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BeagleBone Black flies faster than the speed of Pi for just $45


April 26, 2013

The BeagleBone Black open-source Linux computer

The BeagleBone Black open-source Linux computer

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Developers, makers, and hobbyists looking for a beefier alternative to Gizmag favorite the Raspberry Pi will be delighted to learn that BeagleBoard.org has taken the wraps off a 1 GHz ARM-based board named the BeagleBone Black. Though it may look like a slightly more expensive outlay, its manufacturer says that by providing everything needed for display, keyboard and network connectivity right out of the box, the Black provides "a lower total cost of ownership than the nearest competitor."

So what do you get for US$45? The 3.4 x 2.1 in (8.6 x 5.3 cm) BeagleBone Black open-source Linux computer comes pre-loaded with the Ångström distro (which is reported to boot in under 10 seconds) and Cloud9 IDE, freeing up the microSD slot for additional storage. It's based on the Sitara 1 GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor from Texas Instruments, including a 3D graphics accelerator. There's 2 GB of integrated eMMC flash storage and 512 MB of DDR3 RAM.

The 46-pin expansion headers sat at two of the unit's edges are currently compatible with over 30 so-called capes, which are plug-in boards that allow the Black to be integrated with 3D printers, a Geiger counter, LCD touchscreens, and a telerobotic submarine, to name but a few of the numerous possibilities. USB (host/client), Ethernet and micro HDMI interfaces also feature, though the reported resolution for the latter maxes out at 1280 x 1024 (compared to the RasPi's 1920 x 1200).

The credit-card-sized computer comes supplied with a USB cable for power, but can also be connected to an external 5-volt DC supply. BeagleBoard.org says that right out of the box, you'll be ready to rock 'n' roll in just over three minutes. There's support from an active online community, and free access to documentation, sample code and kernel support for the likes of Ubuntu, Android and Fedora.

Initial quantities are limited, but BeagleBoard.org expects volume shipping to begin by the end of May.

Have a look at the video below to see the BBB turning a phone dock into a "laptop" computer.

Product page: BeagleBone Black

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

No full HD? Fail.


Where do they hide the keyboard?

The Skud

The Raspberry Pi overclocks to 1Ghz out fo the box and while slightly more messing around is involved, it runs full 1080 and has a massive community. This device needed to have a multi-core CPU with more of everything to be worth looking at.


I agree with Hogey there. I love my Pi, i'm nowhere NEAR learning all about it. It'd be real nice if they stuck around a while without a design change or upgrade. I'll admit that i have paid near 100 dollars excluding the Pi, to buy all the various connectors, components and kit projects that i've used on it. But now that i have that stuff i only have to buy Pi and a case if i want one. There still isn't a better standalone PC for that price. Only 1 step in the overclocking (800MHz) direction and i can wirelessly stream hidef all over my house on a credit card computer that makes NO noise. Runs better than my PS3 with PS3 Media Server in that there are less crashes and errors when trying to pause or FF/RWD.


But remember, this device is targeted at a different market. For ten dollars more, you get a device designed to operate at 1 GHz (on the RPi, to get to 1 GHz you have to overvolt the cpu, which decreases lifespan, etc.), it has internal storage so you don't have to buy an SD card, but in all honestly, this video didn't mention it, but the beaglebone black provides access to many of the ARM cpu's internal peripherals. So if you are doing some sort of project with electronics, the beaglebone cuts out the need for external microcontroller boards. So no need to buy an Arduino. The chip inside is also more open to the community than the RPi. There are so many pieces of the raspberry pi that aren't documented because Broadcom won't release documentation without signing a big fat NDA. So in my personal opinion, with this device on the market, i won't be buying any more raspberry pis.

Nathaniel Lewis

I wish they also mentioned actual power consumption of the device. I have probably the lowest cost 2 mbps internet connection available here in India @ 15/= for 24/7 unlimited package, Only limitation being I need to login every 24 hours from a pc with registered mac address via a router. After the login process all the PCs / mobile devices can connect without any restrictions.A device like this would be perfect for me. Just need a simple script that will log me out and log me in every 12 hours. Can also afford to leave it running 24/7. Would need to connect KVM only during the initial setup process. Could comfortably work as a torrent client using an SSD. I think I am going to get it.,


I was ready to hit ORDER till I saw 1280x1024... If it won't do 1080p, it ain't for me.

Brandon Zobisch
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