Beagle Board - Unleash Linux on this ARM Cortex based and USB powered SBC! We can find many ARM9 boards from the electronics market, however the boards for new models are hard to find. You can hardly find the ARM11, ARM Cortex-A8 boards, because most of these new chips are only available for the key customers of silicon suppliers. OMAP was designed for mobile phones, instead of general purpose computers. Now Beagle board changed the game rules. The Beagle board is offered as a general purpose development platform for the embedded applications. A lot of projects have been announced and listed at Beagleboard.org. The projects cover software defined radio, Debian distribution, download tools, U-boot, Windows Embedded, FFmpeg, Google Android ports and diagnostic tools.
- Over 1,200 Dhrystone MIPS using the superscalar ARM Cortex-A8 with highly accurate branch prediction and 256KB L2 cache running at up to 600MHz.
- OpenGL ES 2.0 capable 2D/3D graphics accelerator capable of rendering 10 million polygons per second.
- HD video capable TMS320C64x+ DSP for versatile signal processing at up to 430MHz
- USB power via complete chip-set with minimal additional power-consuming logic
- The processor has integrated 128MB DDR memory as well as 256MB NAND Flash memory with POP (Package on Package) technology.
Peripherals and Connectivity Options
The Beagle board was designed to be expanded easily via popular USB and standard PC peripherals to enable reuse of existing PC peripherals.
- DVI-D for connecting digital computer monitors.
- Compatibility with a huge collection of USB peripherals including hubs, keyboards, mouses, WiFi, Bluetooth, web cameras, and much more.
- MMC+/SD/SDIO interface for memory or wireless connectivity.
- S-Video out for connecting your NTSC or PAL television or wearable visor.
- Stereo audio in and out for a microphone and headphones or speakers.
- Power via typical USB chargers for cell phones from your laptop, from an automobile adapter, from batteries, or even from a solar backpack.
- An RS-232 port is included on the board.
- For real time debugging and emulation purposes, a JTAG connection is present.
Software and Application Examples
The Beagle board can act like a Linux PC with USB keyboard, USB mouse, USB Ethernet and DVI-D monitor. The Angstrom Distribution has already been ported to Beagle board and is included as part of the kit. The BSP, including code images, procedures, and sources are provided to verify the board functionality. The boot loader, Linux kernel and minimal file system are available from community support page for testing purposes.
The Beagle board has multiple boot options to avoid lock-ups. The boot code is in ROM. It is always there, even if the flash is erased. It can be booted from NAND, MMC/SD, serial or USB. The regular ARM boards use NOR for Boot ROM. The developer has to program the boot code into the ROM. Now Beagle board leverages OMAP3530's BOOT ROM to offer more boot options than other boot-loaders.
USB OTG benefits
The USB2.0 high speed OTG connection is very flexible and can act as a device when it is connected to a PC via USB. This can be used as power source as well as emulation of a network connection, which can be very useful in software debugging via Telnet. It can also acts as a host when it is connected to a USB hub. That means many standard USB peripherals can be connected to the Beagle board.
The board is official quoted at USD149 on digikey.com. However the sales team told me that the Beagle board is not available in my country, China. I have to take care of the tax and shipment cost by myself. I have to ask my friends in US to help me to order one board. It is possible to make local Beagle board according the hardware design files, which are also freely available from Beagleboard.org. But the production quality requirement is much higher than other ARM board, because OMAP3530 uses POP technology. Anyway, the concept of Beagle board can encourage other suppliers to offer standard board for embedded applications.
Beagle board is a great board ever. Its OMAP3530 has integrated video, memories, boot ROM and high speed USB OTG. The developers can save effort in finding extra ICs for above functionality and just develop the code. However, I do have some questions about Beagle board.
- How can I develop the code for C64+ DSP?
- Are the libraries for C64+ free and open source?
- Is there any comparable chips from other suppliers like Freescale, Samsung and Marvel?
- Expansion possibilities? How can I develop a mobile TV on Beagle board? Via SD or USB?
- Much more ......
Beagle Board Developer Community
Product Training Module from Digi-key