6 SBCs to kick off 2016

The CHIP is set to take the world by storm, and is a very strong competitor to the Pi Zero. Unless your head was in cloud computing for the last year you will know about the CHIP. However, here are some more details.

The CHIP was posted on kickstarter May 2015, and was successfully funded June 2015. “Successfully” is not the right word. Stampede of hackers is more likely. Delivery is expected June this year for pre-orders.

The CHIP is a $9 SBC sporting an ARMv7 based 1GHz Allwinner A13 CPU with 512M RAM and 4G NAND. 2x USB, composite AV, WiFi and BLE are builtin. All that for $9 makes this one of the best embedded devices yet.

With the addition of a VGA or HDMI shield and a keyboard you have an “instant computer”, (according to NextThing Co). Don’t expect it to be such with only 512M RAM. It’s more of a general purpose embedded computer than anything else, however there are people looking at using this as a platform to distribute to 3rd world countries.

There are 80 GPIO pins available for all your hacking needs, (the most of any SBC available), and can be powered from the USB port, LiPo battery or coin cell. Nice.

The hardware is open standard, which can be an issue with boards such as the Zero Pi.

Support for Linux, Android and Windows 10 is quite solid. It has been promised that Linux graphics support is mature, yet it remains to be seen how this works in the real world. Personally I don’t see this being a stumbling block in any way. They simply won’t be used for demanding graphics.

– CPU: 1GHz Allwinner R8.
– RAM: RAM 512M.
– Storage: 4G NAND.
– Video: Composite onboard, HDMI and VGA with shield.
– Voltage: 5v.
– Power: Micro USB, 3.7V LiPo and coin cell.
– Network: 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.
– USB: 1×2.0 1x OTG.
– GPIO: 80.
– OS: Linux, Android and Windows 10.
– Size: 40mm x 60mm.

Pros: Cheap, small, open standards, connectivity, power options, GPIO available.
Cons: The only thing I can think of – even though it can be, it’s not a desktop computer.
Summary: Great for any small project requiring wireless connectivity, low power, low end, quick to market, out of the box battery support – IoT, monitoring, sensors, health.

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