Olinuxino 1.2 GHz single board computer

in ARM, dev boards by DP | 34 comments

Development board maker Olimex is brewing up a single board computer, the Olinuxino. The latest revision uses an 1 GHz ARM Cortex A8 based Allwinner A13 SoC, which by the way, comes in a very reasonable 176pin TQFP package. For reals. The new board will feature:

  • A13 Cortex A8 processor at 1000Mhz, 3D Mali400
  • 512 MB RAM
  • USB High Speed Host
  • USB OTG
  • SD-card connector for booting the Linux image
  • VGA video output
  • Video Camera interface
  • Stereo Audio Input
  • Stereo Headphones Audio Output
  • UEXT connector for connection of different peripherial modules
  • Optional low cost WiFi module
  • Optional low cost 7″ LCD with touchscreen

Via the forum. Thanks nabilt.

This entry was posted in ARM, dev boards and tagged , , .

Comments

  1. rik says:

    Wow, nice, something to keep in mind.

  2. mark says:

    Looks like this could be an option for people interested in Raspberry Pi
    Too bad they are doing VGA instead of HDMI

  3. Chuckt says:

    I mentioned about two years ago that VGA has five years to live so you might want to buy additional VGA monitors accordingly because we probably have three years left. They will be replacing VGA with other monitors as VGA will become obsolete.

    http://www.technewsworld.com/story/VGA-Given-5-Years-to-Live-71420.html

  4. Joe Desbonnet says:

    I’m impressed by Olimex. A small Bulgarian company. Their stuff is top-notch, but they really should update their website.

  5. Drone says:

    “Too bad they are doing VGA instead of HDMI”

    I live in S.E. Asia. HDMI is NOWHERE to be found (except on very high-end flat panel TV’s). I think it will be that way for quite a while. When an LCD computer monitor costs less than $100 USD including (heavy) taxation, the high cost of HDMI is out of the question. Also, consumers do not want to fight with the DRM associated with HDMI/HDCP which is being shoved down our throats. Because the movie and television content industries refuse to sell their products globally at affordable prices (stupidity that costs them zillions of dollars), DRM is simply circumvented all together out here.

    If you go to any country in the third world and try to provide desktop computer access to school children (for example), your only option (aside from analog television) is going to be VGA monitors. A monitor with HDMI will be nowhere in sight – and it’s going to stay that way for quite awhile.

    Not having VGA is a serious mistake on the part of Raspberry Pi.

    I’m watching this Olimex development closely; they seem to get it as far as the hardware spec. is concerned. Unfortunately without the viral following Raspberry Pi has, Board Support Packages and customized OS’s are going to be slow going for the comparatively small Olimex project.

    • angus young says:

      Interesting, I never knew that about the prohibitive cost of HDMI in S.E. Asia.

    • dieter says:

      i would prefer too VGA, instead of hdmi. very handsome to re-use old lcd-s as display for home “intelligent projects” without extra expencies. low buget and low power computer + old lcd = perfect system.

      for hdmi users there are I7 compueters and awesome huge asortment of HDMI LED LCD-s – so please have your HDMI fun with those!

      just i hope, olimex prices, dont not kill a fun :)

    • ericwertz says:

      I’ll admit that I don’t fully appreciate the reasoning behind the HDMI choice either. I already went out to get a converter cable from HDMI so that I could use my rPi when it finally gets here. I doubt that I’ll have an HDMI-capable display for years.

      • Tony says:

        Could you possibly post a link to the convertor you bought?

      • ericwertz says:

        Since I don’t have my rPi yet I don’t know how well this works, but for US$6 I picked this one up. There was a cheaper one, but the reviews weren’t good so I forked-out the extra $1. Ideally this will convert to DVI.

        http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004S4R5CK/ref=pe_175190_21431760_cs_sce_dp_2

      • Drone says:

        I do not thing a cheap HDMI to DVI adapter or cable will work. HDMI is all digital, DVI has both digital and analog. VGA is analog. There are cheap HDMI to VGA cables and adapters available. But they will not work with true VGA (15 pin) as they do not do digital to analog conversion, a true HDMI to VGA adapter requires digital to analog conversion AFAIK – and are therefore MUCH more expensive.

        The NVidia video card on one of my PC’s has a DVI connector (only) and came with an analog DVI/VGA adapter. That adapter is passive DVI analog to VGA analog only.

        Some high end monitors and TV’s that have a 15-pin D-type connectors may accept digital inputs (user setup menu option). I think these HDMI/VGA cables may work with these devices. But not with your standard VGA monitor.

        Here is a cheap HDMI to VGA adapter cable I found on Amazon that will NOT work with standard analog VGA monitors (read the comments):

        http://www.amazon.com/HDMI-VGA-HD15-Male-Cable/dp/B001OLCHJ6

        Even if you can convert the Raspberry Pi’s HDMI to VGA through some sort of digital to analog adapter, then there may be issues with HDCP (DRM) on HDMI (and even digital DVI). See here:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDCP

        Also, I suspect the Board Support Package (BSP) and/or drivers for the Broadcom chip on the Rpi may be hobbled with HDCP DRM, the Broadcom SoC is after-all designed for use in the likes of set-top boxes where HDCP is required these days (especially in the U.S. & EU?) to connect with the like of modern flat-panel displays.

        I need to slog through the Raspberry Pi forum to see if there are new developments regarding VGA support. But awhile back (pre beta hardware release) I didn’t see any.

        I welcome any clarifications to my assumptions here…

      • Drone says:

        I just looked at the current Raspberry Pi FAQ:

        http://www.raspberrypi.org/faqs

        Quoting…

        GRAPHICS

        What display can I use?

        There is composite and HDMI out on the board, so you can hook it up to an old analogue TV, to a digital TV or to a DVI monitor (using a cheap adapter for the DVI). There is no VGA support, but adaptors are available, although these are relatively expensive.

        Why is there no VGA support?

        The chip specifically supports HDMI. VGA is considered to be an end-of-life technology, so supporting it doesn’t fit with our plans at the moment.

        End Quote…

        As I’ve stated previously in this thread. I DO NOT consider VGA to be EoL! This is a big mistake on the part of the Raspberry Pi team IMO; especially since they are targeting low-cost programming platforms in schools around the world (I speak from experience, I live and work in S.E. Asia).

        I did an Amazon search for a digital HDMI to analog VGA converter and quickly picked one (by cost and number of user reviews only). See here ($37 USD):

        http://www.amazon.com/Audio-Converter-Support-1080P-Output/dp/B0057UNQ18/ref=pd_sim_e_3

        I have no idea how a Chinese HDMI => VGA+Audio box like this will play in reality. It was just a quick selection as an example.

        Olimex is IMO on the right path by supporting VGA out. But time will tell. As I stated previously, whatever Olimex releases is going to need a lot of work to get a running Unix-like OS working with full board support and drivers.

      • ericwertz says:

        I don’t know squat about conversion between consumer video standards. All I know is that I’m not an owner or near-future owner of anything that’s HDMI, and that composite is probably too low-res to be useable for anything but watching video content (which is of little use to me). VGA and DVI are definitely my sweet spot.

        The sad thing appears to be that there’s no a single video standard that you can bring out a product like the rPi that works for a majority of people. I definitely don’t see spending $190 for a low-end HDMI TV just so I can use a $35 rPi.

        Sounds like I may be booting on composite and using it entirely over the network with something like VNC. If it doesn’t readily get out to VGA or DVI, I’ll essentially be using it headless I guess.

    • Deepak says:

      I so totally agree with you Drone. I too find the HDMI in RPi prohibitive, it just increases the cost of the setup.

  6. asdf says:

    Olimex spent so much time crowing about the Raspberry Pi and about how terrible it was that there wasn’t public documentation about the Broadcom SoC and binary blob drivers and now they’ve gone and done the same damn thing. Utterly distasteful.

    • Trygve Laugstøl says:

      Done the same exactly? The Olimex board has open schematics, a mailing list for developers and it running Freescale’s LTIB Linux where everything is open source. All chips used have open data sheets. No binary blobs required.

  7. Charlie Brown says:

    I think Seeed Studio must take a look at this piece of hardware, they can surely do good justice with it. Its a really tough competitor to Raspberry Pi.

    Wait and watch.

    Seeed, RU listening.

    • Chuckt says:

      Considering the fact that I can’t get a Rasberry Pi…

    • dieter says:

      i have been living in soviet union. there was same system – all kind of products were produced, but not available in public sale, markets. rapseberry is sometihng like soviet union economy – it is in mass production, but you are not able to buy it anywhere :)

      • ericwertz says:

        It only seems that way because they announced (hyped?) so far ahead of when they finally shipped it. I’m not sure that batches of 10K and 4K would be considered mass production, either.

        @Chuckt, I’m sure you can get a “Rasberry Pi” — you just can’t get it this minute. Not everything comes from McDonald’s.

        If the RPF would have accepted the fact that the first few batches could have been sold for 25-50% more, then the first ones would have come out weeks/months ago. This is how it works when everyone wants something for nothing though — it’s basic economics. If there were money to be made making it, it would have been made already.

  8. shuckc says:

    it would run quicker is they populated the PCB

  9. Jose says:

    A very interesting take on the A10 processor as linked from the Olimex site.
    [Profanity] http://lists.phcomp.co.uk/pipermail/arm-netbook/2012-March/002881.html

    • ericwertz says:

      Classic! This does describe the situation with Chinese hardware pretty well. Your only hope is to both read Chinese (to that you can discern what little documentation is available), speak Chinese (so that you can hopefully, eventually talk to someone that can fill in the numerous blanks), and live in the area (so that you can stalk the team members responsible for the hardware, because that’s your only shot at getting in touch with them).

      All of the engineers that work on these things, soup to nuts, all live in one area. If you’re not part of this proximate club, you’re going to have a lot of difficulty using their work as an outsider, because as the email’s author stated, support and completeness at arm’s-length is *not* how they work.

      Unless you’re trying to use 100K+ of these things, I don’t see how it’s worth trying to use a product like this for even an end-product in the West. Being able to pass-through this awful situation to purchasers/users of development boards is *not* doing anyone any favors. This would seem to be a terrible product choice. If it were a sealed product that I wasn’t planning on hacking, then… *maybe*. Otherwise, I need this product like I need another hole in my backside.

      I say this as a very long-time fan of Olimex and owner of probably a dozen of their dev boards. If it’s as bad as Tsvetan himself says, they should take this thing behind the barn and shoot it.

      • Jose says:

        Many have said the same in regards to Spark Fun in the past. They sell thousands of fully assembled breakout boards and development tools today that the manufacturing of said widgets of product a particular type, enables the quantitization of said technology. Chinese Hardware might enable an ushering in of hundreds of new Open Hardware markets. I look forward to the future of Embedded offerings by Chinese Engineering.

      • ericwertz says:

        I think that you’re missing my point. It has nothing to do with the fact that the products some from China (I also happen to be a big fan of Seeed Studio). It has to do with the notion that without documentation, users have any use for your product — IF THE SOLE PURPOSE of your product is to be able to understand it.

        This is a new concept for many Chinese companies. They have had the luxury of working in both physical and linguistic proximity to all of their users, producing products that don’t require knowledge of their inner workings to be successful. SoCs do *not* fall into this category. It’s one thing to be able to look at a schematic for a board and to be able to understand it, but that’s not possible with a SoC. A memory map will only get you so far…

        It seems like the premise of choosing this particular SoC for a development system isn’t a wise one without adequate documentation. There are plenty of products like this that already exist that I won’t buy solely because they don’t have documentation. It makes no sense for me to spend tens of hours trying to reverse-engineer the workings of an RGB-strip LED PWM controller if I plan to consume a half-dozen of them — I’ll clearly go buy a few TI parts from Avnet and get a complete datasheet. It would only be worth my while if I were doing it for sport, or if I intended to import and resell a truckload of them after being able to explain to my buyers how the things actually work.

        From a practical standpoint, something else will soon come along that’s got the same bang for the buck by the time that the A10 is usable outside of Shenzhen. We have plenty of other choices now, unless perhaps you’re one of the few consumers of 100K-1M units of an SoC like this.

        I see no parallels between the SparkFun situation and the Olimex-A10 one that we’re discussing. SparkFun overwhelmingly uses parts that are well documented, as has Olimex up to this point. If the documentation for the products that they integrate these components into isn’t perfect, you almost always have a schematic to fall back on.

      • ewertz says:

        To their credit, Allwinner is one of the very, very few Chinese companies that’s making an effort to work with the open source community. Most others target their SoC products for a very few large/huge-volume customers, and they’re the only ones that get the complete documentation (or as much as actually exists) for them.

        Even the RaspberryPi is an example of this behavior — Broadcom hasn’t published all of the documentation for the SoC for use by RPi owners. It may not even be the case that the RPI Foundation has it — but if they do they’re almost certainly under NDA not to let it out.

        As long as you don’t look at this as a classic development board, namely one that you’re going to develop on and then roll your own board by copying and changing what you need for your own end product — there’s no problem. The intent here is more that you get what you get in terms of hardware and kernel customized by the SoC vendor, but you’re not going to get documentation complete enough to power-tweak unless you’re huge. All you can do is to wait and hope that the SoC vendor continues to develop and release software updates that take maximum advantage of everything that the chip has to offer. That is, if you even care… and many very well may not.

  10. Jose says:

    * I look forward to the future of Embedded offerings by Chinese Engineers in regards to this technology.

  11. Chuckt says:

    Intel’s Next Unit of Computing Rivals Raspberry Pi in Size

    Intel is showing off something called “Next Unit of Computing” but what will the price be?

    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Intel-NUC-Next-Unit-Computing-Raspberry-Pi-Size-Compare,15499.html

  12. thwdareguy says:

    when can I buy it?

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