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Open Linux HummingBoard SBC launches at $45

Jul 1, 2014  |  Eric Brown
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SolidRun has launched three Linux- and Android-ready, open source “HummingBoard” SBCs based on 1GHz Freescale i.MX6 SoCs, with a Pi-like 26-pin I/O connector.

The HummingBoard has changed considerably since it was revealed in April without pricing details. Several features were slashed, and others appear only on the high-end HummingBoard-i2eX, which sells for $100 to $117.



HummingBoard-i2eX
(click image to enlarge)

The HummingBoard-i2eX no longer uses the quad-core version of the i.MX6, as suggested previously. Instead, it drops down to the dual-core i.MX6Dual, which has a more powerful Vivante GC2000 GPU than the GC880 GPU found on i.MX6Solo and i.MX6DualLite, which form the basis for the lower-end HummingBoard-i1 and HummingBoard-i2, respectively. Those models start at $45 and $75, respectively, although you’ll need to add $10 for a power adapter and $7 for a 4GB microSD card.


SolidRun MicroSOM
(click image to enlarge)

The HummingBoard is a essentially a Raspberry Pi-like baseboard combined with SolidRun’s swappable, roughly 30 x 45mm, MicroSOM module. The MicroSOM is equipped with similar i.MX6 processor and memory configurations available in SolidRun’s CuBox-i mini-PCs. This modular boardset approach lets you start with a HummingBoard-i1 and move up to an i2eX by purchasing and snapping in a new module.


HummingBoard-i2eX from side
(click image to enlarge)

Compared to the Allwinner A20-based Banana Pi, a community-backed single board computer, which like the HummingBoard has a 26-pin connector compatible with the Raspberry Pi, the HummingBoard is somewhat less Pi-like, with a more divergent board layout. SolidRun does not claim compatibility with the Pi, as far as we can see. Yet, it’s clearly designed for those who are comfortable with the Pi, but want more processing power and extra features.


Another HummingBoard-i2eX side view
(click image to enlarge)

One of the key preliminary features that didn’t make it to the shipping version is a WiFi/Bluetooth module. A vendor quote mentions wireless as being an option, but it’s not listed anywhere else, so you’ll likely need to use up one of your two USB ports. The gigabit Ethernet port mentioned in April is available only on the HummingBoard-i2eX, while the other two models use Fast Ethernet.


Third HummingBoard-i2eX side view
(click image to enlarge)

RAM counts have decreased from the originally suggested 2GB. You get 512MB for the HummingBoard-i1 and 1GB for the other two models. Note that the block diagram below does suggest there’s an ability to upgrade to 2GB, However, the diagram references a HummingBoard Pro version, as opposed to an i2eX, so we’re not sure if it’s completely up to date.


HummingBoard block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

There’s no longer a MIPI-DSI display port option, and there’s no debug port or an option to swap out a USB port for an eSATA port. Also, a secondary 8-pin expansion connector for FlexCAN I/O appears to have disappeared.

All three HummingBoard models supply dual, powered USB 2.0 ports, plus a micro-USB port for power, and in the case of the i2eX, dual internal USB 2.0 interfaces, also providing power. All three models offer HDMI and MIPI-CSI-2 camera ports, as well as a coax SPDIF digital audio port, but only the HummingBoard-i2eX has an LVDS interface.

The i2eX provides stereo out and mic in ports compared to the other models’ PWM Mono outputs, and only the i2eX has an mSATA interface, which is located on the rear of the board along with the microSD slot. Other features limited to the i2eX include an IR receiver, a Mini-PCIe expansion slot, and an RTC (real-time clock).



HummingBoard-i1 (left) and HummingBoard-i2eX with extra-cost adapter plug and 4GB microSD card
(click images to enlarge)

The HummingBoard is backed up with the same community site already established for the CuBox. The SBC supports a variety of Linux-based open source operating systems, including Android, Ubuntu, Debian, Yocto, Arch and others. According to SolidRun, the HD-ready i.MX6 SoC “is one of the best choices for running media applications such as XBMC.”

Specifications listed for the HummingBoard-i1, -i2, and -i2eX include:

  • Processor (via MicroSOM module) — Freescale i.MX6 Solo, Dual Lite, and Dual (1x or 2x Cortex-A9 cores @ 1GHz); Vivante GC2000 (i2eX) or GC880 GPU (i1, i2)
  • RAM (via MicroSOM module) — 512MB 32-bit (i1) or 1GB 64-bit DDR3 RAM (i2, i2eX) @ 800Mbps (i1, i2) or 1066Mbps
  • Storage — MicroSD slot (UHS-1); mSATA II interface (i2eX only)
  • Networking – 10/100 Ethernet port (i1, i2); gigabit Ethernet port (i2eX)
  • Multimedia I/O:
    • HDMI 1.4 out
    • LVDS interface (i2eX only)
    • MIPI-CSI-2 camera port (2-lane)
    • Coax SPDIF digital audio
    • Analog audio – PWM Mono out (i1, i2); stereo out, mic in (i2eX)
  • Other I/O:
    • Dual USB 2.0 host ports (powered)
    • 2x internal USB 2.0 interfaces (powered) on i2eX only
    • Micro-USB for power (5V/2A)
    • 26-pin GPIO header (8x GPIO, UART, SPI with 2 CS, I2C)
    • Mini-PCIe slot half-length (i2eX only)
  • Other features — LEDs; RTC (i2eX only, battery not included); IR receiver (i2eX only)
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 40°C
  • Operating system — Linux and Android 4.4

“We believe that the HummingBoard will excite both the commercial customers as well as the makers, who will use it to work on innovative IoT projects,” stated SolidRun CTO Rabeeh Khoury.

 
Further information

The HummingBoard is available for pre-order for $45 to $62 (i1), $75 to $92 (i2) or $100 to $117 (i2eX). No ship date was listed. More information may be found at the HummingBoard product page and HummingBoard shopping page.
 

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PLEASE COMMENT BELOW

3 Responses to “Open Linux HummingBoard SBC launches at $45”

  1. Michael says:

    mini computers are a completely new concept for me… can anyone tell me if you can run the tails os on the HummingBoard-i2eX? you can put the os on a usb drive…so it would make sense that you could just boot up to the usb but i don’t know if this could do that….please tell me i would like to know real bad…

  2. jezra says:

    For anyone wondering what makes this device “Open” (as the article title suggests) the device’s product page states that “its open hardware comes with full schematics and layout.”

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