Cubieboard: Another Linux computer on a board

Cubieboard is another Linux computer-on-a-board type device. It features a 1 GHz ARM Cortex A8 CPU, with 1GB of DDR3 RAM, and the Mali400 OpenGL ES GPU with HDMI output.

What sets it apart from the popular Raspberry Pi, is it’s 96 GPIO pins and SATA support. Unfortunately we were unable to find more information about it, other then the specs, and the $49 price-tag.

Via Make Magazine.

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  1. No VGA out, sigh… In the third world (where I live), we need VGA out. HDMI is not a readily available option for displays – and it is going to be that way for a long time. Composite video doesn’t cut it either. Most of these ARM chips have support for LCD panels which I think can be used for VGA out via a R2R DAC (albeit at a loss of GPIO pins?) There are USB to VGA boxes (if not more), but they cost as much as these ARM boards, and the drivers are a nightmare (and none I’ve tried work with my KVM switch). All this on top of the cross-compile to ARM issues leave me sticking with the likes of an ALIX x86 type board (significantly more expensive unless you consider the cost of an HDMI compatible monitor) or x86 net-top boards (which are a moving target). Olimex has an ARM board that has VGA out, but I don’t think it is released yet (any day now). But that board has limited VGA out. Hmmm…

      1. @ferdinandkeil,

        Thanks for the tip. But as I think I said in my OP, most if not all these ARM SoC’s have the ability to drive parallel LCD’s directly, so you just put an R2R ladder DAC on them to get VGA out. I think this is what Olimex did on their small board. But you do lose some pins. So your suggestion to break out the HDMI/DVI with extra hardware may be a good way to go. I’ll look into it.

  2. Now this looks interesting, but it does not list the power draw. I am curious about the sata connector, and up to what speed it can go. I also see an IR reciever on the top right, and a DC connector saying 5v at 2 amps, so I presume this guy pulls 10 watts under load.

    Regarding what Drone said, here is a list of possible video connections implemented in hardware on the A10.
    YPbPr, CVBS, VGA
    LCD interfaces: CPU, RGB, LVDS up to Full 1080P HDTV

    1. According to the makers on their google group, it takes 5V input through either the USB port or a DC input. Maximum draw (without SATA) is under 1A.

      I couldn’t find reference to the SATA port in the datasheet on the cubieboard website, but other sites list it as SATA-II 3GB. I’m not sure if there’s different models of A10 that might have different peripheral sets though, since the same websites list 3 different CPU speeds.

  3. I agree it does look closer to what the hacker/maker community wants. Like Drone and (I think) Arhi I compare these arm boards to x386 near equivalents and the arm boards come up short in one or more areas. Instead of the Alix board I compare to an Intel D525-MW mini-itx which costs around $75-85 without RAM. The intel board has legacy PCI, parallel and serial which is important to me, for CNC application and it runs linuxcnc /emc2 without modification. This cubie board looks like it was intended for a set top box.

  4. Does it bother anyone else that we have no idea where this is coming from? Who designed this thing? Why did they do it? I just think it’s a little odd that this thing dropped out of the sky with no context as to who is supporting it…

    I can understand HaD and Make scooping projects before they’re entirely ready to launch; it’s happened to me before. I’m not going to consider this board ready until they finish putting together some kind of documentation for it.

  5. Unfortunately the board components they chose to use have a lower operating temperature than either of the A10 processor models available. (Commericial -25 to +85C or Extended -40 to +85C) so the board is reduced to around -10 to 70C operating temp.
    Table 6.2, page 48
    On the A13-OLinuXino board by Olimex they used components that were the same or greater temp. rating as the AllWinner A13 processor their using (25 to +85C).
    This makes the board much more usable in real life situations. Such as alternative energy monitoring (solar hot water heating) ect.

  6. > …some kind of documentation for it…
    Speaking of which, is it true that Allwinner provides no documentation for their A10 and A13 chips, just a reference design?

  7. With all due respect to King Richard III:

    My kingdom for a 100Msps ADC…

    (because asking for TWO would be greedy)

  8. Two other wide-temp alternatives:

    IGEP COM SPIN (pre-order)
    TI AM3703, 1GHZ
    64 MB RAM / 128 MB Flash
    -40 to 85C
    49 Euros (about $64) (Bottom of page)

    TI AM3703, 800MHz to 1Ghz
    4Gb NAND/ 4Gb Mobile Flash
    -40 to 85C
    79 euros (about $103)
    Optional 720Mhz ??, slightly lower cost?

    Expansion board (works for both com modules)
    Power your module from +5Vdc source
    3 Axis Accelerometer
    Up to 44 GPIO signals
    1 x SPI
    2 x UART
    1 x I2C
    4 PWM
    DSS Video interface
    Size: 68 x 26 mm (2.67 x 1.02in)
    -40 to +85C
    Fully Software supported in the processor BSP
    29 euros (about $38)

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