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Let the 1st annual Open SBC Games begin!

Aug 9, 2013  |  Rick Lehrbaum

[Updated Aug. 10] — Scarcely a week after the Intel-backed Minnowboard.org project began shipping its $199 open-hardware single board computer, the AMD-backed GizmoSphere.org project released an unrestricted version of its $189 Gizmo SBC’s schematic and electronics distributor Digi-Key added Wandboard.org’s open, Freescale-based $83-144 boardset to its online catalog.

The moves reflect the current infatuation of embedded developers, makers, and hackers with open hardware and software, ignited over the past few years by the wildly popular Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and BeagleBone SBCs.

In particular, an interesting Google+ debate erupted today between Minnowboard and Gizmo advocates over which community’s project is more open and which group’s SBC is better. The row may have been triggered by an Aug. 6 “Shark Week” blog post on the Gizmo SBC distributor’s website, which began with: “From the deepest open source waters of the world, the AMD G-Series based GizmoSphere Gizmo board has emerged and devoured the Intel Atom based MinnowBoard with ease.”



Gizmo and Minnowboard go SBC y SBC

 

The 4.0 x 4.0-inch $189 Gizmo SBC is based on AMD’s Embedded G-Series APU along with an AMD A55E I/O controller hub. The board’s interface functions include VGA and Display Port video, audio in/out, SATA, USB, GPIO, analog in/out, PCIe, SPI, I2C, and JTAG. It’s supported by a Gizmo Explorer Kit (pictured at the right; click to enlarge), which includes a Linux BSP (board support package), Coreboot, Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean), an expansion I/O board, power supply, and various development tools.




Several views of the AMD-based Gizmo SBC
(click images to enlarge)

 

Among today’s interesting developments was news that the Gizmo project has updated its SBC’s schematic, replacing a previous proprietary attribution to the board’s PCB designer, Guadalajara, Mexico-based Pounce Electronics, with a nonproprietary GizmoSphere.org attribution. The two schematic versions’ attributions appear below.



Gizmo SBC schematic’s previous (left) and latest ownership attribution
(click images to enlarge)

 

Word of the Gizmo SBC’s revised schematic appeared to quell the Google+ controversy somewhat, resulting in one party’s comment of “so… i applaud you for FINALLY releasing them, but you STILL haven’t specified the licenses. just so you know: THIS is what open source is about – competition. the single reason you have made this effort to release the files is Minnow is providing competition….. game is on! hope you can keep up!”

    Update on Aug 10: A post this morning on GizmoSphere.org reads: “We’ve posted what you need to build your own Gizmo board. On our Support page you’ll find the full bill of materials (BOM), the Gerber files for manufacturing the board, and updated schematics. Gizmosphere fully supports the open source community and continues to pioneer the open development movement. You are free to download this information and use it any way you please, with the understanding that the material is supplied ‘AS IS’ with no warranty.”

The Gizmo SBC is currently available from SemiconductorStore.com for $189, including a power supply. However, for just $10 more, developers can get the SBC as part of the Gizmo Development Kit, which adds the Gizmo Explorer expansion board, a Sage SmartProbe, a keypad, cables, and a flash card containing a development toolkit. To find out more about the Gizmo board and it’s community, tune your browser to Gizmosphere.org.
 

Minnowboard now shipping

As mentioned in our recent coverage, the Minnowboard SBC is now shipping for $199 from online retailers Digi-Key, Farnell, Mouser Electronics, and Newark.



Minnowboard SBC top and bottom
(click images to enlarge)

 

The 4.2 x 4.2-inch Minnowboard SBC runs a Yocto-compatible Angstrom Linux build on a 1GHz Intel Atom E640 with 1GB of DDR2 RAM, and provides SATA, gigabit Ethernet, USB, HDMI, and PCI Express interfaces, as well as stackable expansion boards called Lures. The board’s design is based on Intel’s Queens Bay reference platform for the Intel Atom, but was designed and built by CircuitCo with input from Intel and the Yocto Project. CircuitCo also builds the ARM Cortex-A8-based BeagleBone Black, which similarly ships with a Yocto-ready Angstrom build.

More information on the Minnowboard can be found at Minnowboard.org. Trainer, Beacon, and Breakout Lures for expanding the Minnowboard are expected to ship next month.
 

Wandboard goes prime-time on Digi-Key

Electronics distributor Digi-Key today announced that it is has added the Wandboard.org project to its lineup of over 650 suppliers. Created by a group of engineers in their free time and aimed at the development community, the Wandboard is a low power, full-featured, high performance embedded computer subsystem.



Wandboard is actually a two-board sandwich
(click images to enlarge)

 

The Wandboard SBC is actually a two-board sandwich comprised of a compact (95 x 95mm; 3.74 x 3.74-inch) baseboard along with a computer-on-module (COM) containing the computing core, which is based on Freescale’s i.MX6 Cortex-A9 SoC, clocked at 1GHz. The product is offered in single-, dual-, and quad-core versions which include 512MB, 1GB, and 2GB of DDR3 RAM, respectively. All three Wandboard versions include USB, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, and serial ports, as well as microSD expansion, while the dual- and quad-core models add Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity plus a SATA port.

Wandboard’s embedded Linux software stack leverages Yocto-project along with the U-boot bootloader. In recent months, images have been released for XBMC, Ubuntu, ArchLinux, Android 4.2.2 (Jellybean), Debian, and more, according to the project.

More information about the Wandboard is available in LinuxGizmos.com’s prior Wandboard coverage, and at Wandboard.org. The SBC can now be purchased from Digi-Key’s website, in single-core, dual-core, and quad-core versions, for $83, $103, and $144.
 

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PLEASE COMMENT BELOW

2 Responses to “Let the 1st annual Open SBC Games begin!”

  1. x says:

    Did you forget to mention wandboard quad has one sata port (unlike the other wandboards)?
    The wandboard quad (maybe others?) I think also includes FM radio transceiver, but not sure if it is really working already, pending software or what.

    • LinuxGizmos says:

      Thanks for pointing out the omission of the added SATA port on the quad version of the Wandboard; we corrected that in the article. Regarding the FM transceiver, it is provided along with WiFi and Bluetooth by the Broadcom BCM4329 combo wireless controller. It’s not mentioned in the specs, so perhaps it’s not supported by the board design — or maybe a bit of hacking can enable it.

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