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AMD's Gizmo 2 SBC powers up with G-Series SoC

Nov 10, 2014 — by Eric Brown — 6,540 views
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[Updated Nov 11] — AMD’s unveiled an updated version of its open-spec Gizmo SBC, with a dual-core G-Series SoC plus new HDMI, microSD, mSATA, and USB 3.0 ports.

The Gizmo 2 is the next generation of the the Linux-ready Gizmo single board computer (SBC) released by the AMD-backed community in Aug. 2013. The original Gizmo was criticized for not being as open source as its main community-backed x86 rival: Intel’s Minnowboard. But GizmoSphere soon released full schematics, and followed up a few months later by offering a free, open source SageBIOS Coreboot bootloader, making the Gizmo fully open source.

Gizmo 2, from two angles
(click images to enlarge)

Meanwhile, Intel has followed up the Minnowboard with a faster, Atom E3800 based Minnowboard Max, which at $99, is half the price of the original. GizmoSphere, however added $10 to its price, and is selling the Gizmo 2 for $199.

Gizmo 2 (left) compared to original Gizmo
(click image to enlarge)

Like the Minnowboard Max, the Gizmo 2 adds new features, as well as a faster processor. In this case, AMD replaced the dual-core, 1GHz G-Series G-T40E G APU on the earlier Gizmo with a similar, but somewhat faster GX210HA. This newer “G-Series SoC” model is similarly dual-core and clocked at 1GHz. However, it is a full system-on-chip, complete with built-in controller, and offers other enhancements that improve performance, including integrated Radeon HD 800 series GPU circuitry. As a result of the SoC’s 9W TDP, power consumption is said to be slightly lower than on the Gizmo board, although no details were supplied.

Aside from the more capable processor, the major differences include the addition of an HDMI port, which takes the place of the previous VGA port, as well as new microSD and mSATA connections. There are also several more USB ports, including a pair of USB 3.0 ports.

Gizmo 2 details
(click images to enlarge)

In an interview with LinuxGizmos, Colin Cureton, product and technology manager at GizmoSphere, suggested that AMD and its GizmoSphere partner Farnell Element14 are not trying to compete with the Raspberry Pi’s of the world. Instead, the community is selling to mid-range customers evaluating both low-cost hacker boards and high-end embedded platforms costing hundreds of dollars more.

“The embedded industry is changing a lot with low-cost development boards and Internet of Things devices,” explained Cureton. “We’re hearing from the maker community that they want more horsepower in their SBCs, with more investments in tools and partners. The Gizmo 2 offers significantly higher performance than with many of the existing platforms, especially with graphics and video processing.”

One thing x86 boards like the Gizmo 2 provide that are missing from most ARM-based SBCs is PCI-Express expansion interfaces. You also get a gigabit Ethernet port and a pair of SATA Gen3 interfaces, neither of which are gimmes on ARM boards. The Gizmo 2’s expansion connector offers a variety of interfaces ranging from UARTs to I2C, and there’s also a separate SPI programming interface.

Bottom side of Gizmo 2 (left) and close-up view of top side
(click images to enlarge)

The Gizmo 2 has the same 4.0 x 4.0-inch footprint as the original, and runs on a 12V, 2A universal power supply. Access to all Gizmo 2 hardware design documents, including schematics, bill of materials and Gerber files are available through the GizmoSphere community and Element14.

GizmoSphere touts the board for its wide OS support, as well as its GizmoSphere community site with information on the latest Gizmo projects, forums and updates, and “tips-n-tricks.” The board ships with a microSD card loaded with Timesys Embedded Linux, as well as the Qt UI stack. The Timesys BSP is said to showcase accelerated video and native C/C++ and Python application development.

The Timesys platform also offers access to its LinuxLink development platform. With an extra-cost LinuxLink for Gizmo 2 account, developers have access to how-to documentation, videos, and code snippets aimed at particular devices such as industrial control and automation and digital signage.

The SBC also supports other forms of Linux, and will soon offer a custom Debian build. In addition, it supports Windows Embedded 7 and 8, various RTOSes, and the Minoca OS. Once again, this open source platform ships with the coreboot-based SageBIOS OSP from Sage Electronic Engineering.

Gizmo 2 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

Summary of Gizmo 2 specs

Specifications listed for the Gizmo 2 include:

  • Processor — AMD GX210HA G-Series SoC (2x x86/Jaguar cores @ 1GHz); 85 GFLOPS performance; 300MHz Radeon HD 800 graphics; 1MB L2 cache; 9W TDP
  • Memory/storage:
    • 1GB DDR3-1600 SDRAM
    • MicroSD slot
    • mSATA/mini-PCIe socket
    • 2x SATA Gen3 interfaces
  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • HDMI port with audio I/O
    • DisplayPort and LVDS interfaces
    • 2x USB 3.0 ports
    • 2x USB 2.0 ports
    • 4x USB headers (2.0 and 3.0)
    • SPI programming port
    • JTAG header
  • Expansion:
    • 4x PCIe x1 Gen2
    • 1x PCIe x4 links for GPU
    • Gold finger connectors with USB, GPIO, SPI, I2C, UART, DAC, ADC
  • Power — 12V, 2A universal power supply with international plug adapter; coin cell battery
  • Dimensions — 4.0 x 4.0 inches
  • Operating system — Timesys Embedded Linux and Qt UI pre-loaded on uSD card; supports Linux, Minoca, RTOSes, and Windows Embedded 7 and 8

“With Linux as a popular platform for embedded application development, we’re pleased to partner with GizmoSphere to offer our expertise in the embedded Linux arena,” stated Brian Gildon, vice president of business development at Timesys. “We look forward to helping developers unleash the power of Gizmo 2. Both professionals and makers will appreciate the flexibility of Gizmo 2 and be inspired to develop innovative purpose-built applications.”

Further information

The Gizmo 2 is available in major markets for $199 through Element14 and Symmetry Electronics. The board is available from Farnell Element14 in Europe, Newark Element14 in North America, and Element14 in Asia Pacific for 125 British Pounds or $256.80 Singapore Dollars. More information is available at

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