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Ringing in 2016 with 64 open-spec, hacker friendly SBCs

Dec 31, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 39,166 views

[Updated: Jan. 2, 2016] — Community backed, open-spec SBCs vary wildly, from sub-$10 minimalists to octa-core powerhouses. Here we present 64 Linux- and Android-friendly models.

In 2015, the number of open-spec, hacker friendly single board computers running Linux or Android has continued to grow while prices have dropped to unprecedented levels. Low-cost boards such as the Chip, Raspberry Pi Zero, and Orange Pi PC have set a higher bar for price/performance ratio, while on the high end, we saw the first 64-bit, ARMv8 hacker SBCs arrive at surprisingly low prices. Meanwhile, the board that matters most to makers around the world — the Raspberry Pi — was updated to a Pi 2 model with a modern quad-core, ARMv7 processor that opens up new applications and a wider range of Linux distributions.

In our first joint reader survey of community-backed boards with Linux.com in May 2014, readers rated their favorite SBCs from a list of 32. This jumped to 40 boards for our end-of-year 2014 SBC roundup, then 53 boards for our second survey, held in May 2015, with winners announced in early June.

For our 2015 end-of-year roundup — no surveys or prizes this time — we’ve identified 64 boards that fit our fairly loose requirements. Here, we accept any board with full specs and pricing that is either shipping now or expected to ship in the first six months of 2016. The requirements are otherwise the same as the most recent survey, including a $200 cutoff. Some of these boards offer optional configurations that go beyond that, but are also available in workable sub-$200 models.

Our list could actually be much longer than 64. Many vendors now have so many board options, it’s difficult to delineate between individual products and optional variations. Boards come and go, are modified, or are renamed and repriced. In some cases, we combine several products or link to other options in our descriptions below. We’ve limited our selection to five per vendor/project, which was difficult with a few vendors such as LinkSprite (pcDuino). Some still-shipping SBCs have dropped off the list due to the arrival of newer models that would appear to clearly eclipse older ones.

As with the May survey, we struggled over how to define an open spec hacker board. In general, we have accepted sub-$200 boards that are offered with extensive specs and schematics, and that support open source Linux or Android distributions. They also must offer at least a glimmer of community and technical support for individual developers, even if there’s no explicit open source licensing for creating derivative hardware.

Defining what constitutes an SBC was also a challenge, especially since many open-spec single board computers are actually sandwich-style assemblies consisting of a replaceable computer-on-module plugged into a baseboard. The increasing modularity of SBCs, including a growing number of expansion options sold in various kits, will make comparisons more difficult as time goes on. In general, however, we have accepted COM+baseboard combos and other kit devices.

The listed prices are the lowest we saw at publication, but the pricing on many of these boards is fairly fluid. Typically, the prices do not include free shipping, or if so, only to certain regions. Sometimes the shipping prices can be considerable, turning a $35 board, for example, into a $50 board.

Be on the lookout for this year’s hacker SBC survey, which will launch in May with lots of new boards — plus hacker SBC prizes for lucky readers.

Here, then, is our January 2016 list of 64 sub-$200 hacker friendly single board computers, in alphabetical order. Note: Convenient comparison tables showing all these boards compared by processor (type, cores, speed), RAM, and pricing may be found here. Enjoy!

 

86Duino / 86Duino One

  • Company/project — DM&P, 86Duino.com
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — DM&P Vortex86EX (1x x86 @ 300MHz)
  • Memory — 128MB RAM
  • Price — $39 (Zero), $69 (One)

DM&P’s 86Duino boards, which have each dropped in price since May, feature Arduino-compatible expansion and a modular COM+baseboard approach. The One model supplies the same RAM, Ethernet, USB, and microSD connections as the Zero, and adds HD audio and more expansion I/O.

 

A10-OlinuXino-Lime

  • Company/project — Olimex, OlinuXino, Mouser
  • Product page
  • Processor — Allwinner A10 (1x Cortex-A8 @ 1GHz); Mali-400 GPU
  • Memory — 512MB DDR3 RAM
  • Price — $33 (30 Euros)

This 84 x 60mm, single-core SBC is almost half the price of the dual-core A20-OlinuXino-Micro. I/O includes microSD, SATA, Ethernet, and HDMI, plus three USB ports and 160 GPIOs. An enclosure is optional. Olimex also sells a similarly open source, 15-Euro RT5350F-OLinuXino board that runs Linux on a 260MHz MIPS core, but it’s really more like a computer-on-module.

 

A20-OlinuXino-Micro

  • Company/project — Olimex, OlinuXino, Mouser
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Allwinner A20 (2x Cortex-A7 @ 1GHz); Mali-400 GPU
  • Memory — 1GB DDR3 RAM; optional 4GB NAND flash with preloaded Android
  • Price — $60 (55 Euros)

This faster, dual-core OlinuXino is 1080p-ready and has all the I/O of the Lime. The A20-OlinuXino-Micro also doubles the RAM and adds VGA, LCD with touch support, and audio I/O. The SBC adds UEXT expansion connectors, with optional modules. A quad-core, Cortex-A7 A33-OLinuXino board is in the works.

 

Andromeda Box Edge

  • Company/project — Marvell
  • Product page
  • Processor — Marvell IAP140 (4x Cortex-A53 cores @ 1.2GHz); Vivante GC7000UL GPU
  • Memory — 1GB LPDDR3 RAM; 8GB eMMC
  • Price — $75

Marvell’s first hacker board is a 96Boards form-factor SBC that runs Google’s lightweight, Android-based Brillo OS on Marvell’s new IAP140 SoC, also called the PXA1908. There’s considerable documentation (except for on the IAP140), and this appears to be an open spec board. The Andromeda Box Edge is listed for $75 by Arrow as the “RD-ANDROMEDA-140-01,” but was not shipping yet, and the Andromeda Box community site was in stealth mode. The SBC uses the same 85 x 54mm 96Board CE design, and provides the form factor’s signature 40- and 60-pin connectors. The SBC supports Google’s Weave networking protocol, as well as the 802.15.4 standard behind ZigBee and Weave’s associated Thread protocol. Other features include WiFi, Bluetooth, four USB ports, an HDMI port, and a microSD slot. An Andromeda Box Connect version for IoT gateways will follow in 2016. It runs on the same Marvell Armada 385 dual-core Cortex A9 SoC that debuted on SolidRun’s ClearFog Pro (see farther below). SolidRun also has a shopping page for the Andromeda Box Edge, suggesting that both boards may be built by SolidRun.

 

Arduino Yún Mini

  • Company/project — Arduino Srl
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Qualcomm Atheros AR9331 (1x MIPS24k @ up to 400MHz)
  • Memory — 64MB DDR2 RAM
  • Price — $60

This update to the original Yún is currently offered only by Arduino Srl (Arduino.org), which broke off from Arduino LLC in early 2015. (We have given up on Arduino LLC’s much delayed Arduino TRE.) Like the original Yún, the Yún Mini runs the OpenWrt based Linino on Qualcomm’s 400MHz AR9331 SoC, and runs Arduino code on an Atmel Atmega32U4 chip. The Yún Mini is smaller (71.1 x 22.9mm), lighter (16 grams) and cheaper than the original, but it’s still pricier than most OpenWrt-on-Atheros boards. The Mini strips out the earlier Ethernet port, USB port, and microSD slot, and instead makes these and other interfaces available via optional “dog” accessories.

 

Arndale Octa

  • Company/project — ArndaleBoard.org, InSignal, Pyrustek
  • Product page
  • Processor — Samsung Exynos 5420 Octa (4x Cortex-A15 @ 1.8GHz and 4x Cortex-A7 @ 1.3GHz); ARM Mali T-628 MP6 GPU
  • Memory — 3GB LPDDR3e RAM
  • Price — $199

ArndaleBoard.org’s Octa board sports Samsung’s Exynos 5420 SoC, and offers generous helpings of display (HDMI, eDP, and MIPI DSI) and USB connections. There’s also MIPI-CSI camera support and an optional wireless module. A new, $239 ArndaleBoard-K with a dual-core version of the Exynos 5420 exceeds our $200 limit.

 

Banana Pi M2

  • Company/project — SinoVoip
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Allwinner A31 (4x Cortex-A7 @ 1GHz); PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU
  • Memory — 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • Price — $58

Just as the original dual-core Banana Pi was a near clone of the Raspberry Pi Model B, SinoVoip’s Banana Pi M2 closely resembles the Model B+, complete with a similar 40-pin expansion connector. Its A31 processor is competitive with that of the RPi 2 Model B. The M2 features GbE, WiFi, five USB ports, and a range of display and camera interfaces. There’s also a new octa-core M3 model (see below). In 2014, the Banana Pi project split between SinoVoip and LeMaker (BananaPi.org) factions, with the latter offering the dual-core Banana Pro (see below).

 

Banana Pi M3

  • Company/project — SinoVoip
  • Product page
  • Processor — Allwinner A83T (8x Cortex-A7 @ 2GHz); PowerVR SGX544MP1 GPU
  • Memory — 2GB LPDDR3 RAM
  • Price — $88

SinoVoip’s latest Banana Pi M3 (BPI-M3) moves up to Allwinner’s octa-core A83T SoC, and offers double the RAM plus 8GB eMMC flash. It’s similar in layout and features to the M2, as well as the Raspberry Pi 2, and offers the same 40-pin connector. Like the M2, the M3 offers GbE, WiFi, and multiple display and camera options. It adds a SATA connection, but subtracts two of the USB ports.

 

Banana Pro

  • Company/project — LeMaker
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Allwinner A20 (2x Cortex-A7 @ 1GHz); Mali-400 MP2 GPU
  • Memory — 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • Price — $48

Compared to the rival Banana Pi M2 from former partner SinoVoip, LeMaker’s own Banana Pi update sticks closer to the original, retaining the dual-core A20 SoC. It expands to a Raspberry Pi Model B+-like 40-pin connector, switches the SD slot to microSD, and adds WiFi and a micro-USB OTG port. Unlike the M2, it provides a SATA connector, but it only has two USB host ports compared to the M2’s four. LeMaker has also launched a self-branded board the LeMaker Guitar (see farther below), as well as a cheaper version of the 64-bit, 96Boards.org HiKey board.

 

BeagleBone Black

  • Company/project — Beagleboard.org
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — TI Sitara AM3358 (1x Cortex-A8 @ 1GHz)
  • Memory — 512MB RAM; 4GB flash
  • Price — $50

The Debian-ready BeagleBone Black Rev C with 4GB of flash came in second in both our 2014 and 2015 surveys, in large part due to the extensive Beagleboard.org community. This industrial-oriented SBC stands out with its numerous expansion interfaces and programmable “PRU” MCUs.

 

BeagleBone Green

  • Company/project — Seeed Studios with BeagleBoard.org
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — TI Sitara AM3358 (1x Cortex-A8 @ 1GHz)
  • Memory — 512MB RAM; 4GB flash
  • Price — $39

This IoT-focused Seeed Studios re-spin of the BeagleBone Black was developed with the blessing of BeagleBoard.org, and is supported by the same robust development community. The BB Green loses the BB Black’s underused micro-HDMI port and 5V barrel jack connector, but costs $11 less and adds expansion connectors for Seeed’s popular Grove sensors. It also replaces the mini-USB connector with a micro-USB port.

 

Chip

  • Company/project — Next Thing Co.
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Allwinner R8 (1x Cortex-A8 @ 1GHz); Mali-400 GPU
  • Memory — 512MB DDR3 RAM; 4GB flash
  • Price — $9

Before the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero, our collective minds were blown away by the $9 Chip. The 60 x 40mm Chip SBC recently shipped to Kickstarter backers who spent $2 million on the project, and you can order the Chip now at the same price with shipments due in June. The Chip runs Debian on an Allwinner R8 with a single, 1GHz Cortex-A8 core. Base features includes WiFi, BT, and USB and AV ports. Add-on boards required to make the Chip a plug-and-play solution include VGA ($19) and HDMI ($24) adapters. The add-ons will ship to backers in May along with a Chip-based PocketChip handheld with a 4.3-inch touchscreen and keyboard.

ClearFog Pro

  • Company/project — SolidRun
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Marvell Armada 38x 88F6810 or 88F6828 (1x or 2x Cortex-A9 @ 1.3GHz or 1.6GHz for both)
  • Memory — 256MB, expandable to 1GB (single-core) or 2GB (dual) DDR3L RAM; optional eMMC or microSD card
  • Price — $170 to $240

The networking and IoT gateway focused ClearFog Pro SBC diverges from SolidRun’s i.MX6 based HummingBoard models by tapping a new Cortex-A9 SoC from Marvell. Like the HummingBoards, it’s an open spec, sandwich-style board with separate wireless, storage, and enclosure options. The Pro is notable for its six switched Gigabit Ethernet ports plus a standard GbE port. A ClearFog Base model that has yet to be priced will be limited to dual standard GbE ports, among other minor differences. Both models let you choose between 38x-MicroSOM A380 or A388 modules with one or two Armada 38x processor cores, respectively. Additional features include M.2, mSATA, USB, dual mini-PCIe, and a GPIO-based MikroBus header for MikroElektronika Click modules. No display ports are provided on this 225 x 100mm (Pro) board, which offers a wide-range power supply.

 

CloudBit

  • Company/project — LittleBits Electronics
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — NXP i.MX233 (1x ARM9 @ 454MHz)
  • Memory — 64MB RAM; 4GB microSD card
  • Price — $60

In 2014, the popular, Arduino-oriented LittleBits maker platform added its first Linux SBC with the ARM9-based CloudBit. The tiny (15 x 10mm) board integrates WiFi, a USB port, and dual “BitSnap” connectors for adding standard LittleBits modules, six of which are provided in a $90 bundle. The Arch Linux based platform connects to a Node.js-oriented cloud platform designed for monitoring IoT gizmos, and supports IFTTT IF-THEN scripting.

 

Creator CI40

  • Company/project — Imagination Technologies
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Imagination cXT200 (2x MIPS InterAptiv cores @ 550MHz)
  • Memory — 256MB DDR3 RAM; 512MB flash
  • Price — $53 to $120 with Click module add-ons

Imagination’s IoT-focused follow-on to the Creator CI20 won’t ship to Kickstarter backers until April, and probably won’t go on sale again until then. While early bird packages started at 35 Pounds ($53), the retail price may be more like 80 Pounds ($120). The CI40 tosses out the CI20’s more powerful Ingenic XBurst chip for a slower, more power efficient MIPS chip that lacks a GPU: the homegrown Imagination cXT200. Other major changes include better wireless support and new MikroBus Click and Raspberry Pi compatible expansion interfaces. A FlowCloud API is available for cloud-based IoT device management. The above prices include two wireless “Clicker” carrier boards and three Click sensor modules.

 

Cubieboard3 (CubieTruck)

  • Company/project — Cubieboard.org, Wang and Tom Development, Ltd.
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Allwinner A20 (2x Cortex-A7 @ 1GHz); Mali-400 GPU
  • Memory — 2GB DDR3 RAM, optional NAND or TSD flash
  • Price — $75 to $86

With the arrival of the Cubieboard4, this third-generation model dropped to $75. (We dropped the aging CubieBoard2 from our list, but it’s still available for $59.) The CubieBoard3 does everything the Cubieboard2 does, and more. The pricier $86 model offers 2GB of RAM, WiFi and Bluetooth, plus GbE, VGA, and SPDIF ports. It has fewer expansion pins (54) and lacks standard flash, but you can choose between dual microSD slots, or a mix of microSD and onboard flash options.

 

Cubieboard4

  • Company/project — Cubieboard.org, Wang and Tom Development, Ltd.
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Allwinner A80 (4x Cortex-A15 @ up to 2GHz, 4x Cortex-A7 cores @ up to 1.3GHz); PowerVR G6230 GPU
  • Memory — 2GB DDR3 RAM, 8GB eMMC, expandable to 64GB
  • Price — $125

The Cubieboard4 runs Android or Linux on an octa-core Allwinner A80 SoC, which is paired with a 64-core PowerVR G6230 GPU. The 111 x 111mm Cubieboard4 offers generous storage expansion, plus VGA and HDMI ports, four USB 2.0 ports, a USB 3.0 port, WiFi, Bluetooth, and gigabit Ethernet. There’s also a 54-pin expansion connector.

 

Domino Pi Basic Kit

  • Company/project — GL Innovations
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Qualcomm Atheros AR9331 (1x MIPS24k @ up to 400MHz)
  • Memory — 64MB DDR2 RAM
  • Price — $24 and up

The modular Domino.IO SBC kit is built around a $10 “Domino Core” module that runs the OpenWrt-based Linino distro on the WiFi-ready Atheros AR9331. You can extend the COM, which supplies 64MB RAM, with one of two minimalist expansion boards. One of them — the Domino Qi Mini — mimics an Arduino Leonardo. The Mini can be further extended with a Domino Qi Baseboard, as well as other smaller I/O modules to make a fully figured SBC. When it launched on Kickstarter, earlier this year, pricing combos started at $37. Pricing details on the website are a bit confusing, but it seems you can start at about $24 for the Domino Pi Basic Kit, and move up from there.

 

DPT-Board

  • Company/project — DPTechnics
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Qualcomm Atheros AR9331 (1x MIPS24k @ up to 400MHz)
  • Memory — 64MB DDR2 RAM
  • Price — $55 ($64 for Plus version)

The DPT-Board is the flagship product from Belgium-based DPTechnics. The sandwich-style SBC integrates a separately available COM with an Atheros AR9331 chip that runs OpenWrt. For 50 Euros, you get a power-sipping IoT board with WiFi, GPIO, and JTAG plus dual 10/100 Ethernet ports and dual USB ports. The board ships with BlueCherry.io IoT connectivity software. DPTechnics has recently added a 58.42-Euro Plus version of the board that adds additional interfaces. There’s also a 99-Euro IoT kit that combines the SBC with a mini-LCD, breadboard, a 9g micro server, and distance, temperature, and proximity/line sensors. The kit also includes jumper wires, resistors, and buttons.

 

DragonBoard 410c

  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Company/project — Qualcomm
  • Product page
  • Processor — Snapdragon 410 (4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.2GHz); Adreno 306 GPU
  • Memory — 1GB LPDDR3 RAM; 8GB eMMC flash
  • Price — $75

Qualcomm’s quad-core DragonBoard 410c joins the HiKey (see farther below) as the first 64-bit ARM hacker SBCs on the market. Both are compliant with Linaro’s 96Boards CE standard. The DragonBoard 410c showcases Qualcomm’s quad-core, Cortex-A53 Snapdragon 410 SoC. At 85 x 54mm, it’s about the same size as the Raspberry Pi, but with a different expansion scheme. The SBC has both 96Boards connectors: 40-pin low-speed and 60-pin high-speed. There’s no Ethernet port, but you get WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, HDMI, microSD, and three USB ports. The SBC supports Android 5.1, Linaro-flavored Ubuntu, and Windows 10.

 

Edison Kit for Arduino

  • Company/project — Intel
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Intel Atom “Tangier” (2x x86 @ 500MHz); Quark coprocessor
  • Memory — 1GB LPDDR3 RAM; 4GB eMMC flash
  • Price — $85

The Intel Edison may be a COM rather than an SBC, but it’s also sold to the maker community as part of a sandwich-style SBC called the Edison Kit for Arduino. Arduino extensions are also found in many of the specialized Edison hacker kits available from third parties like Seeed (Grove) and DSF Robot. Intel’s Edison Kit for Arduino goes for $85 on Eduporium, but more typically costs $100 or more. The 35.5 x 25mm Edison module mounted on the board runs a Yocto Project derived version of Linux on a 22nm Intel Atom. The full Edison Kit for Arduino mash-up offers WiFi, Bluetooth LE, a microSD slot, and dual micro-USB ports. Other I/O includes a 70-pin connector and a breakout for Arduino shields.

 

Firefly FirePrime

  • Company/project — Firefly
  • Product page
  • Processor — Rockchip RK3128 (4x Cortex-A7 @ 1.3GHz); Mali-400 MP2 GPU
  • Memory — 1GB LPDDR2 RAM; 8GB flash
  • Price — $70

The Firefly’s FirePrime is a cheaper alternative to the Firefly-RK3288 (see below), as it dual boots Android and Ubuntu on a slower quad-core -A7 Rockchip, and offers half the RAM and flash. The sandwich-style, COM/baseboard device is sold on Amazon as the “Firefly 1GB RAM.” Standard features on this 117 x 85mm board include GbE, WiFi, Bluetooth, HDMI, MIPI-DSI, MIPI-CSI, SPDIF, analog audio, LVDS, IR, and CVBS. There are four USB host ports, a micro-USB OTG port, and dual 42-pin expansion connectors.

 

Firefly-RK3288

  • Company/project — Firefly
  • Product page
  • Processor — Rockchip RK3288 (4x Cortex-A17 @ 1.8GHz); Mali-T760 GPU
  • Memory — 2GB DDR3 RAM (16GB flash) or for Plus model, 4GB DDR3 RAM (32GB flash)
  • Price — $160 or $260 (Plus)

The Firefly-RK3288 dual boots Ubuntu and Android on a 1.8GHz, quad-core Cortex-A17 SoC. The 118 x 85mm board’s HDMI 2.0 port can output up to [email protected] video at up to 18Gbps, claims Firefly, a spinoff of T-Chip Technology Co. The board offers dual-band 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, a GbE port, and three USB ports. The SBC is further equipped with VGA, LVDS, eDP, MIPI-DSI, MIPI-CSI, SPDIF, serial debug, and IR connections. Additional I/O is available via dual 42-pin connectors. A “Plus” version doubles the RAM and flash.

 

Galileo Gen 2

  • Company/project — Intel
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Intel Quark X1000 (1x Pentium-compatible @ 400MHz)
  • Memory — 256MB DRAM
  • Price — $41

The Linux-ready Galileo Gen 2 can now be found for as low as $41 at Arrow. Intel’s second-generation Galileo offers the same Quark processor, memory, and Arduino compatibility as the original. The minor updates include changing the USB host port from micro-USB to full-sized, updating the PWMs to 12-bit, and making the 12 GPIOs “fully native” for faster performance. There’s also optional 12V PoE (Power-over-Ethernet) support.

 

Gizmo 2

  • Company/project — AMD, GizmoSphere.org, SemiconductorStore.com
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — AMD G-Series GX210HA SoC (2x x86 @ 1GHz); Radeon HD 800 graphics
  • Memory — 1GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • Price — $189

AMD-backed GizmoSphere.org’s Gizmo 2 swaps out the G-Series APU found on the original Gizmo board for a faster G-Series SoC model. The SBC also adds HDMI, microSD, mSATA, and USB 3.0 ports. The Gizmo 2 ships with Timesys Embedded Linux, but supports other Linux distros, as well as Windows and Minoca OS.

 

HiKey

  • Company/project — 96Boards.org (Linaro), CircuitCo, Avnet, Arrow; separate model from LeMaker
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — HiSilicon Kirin 6220 (8x Cortex-A53 @ 1.2GHz); Mali 450-MP4 GPU
  • Memory — 1GB LPDDR3 RAM and 4GB or 8GB eMMC (CircuitCo); 2GB LPDDR3 RAM and 8GB eMMC (LeMaker)
  • Price — $99

The first SBC for the 96Boards open SBC standard from the Linaro-supported 96Boards.org community was built by CircuitCo, and distributed by Avnet and Arrow. Availability was sketchy, however, and at this point it is no longer in stock. Fortunately, there is a cheaper new version from LeMaker (Banana Pro) sold with 8GB flash and an optional 2GB of RAM. The HiKey was the first 64-bit, ARMv8 hacker SBC, featuring a new Kirin 6220 octa-core Cortex-A53 SoC. The SBC adopts the 85 x 54mm 96Boards Consumer Edition form-factor, which is also used by Qualcomm’s DragonBoard 410c, and features a 40-pin low-speed GPIO connector and 60-pin high-speed connector. Real-world ports include HDMI and three USB ports. There’s no Ethernet, but you get WiFi and Bluetooth. The LeMaker version replaces the earlier DisplayPort with MIPI-DSI.

 

HummingBoard-Base/Pro

  • Company/project — SolidRun
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — NXP i.MX6 Solo, DualLite, Dual, or Quad (1x, 2x, 2x, or 4x Cortex-A9 @ up to 1.2GHz); various Vivante 2D/3D GPUs
  • Memory — Solo (512MB), DualLite and Dual (1GB), and Quad (2GB) DDR3 RAM
  • Price — $70 to $130 (Base), $85 to $210 (Pro)

In launching its high-end HummingBoard-Edge SBC this July, SolidRun reorganized its multi-tier HummingBoard product line into HummingBoard-Base and HummingBoard-Pro editions. These sandwich-style boards are the same as the earlier i1 and i2/i2eX models, except each now joins the HummingBoard-Edge in supporting a choice of MicroSOMs based on i.MX6 Solo, DualLite, Dual, and Quad SoCs. The 86 x 55mm boards offer Pi-like ports and layout, as well as a 26-pin connector that is similar to those used on the first-gen Pi models. Both models offer dual USB 2.0 ports, as well as Ethernet, HDMI, MIPI-CSI, and SPDIF audio. The HummingBoard-Pro adds mini-PCIe, LVDS, analog audio, RTC, and IR, as well as two more internal USB headers. Options on both models include microSD slots, a wireless module, a power adapter, and a custom enclosure.

 

HummingBoard-Edge

  • Company/project — SolidRun
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — NXP i.MX6 Solo, DualLite, Dual, or Quad (1x, 2x, 2x, or 4x Cortex-A9 @ up to 1.2GHz); various Vivante 2D/3D GPUs
  • Memory — Solo (512MB), DualLite and Dual (1GB), and Quad (2GB or 4GB) DDR3 RAM
  • Price — $102 to $252

The HummingBoard-Edge is SolidRun’s new top-of-the-line i.MX6 based SBC. Compared to the HummingBoard-Pro, this larger, 102 x 69mm board doubles the USB 2.0 count to four, and adds optional onboard eMMC flash. It has all the other Pro features, and adds an M.2 slot and a SIM slot. Other additions include a larger 36-pin GPIO connector and a wide-range 7-36V power supply. As with the Pro, SolidRun offers numerous options including wireless modules, and in the case of the Quad model, which exceeds our $200 limit in the higher configurations, 4GB of RAM.

 

HummingBoard-Gate

  • Company/project — SolidRun
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — NXP i.MX6 Solo, DualLite, Dual, or Quad (1x, 2x, 2x, or 4x Cortex-A9 @ up to 1.2GHz); various Vivante 2D/3D GPUs
  • Memory — Solo (512MB), DualLite and Dual (1GB), and Quad (2GB or 4GB) DDR3 RAM
  • Price — $70 to $235

As the name suggests, the HummingBoard-Gate is designed primarily for IoT aggregation gateway duty. The SBC lacks HummingBoard-Edge features like LVDS, analog audio, or eMMC or M.2 storage. However, it is otherwise almost identical, with the same 102 x 69mm footprint, wide-range 7-36V power supply, and optional wireless modules and metal enclosure. Its major new offering is a mikroBUS socket that accepts MikroElektronika’s wide range of Click add-on daughterboards. Click modules include I/O, wireless, sensors, transceivers, displays, encoders, pushbuttons, and advanced GPS modules.

 

Inforce 6410Plus

  • Company/project — Inforce Computing
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 (4x “Krait” cores clocked at 1.7GHz); Adreno 320 GPU; QDSP6V4 DSP
  • Memory — 2GB PCDDR3 RAM; 4GB eMMC flash
  • Price — $143

Voted as the most requested board among those we omitted in last May’s survey, the Inforce 6410 is aimed primarily at the commercial market, but has also attracted makers who like the combination of a powerful multimedia SoC and an open platform. The 6410Plus board that arrived in June updates the original, bringing new robotics and IoT focused features like GPS, MIPI-CSI, MIPI-DSI, a beefier 12V power supply, a slimmer, 16mm profile, and a new 34-pin PAC expansion header. The 100 x 70mm Pico-ITX board continues to run Linux or Android on the Snapdragon 600, which combines four Cortex-A15-like, 1.7GHz Krait cores with an Adreno 320 GPU and other coprocessors. Inforce has replaced the LVDS interface with dual MIPI-DSI interfaces that join the pre-existing micro-HDMI port. Other features include GbE, microSD, SATA, WiFi, BT, and three USB ports, including an OTG model.

 

LeMaker Guitar

  • Company/project — LeMaker
  • Product page
  • Processor — Actions S500 (4x Cortex-A9 @ up to 1.6GHz); PowerVR SGX544 GPU
  • Memory — 1GB or 2GB DDR3 RAM; 8GB flash
  • Price — $44.90

LeMaker has followed up its Banana Pro (see farther above) for LeMaker branded Guitar and Piano boards. The Guitar is a sandwich-style, COM-and-baseboard, open-spec SBC. The COM runs Android 5.0 or Linux on a quad-core Actions S500 SoC. The baseboard (Rev.B) offers WiFi, Bluetooth, Ethernet, HDMI, micro-USB 3.0, and dual USB 2.0 host ports. There’s also a MIPI-CSI camera interface and Raspberry Pi 2-compatible 40-pin connector. LeMaker also launched an industrial-focused LeMaker Piano with richer I/O, an i.MX6 Quad SoC, and -40 to 105℃ support, but at $205, it pushes over our $200 limit. The company also launched a version of the 64-bit HiKey SBC (see farther above).

 

LinkIt Smart 7688

  • Company/project — MediaTek Labs, Seeed Studio
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — MediaTek MT7688AN (1x MIPS core @ 580MHz); Atmel ATmega32U4 MPU (Duo only)
  • Memory — 128MB RAM; 32MB flash
    Price — $12.90 or $15.90 (Duo)

MediaTek Labs’ tiny, Seeed-built LinkIt boards run OpenWrt on a 580MHz MIPS SoC, and target IoT endpoints and gateways. The standard, $13 model measures 56 x 26mm, and offers WiFi, microSD, and dual micro-USB ports, and the $16, 61 x 26mm LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo adds an MPU for Arduino support. The boards provide GPIO, I2C, SPI, UART, PWM, and Fast Ethernet interfaces, plus I2S audio on the base model and ADC and SPIS on the Duo. Seeed offers an optional breakout board for the standard LinkIt, and provides three options for the Duo: breakouts for Arduino and Grove sensors, and a more feature-rich Grove Starter Kit. A MediaTek Cloud Sandbox is available for IoT data collection, visualization, and analytics, and there’s also a LinkIt/Grove kit that hooks up to Amazon’s AWS IoT cloud platform.

 

LinkSprite Acadia V3

  • Company/project — LinkSprite Technologies
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — NXP i.MX6 Quad (4x Cortex-A9 @ up to 1.2GHz); Vivante GC355 GPU
  • Memory — 1GB DRAM
    Price — $119

The LinkSprite Acadia runs Ubuntu or Android on an i.MX6 Quad, rather than the Allwinner SoCs typically used on LinkSprite’s pcDuino boards. Compared to the V2 model covered in the LinuxGizmos story linked to above, the V3 loses the onboard eMMC flash but provides both a microSD slot and dual SD slots. Other features include HDMI, LVDS, SATA, audio, and GbE connections, as well as three USB ports, dual cameras interfaces, and an Arduino-compatible expansion header.

 

LinkSprite Arches

  • Company/project — LinkSprite Technologies
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Allwinner A80 (4x Cortex-A15 @ up to 2GHz, 4x Cortex-A7 cores @ up to 1.3GHz); PowerVR G6230 GPU
  • Memory — 2GB DRAM; 8GB flash
  • Price — $99

The LinkSprite Arches was originally unveiled as the pcDuino8 in May 2014, and then arrived in beta form later in the year, before going final in 2015. The Arches runs Linux or Android on an octa-core Allwinner A80, and is quite similar to the A80-based Cubieboard4. The SBC is equipped with microSD, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, and three USB ports (one of them 3.0 OTG), as well as WiFi, Bluetooth, and a CSI camera interface.

 

MarsBoard AM335x

  • Company/project — Haoyu Electronics, MarsBoard.com
  • Product page
  • Processor — TI Sitara AM3358 (1x Cortex-A8 @ 1GHz)
  • Memory — 512MB DDR3 RAM; 4GB eMMC flash
  • Price — $74.90

The latest MarsBoard is a BeagleBone Black clone designed for those looking for a modular, sandwich-style design. The CM-AM335 module is also available separately. The board is almost identically spec’d as the BB Black, right down to the dual 50-pin connectors, although the port layout is different.

 

MarsBoard RK3066

  • Company/project — Haoyu Electronics, MarsBoard.com
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Rockchip RK3066 (2x Cortex-A9 @ 1.6GHz); Mali-400 GPU
  • Memory — 1GB DDR3 RAM; 4GB eMMC flash
  • Price — $58

The MarsBoard RK3066 is a modular, COM+baseboard SBC that runs Linux and Android on the dual-core RK3066. There are five USB ports and a 10/100 Ethernet port, along with HDMI, SPDIF, IR, and camera interfaces. An almost identical PX2 version is designed more for industrial usage, and there’s also a more feature-rich Pro model (see below).

 

MarsBoard RK3066 Pro

  • Company/project — Haoyu Electronics, MarsBoard.com
  • Product page
  • Processor — Rockchip RK3066 (2x Cortex-A9 @ 1.6GHz); Mali-400 GPU
  • Memory — 1GB DDR3 RAM; 4GB eMMC flash
  • Price — $140

The MarsBoard RK3066 Pro has the same RK3066 SoC, memory, and modular, COM+baseboard design as the standard version, and similarly runs Linux and Android. This larger, pricier board adds more I/O, however, including an Arduino interface, a VGA port, a microSD slot, and 1-Wire, SPI, I2C, and UART interfaces. The Pro also offers the previously supplied five USB ports, 10/100 Ethernet, HDMI, LCD, SPDIF, IR, and camera interfaces.

 

MinnowBoard Max Turbot

  • Company/project — Intel, ADI, MinnowBoard.org
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Intel Atom E3826 (2x x86 @ 1.46GHz); Intel HD Graphics
  • Memory — 2GB DDR3L RAM
  • Price — $140

Built by ADI Engineering, with the support of the Intel-backed MinnowBoard.org community, the 3.9 x 2.9-inch MinnowBoard Max Turbot appears to replace the CircuitCo-built MinnowBoard Max, which is no longer in stock. Whereas the Max was available with a single-core (Atom E3815) or dual-core (Atom E3825), the Turbot moves to a slightly faster, dual-core Atom E3826. Otherwise, the Turbot is almost identical, except for a new RTC battery holder and other minor tweaks. As before, the Debian and Android 4.4 ready board includes a low-speed expansion header that provides Arduino-like prototyping I/O, and supports homegrown add-on boards called Lures. Other I/O includes dual USB ports plus gigabit Ethernet, micro-HDMI, and SATA connections.

 

Odroid-C1+

  • Company/project — Hardkernel, Odroid project
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Amlogic S805 (4x Cortex-A5 @ 1.5GHz); Mali-450 GPU
  • Memory — 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • Price — $39

The Odroid-C1+ upgrades the Odroid-C1, which came in fourth place in our 2015 Linux/Android SBC reader survey. For only a few dollars more — a very affordable $39 — the new model converts the HDMI port from micro to full-size, offers the heatsink as standard issue, and adds an I2S audio interface, USB-OTG power, and a CEC function that is independent of RTC. Otherwise it’s the same, with an Android- and Ubuntu-ready quad-core Cortex-A5 SoC, microSD or eMMC storage expansion, a GbE port, and four USB host ports. The 85 x 56mm SBC’s 40-pin connector is said to be compatible with the Raspberry Pi, aside from a few pins dedicated to analog input.

 

Odroid-XU4

  • Company/project — Hardkernel, Odroid project
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Samsung Exynos5422 (4x Cortex-A15 @ 2.0GHz and 4x Cortex-A7 @ 1.4GHz); Mali-T628 MP6 GPU
  • Memory — 2GB LPDDR3 RAM
  • Price — $74

The Odroid-XU4 replaces the Odroid-XU3, which came in sixth place in our hacker board survey, and was recently discontinued along with the earlier Odroid-U3. The XU4 has the same octa-core Exynos5422 and Mali-T628 GPU as the XU3, but costs less than half the price. Along with other enhancements, this more than makes up for the net loss in interfaces. The XU4 moves from 10/100 to 10/100/1000 Ethernet, and adds a 12-pin GPIO header in addition to the previous expansion connector. Hardkernel has removed the DisplayPort, leaving you only with an audio-ready HDMI port. The USB 3.0 OTG port has morphed into a second USB 3.0 host port, and there’s only one USB 2.0 port instead of four. There’s no longer an audio codec or jack, so you’re dependent on HDMI, USB, or I2S for sound. As before, there’s an option for a USB-based SATA 3 module, I/O board, and various wireless options.

 

Orange Pi 2 / Orange Pi Mini 2

  • Company/project — Shenzhen Xunlong Software
  • Product page
  • Processor — Allwinner H3 (4x Cortex-A7 @ 1.6GHz); ARM Mali-400 MP2 GPU
  • Memory — 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • Price — $30 ($25 for Mini)

The Orange Pi 2 and Orange Pi Mini 2, which is identical except for the lack of WiFi, have each dropped in price by $5 since earlier this year. Both boards now have 93 x 60mm form-factors similar to the original Mini, and run Linux and Android on a quad-core Allwinner H3, which is faster than the quad-core Allwinner A31. Both SBCs offer Raspberry Pi compatible 40-pin connectors, as well as microSD, HDMI, CVBS, CSI, and five USB ports. The SATA, LVDS, and VGA connections found on the original Orange Pi have been removed, and the GbE port has been downgraded to 10/100 Ethernet.

 

Orange Pi PC

  • Company/project — Shenzhen Xunlong Software
  • Product page
  • Processor — Allwinner H3 (4x Cortex-A7 @ 1.6GHz); ARM Mali-400 MP2 GPU
  • Memory — 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • Price — $15

If you thought the Orange Pi 2 and Orange Pi Mini 2 look good at $30 and $25, respectively, you may want to try the amazingly cheap, $15 Orange Pi PC. Unless you need four USB host ports instead of three, we see no reason why you would buy the otherwise identical Mini 2, which similarly lacks WiFi. This is especially true if you need a smaller, Raspberry Pi-like footprint, as the PC model has been reduced to 85 x 55mm. Other features include RPi-like 40-pin expansion, plus microSD, HDMI, CVBS, CSI, USB OTG, and 10/100 Ethernet. Best of all, shipments to the U.S. on the Orange Pi boards start at under $4.

 

Orange Pi Plus2

  • Company/project — Shenzhen Xunlong Software
  • Product page
  • Processor — Allwinner H3 (4x Cortex-A7 @ 1.6GHz); PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU
  • Memory — 2GB DDR3 RAM; 8GB eMMC flash
  • Price — $49

Like the Orange Pi 2 and first-gen Orange Pi Plus, the Orange Pi Plus2 runs distributions such as Lubuntu, Raspbian, and Android on a quad-core, 1.6GHz Allwinner H3 SoC with a Mali-400 MP2 GPU. The new Plus2 doubles the RAM to 2GB and has a slightly larger 108 × 67mm footprint compared to the Plus, which now drops in price to $39. Other features appear to be identical, including a Raspberry Pi B+ compatible 40-pin connector, four USB host ports, plus micro-USB, microSD, SATA, HDMI, CVBS, and CSI interfaces. Both WiFi and GbE connections are standard.

 

Parallella

  • Company/project — Adapteva, Parallella.org
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Xilinx Zynq-7020 or -7010 SoC (2x Cortex-A9 @ 667MHz plus FPGA); 16-core Epiphany RISC chip
  • Memory — 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • Price — $99

Aimed at power-efficient server clustering applications and parallel programming research, the Parallella features a Zynq ARM/FPGA SoC running Ubuntu, plus a homegrown 16-core Epiphany coprocessor. I/O includes microSD, gigabit Ethernet, micro-HDMI, and dual USB ports. Four 60-pin connectors provide for Epiphany and FPGA extensions. Adapteva has also rolled out a $75 Micro-Server version with a Zynq-7010 that omits the USB, HDMI, and expansion I/O.

 

pcDuino Lite/Lite WiFi

  • Company/project — LinkSprite Technologies
  • Product page
  • Processor — Allwinner A10 (1x Cortex-A8 @ 1GHz); Mali-400 GPU
  • Memory — 512MB (Lite) or 256MB (Lite WiFi); no flash (Lite) or 2GB flash (Lite WiFi)
  • Price — $29 each

LinkSprite’s Ubuntu- and Android-ready pcDuino Lite and pcDuino Lite WiFi hold down the low end of the pcDuino product line, providing the Cortex-A8 based Allwinner A10 combined with Arduino-style expansion and HDMI ports. The Lite WiFi version replaces the Lite’s Fast Ethernet connection with WiFi. It also has half the RAM at 256MB, but unlike the Lite, it provides 2GB of flash. The WiFi version is also slightly smaller at 100 x 52mm.

 

pcDuino3Nano/Nano Lite

  • Company/project — LinkSprite Technologies
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Allwinner A20 (2x Cortex-A7 @ 1GHz); Mali-400 GPU
  • Memory — 1GB DRAM; 4GB flash (none on Lite)
  • Price — $40 ($35 for Lite)

The 92.2 x 54.1mm pcDuino3Nano offers most of the features of the larger, $49 pcDuino3, including Arduino expansion and Ubuntu and Android support. The Nano lacks the 3’s WiFi, LVDS, and I2S digital audio connections. For $5 less, the pcDuino3Nano Lite omits the standard version’s 4GB flash and IR connection. Standard features on both include microSD, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, MIPI-CSI, audio, and SATA ports, as well as two USB host ports and an OTG port. LinkSprite also continues to sell a larger, A20-based pcDuino 2 board.

 

pcDuino8 Uno

  • Company/project — LinkSprite Technologies
  • Product page
  • Processor — Allwinner H8 (8x Cortex-A7 @ 2GHz); Power VR SG544 GPU
  • Memory — 1GB DRAM
  • Price — $49

The pcDuino 8 Uno touched down this fall with an octa-core Allwinner H8 clocked to 2GHz combined with the usual pcDuino Arduino expansion, all for $49. The 3 5/8 x 2 1/8-inch board provides microSD expansion, a Gigabit Ethernet port, USB host and OTG ports, and HDMI, audio, MIPI-CSI, and IR connections. LinkSprite also offers an Android-only PCDuino 8 STB set-top box version for the same price that ships with slightly different I/O and an enclosure. The PCDuino 8 STB is sibling to a very similar pcDuino4 STB, but with a quad-core Allwinner H3.

 

Pine A64

  • Company/project — Pine64, Inc.
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Allwinner A64 (4x Cortex-A53 cores @ 1.2GHz); ARM Mali400-MP2 GPU
  • Memory — 512MB (standard), 1GB ($19 Plus), 2GB ($29 Plus) DDR3 RAM
  • Price — $15 to $29

The year closed out with perhaps the most amazing of the many SBC price/performance breakthroughs of 2015: a Linux/Android board with a quad-core, 64-bit SoC and Pi compatibility starting at $15. You can pick up a Pine A64 on Kickstarter through Jan. 23, with shipments due in April. The standard, 512MB model ships with a microSD slot, HDMI port, Fast Ethernet port, dual USB 2.0 host ports, and a micro-USB port for power. In addition to the Pi-compatible 40-pin connector there’s a 14-pin Euler connector with additional I/O. The 127 x 79mm board also provides an RTC and -20 to 70°C support. The Plus models, available in 1GB and 2GB configurations, boost the Ethernet to 10/100/1000Mbps, add a touchpanel interface with optional 7-inch touchscreen, and toss in a CSI port with an optional 5-megapixel camera.

 

PixiePro

  • Company/project — Code
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — NXP i.MX6 Quad (4x Cortex-A9 @ up to 1.0GHz); Vivante 2D/3D GPU
  • Memory — 2GB DDR3 RAM
  • Price — $130

The PixiePro runs Arch Linux on an i.MX6 Quad, and offers dual microSD slots and a SATA interface for storage. While most SBCs limit themselves to WiFi and Bluetooth, or no wireless at all, the PixiePro loads up on standard radios like 802.11ac, BT, NFC, 3G, and GPS. Real-world ports include micro-HDMI, TOSLINK audio, micro-USB OTG, and dual USB host ports. A pair of high-density, rear-mounted expansion connectors offer a wide variety of interfaces including GbE, PCIe, MIPI-CSI and -DSI, and various serial and industrial I/O. Other features include accelerometers and a wide 0 to 85°C temperature range.

 

Radxa Rock Pro / Rock Lite

  • Company/project — Radxa
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Rockchip RK3188 (4x Cortex-A9 @ 1.6GHz); Mali-400 GPU
  • Memory — 2GB DDR3 RAM; 8GB NAND flash (1GB/4GB on Radxa Rock Lite)
  • Price — $99 (Pro); $59 (Lite)

The Radxa Rock SBCs run Android or Linux on the quad-core RK3188 SoC. They each measure 100 x 80mm, and offer microSD, WiFi, HDMI, Ethernet, USB, and SPDIF connections. You also get 80 pins of expansion I/O. The Pro version has twice the RAM of the Lite, at 2GB, and adds 8GB NAND flash and Bluetooth. Options for both include a case and antenna.

 

Radxa Rock 2 Square

  • Company/project — Radxa
  • Product page
  • Processor — Rockchip RK3288 (4x Cortex-A17 @ 1.6GHz); Mali-T764 GPU
  • Memory — 2GB DDR3 RAM (4GB on SOM-B model); 16GB eMMC flash (32GB on SOM-B model)
  • Price — $129

Unlike the Rock Pro and Rock Lite, the Rock 2 Square has a modular, sandwich-style design featuring a Rock 2 SOM computer-on-module. The Rock 2 SOM has a faster, quad-core Cortex-A17 RK3288 SoC, as well as up to twice the RAM (2-4GB) and up to four times the flash of the Rock Pro depending on whether you buy the SOM-A or SOM-B. The Square Baseboard supports microSD cards of up to 128GB, as well as SATA HDDs up to 4TB, and offers WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE), GbE, and four USB ports. You also get HDMI 2.0, SPDIF, and analog audio ports, as well as LVDS, eDP, IR, debug, and UART I/O.

 

Raspberry Pi Model A+

  • Company/project — Raspberry Pi Foundation
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Broadcom BCM2835 (1x ARM11 @ 700MHz); Broadcom VideoCore IV GPU
  • Memory — 256MB SDRAM
  • Price — $20

With the Raspberry Pi Model B+ selling for $25, and the Zero at $5-to-$20, there’s a shrinking market for the $20 A+. The 65 x 56mm board, which weighs in at just 23 grams, has an up-to-date 40-pin connector and microSD slot. Ports are similar to those of the B+ except that the A+ has no Ethernet port, and instead of having four USB host ports, it has one.

 

Raspberry Pi Model B+

  • Company/project — Raspberry Pi Foundation
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Broadcom BCM2835 (1x ARM11 @ 700MHz); Broadcom VideoCore IV GPU
  • Memory — 512MB SDRAM
  • Price — $25

The Linux-ready Model B+ now goes for $25, which makes sense considering the much faster Pi 2 goes for the B+’s original $35 price. Compared to the older Model B, the ARM11-based Model B+ has a 40-pin GPIO header, two more USB ports, and a microSD slot. As with the other Pi boards, the real draw here is the huge Pi maker community, add-on market, and ecosystem.

 

Raspberry Pi 2 Model B

  • Company/project — Raspberry Pi Foundation
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Broadcom BCM2836 (4x Cortex-A7 @ 900MHz); Broadcom VideoCore IV GPU
  • Memory — 1GB SDRAM
  • Price — $35

Despite the dramatic splashdown of the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero this fall, the hot-selling Pi 2 that debuted earlier this year was still the most significant new Pi of 2015. The board retains backward compatibility to earlier Pi models, while the quad-core ARMv7 SoC and 1GB of RAM enables the use of more robust Linux OSes like Ubuntu. Aside from the CPU and RAM, the Pi 2 is almost identical to the Model B+, with the same I/O, size (85 x 56mm), weight (45 grams), and 40-pin expansion connector.

 

Raspberry Pi Zero

  • Company/project — Raspberry Pi Foundation
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Broadcom BCM2835 (1x ARM1176JZFS core @ 1GHz) with FPU and VideoCore IV dual-core GPU
  • Memory — 512MB SDRAM
  • Price — $5 and up

The Raspberry Pi Zero shocked the embedded world in November with a ground-breaking $5 price. Even when factoring in $5 to $25 more to add various cables and adapters, it’s a heck of a deal, especially if you can benefit from the compact, 65 x 30mm footprint. The Zero upgrades the same ARM11 processor found on the Pi A+ and B+ to 1GHz speed, yet it seems more like a follow-on to the COM-like, $30 Raspberry Pi Compute Module. The Zero will likely see duty as much in small-run manufacturing as it will for casual home hacking. The tiny SBC ships with a microSD slot, a pair of micro-USB ports, and a mini-HDMI port with audio support, as well as an unpopulated composite video header. Missing are all the USB ports, DSI and CSI ports, and audio jacks found on the Pi 2.

 

Rico Board

  • Company/project — MYIR
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — TI AM437x (1x Cortex-A9 core @ up to 1GHz); PowerVR SGX530 GPU
  • Memory — 512MB DDR3 RAM (alternatively 256MB or 1GB); 4GB eMMC flash; 256MB or 512MB SLC NAND flash (reserved)
  • Price — $99

MYIR’s open-spec, 100 x 65mm Rico Board taps TI’s single-core, Cortex-A9, Sitara AM437x SoC. The SBC integrates HDMI, GbE, and dual USB ports, as well as a 24-bit LCD interface that supports optional 7-inch touchscreens. Also available are Parallel camera interfaces and dual 40-pin expansion connectors with support for CAN and other industrial I/O. Note that MYIR offers numerous other MYD-branded, sandwich-style development boards that are open spec, but aim more at the OEM market, such as the AM437x-based MYD-C437X, the NXP (Freescale) i.MX28x based MYD-IMX28X, and Xilinx Zynq based MYD-C7Z010/20, among others.

 

RioTboard

  • Company/project — Newark Element14, RioTboard.org
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — NXP i.MX6 Solo (1x Cortex-A9 @ up to 1GHz)
  • Memory — 1GB DDR3 RAM; 4GB eMMC flash
  • Price — $79

The RioT (“Revolutionizing the Internet of Things”) board runs Android or Linux on a low-power, single-core Cortex-A9 SoC. The 120 x 75mm SBC offers several advantages over the similar Wandboard Solo, including twice the RAM, built-in flash, and many more USB ports.

 

SAMA5D4 Xplained

  • Company/project — Newark Element14, Atmel
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Atmel SAMA5D4 (1x Cortex-A5 @ 528MHz)
  • Memory — 512MB DDR2 RAM; 512MB NAND flash
  • Price — $93.50

The SAMA5D4 Xplained is a collaboration between Atmel’s Linux4SAM developers site and Newark Element14. The Linux-ready, IoT-focused SBC showcases Atmel’s SAMA5D4, which like the earlier SAMA5D3, is limited to a single Cortex-A5 core. The SAMA5D4 adds NEON, L2 cache, and security features, and several models support 720p video. The 138 x 88mm Xplained board ships with 512MB each of RAM and NAND flash, and offers partial Arduino compatibility. You also get HDMI, Fast Ethernet, and three USB ports.

 

Snickerdoodle

  • Company/project — Krtkl
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Xilinx Zynq-7020 or -7010 SoC (2x Cortex-A9 @ 667MHz plus FPGA); STM32 microcontroller
  • Memory — 512MB or 1GB ($10) DDR3 RAM
  • Price — $62 and up with free US shipping

The Snickerdoodle already earned its funding, but it’s still available for pre-order on Crowd Supply, and is due to ship on Mar. 29. Aimed primarily at drone and robot developers, the 89 x 51mm SBC runs Linux on a Zynq ARM/FPGA SoC. The Snickerdoodle ships standard with a TI Wilink 8 wireless module and 512MB RAM, and offers a microSD slot, a micro-USB port with serial console and storage support, and a 3.7 to 17V supply. The numerous options include homegrown “MicroShield” expansion boards such as a general breakout, an Arduino baseboard, and a $55 PiSmasher baseboard that adds GbE, USB, HDMI, and 68 GPIOs. Pricier options include a $300 Gryphon drone autopilot and a $500 WhiteRhino industrial baseboard.

 

Udoo Neo

  • Company/project — Udoo (Seco supported)
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — NXP i.MX6 SoloX (1x Cortex-A9 @ 1GHz); Cortex-M4 MCU; Vivante GPU
  • Memory — 512MB DDR3L RAM (1GB on Plus version)
  • Price — $49.90 (Basic) $59.90 (Extended), $64.90 (Full)

Like the larger Udoo Quad/Dual SBCs, the IoT-focused, 85 x 59mm Udoo Neo runs Linux or Android on a Cortex-A9-based i.MX6. The Neo, however, is optimized for the single-core i.MX6 SoloX, and uses the SoC’s Cortex-M4 MCU to mimic an Arduino. The specs differ slightly from the Kickstarter package referenced in the LinuxGizmos link above. The Udoo Neo Basic provides Ethernet, microSD, USB host, micro-USB OTG, micro-HDMI, LVDS with touch support, and a Parallel camera interface. There’s also an Arduino connector, GPIO, and interfaces including UART, CAN, PWM, I2C, and SPI. For $10 more, the Neo Extended bumps the RAM to 1GB, adds 3-axis motion sensors, and replaces the Ethernet with a WiFi/Bluetooth module. The Neo Full is identical to the Extended, but offers both Ethernet and wireless connectivity.

 

Udoo Quad/Dual/Dual Basic

  • Company/project — Udoo (Seco supported)
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — NXP i.MX6 Quad or DualLite (4x or 2x Cortex-A9 @ 1GHz with Vivante GPUs); Atmel SAM3X8E ARM Cortex-M3 MCU
  • Memory — 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • Price — $99 (Dual Basic); $115 (Dual); $135 (Quad)

Seco’s Udoo project offers three SKUs for its mainstream Udoo board, all of which measure 110 x 85mm, and are enhanced with a Cortex-M3 based Arduino Due subsystem. The Udoo Dual Basic and Udoo Dual provide the dual-core i.MX6 DualLite while the Quad has the quad-core i.MX6 with a higher-end Vivante GPU. The Dual Basic supplies microSD, HDMI, LVDS with touch, audio, and CSI connections along with dual USB host and dual micro-USB ports, one of which is OTG. There are 76 GPIO pins in addition to the Arduino interface. The Udoo Dual adds WiFi and GbE connections, and the Quad also adds SATA.

 

USB Armory

  • Company/project — Inverse Path
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — NXP i.MX53 (1x Cortex-A8 @ 800MHz)
  • Memory — 512MB DDR3 RAM
  • Price — $130; $155 (with USB host adapter); $185 (with adapter and 32GB microSD with Debian)

This tiny (65 x 19mm), Crowd Supply funded board is designed for secure computing applications. It features Trustzone security, USB emulation, and a secure boot feature that lets users apply verification keys that ensure only trusted firmware can be executed on a specific device. The Linux- and Android-ready board is limited to two real-world ports: a USB 2.0 OTG port and a microSD slot, but you can extend that with a USB host adapter.

 

Wandboard Quad/Dual/Solo

  • Company/project — Wandboard.org
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — NXP i.MX6 Solo, DualLite, or Quad (1x, 2x, or 4x Cortex-A9 @ 1GHz); Vivante GPU
  • Memory — 512MB (Solo) 1GB (Dual), 2GB (Quad) DDR3 RAM
  • Price — $79 (Solo); $99 (Dual); $129 Quad

The aging Wandboard remains popular (#17 in our May survey) thanks in large part to its still lively open board community, which churns out frequent software updates, such as its end-of-year Android Lollipop release. The Wandboard is designed as a modular, sandwich-style, COM+baseboard assembly featuring a replaceable compute module. Features include dual microSD slots, analog and SPDIF audio, plus Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, camera, serial, USB, and USB OTG connections. The Dual lacks the Quad’s SATA connection, and the Solo also foregoes the WiFi and Bluetooth found on the Quad and Dual.

 

Z-turn Board

  • Company/project — MYIR
  • LinuxGizmos coverage
  • Product page
  • Processor — Xilinx Zynq-7010 or -7020 (2x Cortex-A9 cores @ 667MHz, plus FPGA) or optional Zynq-7020
  • Memory — 1GB DDR3 RAM; 512MB NAND flash (reserved)
  • Price — $99 (7010) or $119 (7020)

The Z-turn Board runs Linux on the Xilinx Zynq-7010 or -7020, which combine dual Cortex-A9 cores with FPGA circuitry. The 102 x 63mm SBC features HDMI, GbE, and dual mini-USB ports, as well as a variety of sensors, buzzers, switches, buttons, and LEDs. Dual 80-pin expansion connectors express the FPGA signals, and can be configured as LVDS pairs. A $139 kit version adds a power adapter, cables, and a 4GB data card.
 

 

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PLEASE COMMENT BELOW

14 responses to “Ringing in 2016 with 64 open-spec, hacker friendly SBCs”

  1. lun says:

    I wonder if there is a way to score each one of these for the likelihood for continued availability. I wouldn’t want to base a project I expect other people to build, let alone a commercial product, on something that might just stop being available after a year because the vendor goes under, or comes up with an incompatible new version and quits manufacturing the old one.

  2. John Willis says:

    Huh.. no Particle Core or Photon?

  3. STrRedWolf says:

    Missed the UP! board that was just kickstarted?

  4. Pete Lancashire says:

    Quite the list, very well done. But … putting a lot of specs in table format would be useful.

    Also glad to see SBCs starting to come out with out HDMI. All my projects up to now do
    not live on a desktop, they are all hidden. The few with visual I/O have used LCD touch
    panels.

  5. bernstein says:

    great writeup! Truly insightful for getting an overview of all the hacker sbc’s for the unitiated.

    however there is just one board with PoE support (galileo2)? that can’t be right, can it?! i know the rpi2 (& all the rest) can be modded to support poe but it requires quite a bit of soldering skill : http://raspberrypi.stackexchange.com/a/26126/39125 it looks to me that this has nothing to do with cost or pcb space…

  6. Greg Houlette says:

    An excellent survey of the ever-growing landscape of this Maker-Critical ecosystem.

    The good news: we are ALL winners! Who knows what new ideas will sprout from this fertile ground.

    The major chip manufacturers are coming on-board with Maker Specific product lines now with more joining the fold with every passing year. That alone is Great News for the Maker communities.

    And programming is becoming more available and accessible for the little folks (children) to learn what “Made with Code” really means.

  7. Marcin Juszkiewicz says:

    Next year add also information about mainline status. Some of listed boards only run 3.0/3.4/3.10 Android kernels which blocks them from being used with normal Linux distributions.

    • Jacob Gadikian says:

      Bingo! The most important thing for any of these boards usefulness to any of “us” is the mainline kernel status. If it is not mainlined, it doesn’t matter much at all.

  8. dino y says:

    http://www.lenovator.com/product/91.html

    Here in the official distributor sold LeMaker Guitar at USD44.90/PC

    USD92.00 is shocked me…

  9. Sahuc Guillaume says:

    Hi,

    there are also toradex board : https://www.toradex.com/
    and GHI electronics https://www.ghielectronics.com/

    Happy New Year 🙂

  10. Earl says:

    Wait, what? No mention of Vocore? That seems a bit sloppy as it was a pretty successful Indigogo project.

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