In 2012, Andrew Huang (“Bunnie”) decided to build an open source hardware and software laptop codenamed Novena powered by Freescale i.MX6 as a side project. The goal of the project was to be fully open source, both in terms of hardware and software, and the components have been selected so that the datasheets can be downloaded without NDA. Design has now been completed, and a crowdfunding campaign has now been launched on Crowd Supply, but since finding low cost part was not priority, you’ll have to fork $1,995 to get the complete laptop, $1,195 will get you the desktop version, and $500 the motherboard only. There’s also a version of the laptop called “Heirloom Laptop” with a hand-crafted wood and aluminum case that goes for $5,000.
Let’s go through the board specs first:
- SoC – Freescale iMX6 Quad-core Cortex A9 CPU with NEON FPU @ 1.2 GHz. – NDA-free datasheet and programming manual
- System Memory – 64-bit, DDR3-1066 SO-DIMM slot. 4GB DDR3 SO-DIMM will be installed in the shipped products.
- Storage – Boots from microSD firmware, SATA-II (3Gbps) connector
- Internal ports & sensors:
- mini PCI-express slot
- UIM slot for mPCIx mobile data card support
- Dual-channel LVDS LCD connector with USB2.0 side-channel for a display-side camera
- Resistive touchscreen controller
- Stereo 1.1W, 8-ohm internal speaker connectors
- 2x USB2.0 internal connectors for keyboard and mouse/trackpad
- Digital microphone (optional, not populated by default)
- 3-axis accelerometer
- 3x internal UART ports
- External ports:
- SD card reader
- headphone + mic port (compatible with most mobile phone headsets, supports sensing in-line cable buttons)
- 2x USB 2.0 ports, supporting high-current (1.5A) device charging
- 1Gbit ethernet
- Other features:
- 100 Mbit ethernet – dual Ethernet capability allows laptop to be used as an in-line packet filter or router
- USB OTG – enables laptop to spoof/fuzz ethernet, serial, etc. over USB via gadget interface to other USB hosts
- Utility serial EEPROM – for storing crash logs and other bits of handy data
- Spartan-6 CSG324-packaged FPGA – has several interfaces to the CPU, including a 2Gbit/s (peak) RAM-like bus — for your bitcoin mining needs. Or whatever else you might want to toss in an FPGA.
- High-speed I/O expansion header – useful for implementing a wide variety of functions, from simple GPIO breakouts to high-performance analog data sampling front-ends
Beside the 4GB RAM, the board with also come with a microSD card with basic Debian install, Ath9k (blob-free firmware) mPCIe wifi card, 802.11n b/g 1T1R and a 16V, 3.75A power supply (100-240V 50/60Hz input).
The desktop version will come with a gen-2 hacker case, a 13.3″ TFT LCD (1080P), an LVDS to eDP adapter board, and some other accessories such as cables.
The laptop version will features all hardware from the desktop version but add a battery controller board, a 240 GB SSD, a 3000mAh 3-cell lithium battery pack, measure 330 mm x 225 mm x 27mm and weight 1.36 kg. The keyboard is not included.
The board should ship in November 2014, the All-in-one desktop in December 2014, the laptop in January 2015, and Heirloom laptop in February 2015.
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