A group is developing a bare computer on a board, like the Pi, but with a quad core processor and a host of features.
The humble Raspberry Pi is one of the most innovative computer products in years. For just $25, it offers a surprisingly robust computer on a chip, capable of running its own OS or some flavors of Linux. Now that they are out in the public in large numbers, people are thinking up innovative things to do with them. We still haven't seen any directly enter government service, though a few people have written to me with suggestions ranging from storage in a vault for use after a natural disaster to a network of storm or crime-reporting computers.
One of the things that might be holding the Raspberry Pi back is that, although it can do a lot, it's still a weak PC, even if it can be overclocked to 800 MHz.
One group wants to add a little bit of power over the Pi. A joint effort of Seco USA, Aidilab and a team of researchers, they're creating a naked computer on a board, like the Pi, but with a quad-core processor. They've combined that design with an Arduino board, which has been around for years, mostly used in sensor applications.
The result of that marriage is the UDOO, a powerful computer that will go on sale for just $100. The UDOO is an open hardware, low-cost computer equipped with an ARM i.MX6 Freescale processor for Android and Linux. It sits on the same board as the Arduino DUE’s ARM SAM3X CPU. It's 4.33-inchs by 3.35 inches. Like the Raspberry Pi, it consumes very little power.
Designers hope the UDOO will enable a variety of applications. "Combining the flexibility of Arduino with the power of Android or Linux, you can create and update tons of standalone solutions without worrying about the linking between the two worlds and their wiring," project coordinator and Carnegie Mellon professor Bruno Sinopli wrote on the UDOO Kickstarter page.
The funding project was asking for $27,000 for production of the UDOO. With more than a month to go, they have already raised $300,000, so the UDOO is on track for launch later this year.
One of the most impressive features of the UDOO is the number of features it will have for the price. For $100, users will get a Freescale i.MX 6 ARM Cortex-A9 CPU dual/quad core 1GHz processor, integrated graphics with each processor providing three separated accelerators for 2D, OpenGL ES2.0 3D and OpenVG, an Atmel SAM3X8E ARM Cortex-M3 CPU, 1GB of DDR3 RAM, HDMI output, a LVDS touchscreen controller, Ethernet RJ45, a WiFi module, mini USB and mini USB OTG, two USB type A and USB connectors, analog audio and mic inputs, a camera connection, a Micro SD boot device and a 12 volt power supply with an external battery connector.
That's a lot for aspiring designers to work with, especially for just $100. We look forward to seeing where the UDOO goes and whether agencies will find a use for such an inexpensive computer.