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Posts Tagged ‘eoma68’

Intel Compute Card is a Business Card Sized Platform for Modular & Upgradeable Computers & Devices

January 6th, 2017 5 comments

Intel has just introduced their Compute Card, the name likely originating from their Compute Stick & Module series, integrating all main components you’d find in a computer such as a processor, memory, storage, and wireless connectivity into an standardized ultra thin business card sized module that can be used in compatible devices from smart kiosks to security cameras and IoT gateways, as well as computers and laptops.

intel-compute-cardIntel has some demos at CES 2017, but has not announced any specific models yet. We still have some of the key features for the Compute Cards:

  • Processor up to 7th Gen Intel Core, memory, storage and wireless connectivity are all included in the card
  • Intel Compute Card-based device will provide the power, cooling and the optimized user I/O for that particularly solution
  • Connection to devices will be done via an Intel Compute Card slot with a new standard connector (USB-C plus extension)
  • USB-C plus extension connector will provide USB, PCIe, HDMI, DP and additional signals between the card and the device
  • Dimensions – 94.5 mm x 55 mm x 5 mm

It’s not the first time company have created compute module for upgradeability and modularity, as with, for example, EOMA68 CPU card going into a mini computer and laptop, just like BBC demo of Intel Compute Card below featuring Core-M processor.

Intel is now working with early partners such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, Sharp, and InFocus to develop products taking Compute Card. More details, including pricing, will be made available in Q2 2017 just before the Compute Card and compatible devices should start to hit the shelves around the middle of the year. You’ll find a few more details on Intel’s Compute Card product page and press release.

Open Source, Modular and Upgradeable EOMA68 CPU Card, Laptop and Micro Desktop Launched (Crowdfunding)

June 30th, 2016 26 comments

Rhombus Tech has been working on EOMA68 standard for CPU modules based on PCMCIA at least since 2012, and after previous difficulties, they showcased a laptop prototype taking OEMA68 CPU cards at the beginning of the year, and they’ve now launched a CrowdSupply campaign selling an EOMA68 CPU card based on Allwinner A20 processor, as well as corresponding laptop and micro desktop housings that are both open source, and upgradeable with faster EOMA68 CPU card once/if they become available.

EOMA68_CPU_Card_Laptop_DesktopCurrent EOMA68 CPU card specifications:

 

  • SoC –  Allwinner A20 dual core ARM Cortex A7 processor @ 1.2 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB RAM
  • Storage – 8GB NAND flash + micro SD slot
  • Video Output – micro HDMI Interface (for 2nd monitor)
  • USB – micro USB OTG port
  • Compliant with EOMA68 standard

EOMA68_CPU_CardTwo versions of the CPU card are offered with different pre-installed firmware:

EOMA68_Micro_DesktopWhile you could use the CPU card by itself by powering it via micro USB port, connecting it an HDMI display, and adding USB keyboard and mouse through a USB hub, you may still want to get a housing such as the micro desktop:

  • EOMA68 Computer Card slot (user-upgradeable)
  • Video Output – VGA port (micro HDMI is also available on CPU card)
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Storage – One extra micro SD slot on board
  • Power – 7 – 21 V DC via 5.5 power barrel
  • Dimensions – 11.43 x 11.43 x 1.27 cm (laser-cut wooden case)

EOMA68_LaptopThe 3D printed laptop housing is also another option:

  • EOMA68 Computer Card slot (user-upgradeable)
  • Display – 15.6” 1366 x 768 LCD
  • Full-sized QWERTY Keyboard including numberpad
  • 4.3” capacitive touch panel and backlit LCD
  • Storage – 1x micro SD slot up to 256GB (on top of the one in the CPU card)
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 ports (2 internal, 1 external)
  • Audio – 1W Stereo speakers, built-in Mic, CM108AH USB Audio with stereo headphone jack
  • MCU – STM32F072 Embedded Controller with firmware under GPLv3 license
  • Battery – 10,000 mAh good for 6 to 8 hours
  • Weight –  1.1 kg weight

The full schematics, and 3D printer design files will be made available. There’s are also plywood panels on both sides of the capacitive touch screen.

The project appears to have two main goals which are not met by most products today: First providing a fully open source system without any closed-source binary blobs, and make computer systems that both earth-friendly as the user-serviceable CPU cards are supposed to reduce e-waste, and cost-saving to the end user as they only need to change the CPU card to get a faster device.

While both ideas are noble, but there are challenges. With Allwinner A20 processor going fully open source using Parabola Linux means that although hardware video decoding should work with the open source Cedrus implementation, you’ll lose 3D GPU acceleration at least, and most WiFi dongles will probably not work either.  The Debian image won’t have this problem, but it’s not 100% open source. The idea of keeping the housing for main years, and only changing the CPU card is good, but hard to implement, as what may be acceptable today, may not be in the future. For example the display for the laptop is limited to 1366×768 resolution, and I already know many people who would not this resolution for a laptop, and in a few years the perception is likely to be worse. EOMA68 standards supports USB 1.x to USB 3.x, but both laptop and micro desktop housings appear to be limited to USB 2.0 connectors, so even if you purchase a more powerful CPU card with USB 3.0 interface in a few years, you won’t be able to enjoy the full capabilities of the new card. One solution would be to provide spare parts to repair or upgrade the laptop case, and that’s certainly possibly since the laptop is also designed to be easy assembled by yourself.

Rhombus Tech aims to raise at least $150,000 to fund mass-production for the project. The CPU card goes for $65, the micro desktop housing for $55, and the laptop housing for $500 with other various DIY or full kit rewards also offered. Shipping is free to the US, and adds $10 to $80 to the rest of the world depending on the chosen rewards.

Rhombus Tech 15.6″ Libre Laptop is User-Upgradeable with EOMA68 CPU Cards

January 26th, 2016 13 comments

When the first Raspberry Pi model launched, there was just not enough boards to fill the demand, and as people kept waiting they were also investigating alternatives, and a growing community worked on Allwinner based platforms. At the time (2012), the main hardware project  was EOMA68 CPU card using a PCMCIA connector, with ended up inside Improv development board, and aimed at providing user replaceable and upgradeable CPU cards. Sadly the initiative got some issues, and things did not quite work out as expected, but the person who launched the whole project, Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton (LKCL), did not give up on the idea, and has kept on working on EOMA68 standard with CPU cards from Allwinner and other SoC vendors. Recently, he’s been working on a Libre Laptop based on an Allwinner A20 EOMA68 CPU module, and will showcase the prototype at FOSDEM 2016 in Brussels this coming week-end.

Partially Assembled Libre Laptop

Partially Assembled Libre Laptop

Key (preliminary) hardware features of the laptop:

  • User-upgradeable EOMA68 CPU Card (currently based on Allwinner A20)
  • Storage – microSD card slot
  • Display
    • 15.6″ 1366×768 LCD
    • 4.3″ capacitive touch panel with backlit LCD used as a trackpad
  • Keyboard – Full-sized Chicony OEM keyboard with number pad
  • USB – 1x external full-sized USB Port, 2x internal full-sized USB Ports (for WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth, Storage…)
  • Battery – 10000mAh battery providing 6 to 8 hours of battery power (For some reasons, that’s an e-Bike battery)
EOMA68 CPU Card

EOMA68 CPU Card

The Libre laptop will run (mostly) open source software, hence the name, and the prototype has already been shown to boot Linux. If you want to learn more about the design, Luke go through some of the 25 3D printed pieces required, and explains some of the issues he had to solve in the video below. The laptop panels will be made of Bamboo apparently…

You can follow the progress of the project on Rhombus Tech Laptop 15″ news page, as well as on ARM Netbooks mailing list.

Overview and List of System-on-Module and Computer-on-Module Standards – Q7, SMARC, EDM, and More

May 2nd, 2014 7 comments

A System-on-Module (SoM), also known as a Computer-on-Module (CoM), is a small board with the key components of a computer such as SoC, memory, and possibly others components such as PMIC (Power Managment IC), and Ethernet PHY, as well as one or more connectors used to connected to a baseboard, also called carrier board, which features standard ports such as Ethernet (RJ45), USB ports, SATA, power jack and so on. The advantages of using of baseboard + SoM design compared to a single board are at least two fold:

  1. Most of the PCB design complexity is often around the CPU/SoC and high speed buses connected to the CPU/SoC. So you could buy a SoM, design your own baseboard and get a complete design relatively in a short amount of time, with reduced development resources and costs.
  2. The design is modular, so you could easily upgrade from one SoM to another one. For example, in order to provide a product with several option, you could use one baseboard with 3 SoMs featuring single, dual and quad core processors.
Qseven (Right) and SMARC (Left) Systems-on-Module - Roughly to scale

Qseven (Right) and SMARC (Left) Systems-on-Module – Roughly to scale

This all looks very nice, but many SoM solutions are proprietary often based on a 204-pin SO-DIMM connector, and in that case, albeit you may still have a wide range of different SoMs, you’d be stuck with the same vendor, unless you also change your baseboard design. To work around this problem, companies are started to launch SoM standards in order to be able to mix SoMs and baseboards from different vendors. The only problem is that in recent years, different companies have tried to launch their own standard, which in some cases appear to be only used by the company. Exception are SMARC and QSeven where I’ve seen ARM and x86 SoMs from several companies, and older x86 only standards such as COM Express and PC/104. AFAIK, All 4 standards are targeting industrial embedded applications, and not so much the consumer market.

So I’d like to list a non-exhaustive list of SoM / CoM standards, and possibly start a discussion as to why there needs to be so many standards, and companies do not come together behind a handful of standards instead. I’ll focus mostly on low power SoMs, but I’ll also mention “conventional” x86 only standards at the end of the list.

  • QSeven – The latest version of Qseven standard (2.00) was adopted by the Standardization Group for Embedded Technologies in September 2012.The standard is said to be low cost, low power consumption (12W max), Legacy Free (No support for PCI, ISA, RS-232 or EIDE), and providing acces to fast serial interfaces. The following interfaces are available: PCI Express, SATA, USB 2.0, 1000BaseT Ethernet, SDIO, LVDS, SDVO / HDMI / DisplayPort (shared), HDA (High Definition Audio), I²C Bus, LPC (Low Pin Count Bus), CAN Bus,Fan Control, Power Management Signals, Battery Management, and 5V Power. A unique API for I²C Bus, watchdog Timer and EPI (Embedded Panel Interface) is provided, and a Thermal Cooling Interface defined.
      • Connector – 230-pin MXM2 SMT edge connector
      • Dimensions
        • 70 mm x 70 mm
        • 70 mm x 40 mm (μQseven)
      • Architectures – ARM and x86
      • Specifications – Qseven-Spec_2.0.pdf

    I’ve already featured some SoMs based on the Qseven standard, but there are many more.

  • SMARC – Previously known as ULPCOM (Ultra Low Power COM), SMARC (Smart Mobility ARChitecture) is another SoM standard published by the Standardization Group for Embedded Technologies  (SGET). The more recent standard is also targeting low power ARM and x86 SoMs, but with a connector with more pins, and 2 board dimensions depending on requirements. It is somewhat similar to COM Express (see below) but reserved to low power applications.
      • Connector – 314-pin MXM 3.0
      • Dimensions
        • 82 mm × 50 mm for extremely compact low-power designs
        • 82 mm × 80 mm for SoCs with higher performance and with increased space and cooling requirement
      • Architectures – ARM and x86
      • Specifications – SMARC_Hardware_Specification_V1p0.pdf

    Here again, several companies have launched SMARC SoMs for x86 and ARM systems, but since it’s newer, maybe not quite as many as QSeven ones.

  • EDM – The EDM Standard is an open hardware and software standard for x86 and ARM Computer on Modules created by TechNexion. It defines three form factors for ARM and/or x86 SoMs.
      • Connector – 314-pin MXM 3.0
      • Dimensions
        • EDM Compact – 82 x 60 mm (ARM only)
        • EDM Standard – 82 x 95 mm (ARM and x86)
        • EDM Extended – 82 x 145 mm (x86 only)
      • Architectures – ARM and/or x86
      • Specifications – edm-specifications-090rc3.pdf

    Despite the standard being open, I could not find other companies apart from TechNexion making EDM modules, but I’ve been told at least another company may be working on one. One product featuring the standard is Wandboard development board. (Full disclosure: TechNexion is currently a sponsor of cnx-software.com).

  • Apalis – Toradex’s Apalis Module Architecture defines the interfaces (electrical characteristics, signal definitions and pin assignments), and the mechanical form factor, including key dimensions.

    Again all documentation is available online, but I believe Toradex is the only company providing Apalis SoMs. You can also check out my earlier Apalis article.

  • EOMA68 – This is a standard defined by Qimod/Rhombus Tech based on the PCMCIA, which gives EOMA68 compliant CoMs 68-pin to play with the following non-optional interfaces: 24-pin RGB/TTL, I2C, USB (Low Speed, Full Speed, optionally Hi Speed/480 Mbit/s and optionally USB3), 10/100 Ethernet (optionally 1,000 ethernet), SATA-II (optionally SATA-III), 8 GPIOs, SD/MMC, and TTL-compatible UART (Tx and Rx only).
      • Connector – 68-pin PCMCIA
      • Dimensions
        • Type II – 85.6mm x 54.0mm (TBC) x 5mm max
        • Type III – 85.6mm x 54.0mm (TBC) x 8mm max
      • Architectures – ARM and x86
      • Specifications – EOMA68 on Elinux.org

    At the time of writing, I only know of one product to feature an EOMA68 module: Improv, a development platform powered by AllWinner A20 dual core ARM Cortex A7 SoC.

  • Rabbit – This is a new standard designed by Radxa, and which made me decide to write this post, because I wondered why there should be so many standards, or why people run roll there own instead of using what’s there. It’s using a SO-DIMM connector, no products are available yet, but AllWinner A20, and AllWinner A80 SoMs are planned using the standard. You can see a picture of the SoM + baseboard on Google+.
  • COM Express – The next 4 standards are for x86 only, and may support high power pins (~100W). There are more x86 standards, but I believe these are the most commonly used. [Update: Some companies have made COM Express Modules with ARM SoCs].
  • PC/104 (Plus) – Another widely use SoM standard for x86
    • Connector – 104- to 156- pin depending on version
    • Dimensions – 96 x 90 mm
    • Architectures – x86
    • Specifications – http://www.pc104.org/pc104_plus_specs.php – Download free, but registration required.
  • ETX / XTX – Actually two standards but they are similar. XTX drops the ISA bus and adds PCI-Express, SATA, and LPC.
    • Connector – Four Hirose FX8-100P-SV connectos
    • Dimensions – 95 × 114 mm
    • Architectures – x86
    • Specifications – ETX and XTX
  • CoreExpress
    • Connector – 220-pin connector
    • Dimensions – 58 mm × 65 mm
    • Architectures – x86
    • Specifications – coreexpress_spec_v21.pdf

The list is not complete, and there are other standards, mainly, or only, used within the company that defined them, such as Phytec PhyFlex, and SolidRun μSOM found in Cubox-i and Hummingboard.

AllWinner Linux-sunxi Community Presentation and Status Report – FOSDEM 2014

February 17th, 2014 11 comments

Oliver Schinagl, a member of linux-sunxi community working on open source kernel and bootloader for AllWinner SoCs, has given a presentation of the community at FOSDEM 2014 to give an overview, and show what progress has been made to date. I’ll write a summary in this post, but if you want to watch the video and/or access the slides scroll down at the bottom of the post.

AllWinner_sunxi-linux_fosdem_2014After explaining what sunxi is, and introducing himself, he gave some information about AllWinner and their SoCs:

  • Founded in 2007 in Zhuhai, Chiang now with 550 employees including 450+ engineers
  • 15% market share in 2013 for tablet SoCs, only behind Apple.
  • Products: F-series SoC (2010), A10 (2011), A13, A10s (2012), and A20 (2013). (cnsoft He skipped A31(s) and A80 here as they are not really supported by the community).
  • They list “Open Source Source” and “GPLv3” in their marketing materials although they clearly violate GPL in some part of the code. Progress is slowly being made however.

Sunxi community was born out of arm-netbook community working on EOMA68 boards in order to specifically target AllWinner SoCs, and now count over 600 mailing list subscribers (Google Group), 130 in IRC (#linux-sunxi), but only around 20 active developers.

Oliver then talks about the progress and status of different part of the software:

  • Bootloader
    • U-boot (lichee) NAND-only released by AllWinner, but requiring boot0/boot1 that were binary only until a source code release recently.
    • U-boot (sunxi) MMC / SDCard only, developed by the community, and preferred bootloader as it boots from SD card.
    • Barebox
    • Initial work on Coreboot
  • Operating Systems – Linux, FreeBSD, Tizen, Firefox OS and Minix (Interest only)
  • Distributions:
    • Fedora 18/19 maintained by a Red Hat employee in his spare time, and the best supported distro right now according to Oliver
    • Others – Linaro ALIP, Arch / Gentoo, Debian / (X)Ubuntu, (Xen).

Interestingly one important OS is missing: Android. The main reason is because there’s no community around Android with sunxi, but there’s still minimal work being done on Replicant/CyanogenMod, and AllWinner SDK for Android has been released.

He then goes through the different Linux kernel and branches on linux-sunxi github repo:

  • Lichee 3.0, 3.3 and 3.4 (with some 3.8 backport) from AllWinner. Some code in 3.4 version comes from sunxi linux work
  • Sunxi 3.0 (deprecated), 3.4 (maintenance), experimental 3.10 (Long term support kernel, likely to be used by Android 5.0, with AllWinner SoC support in mainline, and features like KVM and CMA),
  • Mainline kernel with two branches: sunxi-devel (latest code) and sunxi-next (with patches accepted into mainline). All mainline work has been done by the community, with no involvement from AllWinner. Currently CPU, interrupts, Timers, RTC, Watchdog (also used for reset), Ethernet and I2C are working, and you can boot a headless server. More info @ http://linux-sunxi.org/Linux_mainlining_effort.

He also talked of FEX files, the configuration files for AllWinner SoCs, that have a functionality similar to device tree, and in kernel 3.10 both device tree and fex files are supported. There’s also a tool called sunxi-babelfish that converts fex files into device tree files.

That’s all of the open source software part of the talk, and next is a list of hardware for playing around with AllWinner SoCs:

  • Olimex LIME board, fully open source hardware
  • Cubieboard 1 & 2, with schematics (PDF), but not all files to be fully open source hardware
  • EOMA68 / Improv. Improv, the baseboard, is open source hardware, but EOMA68 is not yet, although it should become open source hardware once the company (QiMod) gets back its initial investment
  • If you don’t have one of the three development platform above, you can also use one of the many tablets, media players, or HDMI TV stick available on the market.

AllWinner based device are unbrickable, as they can always to booted from a micro SD or SD card, and if no SD card is available, you can use FEL-mode to access the board via USB.

So all in all there’s currently good support for sun4i (A10), sun5i (A10s and A13) and sun7i (A20) SoCs, and it could even become FSF endorsable, but nothing is perfect, as the community is not really involved in A31, A31s and A80 development as these are based on PowerVR GPU, with no hope of ever getting open source GPU drivers in Linux, and there are binary blobs with Mali GPU (3D), GPS, and touchscreen drivers, and the Boot ROM (BROM) and CedarX libraries (APU/VPU) are only available in binary format.  There’s however work on open source Mali GPU driver (Limare) which could be usable this year, and there’s reverse engineering work being done for video decoding.

Oliver shows a demo of hardware video playback with a 100% open source implementation, capable of even playing files not supporting by the official binary only version, and gets a around of applause when he announces the complete presentation was done on an AllWinner board.

The talks ends with detailing the different ways you can contribute to the community: editing the Wiki, adding new supported devices, helping porting AOSP, CyanogenMod, Ubuntu Touch or Firefox OS, and submitting kernel patches.

The presentation slides are available here.

Improv Open Hardware Platform Features EOMA68-A20 CPU Card Powered by AllWinner A20 SoC

November 26th, 2013 1 comment

After seeing a countdown clock on makeplaylive.com a few days ago, I was expecting the Plasma Active, Linux based  Vivaldi Tablet to come up, but instead Improv, an open hardware platform, has just been launched. It features the long awaited EOMA68 CPU card with AllWinner A20 dual core ARM Cortex A7 processor, together with a “feature board”, and is now available for pre-order for $75, with shipping expecting in January. It’s only available in North America and Europe for now.

ImprovImprov specifications:

  • EOMA68-A20 CPU board:
    • SoC – AllWinner A20 dual core ARM Cortex-A7 @ 1 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU
    • System Memory – 1GB DDR2
    • Storage – 4GB NAND flash
    • Video – micro HDMI (video + audio), RGB/TTL pins
    • USB – Micro USB OTG + USB 2.0 host pins
    • Networking – 10/100M Ethernet
    • Other buses – I2C, 8 GPIO, UART0
    • Weight – Under 40 grams
  • Feature board:
    • Storage – 32K EEPROM, SATA II interface
    • USB – USB 2.0 host port
    • Connectivity  – 10/100/1000M Ethernet (RJ-45)
    • Connector – 44 PIN DIL with the following signals RGB/TTL, I2C, 8x GPIOs, uBoot pin, UART, GND, and 5V DC
    • Misc – Power LED
    • Power – 6-12VDC, up to 2.5A. Recommended 9VDC or less.
    • Weight  – Under 60 grams

The EOMA68 CPU card come in metal case following the PCMCIA form factor, and slides into a PCMCIA header on the bottom of the feature board. Since this is a standard, you’ll be able to keep the same feature board, and simply change the CPU card if you want to upgrade. Other EOMA68 CPU cards I’ve seen considered on arm-netbook mailing list include EOMA68-A31 with AllWinner A31, EOMA68-IMX6 with Freescale i.MX6 , EOMA68-AM3558 with Texas Instruments AM3358, and maybe some others. It’s taken 2 years to get the first card, but now that most details have been working out, I understand development of new cards should be much faster, and is only a matter of getting the funds. Alternatively, it’s also possible to use the CPU card on your own custom designed “feature boards”, or products. For example, EOM68-A20 will probably be used in Vivaldi tablet. Additional hardware add-ons such as VGA connectors, keyboard kits and cases are also in development according to Aaron Seigo, Plasma team project leader.

Improv Feature Board (Top) and EOMA68-A20 CPU card (Botton)

Improv Feature Board (Top) and EOMA68-A20 CPU card (Botton)

Contrary to most other AllWinner A20 hardware platform, Improv will not ship with Android and Ubuntu pre-installed, and although these last two are supported, it will instead come pre-loaded with Mer OS, an open source mobile Linux distribution powered by Qt/QML and HTML5. It will boot to the command line by default, but if you need a graphical interface, you’ll have quite a few choices: X.org, Wayland, Qt4, Qt5 and as well as Plasma Active. Improv is actually the first of three hardware platforms featuring Mer OS this week, dubbed #merweek, and will be followed tomorrow by Ispirata’s Hemera, a device development system for embedded systems, and Jolla phone will be officially released the day after.

Improv is said to be an open hardware project which means the schematics, PCB layout, and gerber files should be released for both the feature board and EOMA68-A20 CPU card once the board ships. I cannot see the Open Hardware logo on the board however, and they only mention about releasing the schematics on the website, so it’s not entirely clear at this stage.

You can find more information on Make Play Live website, and you can ask questions on their Forum.

Rhombus Tech EOMA-68 CPU Card Prototype

December 18th, 2012 6 comments

Do you remember Rhombus Tech AllWinner A10 EOMA-PCMCIA CPU card that targets a BOM cost of $15 US, that was announced at the end of last year? Well, after much wait, the first prototype is now available.


This CPU module is based on AllWinner A10 Cortex A8 processor, with 1GB RAM, a NAND Flash, one USB OTG port, microSD slot, HDMI, PMIC, an Ethernet PHY (at the back), an expansion header, and the EOMA-68 connector giving access to peripherals signals (SATA, Ethernet, RGB/TTL, I2C etc…). It can act as a Linux/Android stand-alone computer or be connected to a baseboard. One of the first project will be a laptop for the Chinese market.

AllWinner A10 SoC may be a little underpowered to be used in laptop compared to the latest ARM processors, but since EOMA-PCMCIA is a standard, pin-to-pin compatible modules will eventually be designed and manufactured with different/faster (ARM) processors. New modules are expected to be designed much faster than the first one which took over one year.

PCMCIA only has 68 pins, and as Barry Kauler explains, many signals from the processor won’t go through this connector, which could explain the expansion header at the bottom of the board. Other system-on-modules are usually design with standard connectors with much more pins: SO-DIMM has 200 pins, and EDM & ULP-COM standards provide MXM 3.0 connectors with 314 pins. The lack of signals carried through the 68-pin connector will most probably affect the number of supported features and/or upgradability of those EOMA CPU cards. There are, however, pros and cons for all SoM form factors, you can read more on elinux.org.

15 USD ARM Cortex A8 Linux Computer by Rhombus Tech

December 18th, 2011 No comments

Many of you already probably know the Raspberry Pi Foundation 25 USD ARM Linux Computer. Rhombus Tech, another non-profit organization, is planning to design a 15 USD ARM Linux computer (excluding casing, power supply, shipping, VAT and custom duties) that the company claims would be at least 3 times faster that the Raspberry Pi.

This computer would be an EOMA-PCMCIA CPU card powered by an Allwinner A10 ARM Cortex A8 CPU clocked at 1.5ghz. Here are the (expected) specifications of this board:

  • Approximately Credit-card size format (56mm x 90mm)
  • An Allwinner A10, 1.5ghz ARM Cortex A8
  • 1GB of RAM
  • At least 1gb of NAND Flash (possibly up to 16gb)
  • Operation as a stand-alone computer (USB-OTG powered)
  • 2160p (double 1080p) Video playback
  • MALI 400MP 3D Graphics, OpenGL ES 2.0 compliant.
  • HDMI, Micro-SD, Headphones Socket,
  • EOMA-PCMCIA-compliant interfaces (RGB/TTL, I2C, USB2, SATA-II, 10/100 Eth)
  • Expansion Header (similar to Beagleboard, IMX53QSB, Origen etc.)

With this kind of specifications, it’s hard to believe they’ll achieve their 15 dollars goal (if they can manufacture 100,000 pieces or more) . Of course if the project completes in 2013, that may be more achievable.

Contrary to the Raspberry Pi which should hopefully ship next month, Rhombus Tech does not have a prototype yet, as it is currently developing the  schematics for the board. They have however done some Photoshop using Allwinner A18 Reference Board to show components could fit in a PCMCIA-sized board.

15 USD ARM Linux Computer

Rhombus Tech A10 PCMCIA Module Proposal

GPL source code for Allwinner A10 will be available in the Rhombus git repository soon. They have already provided instructions to build the kernel. Support for Android should also be available since the hardware can easily support it and some Android tablets based on Allwinner A10 – such as the Momo9C – are already available on the market.

There is no ETA, but I suppose they could have a working prototype at the end of Q1 or in Q2, and that the final product would be ready somewhere in Q3 or Q4 2012. If you are interested, Rhombus Tech already takes pre-order commitments for the Allwinner A10 CPU module.

Rhombus Tech also has a second idea under consideration, where they would adapt the beaglebone, which has all hardware files available to the PCMCIA format and use AM3357 processor instead of AM3358.

Further information is available on Rhombus Tech website.