Many of the boards shown in this article are Evaluation Boards (EVM) for the microprocessor manufacturers and as such they are made in small numbers, often at a great loss to the manufacturer in order to entice customers to buy their Micrcoprocessor chipsets.
The other components on the board, and 'their' manufacturer such as the Ethernet PHY, DRAM, Flash and/or Power management end up getting a 'free ride' for their silicon being on the board since many people copy EVMs precisely.
Of these boards the manufacturers place a 'cap' on the number of boards that can be purchased by a single company or individual to stop them using it in a product due to the losses made in their production.
The Rasberry Pi board is made by a non-profit charity, with private funding. Real Companies have to make a profit to stay in business, so this board is undermining the industry as a whole.
I don't really see the relevance of this article. If you want to use these boards in a product you hope to make for a long period of time, then be warned, you'll have endless issues in a couple/few years time when these boards no longer exist.
I would put put the Lillypad and other Arduino compatible systems in a different category. They don't have nearly the capability of something like a Beaglebone. However, the Arduino has been perhaps even more important to date. I think it's done more to expand the accessibility of MCU-based devices than anything else beyond the MCU itself.
The original Beagleboard has been just as valuable in the inexpensive full SPC arena. From what I've seen that board really started the movement that is written about in this article. There were certainly small SBCs before the Beagleboard, but making it open source (as is the Arduino) was brilliant marketing and set the Beagleboard far above anything before it.
I don't think those single board computers listed here are so significant, since those are just board, they still need display and input device. In now days you can actually get a complete tablet computer running Android, soon to be able to run Windows 8 as well, for just $69 (like uPlay Tablet C70).
@Susan: I bet the Apollo program could have used a few of these boards.
I'm sure you will be amazed to hear that I have a story about this. Konrad Zuse was an engineer in Germany who had a fully mechanical binary floating-point computer called the Z1 working in his parent's front room in Germany by 1938 ... way ahead of anyone else in the world. During the war he went on to create relay-based and vacuum tube-based computers.
Meanwhile, Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and, subsequently, in the United States. After the war, von Bron moved to Huntsville, Alabama (where I now hang my hat), where he lead the development of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions.
I met Konrad Zuse's son Horst, who told me about a chance meeting between his father and von Bron when both were being evacuated from Berlin -- Konrad with his computers and von Bron with his rockets -- in an attempt to sav etheir work from the allied bombing missions. I think they met in an inn just for one night.
I can imagine the conversation "What do you do?" and Konrad describing his large heavy computers and von Bron describing his rockets. The one thing von Bron was desperate for was a light, accurate control system. Neither of them would have envisaged putting a computer (big, heavy) on a rocket...
SOM = System-on-Module also known as Computer-on-Module (COM). A SOM is a very small card, usually the size of a DIMM and often using a DIMM connector. A SOM makes it easy to incorporate a computer + DRAM + Flash, all with high-density interconnects, into a custom base-board which provides external I/O interfaces and can get by with low-density interconnect.
Hi Rick, the open source nature of BeagleBone Black is actually what makes it great for commercial applications. The Sitara AM335x processor that powers the board is available for purchase from low quantities to high quantities, so we see hobbyists using the board for DIY projects as well as developers taking their Beagle-based projects to Kickstarter. We're excited about how open source boards and software eases the development process for both groups of developers. Check out the projects page on BeagleBoard.org to check out what people are developing: http://beagleboard.org/.
– Alejandro Erives, Texas Instruments, member of BeagleBoard.org
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