Raspberry PI ARM Clone


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by casibbald » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:04 pm
Hello Folks,

I have had discussions with some friends about the possibility of a high spec 'clone' of the PI and this has brought us to the list at the bottom of the page.

We have been in discussions with a PCB designer and expect we can produce this with a retail price of under US$100.

Does anyone have any comments on this idea, what would be the interest in such a spec board?

Processor

============

(Cortex-A8 1Hz Single Core) or (Cortex-A9 1.5GHz Dual Core) Samsung SOC

Display

============

RCA video,

Mini-HDMI,

LCD ribbon connector,

Sound

============

Mini-Audio 2.5mm Mic & Speaker Out ports

RAM & Storage

============

1GB RAM on board,

Mini-SD card slot,

Networking

============

LAN 2 x 10/100,

802.11b/g/n onboard,

Bluetooth onboard,

GSM/GPRS (Single modem)

Connectivity

============

Mini-USB 3 Ports,

Amtel ATxmega Microcontroller 100 GPIO pins

Camera pins,

InfraRed pins,

Sensors

============

Gyro sensor,

G-Sensor,

Digital compass,

GPS and Accelerometer

Antenna

============

GSM Antenna,

Bluetooth Antenna,

Wifi Antenna,
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by domesday » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:32 pm
And the point of it would be what exactly ?
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by hippy » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:44 pm
casibbald said:

We have been in discussions with a PCB designer and expect we can produce this with a retail price of under US$100. 

Sounds good ( $100 = ~£62 ), and just the sort of low cost hardware the Foundation is hoping to encourage.

For display I'd like to see VGA.

I'm not particularly fussed over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GSM/GPRS, GPS, gyros, accelerometers etc so an even cheaper board without those would be interesting to me. The price though with everything included is still a good deal though.

One thing not stated is what does it boot from; SD Card ? Not being able to brick the R-Pi is, for me, its best feature.
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by casibbald » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:59 pm
Darren, the Pi is an incredible product for its targeted audience but once you want to additional features/functionality yourself it gets very expensive quite quickly. There is room for higher spec devices and the Foundation may look to produce such devices.

Hippy, we have looked into VGA and it is something we are considering, though would want to implement this without another chipset or as cheaply as possible.

I forgot to mention that there will be a real-time clock and yes it would boot from SD.
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by jamesh » Sat Apr 28, 2012 1:55 pm
Careful about the booting from SD bit - that can be quite difficult to arrange and depends on the SoC being used. Some simply cannot boot from SD, without having some sort of connected ROM to hold a bootloader to get the SD slot working. I think the BRCM2835 might be quite unusual in the respect - could be wrong though.

Also finding an SoC with VGA out might be a problem.
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by Lob0426 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:14 pm
How do you implement the 2 x 10/100?

You would save money without the sensors, I am guessing they are on the board. why not pin them out?

This sounds like a dev board for an AT&t cell phone. (GSM/GPRS (Single modem))

Amtel ATxmega Microcontroller 100 GPIO pins? 100 pin chip? That would appear to be 78 I/O pins not 100 GPIO pins.

http://www.atmel.com/products/.....xmega.aspx

If possible under $100 dollars might be just fine. Depends on what licenses will be included, MPEG2, MPEG4 etc.. those licenses are what could break the bank.

are you pulling the RTC from the ATxmega?

Obviously there are going to be a lot of questions here.
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by nick.mccloud » Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:14 pm
GSM, Gyro, WiFi, GPS and dual core for only $100 - that would be good going!

Seriously, if you've got all this loveliness on one board, don't skimp on the video output with just composite!
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by bobc » Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:28 pm
That's a lot of stuff for $100... not sure what the target market is. The key with these things is software support, which is partly a chicken and egg thing.

I guess the problem with guaging interest, is that the R.Pi has really created a new market niche, or perhaps recreated one, by setting a low price point. In the example of Arduino, people generally stick to the basic Arduino, even though there are better/faster versions. The more you move away from pin-compatible versions the less interest there seems to be.
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by casibbald » Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:42 pm
Lob0426,
Real time clock will likely be via Amtel (TBC), there are a number of options for the microcontroller. It it will need to be one of the PicoPower options.

We are able to do LCD out with 800x600 but not sure if that can be routed as VGA out (will need to check on this)

Sensors will not cost us much, and will only cost the user much more if we pin them out.

GSM chip will be one of the biggest expenses and we are contemplating offering this as an add on with solder points available.

2 x LAN will also require another chip and may also be. Solder on option. And yes up to 100 io pins and some GPIO.
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by rew » Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:10 pm
I think you should leave out the things that can easily be added through USB. This would refer mainly to the GPRS modem and GPS.

Think about the screen interface. It would be nice to be able to add $10 or $20 cellphone screens. Bummer each has a unique physical interface. :-(
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by joeofloath » Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:43 am
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by Max » Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:12 pm
Would only be interested if a touch screen display was included for that price.

hippy said:


For display I'd like to see VGA.

I'm not particularly fussed over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GSM/GPRS, GPS, gyros, accelerometers etc so an even cheaper board without those would be interesting to me. The price though with everything included is still a good deal though.


If you are not interested in the extra's: you can buy a normal AMD fusion mainboard for around the same price that has integrated dual core CPU, HDMI, VGA, SATA and gigabit LAN.
by hippy » Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:24 pm
Max said:


hippy said:


For display I'd like to see VGA.

I'm not particularly fussed over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GSM/GPRS, GPS, gyros, accelerometers etc so an even cheaper board without those would be interesting to me. The price though with everything included is still a good deal though.


If you are not interested in the extra's: you can buy a normal AMD fusion mainboard for around the same price that has integrated dual core CPU, HDMI, VGA, SATA and gigabit LAN.


Yes, had seen those, but seemed to be more expensive ( than the proposal here ) for less and needed memory adding - may not have seen the entire range and best pricing though.

I suspect there are a lot of people like me who have wanted cheap PC's to do odd jobs but mini-ITX and the like have been too expensive to actually do it when fully priced-up. That leaves repurposing routers, NAS's, STB's, consoles and the like which are particularly lacking on the 'how to' front, and often with little community support or not enough support for someone with little previous experience. Beagleboards and the like are out there but equally expensive. Bifferboard looked good but limited memory, well, limited everything.

There's that forever present risk of 'bricking it' which also tempers willingness to try things, one thing the R-Pi won't have.

A cheap Digital Picture Frame with Wi-Fi or LAN and running Linux is probably all I need for what I particularly want to do; information status displays. The O2 Joggler would have been great but for lack of 'how to' and lack of availability. A Windows / Linux SBC with VGA output would be the next best thing. Low-cost is the primary desire, with some help available to actually do what I want.

The R-Pi probably fits all my headless and TV-connected needs, but it's that middle ground I'm after that it doesn't yet support. The Allwinner systems are looking interesting, as does the proposal here.

To be honest, I probably don't really care so much about what it is or any reasonable cost; it's whether I can achieve what I want. In one case ( a small requirement but of great importance for me ) I can do it with Windows and VB with the costs inherent in that, but still haven't got, nor found anyone who can deliver, a fully working Linux program in C. It's a few lines of VB6 program I have but cannot achieve the same on Linux. It's the frustration of that which is really holding me back from embracing Linux. But that's a topic for elsewhere.
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by Lob0426 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 4:14 pm
Max: the fusion is good board but misses the point. Most of us are looking for a single board solution. I built a Atom 330 Windows Home Server and the cost scales up quickly.
D945gclf2 board $85
DVD. $25
Memory $50
Case and PSU. $50
1TB HDD. $95 (2nd: later added a 1.5TB for $149)
Incidentals. $50
MS Software. $100
As you see it gets expensive quick! And the power level of that board is more than is really needed for some of our projects. Size is also a consideration. That Atom 330 just will not fit into that linksys router box like a TasPi will. Besides Hippy is just stuck on using one of his old monitors. lol. He will get over it. Not.
As to a touchscreen, they are relatively expensive. Having a connector for one would be nice but the touchscreen will have to be on our end. The screen itself would probably cost more than the $100. They shouldn"t cost that much. The iPhone 3G hardware cost was quoted at $184. Of course that was just to build it. But that means the touchscreen components are not that expensive. It is just the markup that is rediculous.
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by UncleDave » Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:52 am
rew said:


I think you should leave out the things that can easily be added through USB. This would refer mainly to the GPRS modem and GPS.


I second this. Personally I feel the idea of a Pi+ has merit.

Reducing the embedded components would reduce the risk and complexity of  the base software build. It could allow for a smaller device footprint. Design the board for mounting in a case from the outset, mounting holes in the board and connectors at the same level. Two features that  people are asking for the most is extra memory and power over ethernet. I would certainly consider them.

UD.
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by AlexPT » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:07 am
Looks nice, but there some things I would change.
Mini-HDMI -> standard HDMI
Mini-Audio 2.5mm Mic & Speaker Out ports -> standard 3.5mm jack
Mini-USB 3 Ports -> This can be a problem, think normal usb ports its better.
And the Mini-SD card slot.. its it cheaper than normal SD card slot?
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by obarthelemy » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:02 pm
Lob0426 said:


Max: the fusion is good board but misses the point. Most of us are looking for a single board solution. I built a Atom 330 Windows Home Server and the cost scales up quickly.
D945gclf2 board $85
DVD. $25
Memory $50
Case and PSU. $50
1TB HDD. $95 (2nd: later added a 1.5TB for $149)
Incidentals. $50
MS Software. $100



A netbook would have worked out cheaper. A used netbook even more so. And a broken one with dead screen and/or battery, still more. These days I'm using netbooks as servers.
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by UncleDave » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:06 pm
obarthelemy said:


A netbook would have worked out cheaper. A used netbook even more so. And a broken one with dead screen and/or battery, still more. These days I'm using netbooks as servers.



Very good idea..... funny how the rest of us miss the obvious!
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by mahjongg » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:10 pm
Netbooks are nice, but not so good for developing software on.
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by plugwash » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:39 pm
casibbald said:


We have been in discussions with a PCB designer and expect we can produce this with a retail price of under US$100.


Three questions to ask your PCB designer

Do you actually have experiance with design at the frequencies and complexity levels that will be involved in this project?

What kind of volume is your price estimate based on?

Does your retail price attempt to recover the dev and prototypings costs and make some profit or is this based on it being a charitable endevour (like the Pi)?

The impression i've got is that most arm boards run into a chicken and egg problem. Volumes are low so costs are high so prices are high so volume stays low. To break that cycle requires putting a lot of money on the line with the very real possibility that you wil lose most of it if your project is not a success.
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by Max » Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:11 pm
Lob0426 said:


Max: the fusion is good board but misses the point. Most of us are looking for a single board solution. I built a Atom 330 Windows Home Server and the cost scales up quickly.
D945gclf2 board $85
DVD. $25
Memory $50
Case and PSU. $50
1TB HDD. $95 (2nd: later added a 1.5TB for $149)
Incidentals. $50
MS Software. $100
As you see it gets expensive quick!



It gets expensive because you CHOOSE to make it expensive.

Board ($85) + 1 GB RAM ($10) = $ 95

Which is in the same price category as the $ 100 offering in the first post.

I did not read an enclosure and storage being included in that figure so those should be added in both cases..

A normal Linux pc can boot of flash storage (usb stick) just like an ARM based one can boot off a SD card if you do not wish to spend money on a real drive.

Yes, there are use cases when you want something less power hungry and smaller.

That is where you can use a Raspberry for.

This thread asked if there was an interest in something more powerful at a price premium. My point is that if you want something powerful, and are not really using the extra's (GSM/GPS) you can create something a LOT more powerful based on real computer hardware for around the same price.

Regarding touch screen: wasn't thinking about an expensive tablet sized one, but more cell phone sized.

E.g. using cheap Chinese iPhone/NintendoDS replacement screens if possible.
by lb » Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:34 pm
I don't want to spoil it all, but this simply sounds too good to be true, and without any miracles, will not happen any time soon. Just like the Rombus Tech Allwinner A10 board.
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by jamesh » Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:42 pm
There are, indeed, lots of gotchas trying to do something like this. I'm privy to some of the back rooms schenanigans to get the Raspi to this stage - stuff that cannot be posted here because of contracts etc. It's not been fun for Eben and Liz and the rest of the Foundation team, and it's taken a couple of years to get to fruition. Look at OpenPanora for another good example.

That said, I'm all for people trying to do this stuff. Just don't think it's easy, and be prepared for disappointment.
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by Lob0426 » Tue May 01, 2012 12:27 am
Lob0426 said:


Max: the fusion is good board but misses the point. Most of us are looking for a single board solution. I built a Atom 330 Windows Home Server and the cost scales up quickly.
D945gclf2 board $85
DVD. $25
Memory $50
Case and PSU. $50
1TB HDD. $95 (2nd: later added a 1.5TB for $149)
Incidentals. $50
MS Software. $100
As you see it gets expensive quick!

It gets expensive because you CHOOSE to make it expensive.

Board ($85) + 1 GB RAM ($10) = $ 95

Which is in the same price category as the $ 100 offering in the first post.

I did not read an enclosure and storage being included in that figure so those should be added in both cases..

A normal Linux pc can boot of flash storage (usb stick) just like an ARM based one can boot off a SD card if you do not wish to spend money on a real drive.

Yes, there are use cases when you want something less power hungry and smaller.

That is where you can use a Raspberry for.

This thread asked if there was an interest in something more powerful at a price premium. My point is that if you want something powerful, and are not really using the extra"s (GSM/GPS) you can create something a LOT more powerful based on real computer hardware for around the same price.

Regarding touch screen: wasn"t thinking about an expensive tablet sized one, but more cell phone sized.

E.g. using cheap Chinese iPhone/NintendoDS replacement screens if possible.



I chose a path for that project and implemented it at a relatively inexpensive price. Comparable systems from a manufacturer (HP) was twice the price for half the performance and disk storage. So did I choose to make it expensive? Seems like a matter of viewpoint! I have lots of stuff lying around here to implement a RasPi. Digging in the parts bin is not always the best solution to carry out a project. Conversely buying a fusion board does not solve most problems. I have booted my Atom board from a USB stick. From a USB external drive. I have not tried a network boot yet. I originally stuck the home server in a old ATX case but wanted something smaller.
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by benzeman » Thu May 03, 2012 2:11 pm
I would personally want a board with the following specs - I hope this will help you out in deciding priorities.

Processor

============

Cortex-A9 1.5GHz Dual Core Samsung SOC

Display

============

RCA video

HDMI

Audio

============

Audio 3.5mm Mic & Speaker Out ports

RAM & Storage

============

1GB RAM on board,

Full size SD card slot

Networking

============

LAN 1 x 10/100/1000

802.11b/g/n onboard

Bluetooth onboard

Connectivity

============

Full size USB 2 Ports

I would use this for a cheap, low powered web server. On the subject of power, how would you power it?
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