Linux Development Boards – 2013 Edition

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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