[Updated Nov 10] — BeagleBoard.org is prepping a “BeagleBoard-X15” SBC that will ship in February with 2GB of RAM, dual GbE ports, eSATA, and TI’s dual-core Sitara AM5728 SoC.
ELinux.org posted a photo and basic specs for the first update to the original BeagleBoard single board computer in four years. The BeagleBoard-X15 will run Linux on a new dual-core, 1.5GHz Cortex-A15 system-on-chip from Texas Instruments called the Sitara AM5728, along with 2GB of DDR3L RAM. The AM5728 is part of an AM5x platform announced last November and detailed a bit more in March of this year (see farther below).
(click image to enlarge)
At 4.2 x 4.0 inches, the BeagleBoard-X15 is larger — not to mention much faster — than the most recent 3.25 x 3.25-inch BeagleBoard-xM from 2010 or the original 3.0 x 3.0 BeagleBoard from 2008. It also dwarfs the newer, 3.4 x 2.1 BeagleBone Black models, which offer a slightly faster Cortex-A8 processor than the BeagleBoards.
The original BeagleBoard pretty much single-handedly started the trend of open-spec Linux SBCs supported by hacking communities. It helped inspire the Raspberry Pi and dozens of other hacker boards. It had appeared that the BeagleBoard line would continue to fade into legacy as BeagleBoard.org focused on the BeagleBone, but the brand has come roaring back to life.
eLinux.org says it is hosting the official wiki for the device, and will offer more details in the coming weeks. The X15 is in beta and will ship from BeagleBoard.org and its hardware partners in late February, says ELinux.
In the meantime, the site links to several other sources offering what it calls “unverified” information on the hacker SBC. These include CNXSoft, which draws on info from a Google+ post from Vladimir Pantelic, as well as a boot code listing for the board posted by Nishanth Menon on Slexy.org. Pantelic in turn links to a Pathwork.Kernel.org page from Menon, and offers more info and links to a technical reference page at TI for its yet to be announced Sitara AM572x SoC.
Summary of BeagleBoard-X15 specs (preliminary)
According to the Pathwork.Kernel.org page, the BeagleBoard-X15 offers the following features, including full HD video at 60 frames per second. As noted, very few of these have been verified by eLinux.org:
- Processor – TI Sitara AM572 (2x Cortex-A15 cores @ 1.5GHz)
- 2GB DDR3L (via dual, 32-bit buses)
- 4GB eMMC flash
- MicroSD slot
- eSATA port
- HDMI port at up to 1920 x 1080 @ 60fps
- LCD interface
- Video-in port
- Networking — 2x gigabit Ethernet ports
- Other I/O — 3x USB 3.0 ports; audio I/O
The BeagleBoard-X15 not only blows past the feature set of the legacy BeagleBoard-xM, but also bests the current, $55 BeagleBone Black Rev C. It offers four times the RAM of the BB Black, but offers the same allotment of flash. The new eSATA port and third USB host port offer more storage expansion capabilities, and there are now two high speed 10/100/1000 LAN ports instead of the single 10/100 Ethernet connection.
BeagleBone Black Rev C
The BeagleBone Black Rev B and C models were notable for adding a micro-HDMI port, but the new BeagleBoard-X15 makes life even easier with a full-sized HDMI port. It also adds an LCD interface instead of depending on expansion headers, as well as a video-in port missing from the other BeagleBoard.org devices.
No doubt the BeagleBoard-X15 will be considerably more expensive by dint of the processor alone, and the power draw will be higher as well. However, considering the size of the BeagleBoard community, second only to that of the much larger Raspberry Pi universe, it would be surprising if the X15 is priced at over $100.
Meanwhile, changes may also be in store for the BeagleBone Black. In response to a comment on his Google+ post, Pantelic confirmed rumors that TI was interested in offering the BeagleBoard community a more expensive processor than the low cost, low-margin Sitara AM3359 Cortex-A8 SoC used on the BB Black. BeagleBoard.org’s manufacturing partners Farnell and Embest will “take over producing the BBB, but since TI is not happy to sell to them a low cost processor, it will run with a certain Broadcom CPU instead,” wrote Pantelic. “Remember, you heard it here first.”
If true, Broadcom would drive the two major open source Linux boards, along with the Raspberry Pi. However, in a comment to this post (see farther below), Jason Kridner, Co-founder and board member of the BeagleBoard.org Foundation, and Open Platforms Technologist/Evangelist at Texas Instruments, unequivocally refutes Pantelic’s statements.
“Vladimir’s comment about TI not supplying low-cost devices is an obvious troll. I know for a fact that Farnell/Embest get perfectly reasonable pricing on the processors and that TI (my daytime employer) has even recently lowered its pricing on the processors for low volumes,” writes Kridner. “BeagleBoard is *not* looking to move to a Broadcom device — they are far more closed and difficult to acquire than the TI devices, which is the clear motivation for Vladimir’s trolling comment.”
TI Sitara AM572x
The TI AM5728 SoC inside the BeagleBoard-X15 is the first of the chipmaker’s Cortex-A15-based AM5x processors. TI’s first Cortex-A15 SoC was the dual-core OMAP5432 as well as the similar, automotive specific Jacinto 6. In September, TI announced a quad-core AM5K2Ex Keystone II SoC aimed at the networking and server markets.
Sitara AM572x block diagram (left) and AM572x in typical environment
(click images to enlarge)
The Sitara AM572x has the same 1.5GHz clock rate as the OMAP5, but adds a redesigned, quad-core PRU subsystem for programming custom, real-time I/O. According to the TI reference manual, the SoC is fabricated using 28nm technology and offers dual DSPs and a variety of multimedia coprocessors.
The AM572x features an Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX544 GPU. The AM3359 found in the BB Black also has a PowerVR GPU, but it’s a PowerVR SGX 530. Some grumbling has already appeared on the BeagleBoard.org forum thread on the X15 board, bemoaning the fact that TI and/or BeagleBoard.org did not opt for a more transparent, hackable GPU.
The Sitara AM572x offer the following core components, says TI:
- 2x ARM Cortex-A15 cores
- 2x C66x DSPs
- Image and video accelerator HD (IVA-HD) subsystem
- 2x Cortex-M4 based image processing units (1x user available)
- Display subsystem (DSS)
- Video processing subsystem (VPE)
- Video Input Capture (VIP) chip
- 3D GPU based on PowerVR SGX544 (dual-core)
- 2D accelerator (BB2D) based on Vivante GC320 core
- 3x PWM subsystems
- 2x dual-core PRU-ICSS cores
- Debug subsystem
According to CNXSoft, before the end of the year TI will also release the single-core cousin to the Sitara AM572x called the AM571x (“J6Eco”). The first two AM571x chips will be the AM5716 and AM5718, says the story.
The BeagleBoard-X15 will ship in February at an undisclosed price. More information will appear in the coming weeks at ELinux.org’s BeagleBoard-X15 page, and more should eventually appear at BeagleBoard.org, where you can follow this forum thread on the subject.