Passionate open source developers and hobbyists can now realize their creative design ideas without being restricted by expensive hardware development tools, lackluster performance capabilities, high power consumption or stifled design environments. Open platform innovators will now have the expandability of desktop machines without the expense, bulk or noise as Digi-Key Corporation announces it is shipping the $149 Beagle Board, which is a powerful, low-cost and fanless embedded development board smaller than a drink coaster.
“We are very excited about offering the Beagle Board to our customers,” said Mark Larson, Digi-Key president and COO. “Not only do I believe that this innovative, yet economical, development board will be of consequential interest to the thousands of design engineers Digi-Key does business with every day, but it will appeal to the growing base of university students who recognize Digi-Key’s commitment to serving them as well.”
The pocket-size, USB-powered Beagle Board is based on Texas Instruments’ (TI) low power OMAP3530 applications processor, which features an ARM® Cortex[tm]-A8, 2D/3D graphics engine and high-performance TMS320C64x+[tm] digital signal processor (DSP) core. A live demonstration of the Beagle Board can be seen in TI booth #1232 at the Linux World Conference and Expo (www.linuxworldexpo.com) in San Francisco, August 4-7, 2008.
A small group of enthusiastic engineers interested in creating powerful, open and embedded devices worked together on the concept and realization of the Beagle Board. The resulting 3 inch by 3 inch board bridges desktop and embedded development by allowing developers to use the same peripherals and usage mode for flexible USB and standard PC expansion. With a full computer in their hands, developers are able to design to their specification and collaborate with the open source community on creative new applications.
“Having access to a Beagle Board enabled me to implement support for the Cortex-A8 in the OpenEmbedded build system and the Ångström Distribution,” said Koen Kooi, student at Universiteit Twente and core developer of OpenEmbedded. “This gives developers easy access to the tools needed to get the most out of the OMAP3530 device and integrated C64x[tm] DSP, which makes it a great board for low-power software defined radio projects. I am eager to collaborate even more within the community to come up with some additional great applications with the Beagle Board.”
Achieve laptop-like performance with OMAP3530 applications processor
The Beagle Board gives the open source community access to the industry’s highest performance ARM-based system-on-chip (SoC) broadly available today, the OMAP3530 device, which integrates a 600 MHz superscalar ARM Cortex-A8 core that utilizes highly accurate branch prediction and multiple instruction pipelines. As the superset device of TI’s OMAP35x platform, the OMAP3530 device provides more than 1200 Dhrystone million instructions per second (MIPS) to run a full Linux operating system with desktop windows managers and office applications, and also integrates an OpenGL® ES 2.0 compatible graphics engine to achieve photo-realistic, real-time pixel-shaded graphics for gaming and 3D user interface acceleration. A 430 MHz C64x+ DSP core is capable of handling high-definition (HD) video (MPEG-4 decode at 720p) for embedded applications, such as home media centers, robotics, web kiosks and digital signage.
Where technology meets imagination
Now equipped with the technology, designers are challenged to use their imagination on how best to experiment with the size and performance of the Beagle Board by only using standard PC peripherals. Developers can utilize the standard expansion buses to add their own peripherals they already own via standard expansion buses, such as a high-speed USB 2.0, MMC/SD/SDIO and DVI-D. In addition to utilizing the DVI-D port to add a digital monitor, an S-Video port can be used to add a TV or the USB miniAB connector can be used to add a high-speed hub for a keyboard, mouse, WiFi or Ethernet connection and web camera. The MMC/SD connector can be used to add multiple gigabytes of storage or SDIO-based WiFi and Bluetooth functionalities.
The Beagle Board allows developers to take their projects with them on the go, as they no longer need to worry about a large power supply, because there are several ways to power the board through the USB connector. For instance, the board can be connected to a laptop, to a car adaptor to run off the car power, to a battery-based cell phone charger or a solar-powered backpack.
Community driven support and expertise
The Beagle Board aims to engage passionate developers and fuel their innovations in the open development community, whether they are designing projects for work or fun. Developers can quickly maximize their design concepts by tapping into the expertise and support of the some of the industry’s top Linux programmers already experimenting with the Beagle Board. With communities hosting the latest software developments, live forums and chats for easy collaboration, developers have easy access to support and exchange of ideas.
Pricing and availability
The Beagle Board (Digi-Key part number 296-23428-ND) is now available for $149 from Digi-Key Corporation.
One of the world’s fastest growing distributors of electronic components, Digi-Key has earned its reputation as an industry leader through its total commitment to service and performance. As a full-service provider of both prototype/design and production quantities of electronic components, Digi-Key has been ranked #1 for Overall Performance for 16 consecutive years from among the nation’s more than 200 distributors (EE Times Distribution Study/ May 2007). Offering more than a million products from nearly 400 quality name-brand manufacturers Digi-Key’s commitment to inventory is unparalleled. Access to the company’s broad product offering is available 24/7 at Digi-Key’s top-rated Web site.
TMS320C64+ and C64x+ are trademarks of Texas Instruments. ARM and Cortex are trademarks of ARM Limited. OpenGL is a registered trademark of SGI.