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New Boards on the Block

It seems like barely a week goes by without announcement of a new embedded systems development board, and this post takes a look at three boards which have been a cause of much excitement in recent months.

Earlier this year the Raspberry Pi set the benchmark for low cost and highly capable embedded Linux systems, but what if you needed something more powerful — a lot more powerful...


The ODROID-X board










The ODROID-X mobile software development platform packs four ARM Cortex-A9 cores clocked at 1.4GHz along with 1M L2 cache, 1G RAM, Ethernet, 6 x USB 2.0 ports, and HDMI and LCD ports.

You don't get something for nothing and, of course, this is much more expensive than a Raspberry Pi, with other considerations including that it won't have anything like the same size of community. However, if you need a high performance embedded Linux system this does look attractive.

Teensy 3.0

Teensy 3.0










The Teensy 3.0 is described as “a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M4, usable in Arduino and C”, and is the latest in a series of compact USB-based microcontroller development systems.

Paul Stoffregen created a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds required to manufacture and ship the first 1 or 2 batches of the board, with a funding goal of only $5,000, but managing to secure pledges totalling $70,874! Which just goes to show how much interest there is in this design, with the numbers speaking for themselves and 1,572 having backed the project and set to receive one or more Teensy 3.0 boards in return.












The Digispark is another Arduino-compatible USB development system and is even smaller than Teensy 3.0. It's also another Kickstarter success story, having raised an incredible $313,218 of its $5,000 funding goal, with close to 4x the backers that Teensy 3.0 managed to secure.

Digispark is brilliantly simple and at $10, as the Kickstrarter campaign suggests, it's “cheap enough to leave in any project”.

Recipes for success

If you want to gain the support of the open source and hacker/maker communities you can't go far wrong if you build something that is ARM-based or compatible with Arduino, and that offers some combination of reduced cost, improved performance, a smaller form factor or novel features. With Digispark just going to show that sometimes all it takes is simplicity and a vision.

Andrew Back

Open source (hardware and software!) advocate, Treasurer and Director of the Free and Open Source Silicon Foundation, organiser of Wuthering Bytes technology festival and founder of the Open Source Hardware User Group.

26 Sep 2012, 14:50