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Hardware Linux

$39 Arduino Compatible Boardset Runs Linux On New x86 SoC 95

Posted by timothy
from the plenty-of-room-at-the-bottom dept.
DeviceGuru writes "DM&P Group has begun shipping a $39 Arduino compatible boardset and similar mini-PC equipped with a new computer-on-module based on a new 300MHz x86 compatible Vortex86EX system-on-chip. The $39 86Duino Zero boardset mimics an Arduino Leonardo, in terms of both form-factor and I/O expansion. The tiny $49 86Duino Educake mini-PC incorportates the same functionality, but in a 78 x 70 x 29mm enclosure with an integrated I/O expansion breadboard built into its top surface. The mini-PC's front and back provide 2x USB, audio in/out, Ethernet, and COM interfaces, power input, and an SD card slot. The hardware and software source for all the boards, including the computer-on-module, are available for download under open source licenses at the 86Duino.com website."
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$39 Arduino Compatible Boardset Runs Linux On New x86 SoC

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  • Imagine... (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    a Beowolf cluster of those!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Can I run bsd on it?

  • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @02:00PM (#45550285)
    More expensive than a Raspberry PI, with a slower processor.
    Add in the community that has grown up around the Raspberry and I know where my money will be going.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This board has Ethernet, so you should compare it with the $35 Ethernet equipped version of RPI.
        ADC, PWM, CAN, ISA, PCIe are on there too.

      Compared to a "Arduino", this is not too bad.
      The latest "Arduino" is $90 http://blog.wickeddevice.com/?p=494 and still running a 8-bit CPU.

      • by JackDW (904211) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @04:39PM (#45551255) Homepage
        I think it sounds quite good, but international shipping is $35.60, nearly doubling the cost.
        • I love it when companies destroy any chance of being successful by trying to screw you on shipping.

          • That's what international shipping costs. You should see the cost of shipping something from the USA to Canada, 35$ is not unheard of.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by BitZtream (692029)

        The latest "Arduino" is $90 http://blog.wickeddevice.com/?p=494 [wickeddevice.com] and still running a 8-bit CPU.

        The latest Arduino board, the Due can be found here: http://arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoBoardDue [arduino.cc]

        And its ARM based, a 32 bit CPU.

        There is also the older Yun: http://arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoBoardYun [arduino.cc]

        Which has a Atheros AR9331 daughter board as well as an 8bit CPU. It runs Linux out of the box.

        The board you linked to is a clone, not an actual arduino, and there are hundreds of different clones that run all sorts of CPUs right down the the Intel Galileo which is an Atom board (x86)

      • I really don't understand why people don't get this. The Arduino is a micro controller, it's NOT a computer. The RPI is a computer, NOT a micro controller. This new thing they are talking about here is a combination of both. It can not be compared to either. I wasn't aware that you could get a RPI shield for a Arduino but I just checked and apparently you can. So add up the price of all 3, then compare them with this.

        • No, it's not a blazingly fast computer, but both the Arduino and RPi are computers. If you want a built-in graphics chip, no, Arduino doesn't have one of those, but you can still drive simple displays. If you want to listen to sensor wires and turn on LEDs, either one will work, though the Arduino and BeagleBoneBlack have a lot more connector pins than the RPi, but you can do microcontroller jobs with either one. If you want an operating system, yeah, Arduino isn't going to run anything very sophisticate

      • The main problem with Raspberry Pi is that it's an earlier ARM spec; the new Beaglebone Black is ~$45 and has a newer ARM version so you get more choice of operating systems (I've read that RPi can't do Ubuntu, but BBB can, though reviewers differ on whether RPi can also.) On the other hand, the RPi has a more powerful graphics chip, so it can do full 1080p, which the BBB can't (which answers the question of which one I'm going to get to put next to my TV.) BBB has a 1 GHz CPU and a lot more I/O pins th

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Threni (635302)

      Slower than a Raspberry Pi? Wow! There must be a reason for making such a device, but I can't for the life of me imagine what it might be.

      • by Baloroth (2370816) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @02:54PM (#45550547)

        Far more GPIO (the Pi only has 8, which is rather pitiful), compatibility with Ardiuno (so lots of expansion modules readily available), built-in SATA/COM/parallel port support, etc. Not everything is about speed. Also, it's x86, so it's compatible with a totally different set of programs/OSes.

        • [...]Also, it's x86, so it's compatible with a totally different set of programs/OSes.

          I'm sure someone will manage to compile a Debian based distro that can handle x86.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Well not to mention that unless ALL you care about is getting the teeniest tiniest device with X86 you can possibly get this isn't really a good value because for a few bucks more you can get an AMD Bobcat board [amazon.com] which gives you dual cores, an HD6310 GPU capable of 1080P over HDMI and you can use up to 8GB of RAM.

          I'd say if you want a dirt cheap X86 board they can't be beat, you can even use something like OpenELEC [openelec.tv] which has the drivers and XBMC baked in and have a nice media tank/HTPC for less than $200 c

          • by Goaway (82658) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @05:42PM (#45551595) Homepage

            That one doesn't have any GPIOs or micocontroller buses. Completely useless for the kinds of things this board is meant for.

            • That one doesn't have any GPIOs or micocontroller buses. Completely useless for the kinds of things this board is meant for.

              Out of genuine curiosity, I'm honestly deeply unfamiliar with this side of the game, is there a lot of low-power/embedded x86 code out there that continues to drive demand for very anemic 4-to-586s with decent embedded I/O?

              I assume that the crop of 'expensive device connected to ancient computer that runs DOS more or less as a bootloader for a very specific control application' PCs is definitely up for replacement, now that you can put anything up through the mid '90s onto a little solid-state module the

              • by hairyfeet (841228)

                Well friend that is what isn't making a shitting lick of sense when it comes to this either. After all if all they care about is microcontrollers? the ARM systems are a LOT, we are talking several orders of magnitude better supported here and if its for some legacy crap program? Well DOSBox runs just fine on ARM and would probably run better than on a CPU that was out of date a dozen years ago.

                Hell these don't even have ISA board support which is the only place I've ran into a need for ancient computing s

                • Lack of ISA could be an issue for certain specialty applications that they'd otherwise be suitable for; but I suspect that they aren't to worried about DOSbox(barring pretty significant modifications to your usual setup)

                  I've thankfully not had too much of the pleasure of dealing with them; but x86s running DOS and a suitable control program had a period of popularity as a (comparatively) cheap CNC machine drive/controller mechanism. Typically using the OS as little more than a bootloader, making dubiousl
                  • by hairyfeet (841228)

                    Well I've had to work on some of those "poor man's RTOS" and they all required ISA as they were being used to drive CNCs and other automation through specialized ISA boards. There is a lumber company that right now is using my very first gaming PC (a 100MHz Pentium I with 32Mb and a 2Gb HDD) as a lathe controller using ISA and the reason why they paid out the behind to have me throw them my old gear (this was in 06) was the simple facts that 1.- The company that built the lathe went out of business over a

                • by Anonymous Coward

                  VMs are 100% useless for embedded applications. The V in VM totally destroys all assumptions about timing. The advantage of these boards over AMD Bobcat, Atom, etc, is that they are based on 486 and so have a shorter pipeline, therefore, for timing critical interrupt driven processing, they are actually faster than an Atom. Of course an ARM M4 has even better critical path timing characteristics, but there is no standard OS for Cortex Mwhatever, and certainly nothing you can login to remotely like BSD or DO

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                Out of genuine curiosity, I'm honestly deeply unfamiliar with this side of the game, is there a lot of low-power/embedded x86 code out there that continues to drive demand for very anemic 4-to-586s with decent embedded I/O?

                There's a metric shitload of x86 PCs out there from XTs up to usually about 386s running all kinds of industrial automation from flood control valves to milling machines. If you can reuse the existing code with just some tweaks to the driver section, then you win. And indeed, since this thing will run DOS (and pretty much all those old embedded PCs are too) it's a perfect fit. Some of those programs are so old they were written in x86 ASM to begin with, so a port is not practical.

        • Get a BeagleBone Black. Tons of GPIO along with ADCs and PWM channels. Of course all the usual SPI and 1Wire stuff as well.

      • by amorsen (7485)

        It has useful I/O, i.e. actual ethernet and SATA and non-broken USB.

        • by Anomalyst (742352)
          le'ts not forget the PI's inability to boot from/use many class10 SD cards (i,e, those that dont obey the magic "degraded access" command.)
        • The important question is: does it do analog input? That's the biggest limitation on the RPi IMHO. Adding a cheap AC current sensor for home automation monitoring would be a lot simpler if the RPi had analog inputs.
          • by Anonymous Coward

            Yes, 6 pins at 11 bits precision.

      • by thegarbz (1787294)

        Maybe not everything is designed to run a full blown Linux desktop at 1080p?

        Seriously the RPi is lightning fast. I'm running a bunch of 8MHz processors for my most common work.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          The RPi is lightning fast, but its I/O is shit. And therein lies the biggest problem with the Pi. You can calculate very quickly, but unless the data you want can easily be represented via the HDMI port, you can't trust that you'll be able to use the data quickly. Which is why the best thing you can do with the Pi is build a media player, for example, with internal Ambilight clone. There's better options for pretty much any other purpose now.

          • by thegarbz (1787294)

            Fully agree, though there's one other use case for the RPi which is any system requiring a full network stack. The most appealing uses of RPis I've seen are media players (like mine running Raspbmc), emulators for old games, or some network applications like an auto Tor re-router, or proxy server or something like that (though not NAS thanks to it's lack of SATA.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              Fully agree, though there's one other use case for the RPi which is any system requiring a full network stack.

              I'll let you have that with the provision that you're using the SD card for storage, and you're not trying to max out the network interface... Otherwise you want a cubieboard or a pogoplug. I cannot understand why the community has not embraced the pogoplug more, you can run arch on debian on 'em and the newer ones have USB3 and GigE. For those cases where you don't need SATA... This little x86 machine at least has SATA, so you could use it for a low-end filer I guess.

              • by thegarbz (1787294)

                Do you really have to ask that question? The cheapest place I've found the Pogoplug is ebay and still double the cost of the RPi. The same can be said for the Beagleboard or any number of devices which are better speced and yet can't be had for $25.

                The reason people don't embrace it is the same reason we're having this discussion, not everyone needs a premium priced ultra speced out box to do basic tasks. Also your provision is indeed a good one, but then again there's very few applications other than a NAS

              • RPi and BeagleBoneBlack have HDMI video built in (though BBB won't do 1080p and RPi will, because the graphics chip is heftier even though the CPU's a bit slower.) None of the Pogoplugs I've seen have video; they're headless only.

                But yeah, if this x86 thing has SATA, that does make some extra applications possible.

    • I know where my money will be going.

      To the BeagleBone Black, of course.

      No? The pcDuino, then? No? Cubieboard? El cheapo chinese tablet with an I/O expander? Don't leave us hanging!

    • by tom229 (1640685)
      The Pi is ARM based. This is x86, and Arduino compatible.
    • Add in the community that has grown up around the Raspberry and I know where my money will be going.

      The Arduino community is huge and extremely productive/creative.

    • I've never really understood the charm of ultra-weak x86 embedded boards (if 'embedded' actually means 'desktop or greater power', x86 is an obvious choice, and there are certain chunks of legacy code, probably still happily twiddling things in DOS that could now be replaced with much more reliable embedded board the size of a postage stamp, if that board is x86); but if you are writing something new, or doing low-level work with peripherals, anything that isn't a nigh-perfect clone of a common wintel is go
      • by idunham (2852899)

        x86 has more OSs available.
        The vendor supports DOS, Linux, and purportedly WIndows. From what I understand, "Windows" would be "XP or older", since a Vortex86EX appears to be 586-level or so.
        Coincidentally, that's the same ISA as Galileo.

        It's an option if you have some 16-bit code that you need to keep going...which is especially likely on any sort of continuation of an older hardware project.

        The other aspect is that you can compile on your PC without setting up a cross-compiling environment. On the one han

  • and a shitty one at that, though not 39$ I have a 800Mhz vortex86 board with ISA, pci, 8 serial ports, printer port, IDE port, floppy port, 4 USB, 32 5 volt GPIO, network, and uses laptop DDR ram.

    That thing is so old every major part on it has been obsoleted to the point of just about impossible to find, so A whats so impressive about yet another PC on a board, and B) why is it so fucking slow?

    • by makomk (752139)

      Probably still better than Intel's Galileo board, which doesn't even have proper native GPIOs (they all go through a slow I2C I/O expander), is more expensive, and has worse power usage.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        Plus the Intel may be assumed to have an NSA mod.

      • by tlhIngan (30335) <[ten.frow] [ta] [todhsals]> on Thursday November 28, 2013 @03:54PM (#45550941)

        Probably still better than Intel's Galileo board, which doesn't even have proper native GPIOs (they all go through a slow I2C I/O expander), is more expensive, and has worse power usage.

        Compatibility is worse on this board though - it's a 486 core. Most modern Linux is compiled for i586 (Pentium) ISA, so you can't even run a stock Linux distribution (even the "i386" distros usually assume Pentium and up). You'll need to basically recompile everything for i486 instruction set to get it to work.

        Last time I dealt with this, Puppy Linux was all that could run by default on it (I think it compiled everything i386 - though Linux needs 486 or better). Everything it didn't come with had to be recompiled from source as practically all binaries available were i586.

        Though it can probably run Windows - I think XP should run just fine on it.

        And yes, I've tried running i586 binaries on boards with the Vortex processor on them. You usually get a segfault or illegal instruction error sooner or later.

        • by amorsen (7485)

          That is a real problem. The Raspberry is annoying in the same way, you have to recompile everything because it uses such an old ARM standard. Come on people, it really should be possible to be Pentium Pro compatible at this point.

          • by Anomalyst (742352)
            Arch linux ARM image on an SD card boots/runs without a problem. Repos seem to cover everything I wanted to do, no compilation on my part needed. kernel is at 3.10, not the absolute latest, but plenty recent.
          • by rubycodez (864176)

            not a problem at all, forget that bloated penguin and get the beastie or blowfish on there.

        • by JackDW (904211)

          That matches my experience with a similar Vortex x86 CPU. It was 486-compatible, but Pentium-specific instructions such as RDTSC were illegal. I had to compile a custom kernel, and make sure that all the userspace libaries and programs were 486. But this was no big deal. You always have to do things like that for embedded development, and it's usually a lot more hassle for an ARM-based platform because of the higher degree of variation.

          I'd also expect it to run older versions of Windows, though XP may be a

        • As always, Debian will run on it [debian.org]

        • Probably still better than Intel's Galileo board, which doesn't even have proper native GPIOs (they all go through a slow I2C I/O expander), is more expensive, and has worse power usage.

          Compatibility is worse on this board though - it's a 486 core. Most modern Linux is compiled for i586 (Pentium) ISA, so you can't even run a stock Linux distribution (even the "i386" distros usually assume Pentium and up). You'll need to basically recompile everything for i486 instruction set to get it to work.

          Last time I dealt with this, Puppy Linux was all that could run by default on it (I think it compiled everything i386 - though Linux needs 486 or better). Everything it didn't come with had to be recompiled from source as practically all binaries available were i586.

          Though it can probably run Windows - I think XP should run just fine on it.

          And yes, I've tried running i586 binaries on boards with the Vortex processor on them. You usually get a segfault or illegal instruction error sooner or later.

          Windows 2000 is the last version you can get to run on a 486. XP requires Pentium/586 or higher, Vista requires some certain level of ACPI, and Windows 8 requires PAE, NX, and SSE2.

          • by yuhong (1378501)

            On a true 486 yes. All that XP requires to run however is the CMPXCHG8B instruction which Vortex86 implemented probably years ago.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I can't think of any need I have that would need a small computer that I'd have to interface and program. We are surrounded by an ocean of already existing solutions for anything at all, what's the appeal here? You want to program? Go get Python. The last thing I was interested in technically were I built my own things was audio, but this was years ago. Now all I have is a power amp, two speakers and a PC. No one needs switching between two VCRs, a reel to reel, a cassette deck, a record player, an equalize
    • I can think of dozens of tasks being done by thousand dollar PLCs that could be done by this thing instead. I can think of many other instances where industrial automation was foregone due to the price that could be affordably done with this sort of thing. It's especially nice to be able to solve problems without getting locked in to some manufacturer's proprietary gravy train.
      • There are ARM and MIPS boards that are even cheaper, and if you're doing it from scratch they're not much more work since you'd need to rebuild everything for this board anyway (it's not 586-compatible).

        • I don't disagree. "These things" came across to me as a little less processor specific in the comment above.
        • by idunham (2852899)

          Would you mind pointing out or naming one of the MIPS boards?
          Not that I doubt you, but I've been looking for them for a couple years and have yet to find anything MIPS in that price range, except a few routers.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        If they're using a PLC, there's a reason for it. Can you make a system that's reliable 24/7 for years on end in an industrial environment of heat, vibration, noise and dust? There's nothing more proprietary than a hacker's single solution and that guy doesn't work there anymore.
  • I think we just found a new board to control 3D printers. I keep saying that we need to keep the processor, the stepper drivers, the heated board controller and the LCD+controls on distinct boards and this is exactly why.
  • What CPU is it equivalent to? Any chance of running older MAME versions on this? Could it run Pac-Man and Dig-Dug? Or even games such as Rygar or Black Tiger?
    • I'd be surprised. A 300MHz CPU with no FPU, implementing a slightly pre-Pentium Pro set of instructions, is not a fast device. And emulation can be fairly demanding, even emulation of quite old systems. Actual bencharks seem to be a bit thin on the ground, though.
  • First, the educake is actually a complete solution with a breadboard on. That's great no matter what the architecture is.

    Second, the platform plays to the strengths of educators. Namely, there's already DOS ASM instructors just sitting around waiting to instruct.

    Third, the platform will be useful for replacement of existing embedded systems which also have x86 processors. A little fringey, but a lot of those embedded systems are just a DOS system with a GPIO board (basically) to begin with.

  • I would buy one if it came with Vortex86MX even if its pricier. It would be a competitor to the BeagleBoard but with hopefully more open VGA.
  • I wonder, since the zero has a pcie board connector, if this could be used as some sort of lights out module on the cheap.

    James

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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