It’s quite common to find MCU board for less than $10, but if you want to run Linux, you’ll need to spend a bit more, unlessit’s sponsored, and today, the cheapest you can get is probably the $20 Raspberry Pi Model A+, unless you go with some OpenWRT compatible routers. But there’s now a new board in development, called CHIP, with Allwinner R8 Cortex A8 processor, 512MB RAM, and 4GB NAND flash, as well as wireless connectivity, that will bring cost even lower, as you can pledge $9 on Kickstarter to fund its development.
- SoC – Allwinner R8 Cortex A8 processor @ 1 GHz with Mali-400 GPU (Compatible with Allwinner A13)
- System Memory – 512 MB RAM
- Storage – 4GB NAND flash
- Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.0
- Video Output – 3.5mm jack for composite video and audio (HDMI and VGA available via adapters)
- USB – 1x USB host port, 1x micro USB OTG port
- Two expansion headers
- Power – 5V via micro USB OTG or battery
- Dimensions – 60 x 40 mm
The board is said to run a Linux distribution featuring the mainline kernel. There’s also some sort of portable gamedpad called Pocket C.H.I.P that integrates the board and that you can get for $49. The board should ship in December 2015, and Pocket C.H.I.P in May 2016….
The project looks exciting, but when you look at the details, it’s not quite as ground breaking as it may first seem. Shipping is $20, unless you live in the US ($5), so you’d buy a $29 board, which brings it very close to competitors. The internal flash, WiFi and Bluetooth are clear winners in this price range, but I assume few people will use composite output, so you’ll need to spend a few more bucks ($10 to $15) on adapters, and if you need these, you won’t get the board before May 2016… What do you think?
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.