This Business Card is a $3 Linux Computer Powered by Allwinner F1C100s SoC

The smallest, thinnest Linux computer

There are many business card-sized SBCs, like RPi 4. But  George Hillard, an embedded systems engineer decided it would be interesting to build an actual business card that was a computer. His card runs Linux and houses an Allwinner F1C100s carrying an ARM9 processor with 32MB RAM and 8MB flash storage.

Business Card Linux

The Basics

It holds some of his photos, a copy of his resume and a couple of games, which is pretty good for something like a business card. There is a USB port off one corner, and the unit can connect to a computer and boot up in about 6 seconds and shows up under USB as a flash drive.  But that piggybacked computer-attached display is really the only type of display the card can manage.

Business card with USB

The Shell and Linux Version

The shell has the games, including a version of 2048, and a small MicroPython interpreter. The Linux is v5.2 with extra patches, and the whole thing is hosted on the inventor’s thirtythreeforty GitHub page.

The Processor

The processor is an ultra low-priced Allwinner F1C100s, that runs the SoC which includes embedded RAM and CPU.  There is no connectivity or heavyweight storage options and the choice of basic components was mandated by the need for absolute cheapness.

USB Connection

The USB port is directly connected to the Linux USB Gadget Framework, which allows for use through USB to a computer.

Costs

The entire card costs $3.00 USD and although this is a more than the average cost of a business card,  for a business card that runs Linux, it’s an absolute steal. 

The Cost Breakdown Goes

Component                                        Price

F1C100s                                               $1.42

PCB                                                         $0.80

8MB flash                                              $0.17

All other components                      $0.49

Total                                                           $2.88

Be aware that Georges’ time to make each Linux capable business card is “free” in the breakdown above, and each computer is hand made and is time-intensive.

Further Information

George Hillard’s blog has many extra details and further information on design processes and other aspects of such a small computer.  The liliputing article also helped with information for this reporting and for further information about the inventor and his work.

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