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64 Hacker Friendly Single Board Computers ( 86

An anonymous reader writes: This year, we've seen some incredible price/performance breakthroughs in low-cost single board computers. LinuxGizmos has put together a compilation of 64 low-cost, hacker friendly SBCs that are all available in models that cost less than $200, with many well below $100, including Shenzhen Xunlong's $15 quad-core Orange Pi PC, Next Thing's $9 to $24 Chip, and the $5-and-up Raspberry Pi Zero. Processors range from low-end 32-bit single core ARM chips, to 64-bit ARM, x86, and MIPS parts, and with clock rates from 300MHz to 2GHz. This year even saw the arrival of low-cost SBCs based on octa-core processors, such as the $88 Banana Pi M3.
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64 Hacker Friendly Single Board Computers

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01, 2016 @09:40AM (#51221175)

    The whole list on a nicely scrollable single page? Not a forever useless slider? Not a clunky, bloated slideshow across 64 pages of clickbait? A page designed to actually be useful and not put on a millennial libtard SJW "mobile friendly" shit show? I had no idea the web still did this. Oh and happy new year, everyone.

    • Yep, the web still has linux. Just a little glimpse into the lives of nerds. ;)

      If you run enough ad blockers and processing-request-deniers and other grumpy stuff, you can have almost all sites either give you the content, or a blank page that can be quickly closed.

      Signal quality relies heavily on filtering.

    • Now we just need it compiled in to a spreadsheet with all the various features indexed across the various boards and life would be good.

    • by rthille ( 8526 )

      I'd love it if there were an associated table which was sortable by a number of criteria; say cores, MHz, RAM, Flash, Price, etc.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    UP board is AMAZING specs.

    • by vjoel ( 945280 )

      UP board is AMAZING specs.

      "What's up-board?"

      "Eh, not much, yeah I'm kinda bored."

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      That does look sexy. In fact, it looks so sexy that I just ordered two. My son piqued my interest and gave me a reason to consider delving (back) into this subject just yesterday. What is that reason (you neither asked nor care)? Well, err... I might be 58 but I'm not much different than a five year old. I am going to build not just a robot but I'm going to turn it into a media server robot. Yes, yes I am. No, no I have no good reason. No, I do not expect good results. Yes, I expect to enjoy myself.

      Oh, it's

      • by Wolfrider ( 856 )

        > I may even make it follow us around the living room and get in the way and be otherwise annoying.

        --Maybe you should call it " TWIKI " ;-)

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          That's not a bad idea! By the way - I've not forgotten you. Heh... You're the RPi/SoC/SBC/embedded guy and person I'm gonna potentially bug if I get stuck. It looks like there are scripts and programs to do pretty much everything I can think of. (Yes, yes I have been researching.) Since I last bumped into you, I've meandered down the East Coast (wanderlust), bumped into a young lady - and she stuck, and decided to spend the winter in Florida.

          I ordered the Up (two of them) and I've found a couple of robot bo

          • by Wolfrider ( 856 )

            --That's good news, I had been wondering if the two of you were still together. I still see your posts in various articles :)

    • by rephlex ( 96882 )

      UP board is AMAZING specs.

      Agreed. This looks like the perfect upgrade from the Raspberry Pi, assuming they get it right. A quad-core 64-bit CPU with USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet are exactly what I'm looking for. And I'm sure the Intel Atom's USB controller won't be broken, unlike the one contained in all the Broadcom SoCs used in the various Raspberry Pis. Software workarounds never solved all of its problems.

  • NOT hacker friendly. (Score:5, Informative)

    by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Friday January 01, 2016 @10:16AM (#51221267)

    After 6 years with a SheevaPlug [] I decided to upgrade to a newer batch of 'hackable' ARM boards. Across the board they're terrible with driver and OEM support.

    Half are knockoffs of knockoffs made by some Chinese manufacturer. They run a special version uBoot version that is in violation of the GPL. They run "Linux" but what they don't tell you is it isn't a mainline version. It is half full of binary blobs and unsupported past when it was released, despite the board still being sold.

    I'm going to try out the Intel Edison next because I've always had good luck with Intel boards, they put development time into making working drivers. (Compare their GigE controllers vs Realtek).

    This should be "64 hacker friendly SBCs if your time is free and you enjoy being frustrated by stupid nuances"

    • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Friday January 01, 2016 @11:14AM (#51221415)
      So apart from the sweeping generalisations, would you care to substantiate some of those claims?

      Which SBCs, specifically.

      As for being "made by some Chinese manufacturer" - you've just described 90% of the world's consumer electronics. Most of which is excellent.

      • So apart from the sweeping generalisations, would you care to substantiate some of those claims?

        I'm not the OP but my experience with Orange Pi is exactly as described. I got one half assed non-standard linux distro working that comes not from the manufacturer but some dudes personal blog, it would not support all my class 10 SD cards and wouldn't boot on any of several monitors (vga, DVI and HDMI 1080) that I owned. Finally found a keyboard monitor and SD card, and distro version that would work. But it seemed hardly worth investing further effort in that since who knows if the software had a path

    • I've got two Odroids and a Banana Pro. Standard Arch Linux on the Ordoids and Fedora on the BPro. The Odroids especially, are excellent. But if you work for Intel, maybe you don't care.
      • I also have two Odroids (the U2 model) and agree that they are excellent. They are reliable (often get >100 days uptime between reboots for upgrades, and have had no problems over 2+ years), they run ubuntu (server), they idle at extremely low power/heat (2 cores powered, at 200MHz), but using the ondemand governor they scale up for higher workloads (4 cores powered, at 1700MHz). It's too bad that the U2/U3 is no longer manufactured (due to supply issues).
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Chinese are very good at cranking out cheap stuff, but without much proper support. Worked my way through a RPi (USB/network nightmare; lousy design, large community though), Cubieboard2 (retired so you're on your own) and the Orange Pi (took me months to get a suitable Linux image working). Yes, the Orange Pi has four cores, but only uses on at a time. You want me to fix that? I bought it to play with IOs and think up nice projects with it, not to fix the core of the beast. They were all disappointing

    • I've got three x86 PC in my closet. I've refrained from using them for one reason. Noise. Those things were very loud, and I have no idea how to make them quiet.

      • I've got three x86 PC in my closet. I've refrained from using them for one reason. Noise. Those things were very loud, and I have no idea how to make them quiet.

        A quiet CPU cooler costs more than buying an ODroid or Raspberry Pi, or backing the Pine A64+. And their power budget is comparatively negligible. You're best off donating (or recycling) those things and buying an ARM SBC.

        If you do the math, if you live someplace where power is expensive and you regularly use a notable amount of it, then it's actually cheaper to replace those machines than to plug them in and leave them running. That's only become true recently with the ultra-cheap SBCs; they used to come at a massive price premium, but the proliferation of cellphones has made powerful SoCs cheap.

      • New power supply.

        My friend has an expensive digital audio workstation, that internally has an old computer inside. It was too loud, you could hear the fan hum over the microphones! lol All we had to do was install a modern power supply. The old ones just ran at a constant speed, which had to be the speed it needed to be at max load. But a DAW doesn't run at max load while recording. (If it runs at max load it is doing post-processing) So a modern power supply runs really quiet, because they control the spee

    • I thought the Pi was made in Wales? Their national nickname is "China of Europe," right? No?

      These products are targeted at people who don't usually want a bunch of "support" from the device maker. They're not well positioned for it, because their natural motivations include PR and things and the CPU designs are mostly based on old tech that is being made to a modern small size resulting in very low power operation. So in that environment, the vendors don't have more knowledge than the community. If you need

  • I backed the Pine A64[+] at the 2GB, $29 level. If it pans out, that is a crazy stupid low price for that much machine. The only part of it that is less than ideal specs-wise is the GPU, but I don't really care about that. It would be daft to not get at least the $19 1GB model, since the plus has the DSI, touch panel, and camera ports as well and it's nice to leave yourself the option. Plus (ha ha) trying to get stuff done in 512MB is occasionally frustrating. It is Allwinner, so meh. But with ongoing press

  • I was thinking of getting a couple of boards with my Christmas excess. I was going to post here but decided to askl in redit. []

    Basically the usage. One a email server, and used occasionally for watching videos.
    The other for experimentation/learning OSs. LFS, anyone got Haiku running on any of these? BSD. Learning ARM programming.
    Also when I need to do secure computing switch out with a special SD card which I take pains to make sure is clean.

    So recommendations?

  • I consider the VIC-20 to be a nice SBC. Heck, I used mine 20 years ago to do some school work in the hardware labs of my college.

    It was a lot easier to plug the VIC into the old CGA monitors and use BASIC to drive the user port than it was to use the XTs. The XTs had no HD, so I had to carry around boot floppies, the PC's BASIC didn't let you access the hardware AFAIK, the Turbo Pascal and C we used wasn't that easy either.

    Commodore BASIC was in ROM, and a single line of code could create a 256 value look-u

    • BASIC lets you do direct hardware access. PEEK and POKE give you direct memory access, and most systems have memory-mapped registers. On the Apple ][ that was the easiest[sic] way to use "high res" graphics; directly writing numbers to the video memory with POKE. In 8th grade I had a splash screen that wrote the whole screen a pixel at a time that way. I mapped the numbers by tracing the source document onto graph paper, and manually digitizing it. The nice thing is, you can make all the dithering decisions

  • Luv these things (Score:4, Informative)

    by stabiesoft ( 733417 ) on Friday January 01, 2016 @02:07PM (#51222129) Homepage

    I ended up using a beaglebone green to replace my pool controller. Analog I/O for temp sensing, cheap, low power and easy to use. I had some raspberries, but went beagle for the built in analog. I could have bought a external A/D, but these things are so inexpensive, figured I'd try the beaglebone to try another platform. I'm pondering replacing my irrigation controller next with either the beagle or raspberry. I guess time will tell how resilient the beaglebone is to being in an outside enclosure environment. Still given that the replacement board for my pool was crazy expensive, I could get a new beaglebone every year and still be ahead moneywise. And I ended up doing an android app to control it so now I can program the pool from anywhere.

    • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Friday January 01, 2016 @03:04PM (#51222509)

      Thanks for the tip on the analog I/O. That's been my pet peeve with these things. For any sort of permenant implementation I don't want to futz with hooking up an arduino or other D/A to the RPi, along with powering those. I just want the analog lines part of the main board. Why do all the SoC lack this feature? even cellphones have an analog I/O (the microphone/headphone jack) as well as thermal sensors and battery monitors, so you'd sort of think someone would put analog I/O right into the SoC instead of relying on extra chips on the motherboard. If an arduino can do surely these chips can.

      • Thanks for the tip on the analog I/O. That's been my pet peeve with these things. For any sort of permenant implementation I don't want to futz with hooking up an arduino or other D/A to the RPi, along with powering those. I just want the analog lines part of the main board. Why do all the SoC lack this feature?

        If you're reading analog sensors over long distances, you're better off running the digital lines for the long distances, and reading the analog sensor close to the actual sensor itself. If you're reading them over short distances, then as you say, you want the A/D onboard. Most cellphones have little need for A/D outside of the audio hardware, though; these days, instead of having to read a PWM signal directly from a sensor, you just get everything as I2C or whatever. So the cheap SoCs only have digital I/

    • by lenski ( 96498 )

      I've had good luck with the Odroid product line. The closest match to (what I asssume are) your needs is the Odroid C1+, which has PI-like extensibility, a much faster processor (faster than the Model PI 2B) which probably doesn't matter much, and built-in analog input. Note that the analog input is 0-1.8v. []

      If you're in the U.S., the easiest supplier is Ameridroid: []

      I have and used the Odroid-U2, Odroid-U3, and an Odroid C1 (before the C1+) They

    • by rthille ( 8526 )

      I've thought about doing something similar. What were you using the analog I/O for measuring? Insolation, air & water temperature? I figure for temps the 1-wire devices from Dallas/Maxim would work. Not sure I'd even need insolation as my current system doesn't.

      • I used the original air/water temp probes (these are 10K thermistors). The original thermistors are in plastic and have a pretty slow response, so I also use 2 vishay 50K thermistors which have quick response for extra air temp probes. None of these are isolated as the water probe is encased in plastic so no electrical connection to the water and the air probes do not touch the water. Note that the power converter is isolated, the power itself is on a GFCI, and of course the relays are isolated. So it is pr

  • It seems there is not even one ARM or Intel single-board computer that respects your freedom. []

    Please prove this wrong.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"