Final Raspberry Pi PCB design unveiled

Raspberry Pi - Final Circuit Gerber

Raspberry Pi - Final Circuit GerberThe creators of the Raspberry Pi ARM-based computer have published a shot of the Gerber for the sub-£25 computer’s near final design – and, at around the same size as a credit card, it’s even smaller than the prototypes.

Posted by Liz Upton to the official Raspberry Pi blog, the Gerber visualisation reveals a final circuit board measuring 85.60mm x 53.98mm – exactly the same size as a standard credit card. The layout, designed by Pete Lomas, represents the finished product, modulo any tweaks required to compensate for low yields in the test production ahead of the initial run.

Sadly, the team isn’t quite ready to start taking pre-orders for the cut-price computer. “We’re in the process of making a very small initial test run of what you see above,” Upton writes, “and will move to larger production when we’re happy that there are no early-life bugs. Because we can’t predict whether or not there will be any, we can’t give you a firm release date, but Pete has engineered what you see here nigh unto death, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed for an easy ride.”

The Raspberry Pi system has taken the hacking community by storm since its announcement by project founders Eben Upton and David Braben. Powered by a Broadcom BCM2835 system-on-chip module, the credit-card sized computer will cost under £25 and run a fully-featured version of GNU/Linux.

It is hoped that the system will help drive computing education by providing less well-off families with an affordable platform for hacking, without running the risk that a child will ‘wreck’ the family PC with their ‘incessant fiddling.’

BeagleBone ARM development kit announced

The creators of the BeagleBoard low-cost ARM-based computer have come up with a new device which drives down both the size and the cost, while providing an interesting stop-gap solution to those waiting for the Raspberry Pi: the BeagleBone.

Built around a Texas Instruments AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 microprocessor running at up to 720MHz, the BeagleBone promises over 1,400 Dhrystone MIPS and the ability to run a fully-featured GNU/Linux distribution.

The tiny package also includes an OpenGL ES 2.0 compatible 3D graphics accelerator, a USB 2.0 host port, microSD connector for storage, gigabit Ethernet, a multipurpose USB device connection featuring on-board hub, USB-to-serial and JTAG conversion with software reset, and a reprogrammable high-speed USB device interface, along with two 46-pin two-row 0.1-inch spaced female expansion headers using 3.3V IO.

Despite all these impressive features, the BeagleBone fits in the palm of your hand – and in doing so takes up little more room than an Arduino microcontroller at an impressively compact 3.4″ x 2.1″. In addition, the BeagleBone will support ‘capes’ – equivalent to Arduino ‘shields,’ minus the awkward pin spacing – to easily add more hardware to the platform.

As standard, the BeagleBone will come with a pre-installed copy of the Maemo-based Angstrom Distribution, node.js and the Cloud9 IDE on a 2GB microSD card, which will combine to allow developers to quickly and easily upload new code to the board using a single USB connection for data and power.

“We’re big fans of embedded systems at our office and think Cloud9 IDE for BeagleBone is an amazing use case. It makes writing code for your device as easy as plugging in and connecting to a port with a browser,” claims Rik Arends, chief technology officer at Cloud9 IDE. “We’re looking towards supporting embedded development from the cloud in the future. This way, our users will have all the benefits of keeping code safely online, with the ability to easily distribute to multiple devices.”

The BeagleBone is due to hit the usual suspects in the US before the end of the month, priced at $89, with UK stockists yet to be confirmed. To whet your appetite, there’s an introductory video below, and more information is available on the BeagleBoard site.

Arduino Due – ARM meets Arduino

Arduino Due board

The Arduino team had a surprise announcement to make at this year’s Maker Faire: a new design called the Due, which makes the move from eight-bit ATMega chips to a 32-bit ARM-based processor for the first time in an officially licensed product.

Arduino Due boardThe Arduino Due is designed for those who find even the Arduino Mega a little restrictive. Despite retaining pin-compatibility with its predecessors – including the irritating pin spacing that precludes the use of Veroboard and the like without offset stacking headers – it packs in a wealth of new features including:

  • 96MHz 32-bit ATMEL SAM3U Cortex-M3 CPU
  • 256KB of flash memory
  • 50KB of SRAM
  • Five SPI buses
  • Two I2C interfaces
  • Five UARTs
  • 16 analogue inputs with 12-bit resolution
  • 52 digital inputs/outputs

Unfortunately, the Due isn’t available to buy just yet. The Arduino team is running the board through an invite-only beta process, after which pre-release ‘Developer Edition’ boards will be available to buy for those who want a say in the final release.

There’s no word on pricing yet, but as soon as we have our hands on one we’ll be sure to bring you a full review.