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New Single Board Computer Lets You Swap Out the CPU and Memory 122

ganjadude (952775) writes "I stumbled upon this little scoop and thought the Slashdot crowd would be interested in. The new kid on the block, known as the HummingBoard can handle faster processors, more RAM and will fit the same cases for the Pi. Also, you can expand the memory and the CPU is replaceable! The low end model starts at $45 and the high end costs $100. So tell me guys, what are you going to do with yours?" $45 model is a single core iMX6 (an ARMv7) with 512M of RAM, the $100 model has a dual core i.MX6 with 1G of RAM. Full specs.
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New Single Board Computer Lets You Swap Out the CPU and Memory

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  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @01:11AM (#47391681) Homepage

    PC boards aren't that expensive. What's the point?

    I'd rather have fewer connectors. Fewer points of failure.

    • What I can't believe is that they compare this weak sauce single core to a NUC, it'd be like comparing a Pinto to a Porsche as they really aren't even in the same class.

      If you want something crazy affordable to compare to a NUC then check out the new AMD AM1 Jaguar kits, like this you can swap CPUs but unlike this the smallest you can get is a dual core APU while for $100 you can have the quad Athlon APU and all the chips are based on the same Jaguar chips they use in the PS4 and XBone. I've built both the

      • by Big_Breaker ( 190457 ) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @10:51AM (#47393451)

        I built a baytrail server and its amazing for the cost and power budget. The Intel HD graphics aren't for gaming but it can serve and render media on a sip of power. The HDDs are by far the biggest power hog. I struggled with these ARM chips and their custom distros enough. The ability to be on x86 with well supported peripherals is well worth it - gpu especially. Need to run some wintel stuff now and again? Virtualbox works fine. On the other hand ARM chips always have their issues with proprietary gpus and their binary blob drivers rife with kernel compatibility problems. And you find yourself stuck in a back alley of "mostly" compatible software and patches.

        You might hate sucking up to Intel but at least the drivers work. I might be burning 7 watts instead of 5 but that's nothing in the overall power budget. And baytrail is much much faster than IMX6.

    • The use case for swapping the CPU/RAM module yourself looks pretty weak; but it would appear to make sense for the manufacturer: This 'hummingboard' appears to be their existing 'MicroSOM' [] product attached to a fairly rPi-like breakout board.

      If they already make and sell those, they'd likely have to churn out a lot of hummingboards before the savings on connectors makes it worthwhile to integrate the CPU directly with the board.
  • by kamapuaa ( 555446 ) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @01:18AM (#47391707) Homepage

    A bunch of nerds could order one, then wait six months for it to arrive. They could install a version of Linux on it, play around with it for about 20 minutes, and then talk about how maybe they'll use it for XMBC. Then they could just let it gather dust on some shelf until it gets thrown away in a few years.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 06, 2014 @01:38AM (#47391755)

      I have 3 pis:
      One is a git repo and my personal web site.
      One is in a robot my daughter can control from her mums.
      The last is waiting to be put into a robot my daughter can have at her mums to I can play games while my daughter is away.

      Just because you are an unimaginative turnip does not mean we all are.

      • by ajb673 ( 862254 )
        I've been looking into making 1 or 2 of my pis into a robot too. Would you care to share any designs and info?
        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 06, 2014 @02:26AM (#47391871)

          Sure - I'm using a Dagu Magician 2WD Robot Chassis [] as the base. The motors are connected to a L298N [] which is in turn is connected to the Pi and a 5v mobile phone battery pack. This allows the low powered (3.3v) Pi to power the more demanding (5v) motors.

          The Pis power comes from a second mobile phone battery pack, it gets it connectivity from a USB Wifi dongle and finally vision from a Microsoft LifeCam VX-5000. The bendy bit keeps the camera snuggly in the chassis without need to screws.

          Software - I'm using mjpg-streamer [] to stream content over HTTP and a small home made Python application to provide a REST-like web API to control the motors. This is not perfect as the streaming is not designed for real time, so if it falls behind it does not easily catch up without hitting refresh.

          It was a fun project, cost ~£100 in total and took less than a day to build and put the basic software together for.

          The second project I want to do is attach a Robotic Arm [] and a bunch of cameras to a Pi as well as a small in car TV screen. Then using a better video conferencing solution than mjpg-streamer have a static robot at my daughters house which will allow me to be able to play basic board games over The Internet.

          Hope that helps, good luck with your project.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        > One is in a robot my daughter can control from her mums.

        I sense a disturbance in the home life, as daughter's robot goes roaming into the computer room while daddy is home, fapping to Internet porn. And a second disturbance in the child custody rules as it shows up on YouTube.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Some of us aren't unimaginative turnips, we just prefer spending time having sex with our girlfriends than nerding away on yet another dev board. Besides, 95% of people I've seen who bought a pi haven't done a damn thing with it and ended up using it as a slow-ish XBMC device which is often getting very little use.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I have 3 pis:
        One is a git repo and my personal web site.
        One is in a robot my daughter can control from her mums.
        The last is waiting to be put into a robot my daughter can have at her mums to I can play games while my daughter is away.

        Just because you are an unimaginative turnip does not mean we all are.

        So your wife left you because you spent all of your time playing with electronics?

      • unimaginative turnip

        If this isn't the insult of the week, I don't know what is!

      • I have my pi running a Tor relay 24/7 (not an exit node; I'm not suicidal).

        Because fuck the NSA.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      They actually make good NAS boxes if you can find a board with some SATA ports. I also use one as a server for gathering weather data from my weather station and GPS for a local stratum 1 NTP server. Not as useful as the NAS but an interesting weekend project.

      • I tried using a Pi for NAS but it was let down massively by the slow 100mbit networking and the way it shared that connector with the USB (which had the attached external hard drive). It was only able to push about 30mbit in one direction and 60mbit in another - and let me tell you, transferring a bunch of 2GB video files at 6MB/s is not a lot of fun.

        I replaced it with a WD MyBook Live - which has a Power PC processor and 1gbs network connector. The MyBook Live runs Linux making it easy for me to add Transm

    • It's funny because it is true.
      Perhaps if I worked for a company that allows some time for me to tinker on my own project for a while, like google, then I may get some use out of it. But for the most part by the end of the day I don't even bother using a computer.

    • by caseih ( 160668 )

      Very much this. While a few people are doing cool things with robotics, remote sensing, or UAVs with these small SBCs, most sit and gather dust.

      Those actually putting their SBCs to use are by far in the minority. I have plans for my Pi to do some remote sensing work, but so far they are stalled. So it's in a drawer until I find time.

      My drawer is full of these devices including Pis, GuruPlugs, and SheevaPlugs. Theoretically useful, but never quite panned out. Could make nice file servers, but honestly

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You can not really blame the products for your own inabillity to see your projects through. perhaps all the haters just arent into electronics tinkering - or they already love a different brand of micro. I do not complain that i have no use for tampons so they should not sell them. When i need green paint i dont whine that the shop also carries glue even if it is of zero use to me.

    • Yes, THANK YOU. Wake me when there's a low-powered $35 RasPi-like board with an x86 chip on it.
    • I bought a Cubietruck board to replace a Core2 Duo computer that was running a media server and various other things.
      It's no where near as fast as the Core2 (probably 10 or 20x slower actually...) but it's fast enough for the tasks required.
      It consumes about 260mA at 5V when idle. Less power than the Core2 does while it's in sleep mode.

  • one of the more blatant slahvertorials?

    • No, I just found it and it was only posted for a couple hours, I didnt see it and thought id share. Simple as tgar I have no stake in this company
      • it only took 2 days for them to accept it too, Im shocked, shocked I say.being slashdot and all, I expected this 3 weeks from now!
  • Not impressed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 06, 2014 @01:47AM (#47391793)

    Considering you pay $135 for this UDOO Quad [] why would this be at all interesting?

    • hmmm Twice the size and twice the price. Ever consider that not every problem needs $135 thrown at it? That's what made the RPi so popular to begin with.

      It's very good to options, even if they may not impress you specifically.

  • For the tinkerers and nerds, it's wonderful that there are more and more small single board computers to choose from. (Please spare me your jokes about /. and nerds.)

    However, as a more casual user, I find it increasingly hard to pick the right board for a given purpose. I know the RPi is good as a basic XBMC box (it's a tad slow, but it's pretty good at audio/video decoding due to hardware acceleleration in the GPU). I know it's bad as a NAS (for example, due to poor performance of the network interface). B

    • consider this if you want to run OwnCloud

      Of those listed, the only one with which I have any experience is the Pi and, for OwnCloud, it was pretty awful. It did install, but owncloud ran incredibly slowly — I tried to tune the PHP installation, but I couldn't make enough of a difference to make it usable. I found much the same with wordpress.

      A VM Debian image on a more robust server did the trick...

    • It's difficult to tell for sure without benchmarking individual applications. Having said that some general points

      The odriod line like the Pi have USB based ethernet (though some odriod models have multiple USB busses from the SoC unlike the Pi) and no SATA ports, I'd avoid them for anything storage/network heavy. IIRC they are also lagging behind in terms of getting kernel support upstream. On the other hand when it comes to CPU power they are at the uppper end of what affordable arm boards offer.

      The IMX6

  • by dutchwhizzman ( 817898 ) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @02:29AM (#47391883)
    There are plenty of development boards that come as a base board with several CPU/RAM options on a daughter card. Just the fact that it fits in a raspberry pi case may make it a bit more interesting for some people. However, if you're truly into developing, you're either going to stick with the pi or get the board with the hardware specs you need and not worry about the form factor. If you're into the Pi as a consumer, it's most likely because of it's media playing capabilities. Unless this board will support XBMC with proper hardware acceleration, it's not going to be relevant for those folks either.
  • I've thought about buying a second or third Raspberry Pi (I'm happy with the first, an XBMC media center) to act as an independent, always-on Bittorrent device and web server, as my ISP now offers gigabit ethernet with no throttling or caps. However, the Raspberry Pi's network speeds are slow to take advantage of gigabit ethernet: the ethernet has to share the USB bus with everything else connected to the device so you get less than 100mbit. Last time I looked, the hobbyist boards with gigabit ethernet were

    • by quitte ( 1098453 )

      The i.MX6 has Gigabit ethernet -however the bus it's connected to can not fully handle it. So this might be close to what you want?

    • Get an OpenWRT supported router for this task (you don't need to actually use it as a router though)
      • Care to recommend a cheap gigabit router with OpenWRT support? The cheapest gigabit router I could find when my ISP upgraded my connection was 70€, so the same price as one of those more expensive hobbyist boards I mentioned. What I am really holding out for is a gigabit device around 35€.
        • You are getting your PIs (incl. SD and powersupply) very cheap, 70 EUR is what I paid for a TP router (TLWDR4900 (got it for being dual radio)).
          • You are getting your PIs (incl. SD and powersupply) very cheap

            The Pi can be powered by any old USB phone charger, and I suspect that many people have a drawer-full. As for the SD, I already had one in an old camera I don't use any more. Those are not real hassles in buying a Pi. Only the case required me to go out of the way to get it.

    • I don't think a faster Ethernet connector would help. Even on my 20 mbit connection, using bittorrent on the Pi causes crashes because the SD card can't keep up with the I/O load. Didn't crash when I used a USB drive, but the performance was still terrible. Downloads were much slower than on my computer.
    • Skip the Pi and get a WD MyBook Live instead []. It's got 1gbit networking, 1-4TB sized hard drives, a power PC processor and runs Linux. Mine has been slurping torrents off the net happily for the last 6 months. These cost a little more than the same sized hard drive with only USB3 but more than make up for it with utility and speed. You can run a web server on them, they have one installed already in fact.

  • I would rather get one the tiny boards from company like AAEON you can drop a super low power i3 or i5 intel haswell cpu in to. Yea cost more then this but it will play anything I throw at it. Before anyone says that this will to, well since relies on a hardware decoder for most its work, problem I have is I have a lot of media that is 10bit color space which likely that hardware decoder will be useless with. example: []
    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      I was actually impressed with that board; no hint of pricing from the manufacturer so I took the time to look up somebody selling it.

      ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? $963.75? And for all its super high power CPU and ample IO the RAM maxes out with 8GB in a SINGLE SO-DIMM slot! Then, let's see, you still have to make your own enclosure.

      I fail to see how there could be a single user who would not be infinitely better served at far lower cost by an Intel NUC or similar.

  • If the i.MX6 had, as microcontrollers do reconfigurable output pins it would be useful to have different io options. since the cpu board has the hard part done: connecting the memory and dealing with bga - it becomes a lot easier to create your own io board. So to me it makes sense. It's not about upgrading CPU/memory - but upgrading (or sidegrading?) the io options.

  • Interesting idea, and it is in general terms good that different options are appearing on the market. With that said, I see no compelling differences between this and the Raspberry Pi for my uses. Replaceable CPU/memory? Meh, $35-odd to entirely replace the whole computer is below my give-a-damn threshold. More CPU grunt is kind of nice, but to begin with anything I'm doing with something in this class of computer is not something that needs a great deal of that. More RAM? More or less the same thing as wit

    • by joh ( 27088 )

      The RPi has some very notable disadvantages: Not enough RAM, slow ethernet, too few USB ports. If you want to run such a thing as a low-power always-on Linux micro-server the RPi really sucks. It also doesn't run Debian or Ubuntu. It's a nice toy and totally usable for many things but it also has some really tight limits. Just running a web server with PHP against a database can be too much.

      A faster CPU, 1 GB of RAM and dedicated ethernet (instead of sharing the USB bus) can help a lot here.

  • Is it really a single board computer, if the SoC is on a separate board?

    Looks more like a mini, more powerful version of the Raspberry Pi Compute Module with a Raspberry Pi like breakout board.

    Those SoC modules themselves could be useful on their own if they sell the sockets to use on custom circuit boards...

    • The documentation for using the module on your own board is available from the B2B section of their site. The connectors are off the shelf parts from hirose.

      However while desinging and making a carrier for this will be much easier than designing with the imx6 directly it's going to be beyond most hobbyists. The connectors have a pin spacing of 0.4mm and massive numbers of pins.

  • How about a 64gig DDR3 model? For my 3D printer controllers I need memory.
    • Not likely to happen any time soon, these arm SoCs simply don't have the memory busses to drive the number of ram chips you need to get that much ram. Heck even the mainstream desktop platforms from intel/AMD pratically max out at 32GB.

    • Why would you need 64GB of RAM for a 3D printer controller? Your main computer doesn't even have that much RAM and the files you're sending to the 3D printer aren't anywhere that huge either.

  • Why this 1 GB RAM limit-thing in all this little boards in the market? Why we still have no access to little ones like this with at last 4 GB of RAM memory?
  • The Arduino had mis-aligned connectors, the Raspberry Pi had mis-aligned ports and now people make compatible clones by copying the same stupid mistakes.

  • and very reliable. I do not understand why this technology is useful. It no longer pays to upgrade your computer, by the time you need to you can just buy a new one and transfer your data across. No need to upgrade the components. Unless you are a "power user" - in which case you won't be interested in this slow thing anyway. So, what is the target market?

"Well, if you can't believe what you read in a comic book, what *can* you believe?!" -- Bullwinkle J. Moose