I2C, UART, and JTAG interfaces. Also provided are digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital converters.
The Gizmo 2 also provides broad compatibility with the Embedded Linux, Minoca, and Embedded Windows (7 & 8) operating systems. All of this is coupled with a complete open-source development ecosystem.
Visit GizmoSphere.org to learn more about the Gizmo 2 and to join the GizmoSphere community and connect with fellow DIYers and embedded systems programmers.
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting