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Tiny, Feather-style SBC runs Linux on Cortex-A5 SiP package

Jan 14, 2019 — by Eric Brown 2,514 views

Groboard has unveiled a tiny, Adafruit Feather form-factor “Giant Board” SBC that runs Linux on Microchip’s SiP implementation of its Cortex-A5-based SAMA5D SoC and offers 128MB RAM, micro-USB, microSD and I/O including ADC and PWM.

Groboard has posted specs for a 51 x 23mm SBC based on a Microchip System-In-Package (SiP) module equipped with the chipmaker’s Cortex-A5-based SAMA5D27 SoC. We first saw the ATSAMA5D27C-D1 SiP last February in Microchip’s own, 40 x 38mm SAMA5D27 SOM1 computer-on-module, which is available with a SOM1-EK1 baseboard.

Giant Board alone (left) and connected
(click images to enlarge)

The ATSAMA5D27C-D1 SiP is in the mid-range among four different SAMA5D flavors that range up to 1GB RAM (see chart below). SiPs such as Octavo Systems’ BeagleBone compatible, Sitara AM335x based OSD335x C-SiP, take up less space than designs with separate SoCs and memories, and can significantly reduce development time.

Giant Board pinout and Microchip’s SAMA5D SiP comparison chart
(click images to enlarge)

In this case, the SiP design has enabled Growboard to squeeze a Linux computer onto Adafruit’s typically MCU-oriented Feather format. The stackable Feather form factor, which has been used in products such as Feather nRF52 Bluefruit LE board, enables the Giant Board to be augmented with Adafruit’s FeatherWing add-on boards. Groboard has built the first few Giant Board models by hand, and there is no indication when the Giant Board will be produced in greater numbers.

Preliminary specs include 6x ADC and 4x PWM, both with external triggers, as well as I2C, SPI, and UART. The presence of a microSD slot and micro-USB OTG port barely qualify the COM-like board as an SBC. Like other Feather boards, the Giant Board features 3.7V LiPo battery support.


Preliminary specifications for the Giant Board include:

  • Processor (via SiP) — Microchip SAMA5D2 (1x Cortex-A5 @ 500MHz)
  • Memory (via SiP) — 128MB DDR2 RAM
  • Storage — microSD slot
  • Other I/O
    • Micro-USB port
    • 6x 12-bit ADC with 3.3V reference
    • 4x 16-bit PWM
    • ADC and PWM external triggers
    • I2C, SPI, UART
  • Power — 3.3V pin input; “full” 3.7V LIPO support
  • Operating system — Linux kernel 4.14

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the Giant Board. More information may be found in the announcement on OSH Park and Groboard’s Giant Board product page.


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One response to “Tiny, Feather-style SBC runs Linux on Cortex-A5 SiP package”

  1. chip says:

    Seems an interesting platform for things such as eLuaproject (.net) but I fail to see how useful would be Linux in that limited space. OpenWRT would be another thing, but this module has no networking. I see it more as a “blue pill” on steroids, price will probably determine its success.

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