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Compact, mainline Linux ready “La Frite” SBC starts at $10

Oct 13, 2018 — by Eric Brown — 4501 views

Now on Kickstarter: Libre Computer’s smaller “La Frite” version of its Le Potato SBC offers a quad -A53, HD-only Amlogic S805X, a Raspberry Pi A+ footprint and GPIO connector, and mainline Linux support.

Libre Computer has gone to Kickstarter to successfully launch a smaller, less powerful follow-up to its Le Potato SBC. The 64 x 55mm La Frite is said to be loosely based on the 65 x 56mm Raspberry Pi Model A+. Unlike the very RPi 3 like Le Potato, which is now available publicly under the name Libre Computer Board (AML-S905X-CC), La Frite (AKA AML-S805X-AC) has a different layout and more real-world ports than the A+, although it offers a similar 40-pin expansion header.



La Frite
(click images to enlarge)

The eventually open-spec La Frite, which has already surpassed its $10K Kickstarter goal, starts at just $10 or $15 for models with 512MB or 1GB DDR4, respectively. Fully decked out models with 8GB eMMC, HDMI cable, and a 2.5A power supply with LED and power button go for $30 or $35. Shipments are due in November.


Le Potato

La Frite has a lower-powered, 1.2GHz S805X version of the quad-core, Cortex-A53 Amlogic S900 compared to the 1.5GHz S905X model found on Le Potato. The SoC has the same Mali-450 GPU but is limited to 1080p video encode and decode rather than 4K on Le Potato.

Coastline ports include a low-profile 10/100 “Fast” Ethernet port plus 2x USB 2.0 ports and a micro-USB OTG with power input. The KS page lists an HDMI 1.4 port while the product page says HDMI 2.0. There’s also an IR receiver, but if you want WiFi, you’ll need to use one of the USB ports.



La Frite low-rise Ethernet port (left) and rear view showing USB ports
(click images to enlarge)

The Kickstarter page focuses mostly on software, touting Libre Computer’s extensive and meticulous mainline Linux support. The company has led the effort to support the Amlogic S900 SoC family in mainline.

The mainline approach enables La Frite and Le Potato to support most Linux distributions without having to “backport kernel modules, security patches, stability fixes, and needless-proprietary re-inventions,” says the company. La Frite supports Ubuntu, Debian, LibreELEC, Lakka, RetroPie, Android Oreo, “and many more Linux-based distributions.”

The company collaborates with BayLibre, which recently demonstrated a hardware accelerated codec running on Chromium through the V4L2 Linux subsystem on Amlogic’s S900. As a result: “Soon, Le Potato and La Frite will be able to play H.265, H.264, and VP9 content on upstream Linux with Chromium, an industry first.”

As noted by LinuxGizmos reader “Mats,” who alerted us to La Frite, the SBC is also designed to support Arm’s upcoming EBBR (Embedded Base Boot Requirements) boot specifications for the ARM64 kernel, which specify a subset of UEFI that can be implemented with upstream U-Boot. La Frite includes 128Mb of SPI NOR flash to enable the eventual booting of Linux with EBBR. This should enable “customized booting of upstream Linux from a variety of sources including USB flash drives, USB hard drives, and PXE.” The SBC also provides a U-Boot button.

Specifications listed for La Frite include:

  • Processor — Amlogic S805X (4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.2GHz); 650MHz Mali-450 GPU (pentacore 2G + 3P) with OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 and OpenVG 1.1; Amlogic Video Engine 10 with VP9, H.265, and H.265 1080p60 decode and H.264 1080P30 encode
  • Memory/storage:
    • 512MB or 1GB DDR4 RAM
    • 128Mb SPI NOR
    • eMMC 5x interface with optional 8GB
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet port (low profile)
  • Other I/O:
    • HDMI port with HD output and optional cable
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports
    • Micro-USB OTG port with power input
    • 40-pin low speed header (PWM, I2C, SPI, GPIO)
  • Other features — IR receiver; U-Boot button
  • Power — 5V via micro-USB; optional 2.5A power supply with LED and power button
  • Operating system — Mainline Linux with support for Ubuntu, Debian, LibreELEC, Lakka, RetroPie, Android Oreo, and more

Renegade Elite

In July, Libre Computer went to Indiegogo to pitch the Renegade Elite in partnership with Firefly. This $99 and up follow up to the Rockchip RK3328 powered Renegade features the higher-end Rockchip RK3399 SoC. The board fell short of its $50K target and has missed its September ship date, but the flexibly funded product will indeed ship to backers soon, says Libre Computer. The company also offers an Allwinner based Tritium Raspberry Pi pseudo-clone.

 
Further information

La Frite (AKA AML-S805X-AC) is available on Kickstarter through Nov. 25 starting at $10 or $15 for models with 512MB or 1GB DDR4, respectively, with shipments due the same month. More information may be found on Libre Computer’s La Frite Kickstarter page and La Frite product page.

 

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