ARM Linux Development Boards

This list of Android/Linux development board lists does not intend to be exhaustive. On the contrary, I only plan to list the boards that I find remarkable either by the level of community support, price or features, and I plan to keep the list shorter than 10 boards. For more Linux boards, you can read “List of 39 Low Cost Linux Friendly Boards and Products” and the corresponding comment section. The boards are listed in no particular order.

Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is the lowest ARM Linux platform current available, it is based on Broadcom BCM2835 (ARM11) processor and comes in 2 flavors:

  • Model A – 256MB RAM, HDMI & composite out, 1x USB Host, Audio output and SD card slot
  • Model B – Same as Model A, but uses 512MB RAM instead, and comes with one extra USB host port and 10/100Mbit Ethernet

This board currently supports a number of Linux distributions such as Debian (Called Raspbian) and Arch Linux ARM, and an Android ICS port is on the way, and their is a huge community behind it, and thanks to the I/O headers, it can be used to for hardware prototyping.

Blog Posts:

  1. 25 USD ARM11 Linux Computer (With alpha version picture, different from latest board)
  2. Linux Kernel 3.1.9 for Raspberry Pi Released & Build Instructions
  3. Raspberry Pi Releases 1st SD Card Image (Debian) – How-to use it in QEMU
  4. More posts with Raspberry Pi tag.

Official URL: http://www.raspberrypi.org/

Price: Model A: $25, Model B: $35 + tax and shipping

Where to Buy:

  1. Newark/Element14
  2. RS Components

Texas Instruments BeagleBone Black

The BeagleBone Black is the successor of the BeagleBone. It is much cheaper ($45 vs $89), yet comes with a faster TI Sitara AM3359 Cortex A8 @ 1GHz, more memory (512 vs. 256 RAM), and adds HMDI output. Like the original BeagleBone, BBB also features a USB port, an Ethernet port, and 2 expansion headers. Those headers allow you to plug-in CAPE expansion boards, in a similar fashion to what you can do with Arduino shields.

The preferred distributions for this board is Angstrom, but lots of other Linux distributions and Android are supported. The community around the BeagleBone is not as large as the Raspberry Pi, but more developer centric, and there is excellent documentation, lots of projects using the BeagleBone platforms.

Blog Posts:

  1. BeagleBone Black Features 1GHz Texas Instruments Sitara SoC, HDMI, and More Memory – Beaglebone Specifications
  2. BeagleBone Black vs Raspberry Pi – Features and Price Comparison
  3. Posts with Beaglebone tag.

Official URL: http://beagleboard.org/

Price: $45 + tax + shipping

Where to Buy: See list of distributors.

Samsung Arndale Board

Insignal/Samsung Arndale is the only low cost ($249) Cortex A15 board currently available (Although others are one their way), mainly aimed a Android application developers, but Linux is also supported. This dual core development board comes with 2GB LPDDR2/3 memory, micro HDMI and eDP video outputs, a SATA connector, 10/100M Ethernet, 1x USB 3.0 Host, 2x USB 2,0 Host, 1x USB 2.0 OTG, micro SD slot, camera ports, and several of I/Os (I2C, SSI, SPI…). The board can be expanded with 4 expansion boards: camera board, 7″ display board, WiFi/Bt/GPS board, and sound board.

This board is used by Linaro, which provides monthly evaluation builds with the latest version of Android and Ubuntu. There’s a somewhat active community on Insignal forums. There’s detailed documentation on Arndale Wiki, and the source code is available in Insignal git repo.

Blog Post:

  1. $249 Samsung Exynos 5 (Cortex A15) Arndale Development Board
  2. Posts with Arndale tag.

Official URL: http://www.arndaleboard.org

Price: $249 + shipping

Where to Buy: Howchip.com

Samsung Origen 4 Quad Board

The Origen 4 Quad board is the successor of the now deprecated Origen board, and boasts Samsung Exynos4412 Quad core Cortex-A9 processor at 1.4 GHz,with 1GB DDR3 RAM, HDMI, LCD / Touch screen support, 2x USB 2.0 HOST, 1x  USB  OTG, SD/MMC Card Slot and some I/O ports. You can add features by connecting one or more of the 3 expansion boards: LCD/touch package, camera and sensor board, and sound and connectivity 9Wi-Fi, Bt, GPS, FM) board.

This is one of the 4 low cost boards which is included in Linaro Android (but not Ubuntu) monthly releases. As for the Arndale board which is also designed by Insignal, documentation is pretty detailed, source code is available in Insignal’s git repo and Linaro, but the support forum is not very active, probably because of the lower cost Hardkernel Exynos 4412 boards I’ll mention below.

Blog Posts:

  1. Exynos 4412 based Origen 4 Quad Development Board Soon Available for $199 USD
  2. Posts with Origen tag.

Official URL: http://www.origenboard.org/

Price: $199 + shipping

Where to Buy: Howchip.com.

Texas Instruments PandaBoard and Pandaboard-ES

The Pandaboard is one of the most used development board: Android 4.0 was developed on this board, Linaro releases monthly evaluation builds for Ubuntu and Android, and their is a huge number of community projects taking advantage of the Pandaboard capabilities and excellent developers resources. It is powered by based on TI OMAP4430 (Dual core Cortex A9) @ 1Ghz, with 1 GB low power DDR2 RAM, HDMI & DVI video outputs and LCD expansion, 10/100M Ethernet, onboard Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, camera expansion header, SD card slot and lots of other expansion (I2C, GPMC, USB, MMC, DSS, ETM).

The Pandaboard-ES has about the same features has its little brother expect is comes with TI OMAP4460 processor @ 1.2Ghz, DSI Support, Stereo audio input support, and a few other features. See “New Development Board: Pandaboard ES with TI OMAP4460” for a side by side comparison between the Pandaboard and Pandabord-ES. PandaBoard ES is software compatible with PandaBoard.

Blog Posts:

  1. New Development Board: Pandaboard ES with TI OMAP4460
  2. Phoronix Designed a Solar Powered ARM Cluster with 48 Pandaboards
  3. Ubuntu TV Works on OMAP4 Pandaboard
  4. Build the bootloaders (U-boot & X-Loader) for Pandaboard
  5. Linaro Android Tutorial with the Pandaboard
  6. Pandaboard Cloud Cluster Running Google App Engine
  7. Posts with pandaboard tag.

Official URL: www.pandaboard.org

Price: Pandaboard: $174 / Pandaboard-ES: $182 + shipping

Where to Buy: See list of distributors.

UDOO Single Board Computers

UDOO boards combine Freescale i.MX6 Dual or Quad with 1GB RAM, together with an Atmel SAM3 Cortex M3 MCU that provides access to Arduino compatible headers. Other differentiating features include Gigabit Ethernet, and SATA connector (Freescale i,MX 6Quad only). The board will support both Android and Linux, and hardware and software documentation for Freescale i.MX6 is already excellent.

The boards are priced at $109 and up, which may cost about the same as Raspberry Pi + Arduino combinations, but will provide more flexibility, and more  powerful platform. The main downside with UDOO boards is that they’ll only be available in September 2013, which means there’s no community yet, but there’s already tremendous enthusiasm about the platform with the nearly 3,000 persons who pledged for their Kickstarter compaign at the time of writing.

Blog Posts:

  1. UDOO Single Board Computer Features Freescale i.MX6 Dual/Quad and Atmel SAM3 MCU
  2. Posts with Udoo tag

Official URL: www.udoo.org

Price: Dual core version: $109 up / Quad core version: $129 up

Where to Buy: Kickstarter (for now)

Olimex iMX233-OlinuXino Boards

As I wanted to have at least on ARM9 board in this list, I had to go with Olimex imx233-OLinuXino boards, as they are fully open hardware with schematics, BoM, and gerber files available, and U-Boot and Linux source code is also in the public domain. All relevant files can be found in Olimex’s OLinuXino’s github repository. The boards are also supported in Freescale’s Community Yocto BSP.

There are 4 boards which are all powered by Freescale i.MX233 ARM926J @454Mhz, and come with 64MB RAM, a micro SD card slot to boot Linux, AV output, one USB port, and expansion headers. The more expensive boards add Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Audio out, one USB port, and a UEXT connector for Olimex expansions boards.

Blog Posts:

  1. 30 Euros Olimex iMX233-OLinuXino Linux Development Board
  2. Posts with OLinuXino tag (Also include other board versions with SoC such as AllWinner A13 / A10s and TI AM3552)

Official URL: https://www.olimex.com/Products/OLinuXino/iMX233/

Price: 24 to 45 Euros + shipping

Where to Buy: Directly from Olimex website, or via distributors such as Mouser and DigiKey.

Hardkernel ODROID-X / X2 / U2

When if comes to price / performance ratio, it doesn’t come any better than the new Hardkernel ODROID development boards that sell for $89 to $135, and features a Samsung Exynos 4412 (Prime) Quad core Cortex A9 processor, with 1 to 2 GB RAM, micro HDMI video output, 10/100Mbit Ethernet, 2 to 6 USB Host port, 1 USB OTG port, microSD or SD card slot, an eMMC connector. ODROID-X and X2 boards, larger than ODROID-U2 board, also features a DSI camera connector, an LCD connector, and a few expansion I/O (shared with the LCD header).

Hardkernel provides good online documentation, and provide support via online forums which are very active. Android and Ubuntu images can be downloaded, and the company has recently made the source code (u-boot and kernel) available in Github. This is one of the rare boards that support GPU 2D/3D acceleration (in Ubuntu 12.11).

Blog Posts:

  1. HardKernel ODroid-X: Low Cost Exynos 4412 Quad Core Cortex A9 Development Board
  2. HardKernel ODroid-X Development Board Unboxing and First Boot to Android
  3. HardKernel ODroid-X Review with Android 4.0.4
  4. Ubuntu 12.04 on ODroid-X Development Board
  5. $69 ODROID-U & $89 ODROID-U2 Exynos 4412 Development Boards
  6. Posts with odroid-x and odroid-u tags

Official URL: http://www.hardkernel.com/renewal_2011/products/prdt_info.php?g_code=G133999328931

Price: $89 to $135 (board only) and over $300 with all optional accessories + shipping

Where to Buy: It is only available in hardkernel eStore.

Cubieboard

Cubieboard is a Cortex A8 development board based on the AllWinner A10, with 1GB RAM, 2 USB Host and 1 USB OTG port, Wi-Fi and 10/100M Ethernet, a SATA connector, 1 micro SD card socket, 4GB NAND flash, HDMI video output, Audio I/O, and it provides to 96 I/O via 2 expansion connectors. This is the preferred A10 board used by linux-sunxi developer’s community, which has a fair amount of followers, and works on both u-boot and linux support on their github repo. Several Linux distributions are supported by the Cubieboard, as well as Android. Support is available via Cubieboard forums or Cubieforums both of which are relatively active. An updated board powered by AllWinner A20 will also be available soon.

Blog Posts:

  1. $49 Cubieboard: AllWinner A10 Open Hardware Development Board
  2. Cubieboard Unboxing and Quick Start Guide
  3. Posts with Cubieboard tag

Official URL: http://cubieboard.org/

Price: $49 + shipping

Where to Buy: See list of distributors

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  1. joker159
    August 12th, 2012 at 23:45 | #1

    wow, all the board are more powerful than my first compaq desktop computer (back to 1995), this is crazy :D
    do you think that one day we will have powerful micro pc everywhere with quad core 3ghz ? and 4 go ram (my actual configuration)

  2. August 13th, 2012 at 09:43 | #2

    @joker159
    With armv8 processor, no doubt about it. The maximum frequency I’ve heard with Cortex A9 is 2.5 GHz, and I can’t remember seeing a board with more than 2GB RAM.

  3. joker159
    August 13th, 2012 at 14:06 | #3

    just amazing !

  4. Onebir
    August 13th, 2012 at 17:01 | #4

    No news from http://rhombus-tech.net/ recently?

  5. August 13th, 2012 at 17:32 | #5

    @Onebir
    They are working on the schematics and PCB and a company has offered to do the mechanical part. See http://rhombus-tech.net/allwinner_a10/news/

  6. Kam
    August 13th, 2012 at 18:11 | #6

    Hi,

    I’ve got a couple of queries if anyone can help.

    I was thinking of buying a board and installing ubuntu for a couple of reasons. I did want to have a crack at developing some apps but would the board be obsolete within a year to 18 months? Secondly, can I just use it general as a makeshift tab, possibly adding a touchscreen and case in future? I was thinking of the Pandaboard but also ODROID (if only it had wifi!).

  7. August 13th, 2012 at 22:01 | #7

    @Kam
    For Ubuntu, buy one of the Linaro boards: Pandaboard or Snowball. If you are afraid the board is obsolete buy more powerful ODroid-X or Freescale i.MX6 (Nitrogen6X) boards, Linaro is working on i.MX6, and I’d be surprise if they don’t work on Exynos 4412 already.

    I use Wifi with ODROID-X with a small USB Wi-Fi dongle ($9 I think).
    You should be able to add a touchscreen, but it would be very awkward (maybe 3 cm thick) to use as a tablet.

  8. Kam
    August 14th, 2012 at 10:43 | #8

    @cnxsoft

    Thanks for your reply. I have been having a nose at the Freescale i.mx6, but its the onboard wifi thats the issue.
    With these boards, would using a usb adaptor with extra ports be a problem?

    See with the ODROID, they have a tab available,

    http://www.hardkernel.com/renewal_2011/products/prdt_info.php?g_code=G133888637376

    not sure how thick that is, but a custom one would, I agree, be too thick. Maybe a case would be better?

  9. August 14th, 2012 at 10:47 | #9

    @Kam
    The ODROID-X has 6 USB Host ports, so using one for Wi-Fi is not really an issue.

    Yes, the ODROID-Q would be an option if you want a tablet form factor, but it costs $850.

  10. Sreenath
    August 28th, 2012 at 17:30 | #10

    I just received one raspberry pi and have placed an order for odroid-x. I am excitedly waiting for the latter to do some Linux programming. In the meanwhile I am trying to set up a media server on my raspberry. In reality I have been planning on buying some such hardware for trying my hands on Linux software hacking but, finding this site helped me decide on what hardware I should buy.

    Thanks,
    Sreenath

  11. Patola
    February 28th, 2013 at 04:52 | #11

    What about the arndaleboard and openbrix? No mention about them?

  12. February 28th, 2013 at 09:49 | #12

    @Patola
    Sorry, I need to update this page. This is in my (long) list of things to do.

  13. May 6th, 2013 at 14:45 | #13

    Removed ST-Ericsson Snowball since it has been discontinued.

  14. May 12th, 2013 at 12:25 | #14

    Removed Beagleboard and Beagleboad-XM, Beaglebone, i.MX53 QSB, Origen board, Friendly ARM, and A13-OlinuXino.
    Added Beaglebone Black, Arndale, Origen 4 Quad, UDOO boards, iMX233-OLinuXino, ODROID X2/U2, and Cubieboard

  15. Mars
    May 12th, 2013 at 17:26 | #15

    What about the Wandboard?

  16. May 12th, 2013 at 21:17 | #16

    @Mars
    I want to limit the list to 10. I have 9 now, so I could have added it, but I think UDOO looks a bit more appealing than Wandboard for about the same price. I’ve also considered IFC6410, but we lack information about the software support and community for now.

  17. RobM
    May 29th, 2013 at 05:40 | #17

    I am looking for a board that has bluetooth, wifi, and SATA. The only one I can find is Wandboard Quad. I suppose I could add USB versions of wifi/bluetooth to boards that had SATA already, but an all in one solution is preferable. Does any know of any other candidates in a $100-$199 price range? Thanks.

    Nice site for info – I have only just discovered it. Thanks cnxsoft for the resource.

  18. May 29th, 2013 at 09:52 | #18

    @RobM
    I can’t think of other low cost boards with SATA + built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
    If you want low cost boards with SATA, I think you just need to look at Freescale i.MX6 Dual/Quad, or AllWinner A10/A20 boards. I don’t know if you need a very fast CPU, but if not, something like a Cubieboard ($59) + Wi-Fi/Bluetooth dongle could do.

    Another solution would be to go with a full product (normally AllWinner A10 or A20), such as Cloudsto STB (http://www.cnx-software.com/2013/03/05/cloudsto-allwinner-a20-android-4-2-mini-pc-and-set-top-boxes/). There should be some UART in the device for development, and u-boot and kernel should be available via sunxi linux community. Mele media players could also be an option, but lack Bluetooth.

  19. tampigns
    August 13th, 2013 at 15:50 | #19

    Hello

    I am looking for a NAS style development board (no need of powerful display power but need support for a linux and good network performances). Any Raid hardware module for these development board?

    Thank you,

  20. August 13th, 2013 at 16:30 | #20

    @tampigns
    For RAID support on ARM, you’d better get an hackable device such as Zyxel NSA310 – http://www.cnx-software.com/2013/07/09/zyxel-nsa310-nsa320-hackable-network-access-storages-run-debian-linux/

    I’d assume Calxeda boards can also handle this, but this should be more expensive and possibly difficult to source. http://www.calxeda.com/technology/energycore-building-blocks/

  21. codefreak
    October 10th, 2013 at 18:19 | #21

    Which is the best (powerful) ARM Quad board ( e.g., ARM Cortex-A15 MPCore) available in the market for linux kernel development. Board must have hardware virtualization support.

  22. December 1st, 2013 at 13:34 | #22

    What would you recommend for straight-up fast hard computation ?
    I’m less interested in doing things like running Android, video output and 3D rendering speeds and more interested in an SBC that would good for heavy floating-point ops. Is that even realistic to expect from an ARM ? Or should I should go and get a mini/nano-ITX x86 ?

  23. December 1st, 2013 at 21:25 | #23

    @jetdillo
    I’m not exactly sure how it compares to x86. But for best performance go with ARM Cortex A15 that includes VFPv4 FPU. Boards like Hardkernel ODROID-XU or Insignal Arndale Octa cost less than $200. If a DSP could help with your application, you could check a board with TI Keystone II processor (Cortex A15 + DSP), but I’m not sure about the price.

  24. January 28th, 2014 at 23:22 | #24

    I’m looking for a I/O Module with 2-4 Digital Inputs, 2-4 Digital (Relay) Outputs, with an Ethernet port, RTC with battery, RS485 port with 64-128MB RAM and 64-128MB Flash. The device be operated on a Linux based operating system, so I can port my application.

    I want this for a specific project and don’t want to waste most of the resources thats present in these evaluation boards. Any suggestions.???

  25. January 29th, 2014 at 11:07 | #25

    @Sunil
    Looks like you need an industrial board or solution. Maybe something like Artila Matrix 516 could do. http://www.cnx-software.com/2013/04/30/artila-matrix-516-arm9-industrial-linux-computer-features-8-rs-485-ports/

    You’d just need to add a relay board. You may also browse their site for a board with less RS485 ports (this one has 8).

  26. February 18th, 2014 at 16:05 | #26

    What are your ideas about the wandboard as a dev. kit?, I started with a solo and upgraded to a quad by simply exchanging the module, are any other makers offering the same?, i’m rather interested in knowing if anyone is following the EDM standard that wandboard follows. I think that this could be a start of making all those SOM’s working on the same carrier.. would be GREAT !

  27. February 18th, 2014 at 16:46 | #27

    @HenPa
    After some firmware pain at the beginning, I think now Wandboard dev kits are pretty good. I’ll probably add them in this page next time I update it.

    Technexion follows the standard. I’ve also seen DENX has an EDM module – http://www.denx-cs.de/?q=EDM2-CF-iMX6

  28. Harry Sufehmi
    September 7th, 2014 at 06:32 | #28

    Hi, thanks for this review ! I’ve bought an ODROID, because you claimed that it support 2D/3D acceleration on Linux.

    Background story : I’m the IT manager for a chain of shops, located in many remote areas. I need a fanless PC for these shops that will work reliably, but yet to find one. So I turned my attention to ARM boards.

    I tested RaspberryPi, and it worked beautifully as POS (Point Of Sale) machines :

    # Fanless = does not attract dust = no dust-related problems (overheating, etc)
    # Low power = cheap electricity bill
    # No moving parts = much less potential for problems
    # Small space requirement : Very important because we’d very much like to use all available space for product display ::: I just slap it on the back of the LCD monitor :) with double-tape, LOL. No problem at all.

    Unfortunately, the GUI is really, REALLY slow. Because it doesn’t have a proper driver for its graphic chip.
    So it ended up using fbdev on Linux :( the framebuffer driver. Painful.

    So I took them all down back to our Testlab, and began my search for an ARM board with proper graphic driver for Linux.

    I have been trying for several years to find an ARM board that have proper Graphic driver on Linux — RaspberryPi, Cubieboard, mk802, etc. Still couldn’t find any so far.

    ===============
    Thanks to you, I’ve bought an ODROID.

    If it indeed works for this particular case (small computer, no moving parts, low power, decent GUI performance), then I’ll use it for all of our POS on all of our shops.

    And do feel free to let me know if you have other recommendations for this case.

    Thanks again.

  29. September 7th, 2014 at 09:47 | #29

    @Harry Sufehmi
    I need to update the page, but ODROID boards are still good. For your purpose, Freescale boards like Wandboard, or HummingBoard / Cubox-I would also do, as well as Tegra TK1 which may be the best ARM Linux board right now in terms of Linux support and performance, but it’s a bit more expensive at nearly $200.

  30. Curmudgeon
    September 7th, 2014 at 13:16 | #30

    @Harry Sufehmi
    Radxa Rock seems to me to be a significant omission from the above list now. They included Mali 400 GPU acceleration in their Linux image last March and in recent weeks they have updated their product to include some extra features (Radxa Rock Pro). I have no personal experience of the product but it seems to me they are trying hard to do some good things.

  1. August 13th, 2012 at 11:41 | #1
  2. August 13th, 2014 at 19:15 | #2