So much has happened recently that the Roundup of New Maker Products is split into two. This is all the rest of the stuff. So, go and hide your wallets!
SBCs & other cool stuff
- USB3.1 port for interfacing
- two 170 degree FoV cameras
- 6DOF IMU
- is powered from an Intel Movidius Myriad 2 VPU
- only consumes 1.5W at full throttle
Intel also claims that it provides 6mS latency between movement and reflection, so is fast enough for Augmented Reality applications. This is a tiny unit and at US$199 a pop, is pretty tempting.
This is a chip that contains an ARM Cortex-M4 real-time processor running at 209MHz and either a single or dual ARM Cortex-A7 running at 650MHz. It supports DDR3 RAM running at 533MHz, and Quad-SPI, NAND and SDMMC flash memory interfaces. There's also the usual plethora of interfaces such as GbE, HDMI driven from a 3D GPU, CAN, USB, MIPI-CSI & DSI, USB, as well as some decent security supporting encryption and secure boot.
Along with the release of the SoC, they have also released two evaluation boards.
There's the more expensive board that breaks out pretty much every feature of the SoC with 1GB DDR3 RAM, USB Type-C, an on-board ST-LINK programmer and a whole bunch of other stuff I'm not going to mention. Really, there's everything there.
Or for US$300 less you can pick up this evaluation board which removes a lot of the more expensive items and has only 512MB RAM, but is still quite usable.
The 25.4mm square PCB has 512MB RAM, 2MB NOR flash, 512MB NAND flash and castellated edge connectors breaking out two 100MbE ports, two USB2.0, 8 UARTs, 2 CAN, SDIO, parallel RGB and DSI display outputs, as well as a bunch of GPIOs. Pretty impressive little board that was being shown at Embedded World 2019 this year.
Shame that there's been no update since.
It has 1GB DRAM, 8GB eMMC, SD slot, HDMI out, GbE, USB ports and the typical low and high speed 96boards headers.
But looking at the underside of the board, this seems to be just a baseboard for a module, which is being produced by a company called dh-electronics. It has a very similar lineup to the Kontron module and about the same size, but instead of castellated edge connectors, has a 271 pin LGA underneath. So hand-soldering is out of the question here.
The AI-ML not only has the i.MX SoC, but 2GB RAM, SD slot, HDMI and MIPI out, GbE, WiFi, Bluetooth, SIM slot, USB 3.0, mPCIe and the usual low and high speed 96boards compliant headers.
Then there's the Thor96. [Am I the only one to pick up on some sort of Marvell theme going on here?] This mighty board has 2GB RAM, SD slot… oh blah blah… it has the same specs as the AI-ML, but has an additional Zigbee module. No idea on pricing on either of these.
This module has up to 4G DDR4 RAM, up to 64G eMMC flash, WiFi, Bluetooth and pushes out GbE, PCIe, MIPI-DSI & CSI, SDIO, I2S, UART and a whole bunch of GPIOs onto two 100pin headers, which they don't have a picture of,
And a proper USB3.0 port and DC jack! Nice.
There's the Axon-Pi, which has a very familiar footprint, but breaks out GbE, MIPI-CSI, HDMI, USB and seems to be powered from USB Type-C. It also has 1G DDR4 RAM, 8GB eMMC flash, WiFi, Bluetooth and an i.MX8M based SoM. This SoM has everything I mentioned before contained on it.
This board runs with 1G RAM, 4G eMMC flash and breaks out all the important stuff like, MIPI-DSI & CSI, 100MbE, USB, PCIe, and a swag of UARTs. Nice.
This has an Edge TPU module, running an NXP i.MX 8M SoC, Google Edge ML accelerator for TenserFlow, 1G DDR4 RAM, 8G eMMC, WiFi, Bluetooth and pushes out almost everything else on to a 300 pin connector. The base-board then breaks out SD slot, USB everything, with USB Type-C for power, nice, GbE, HDMI, MIPI-CSI & DSI, audio, and Raspberry Pi header, and I bet it really is fully Pi compatible, but won't really know until I have one in my hot little hands.
If you're in the US you can currently pick these boards up from Mouser - the USB accelerator for US$75 and the Coral for US$150. Bear in mind that these products are restricted and you can only buy within the US.
This SoC lowers the clock rate of the Cortex-A53 cores to 1.5GHz, but uses a faster Cortex-M7 core running at 600MHz. It doesn't have any hardware video CODECs. So, is designed for low power applications. Apart from that everything else is the same.
Well, they've just released a new SBC called the BeagleBone-AI. This is based on a Texas Instruments AM5729 SoC, which is a competitor to Google's AI and Deep Learning technology, and runs a dual-core Cortex-A15, dual-core C66x DSP and quad-core Embedded Vision Engine. The SBC also has 1G RAM, 16G eMMC flash, GbE, USB Type-C for data and power, (thankfully), and the all-familiar BeagleBone headers.
Back in the RockChip camp we have a new SBC from GeniaTech.
This board compliments the lineup of other RockChip based SBCs:
This one sports the Allwinner H6 quad-core Cortex-A53 running at 1.8GHz with 2 or 3G DDR3 RAM, 16MB SPI flash, eMMC socket, SD slot, USB3.0 & USB2.0 ports, WiFi, Bluetooth, GbE and of course HDMI out. Power is via DC jack… nice… and there's no PCIe which is a good thing really. I don't know of anyone getting PCIe going on the Allwinner H6. Oh, there's also a “maybe compatible” GPIO Pi header.
This runs the AllWinner H3 SoC, with 1G DDR3 RAM, 8G eMMC flash, SD slot, USB2.0, HDMI, 100MbE, audio in/out and the low and high speed 96boards compliant headers. Although it seems you can also purchase a cheaper version without these headers. Power is via DC jack and also has soft power and reset buttons.
This is a small SBC running the Allwinner H3 with 512M or 1G RAM, optional 8G eMMC flash, SD slot, 2 USB ports, WiFi with SMA connector, Bluetooth, GbE and 100MbE ports. There's also headers for UART and RTC battery. It comes in a snazzy enclosure providing access to Ethernet, USB, power and external WiFI antenna. As you probably have guessed by now, it's aimed to be used as a gateway router, so FriendlyARM have provided images for OpenWRT.
You can pick up the eMMC version for US$39 and the one without for US$29. So, bang for your buck is pretty good.
Well, they've done just that and this board breaks out 4 6Gb/s SATA ports. They've even produced some benchmarks using iozone against various storage technologies and there's no disappointment there. Of course, you're not going to see the speeds of NVMe, but hey, for that price… I'm not complaining.
When bolted on top of the M4, it looks like a pretty compact and neat unit.
Well, the Banana guys have released another version called the Banana Pi 2 Maker, which is identical to the Zero, except it drops the eMMC module and eMMC flash. It still supports PoE modules and you can still replace the dodgy microUSB power connector with a DC jack.
Apart from that it's the identical.
It's a promising board. It'll will be interesting to see how they handle logic level conversion of the RTD1395 SoC and how it stands up under my testing once I get my hands on one.
This runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon SDA660 which is SoC with 8 core Kyro CPUs running at 2.2GHz, an Adreno 512 GPU, Hexagon 680 DSP for computer vision processing and a Spectra 160 dual camera image signal processors supporting a single 24MP or dual 16MP cameras. There's also 3G DDR4 RAM, 32G eMMC flash, SD slot, USB 3.1, GbE, WiFi, Bluetooth, HDMI, as well as 4K out on USB Type-C. It also has GPS, 9 DOF IMU and GPIO expansion header.
Coming in at US$220, that's also pretty decent bang for your buck.
This runs the Amlogic S922X SoC built on 12nm silicon technology. It has quad-core Cortex-A73 and dual-core Cortex-A53 processors. The A73 cores run at 1.8GHz which HardKernel claim they see no thermal throttling using a stock fanless heatsink.
They also claim 20% faster overall CPU performance, 35% faster RAM speeds when stepping up to DDR4 RAM. So, a bit of a step up and will be really interesting to see this perform under real-world tests.
Apart from that we see the usual lineup - 2 or 4G RAM, 8MB SPI flash, eMMC flash socket, SD slot, 4 USB3.0 ports, HDMI out, as well as composite out, RTC header, PWM fan control if you want it and the usual 40 pin Pi header thingy. Power is via DC jack, thank goodness, and this little baby draws only 1.8W when idle and 5.3W under CPU load.
There's an Android 9 release for the Orange Pi One Plus, which supports Linux kernel 4.9.118. This is a welcome relief for anyone using that SBC as support for it was fairly poor.
There's also an update for the Orange Pi RK3399, with kernel 4.4.103 and an update for the Orange Pi 4G-IoT.
This is all pretty important stuff as the Linux kernel 4.x series is starting to look a little old.
Last month we saw Linux kernel 5.0 being released. This is one really nice update for anyone playing around with SBCs. This merges into mainline official support for a couple of new architectures and filesystems.
SoCs running the big.LITTLE architecture, which is almost all SoCs these days, now has an Energy Aware Scheduling option which allows tasks to wake up on the more energy-efficient CPUs first.
There's also massive changes across all SoCs; AllWinner, Qualcomm, Mediatek, Amlogic, Samsung & RockChip. This last one will be interesting as one of my subs, (Nigel), mentioned I should retry my tests on the Orange Pi RK3399 using kernel 5.0.
There's also new architecture support from NXP, Marvell, Renesas, and C-SKY. So, some really big changes for the ARM world.
As part of the kit you also get a Qualcomm Spectra 280 camera with dual ISP connectors to the main board. So, once again, bang for your buck is good.
The STM32WB runs a Cortex-M4 running at 64MHz and a Cortex-M0+ running at 32MHz. Applications written for this IC will run on the Cortex-M4 with the Cortex-M0+ handling the comms side. You also get 256KB RAM, 1MB flash, but also a quad-SPI interface for more storage.
There's a bucket load of on-board encryption support and you also get 72 GPIOs ranging from USARTs, USB, ADC, SPI, I2C and others with almost all of the GPIOs being 5v tolerant. That's a big bonus for people wanting to use this in mixed logic-level environments.
Power is from 1.71 to 3.6v and has various sleep modes getting this IC down to 13nA in shutdown mode, 600nA in standby mode running the RTC and 2.1uA in halt mode and RTC. That's some pretty serious low power options.
PyCom will soon come out with the PyGate, which is a low-cost 8-channel gateway that can connect to LoRaWAN or PyCom's PyMesh networks. It runs two SX1257 transceivers along with a Semtech SX1308 baseband processor and supports LiPo battery charging via USB or PoE based Ethernet using a daughter-board along with ultra-low power standby modes. Access is via a USB to serial bridge.
Pricing is around 50 euros, which is pretty good for what you're getting.
Now that's a pretty decent bang for your buck as well.
AdaFruit, Seeed, SparkFun, DFRobot, DigiKey
The i.MX RT is another semi from NXP which is a hybrid MCU and SoC. It runs a 600MHz ARM Cortex-M7 processor providing real-time capabilities that you see in MCUs, but also runs a Linux kernel. So you get the best of both worlds.
If you want to play around with these SoCs, it's a cheap way to do it.
Back in Weekly Roundup #61 we saw the Sipeed MAIX running the 800MHz Kendryte K210 SoC. It's an interesting IC with a dual-core RISC-V processor, Field Programmable IO Array, neural network and audio processor supporting 8 mics at 192KHz.
Over at SparkFun they're stepping up their AI game as well with an Edge dev board.
The whole thing is powered from a 1.8 to 3.6v DC supply, or coin cell battery.
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