Linked by Howard Fosdick on Tue 13th Nov 2012 06:13 UTC
In the News The Raspberry Pi has inspired a flock of competitors. Among them are the A13-OLinuXino, which you can purchase here for 45 euros. It comes with an A13 Cortex A8 processor at 1GHz, 3D Mali400 GPU, 512 MB RAM, and complete set of ports. Video is VGA. It ships Android 4.0 but also runs various Linux distros. You might also check out the $49US Cubieboard here and the UG802 for $89US here. And there's the MK802 micro-PC, a USB-sized device priced at $74US that runs Android 4.0, Ubuntu, Debian, and other distros. The tiny single-board computer has come of age.
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I've gotta buy one
by benali72 on Tue 13th Nov 2012 06:36 UTC
benali72
Member since:
2008-05-03

Wow, at these prices I've gotta buy one just to play with it. My very own Christmas present computer for under $100. Time for some comparison shopping.

Reply Score: 6

RE: I've gotta buy one
by tonny on Tue 13th Nov 2012 07:38 UTC in reply to "I've gotta buy one"
tonny Member since:
2011-12-22

Yep! Agree! The price is interesting. But when you count the shipping price and tax, it became different matter. $45 board + ~$4 tax + ~$15 shipping cost. Haha.. Will hunt for those board when it available in my country, and doesn't have to pay much for shipping cost ;)

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Licaon_Kter
by Licaon_Kter on Tue 13th Nov 2012 09:28 UTC
Licaon_Kter
Member since:
2010-03-19

It's all fun and games 'till your board doesn't work.
Keep in mind that the Raspberry Pi still has a lot of software ( https://github.com/raspberrypi/linux/issues ) and hardware issues even now 8 1/2 months later and they have both dedicated and community people working at them every day making it better. I have little faith that some Chinese guys with good enough China-factory-relations to make the boards have the time and the skills to support software side too... But hey, I would love to be proved wrong.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by _cynic_
by _cynic_ on Tue 13th Nov 2012 12:07 UTC
_cynic_
Member since:
2012-04-18

Are there any with more than one SATA?
From what I've read HDs in usb enclosures don't spin down.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by _cynic_
by bnolsen on Tue 13th Nov 2012 13:28 UTC in reply to "Comment by _cynic_"
bnolsen Member since:
2006-01-06

cubiboard has just one sata and it does spin down. And you do get full sata speed out of it (for spinning media at least).

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by _cynic_
by WereCatf on Tue 13th Nov 2012 13:34 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by _cynic_"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

cubiboard has just one sata and it does spin down. And you do get full sata speed out of it (for spinning media at least).


As I understood he was speaking about USB-enclosures, not SATA-ones. For some reason spinning down HDDs that reside in USB-enclosures has always been problematic for me under Linux whereas spinning down such works fine under Windows. I've never been able to pinpoint exactly what the issue is.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by _cynic_
by JLF65 on Tue 13th Nov 2012 18:41 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by _cynic_"
JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

My external USB box for SATA drives spins down in Xubuntu just fine. It a Thermaltake BlacX I got cheap from NewEgg. It's not the very cheapest, but it's a great external drive box... even allows hot-swapping drives. You can get it with just USB2 or with USB2 and eSATA connectors. My only complaint is that if you use the eSATA connector in linux, it's no longer removable.

Reply Score: 2

CrowdFunding for CubieBoard
by renox on Tue 13th Nov 2012 13:08 UTC
renox
Member since:
2005-07-06

The crowd funding for CubieBoard ends very soon in 68h.
I would be interested but I don't think that I have the time to configure this thing to do interesting things (backup server, calendar and tasks server..).

Reply Score: 2

Low-footprint, low-power "revolution"
by WereCatf on Tue 13th Nov 2012 13:10 UTC
WereCatf
Member since:
2006-02-15

I personally heartily welcome this trend of small, hacker-friendly, low-footprint and low-power computers. These are great for exploring and studying internals of computers and their software, especially since it's not expensive to get a replacement even if you manage to totally botch something and end up with a broken device. Since these devices also take very little space, don't require active cooling, and generally consume very little power one can go wild with all kinds of home automation systems on these. Or how about running some small servers for your family, like e.g. your own e-mail server? A web-server so your kids can practice web-development and actually put their websites out there to wow their friends with? (I know I would've loved that back when I was 10!) Best of all, since these boxes are small and totally silent your boyfriend won't get his panties in a twist every time you take the box out to play with!

There are a few issues, however, and the biggest one of them is drivers: at the moment I am not aware of any of these things actually shipping with a GPU that is fully supported by open-source drivers. The closed binaries that I've had to deal with are often either partially or completely broken, and sometimes even the closed ones are still missing features. Having to rely on closed binaries wouldn't be such a bad thing if they atleast were functional and kept up-to-date, but my Pandaboard is a rather good example of what these things can be at worst: on some versions H/W acceleration of decoding or encoding stuff doesn't work, sometimes X acceleration doesn't work, audio output from the analog connectors doesn't work, or like with the latest updates networking got broken and the board goes into a hard lock-up after 1 to 10 minutes!

My point with the above ramble is that fancy specs and lots of promises don't actually guarantee that you get what you think you're paying for, and at the moment you can still really only count on the basics to work, thereby greatly limiting the potential of these little beasts and making them somewhat unstable for any sort of educational work.

Reply Score: 7

pepa Member since:
2005-07-08

But it's perfect for a headless file/email/printserver! The Cubie has SATA, whoohoo!! I would want a case around my Cubie that's more than a screwed-on piece of plexy glass...

Reply Score: 2

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

But it's perfect for a headless file/email/printserver! The Cubie has SATA, whoohoo!! I would want a case around my Cubie that's more than a screwed-on piece of plexy glass...


IMHO the Cubie seems the most well-rounded box of the ones mentioned here, partly exactly because it sports a real SATA-port. That alone gives it a nice performance-boost and increases its capabilities. I also like the fact that there are SPD/IF headers on the board for digital audio. According to their QA the system will also support real suspend and resume under Linux.

Reply Score: 2

renox Member since:
2005-07-06

IMHO the Cubie seems the most well-rounded box of the ones mentioned here, partly exactly because it sports a real SATA-port. That alone gives it a nice performance-boost and increases its capabilities.
Yes, but one thing that I'm not so sure is about its Ethernet performance, AFAIK the Raspberry Pi has issues also on this point as it is "Ethernet over USB" internally..

Reply Score: 2

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Yes, but one thing that I'm not so sure is about its Ethernet performance, AFAIK the Raspberry Pi has issues also on this point as it is "Ethernet over USB" internally..


The Allwinner A10 used by the Cubie has Ethernet-controller built-in, it's not a USB-based device. It's 10/100, though, they're planning to do a 10/100/1000 - version in the future.

http://cubieboard.org/about/

Reply Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

100 & up Ethernet speeds mmight be still, as of now, a weird fit for such devices - apparently they were (probably still typically are) relatively wasteful on power used: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Ethernet#Concepts

Reply Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08


Wow, now THAT's big news! There definitely should be an article about this on OSnews, if there hasn't been one already.

Reply Score: 2

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15


Wow, now THAT's big news! There definitely should be an article about this on OSnews, if there hasn't been one already.
"

I don't think most people here care. Just look at how little discussion this topic here has generated, and that link is only about the RPi -- an even smaller audience.

I'm somewhat disappointed, I was hoping for some interesting discussion here, or even just pointers to good Pandaboard-like devices with SATA and actually functional software.

Reply Score: 2

renox Member since:
2005-07-06


Wow, now THAT's big news!
"

That depends on your POV, the driver is just an 'RPC shim' to a companion CPU which runs the "real" driver, so
-from a maintenance POV this is useless
-from a licensing POV 100% of the code running on the ARM CPU is Free which is a big news indeed.

Reply Score: 3

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

That depends on your POV, the driver is just an 'RPC shim' to a companion CPU which runs the "real" driver, so
-from a maintenance POV this is useless
-from a licensing POV 100% of the code running on the ARM CPU is Free which is a big news indeed.

Let me see if I get this right...
-GPU firmware is closed-source
-Driver is open-source, the communication protocol with the firmware is open-specced, and it is possible to implement an OSS OpenGL stack

Is that the way it works? If so, isn't it a big win already for OSS drivers developers?

Reply Score: 2

renox Member since:
2005-07-06

If I got this right, the opensource driver is just a way to access a high level API which is then compiled by the firmware running on the companion CPU(VPU) to primitives which are then run on the GPU.
So if there is a bug on the firmware, it's difficult to workaround because you don't have access to the low-level primitives.

Reply Score: 3

DeepThought Member since:
2010-07-17

I personally heartily welcome this trend of small, hacker-friendly, ...


hacker-friendly? Most if not all of these devices are missing JTAG/Debug connectors. At least in standard pin-out. So if you want to replace the Linux on these boards by an RTOS to leverage the CPU you are quiet lost.

Reply Score: 2

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

hacker-friendly? Most if not all of these devices are missing JTAG/Debug connectors. At least in standard pin-out. So if you want to replace the Linux on these boards by an RTOS to leverage the CPU you are quiet lost.


Why do you need JTAG/Debug connectors to replace the OS?

Reply Score: 4

DeepThought Member since:
2010-07-17

In order to really debug a system down to the bare metal anything else is a pain.

Reply Score: 2

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

In order to really debug a system down to the bare metal anything else is a pain.


If you want to do development on an RTOS, then yeah.

Pandaboard does sport JTAG, but it's also considerably more expensive than the boards mentioned here.

Reply Score: 3

An open GPU competitor?
by fithisux on Tue 13th Nov 2012 14:08 UTC
fithisux
Member since:
2006-01-22

Someone with open gpu, even 2D only would make me listen. This is a price race and not a technological innovation race. Keep it seriously in mind. They are cheap all in ones but sacrificing price and/or correct hardware. For example no competitor with IOMMU, no competitor with a DSP co-processor, no competitor with a hardware encryption engine.

Reply Score: 2

RE: An open GPU competitor?
by madko on Tue 13th Nov 2012 14:56 UTC in reply to "An open GPU competitor?"
madko Member since:
2006-03-08

this one http://www.j1nx.nl/crowdfunding/ try to crowfund the complete sources

Reply Score: 2

Getting close
by jessesmith on Tue 13th Nov 2012 20:34 UTC
jessesmith
Member since:
2010-03-11

I was recently looking for a new (or new to me) desktop computer. Something relatively low-end to tinker with and program on. The only thing which really kept me away from these tiny economy machines was the RAM. Once we get sub-$100 computers with dual-core >1GHz CPUs and 2GB+ of RAM I am going to be on board. We're not quite there yet, I don't think, but in a few more years...

Reply Score: 3

RE: Getting close
by Kaj-de-Vos on Tue 13th Nov 2012 20:41 UTC in reply to "Getting close"
Kaj-de-Vos Member since:
2010-06-09
RE[2]: Getting close
by fithisux on Tue 13th Nov 2012 20:53 UTC in reply to "RE: Getting close"
fithisux Member since:
2006-01-22

This is what I call a power horse. No 3D is necessary

http://www.electronicsweekly.com/Articles/13/11/2012/54987/electron...

Can we make it tiny?

Edited 2012-11-13 20:54 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Still waiting..
by uridium on Tue 13th Nov 2012 21:50 UTC
uridium
Member since:
2009-08-20

Still waiting for something with a DIMM socket, PCIe||PCI and SATA. Nice to see one with SATA come out.

I still want a workstation, rather than an embedded system.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Still waiting..
by Kaj-de-Vos on Tue 13th Nov 2012 22:07 UTC in reply to "Still waiting.."
Kaj-de-Vos Member since:
2010-06-09

Right, if you measure those slots, that can never be a mini computer.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Still waiting..
by WereCatf on Tue 13th Nov 2012 22:15 UTC in reply to "Still waiting.."
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Still waiting for something with a DIMM socket, PCIe||PCI and SATA. Nice to see one with SATA come out.

I still want a workstation, rather than an embedded system.


Basically you want a...PC. Why don't you just buy a PC, then?

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Still waiting..
by Kochise on Thu 15th Nov 2012 08:03 UTC in reply to "RE: Still waiting.."
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

Size ? Power consumption ? Embedability ? Versatility ?

Kochise

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Still waiting..
by phoenix on Thu 15th Nov 2012 22:17 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Still waiting.."
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Sounds like a mini-ITX, micro-ATX, Intel NUC, etc box to me. 4"x4" is too big nowadays?

Reply Score: 2

No linux accelerated X on any of them.
by RawMustard on Tue 13th Nov 2012 23:47 UTC
RawMustard
Member since:
2005-10-10

Their claim to run linux is a bit misleading so beware.
They're fine as long as you don't want to do any serious X work. And getting linux working can be a bit of a hit and miss affair for young players.

Also beware the Raspi USB is very broken! With many unable to even run a standard keyboard and mouse.
http://www.element14.com/community/thread/19436?start=0&tstart=0

Now can someone recommend a nice low power solution that does run linux properly. And no, mini-itx running at 50 watts just doesn't cut it anymore I'm afraid.

Reply Score: 2

Other options
by sfillion on Wed 14th Nov 2012 08:02 UTC
sfillion
Member since:
2012-11-14

Does anybody have experience with the BeagleBoard ( http://beagleboard.org ) or the PandaBoard ( http://pandaboard.org/ )? Are they any good?

Edited 2012-11-14 08:04 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Other options
by WereCatf on Wed 14th Nov 2012 08:15 UTC in reply to "Other options"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Does anybody have experience with the BeagleBoard ( http://beagleboard.org ) or the PandaBoard ( http://pandaboard.org/ )? Are they any good?


I have a Pandaboard myself. The hardware itself is pretty good except for the lack of SATA, what with dual-core CPU, plenty of RAM, WIFI, Bluetooth, 10/100 Ethernet, loads of pins for all kinds of hardware - projects and so on. But the software-side of things, however....

Well, my earlier post on this very same news item says this: "Having to rely on closed binaries wouldn't be such a bad thing if they atleast were functional and kept up-to-date, but my Pandaboard is a rather good example of what these things can be at worst: on some versions H/W acceleration of decoding or encoding stuff doesn't work, sometimes X acceleration doesn't work, audio output from the analog connectors doesn't work, or like with the latest updates networking got broken and the board goes into a hard lock-up after 1 to 10 minutes!"

Basically if you only want accelerated X, nothing else, then it should work, but H/W accelerated video decoding will be totally hit-and-miss, and audio output will be reliable only via a USB-soundcard or over HDMI.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Other options
by eantoranz on Wed 14th Nov 2012 19:14 UTC in reply to "Other options"
eantoranz Member since:
2005-12-18

I have a BeagleBoard right here on my desk with ubuntu on it (not for desktop usage) and it can handle some stuff:

- PostgreSQL
- Java (openjdk)
- RXTX
- Tomcat (with a web application on it)

It doesn't flyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, but it certainly does the job.

Lovable piece, really.

Reply Score: 2

How about OLPC?
by eantoranz on Wed 14th Nov 2012 15:39 UTC
eantoranz
Member since:
2005-12-18

you remember the OLPC, don't you?

Are they taking advantage of all this frenzy around ARM?

Reply Score: 2

RE: How about OLPC?
by zima on Thu 15th Nov 2012 07:19 UTC in reply to "How about OLPC?"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06
Old News
by twitterfire on Thu 15th Nov 2012 12:53 UTC
twitterfire
Member since:
2008-09-11

There are hundreds of chinese single board computers with ARM cpus, size of a business card:

http://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?SearchText=mini+pc&catId=7&manu...

Reply Score: 2