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BeagleBoard-X15 to arrive in time for holiday hacking

Oct 14, 2015 — by Eric Brown 8,334 views

[Updated: Oct. 15] — has provided some new details, including PCIe support, for its dual-core Cortex-A15 BeagleBoard-X15 SBC, which is due by December for $239.

The open-spec BeagleBoard-X15 single-board computer was announced in Nov. 2014, with promises of shipments by February. In August when announced the now-shipping BeagleBone Green, the Texas Instruments aligned community organization said that the X15 would start shipping later that month. has now re-announced the board and opened notification sign-up, with shipments due before the December holidays.

(click image to enlarge)

Although the announcement and product page make no mention of price, the site, where all design materials for this open spec board have now been released, mentions a $239 MSRP. That’s pretty steep when you can pay only $75 for a Qualcomm DragonBoard 410c SBC featuring a Snapdragon 410 SoC with four 1.2GHz 64-bit Cortex-A53 cores, as well as 8GB eMMC, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS.

The delays appear to stem not from or its unnamed manufacturing partner. Rather, the announcement was made in conjunction with TI’s formal release of the previously tipped, and equally delayed dual-core, 1.5GHz Cortex-A15 Sitara AM57x SoC. The BeagleBoard-X15 runs Linux or Android on the AM5728 model. The SBC will also form the basis for TI’s professional Sitara AM57x evaluation module, which also includes a touchscreen.


TI’s new Sitara AM5728 SoC

The complexity of the Sitara AM57x, which is part of the larger AM5x family announced in early 2014, may hint at one reason it has taken so long to reach market. In addition to the dual Cortex-A15 cores, there’s a Power VR SGX544 3D GPU, and the usual quad-core programmable real-time unit (PRU) found in the Cortex-A9-based Sitara AM437x. TI has also added two of its C66x DSPs capable of running OpenCL, as well as dual Cortex-M4 MCUs, which previously said were used for image processing, but are here listed as general-purpose microcontrollers.

BeagleBoard-X15 has lots of cores!
(click image to enlarge)

The AM5738 may not be 64-bit, but there’s plenty to keep an industrial embedded hacker busy here, even if the Power VR GPU itself is largely unhackable. “There is no open source support for the user space components of this GPU from Imagination,” says the page. However, it notes that the GPU’s kernel is open source licensed under GPLv2, and adds that “the FSF has proposed a project to create an open driver.” As for the DSPs, notes that TI offers a free C/C++ compiler.

BeagleBoard X15 details

Not much has changed on the BeagleBoard-X15 since the original announcement. New details include the presence of four 60-pin expansion headers, which are now said to offer PCI-Express expansion in addition to previously tipped interfaces like LCD and SDIO. There is, however, a more detailed spec sheet, shown below.

The BeagleBoard-X15 ships with 2GB DDR3L RAM, 4GB eMMC flash, and both microSD and eSATA expansion slots. You get two gigabit Ethernet ports, while most ARM boards are only now beginning to add their first, but there’s no built-in wireless.

BeagleBoard-X15 top (left) and bottom details
(click images to enlarge)

The BeagleBoard-X15 is further equipped with an HDMI port with audio, as well as dual audio jacks. On the back of the board where the four 60-pin headers are found, you’ll see the USB 3.0 and micro-USB ports. There are also four more USB headers and a JTAG header.

Another look at the BeagleBoard-X15’s top and bottom details
(click images to enlarge)

The 60-pin expansion headers provide a generous 157x GPIO, along with the PRU pins, seven UARTs, and other I/O including a camera input, CAN, and PCIe. The LCD interface here enables dual, simultaneous HDMI and touchscreen displays, says

BeagleBoard-X15’s 4x 60-pin expansion connector signals
(click images to enlarge)

The BeagleBoard-X15 is the first SBC to fully support Android, which will be offered along with Debian and Ubuntu images. The SBC is said to support applications including, robotics, media centers, interactive art, machine vision, home security and industrial automation. also notes that the PRU subsystem “provides the ability to create software-defined peripherals and extreme low-latency response to events such as sensing and responding to wind gusts around a quad-copter.”

The 4.2 x 4.0-inch (107 x 102mm) board is larger than most hacker SBCs these days. It’s even larger than its 3.25 x 3.25-inch BeagleBoard-xM predecessor released in 2010 or the original 3.0 x 3.0 BeagleBoard, which started the Linux hacker board trend back in 2008. The X15 also dwarfs the Cortex-A8-based, 3.4 x 2.1 BeagleBone Black and BeagleBone Green, the community’s much more popular low-end boards.

Specifications listed for the BeagleBoard-X15 include

  • Processor:
    • TI Sitara AM5728 (2x Cortex-A15 cores @ 1.5GHz)
    • Imagination Power VR SGX544 3D GPU (2x cores @ 533MHz)
    • 1x Vivante GC3230 2D BTBLT accelerator
    • 2x Cortex-M4 microcontroller cores @ 212MHz
    • 4x PRU cores for 185x PRU pins
    • 2x 700-MHz C66x DSP cores
  • Memory/storage:
    • 2GB DDR3L (via dual, 32-bit buses) @ 533MHz
    • 4GB eMMC flash (8-bit)
    • MicroSD slot
    • eSATA port (powered 500mA)
  • Display/multimedia:
    • HDMI port at up to 1920 x 1080 @ 60fps with audio
    • LCD and camera interfaces (via expansion connectors)
    • AIC3104 stereo audio in/out
  • Networking — 2x gigabit Ethernet ports
  • USB:
    • 3x USB 3.0 Type A host ports (2x 900mA; 1x 1800mA)
    • Micro-USB 2.0 client port
    • 4x internal USB 2.0 interfaces
  • Expansion — 4x 60-pin dual-row headers:
    • 157x GPIO
    • 7x UART
    • 185x PRU
    • PCIe, SPI, I2C, CAN, LCD, camera I/O
  • Other features — reset and power buttons; RTC with optional battery backup; serial debug header; 20-pin CTI JTAG
  • Power — 12V @ TBD
  • Dimensions — 4.2 x 4.0 in. (107 x 102mm), 12-layer PCB
  • Operating systems — Debian and Ubuntu Linux (kernel 3.19-rc1); Android

Further information

Details and notification registrations are now available for the BeagleBoard-X15, which is expected “for delivery in time for Christmas,” says The planned ship date of the first for 2,000 boards to distributors is Nov. 15. We’re hoping reduce that high MSRP of $239 down to $199, at least for a holiday special. More information may be found at the and BeagleBone-X15 product pages.

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