Posts Tagged ‘rhombus tech’

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)


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.

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

List of 39 Low Cost Linux Friendly Boards and Products

June 26th, 2012 20 comments

Dmitry (omgfire), one of my awesome readers, compiled a great tabular list of Linux friendly boards and products that sells for less than $300 US (usually less than $200). This list includes technical details such as the processor, GPU, memory, NAND flash, connectivity, ports, supported Linux distributions… as well as availability and pricing information.

There are currently 39 Linux devices in total. The vast majority are ARM based boards, but he also included 2 x86 products by VIA, but those are relatively pricey ($265 and up).

Here’s a summary list with SoCs used, links to blog posts and product pages (if available), as well as price information.

35 USD Raspberry Pi Broadcom BCM2835

Raspberry Pi Board Model B

    • Raspberry Pi Model B – Broadcom BCM2835 (ARM11) – Blog post (That’s my first post about the R-Pi last year, and the board is much different now) –  Product page – Price: $35 + shipping
    • Rikomagic MK802 – Allwiner A10 (Cortex A8) –  Blog post –  Price: $70 to $80 inc. shipping
    • Mele A1000 – AllWinner A10 (Cortex A8) – Blog post –  Product page – Price: $70 + shipping to $100 (inc. shipping)
    • Rhombus-Tech A10 EOMA-68 – AllWinner A10 (Cortex A8) – Blog post –  Product page – Price: $15 (Estimated BOM Cost only)
    • Gooseberry board – AllWinner A10 (Cortex A8) – Product page – Price: 40 GBP + shipping
    • A13-OLinuXino – AllWinner A13 (Cortex A8) – Blog post –  Product page – Price: 40 Euros (without Wi-Fi) or 50 Euros (Wi-Fi version)
    • VIA APC – Wondermedia WM8650 (ARM11) – Blog post –  Product page – Price: $49 + shipping
    • VIA ARTiGO A1200 – VIA Eden X2 (x86) –  Product page – Price: $310 + shipping
    • VIA ARTiGO A1150 – VIA Eden X2 (x86) – Product page – Price: $265 + shipping
    • BeagleBoard Rev. C4 – TI OMAP3530 (Cortex A8) – Blog posts (articles related to Beagleboard) –  Product page – Price: $125 + shipping
    • BeagleBoard-xM – TI DM3730 (Cortex A8) – Product page – Price: $149 + shipping


    • BeagleBone – TI Sitara AM3359 (Cortex A8) – Blog post –  Product page– Price: $89 + shipping
    • PandaBoard – TI OMAP4430 (Cortex A9) – Blog posts (articles related to Pandaboard) –  Product page – Price: $174 + shipping
    • PandaBoard ES – TI OMAP4460 (Cortex A9) – Blog post –  Product page – Price: $189 + shipping
    • Cotton Candy – Samsung Exynos 4210 (Cortex A9) – Blog post –  Product page – Price: $199 + shipping
    • CuBox – Marvell Armada 510 (ARMv7 architecture like Cortex-A) – Blog post –  Product page – Price: $135 + shipping
    • Hawkboard – TI OMAP-L138 (ARM9) – Product page – Price: $161 + shipping
    • ISEE IGEP v2 – TI DM3730 (Cortex A8) –  Product page – Price: 188 Euros + shipping
    • ISEE IGEP COM Proton – TI DM3730 (Cortex A8) – Product page – Price: 160 Euros
    • ISEE IGEP COM Module – TI DM3730 (Cortex A8) – Product page – Price: 164 Euros
    • Gumstix Overo series – TI Sitara and OMAP processors (Cortex A8) – Blog post –  Product page – Price: $115 to $229 + shipping
    • Origen Board – Samsung Exynos 4210 (Cortex A9) – Blog post –  Product page – Price: $199 + shipping .By the way, it seems the Quad core version is coming in Q3 2012.
    • Ionics Plug Nimbus – Marvel Kirkwood 6281 (ARM9) – Product page – Price: $99 + shipping
    • Ionics Plug Stratus – Marvel Kirkwood 6281 (ARM9) – Product page – Price: $139 to $145 + shipping
    • SheevaPlug dev kit (Basic) – Marvel Kirkwood 6281 (ARM9) –  Product page – Price: $101.99 + Shipping
    • GuruPlug Standard – Marvel Kirkwood 6281 (ARM9) – Product page – Price: $103 + Shipping
    • GuruPlug Display – Marvell ARMADA 168 (ARMv7 architecture) – Product page – Price: $199 + Shipping
    • DreamPlug – Marvel Kirkwood 6281 (ARM9) – Blog post –  Product page – Price: $163 + Shipping
    • D2Plug – Marvell PXA510 –Product page – Price: $253 + shipping
    • Trim-Slice series – NVIDIA Tegra 2 (Cortex A9) –Product page – Price: $213 – $338 + Shipping
ST Ericsson Nova A9500 Development Board

Snowball PDK Lite

  • Snowball – ST-Ericsson Nova A9500 (Cortex A9) – Blog post –  Product page – Price: 144.84 € – 322.57 € + shipping
  • i.MX53 Quick Start Board – Freescale i.MX53 (Cortex a8) – Blog post –  Product page – Price: $149 + shipping
  • Pineriver H24/MiniX – AllWinner A10 (Cortex A8) – Blog post –  Product page – Price: $77 inc. shipping
  • Smallart UHOST – AllWinner A10 (Cortex A8) – Blog post (Oval Elephant HDMI stick based on UHOST) –  Product page – Price: $89 (512MB), $95 (1GB)with shipping
  • Genesi Efika MX Smarttop – Freescale i.MX515 (Cortex A8) – Product page – Price: $129 + shipping
  • Embest DevKit8600 – TI Sitara AM3359 (Cortex A8) – Product page – Price: $189 + shipping
  • Embest SBC8018 – TI Sitara AM1808 (ARM9) – Product page – Price: $99 + shipping
  • Embest SBC8530 – TI DM3730 (Cortex A8) – Product page – Price: $199 + shipping
  • Embest DevKit8500D – TI DM3730 (Cortex A8) – Product page – Price: $199 + shipping

The list is obviously not exhaustive (this would include hundreds of boards), but this still pretty good. Bear in mind, that is also included some recently phased out boards (e.g. Hawkboard) and devices (e.g. Genesi Efika MX Smarttop), but you might get one of those second hand on eBay or similar sites.

You can download Dmitry’s PDF file that shows side-by-side comparison of 5 devices at a time.

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.