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General Category => Off topic => Topic started by: Gryzor on 11:18, 31 January 14

Title: Which dev board?
Post by: Gryzor on 11:18, 31 January 14
So, the Cubietruck Cubieboard3 has been released (http://www.cubietruck.com/collections/frontpage/products/cubietruck-cubieboard3-cortex-a7-dual-core-2gb-ram-8gb-flash-with-wifi-bt), with the one feature I've been waiting for: SATA support!


Overall the specs are nice, and the price is good too at €76:




Wifi, BT, SATA, 2GB, GB ethernet, even VGA, and they also have a great, small case that fits a HDD. The only thing that's a bummer is the dual-core A20 which is not exactly a powerhorse (though it does 1080p and can encode 2160p)On the other hand we have Ordroid U3:

*1.7GHz Quad-Core processor and 2GByte RAM
* 10/100Mbps Ethernet with RJ-45 LAN Jack
* 3 x High speed USB2.0 Host ports
* Audio codec with headphone jack on board
* XUbuntu 13.10 or Android 4.x  Operating System


This has a nice quad-core CPU, but the rest of the specs is nothing to write home about; especially the lack of SATA is frustrating, because you'd have to be running an external HDD through USB2 (booh!). Price is about the same once you've added all necessary add-ons like eMMC to run the OS from.


So I'd like to ask, does anyone know of a nice little board that combines the pluses from those systems? I want to build a media center out of it (XMBC probably), plus maybe play a few games through emulation, nothing serious. But I do need it to be fluid!


Thanks!
T
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: Bryce on 11:33, 31 January 14
Why do you call it a "Dev board" ? It's a mini PC.

Bryce.
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: Gryzor on 11:35, 31 January 14
Heh, yeah it is, but that's what they call this category of boards... Indeed I'm not going to develop anything, maybe the wife's frustration as I'm fiddling with it :D
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: Bryce on 11:43, 31 January 14
For me a Dev board includes a matrix for adding your own hardware or has all i/o connected to buttons / LEDs. Something like this: http://www.micro-examples.com/pics/94-EP2-ETHERNET-ep2.jpg (http://www.micro-examples.com/pics/94-EP2-ETHERNET-ep2.jpg)

Bryce.
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: Gryzor on 11:45, 31 January 14
Yes, yes, we know, that's another level of geekiness :) Don't blame me, I didn't assign them the title!


Also, if I said mini-PC people would start recommending Zotac devices at 6-10x the price!
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: Bryce on 12:07, 31 January 14
I'd still recommend the Raspberry Pi, due to it's size and the amount of support / expansions available. I know it's not nearly as powerful, but what do you intend using it for?

Bryce.
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: Gryzor on 12:11, 31 January 14
Yup, I do have one, but I've found it struggles with more complex stuff, even when overclocked... that's why I want to upgrade. Also, because I can't find a single case that will hold a HDD and the board inside. Also, 10/100 with a USB2 means it takes ages to transfer files (and CPU usage skyrockets when doing that). As I said, it's for a HTPC role with games add-ons.
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: The Last Bandit on 22:44, 31 January 14
AMD Fusion E350 board with OpenElec installed. Just works, no fiddling about required (although I realise sometimes the fiddling is the best bit).
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: redbox on 23:05, 31 January 14
IMHO, for a HTPC you can't beat a Zotac Mini ITX, they can handle anything you throw at it and well worth the cost.

And a M350 case (http://www.mini-itx.com/store/?c=54) - room for a 2.5" SSD and still a tiny case.
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: Gryzor on 00:51, 01 February 14
Yeah, but both solutions are well in another price range (and I specifically said  no Zotac :D :D )


Also, while the M350 is nice, it's certainly huge compared to what I have in mind - something really inconspicuous hidden behind the TV. The Cubietruck even has IR built-in, which means no USB sticks sticking out...
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: Munchausen on 19:01, 01 February 14
There's the pandaboard too:


Platform | Pandaboard (http://pandaboard.org/content/platform)


has wifi/bluetooth but no SATA. It's a dual core A9 at 1.2GHz/SGX540/1GB RAM. $182 (USD).


Personally for power I'd go for a Toradex Apalis or Colibri with a carrier board. The Apalis has a Tegra 3 (4 core cortex A9 at 1.4GHz), NVidia GeForce graphics, up to 2GB RAM, 1GB ethernet, 8GB flash built in, SATA, mini PCI-e etc etc. They aren't cheap though, the module is 129eur and the carrier is 89. Details: http://www.toradex.com/products/apalis-arm-computer-modules/apalis-t30 and http://developer.toradex.com/product-selector/ixora-carrier-board. It's also up to you to build a case, as they are really for industrial use so they don't provide them.
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: Gryzor on 19:39, 01 February 14
Thanks for the suggestions...


Pandaboard: no SATA = deal breaker :( And I think 1GB is quite a small amount for a A9-class device?


The Apalis has certainly good specs, but then again it should have at that monstrous size! :D No case = deal breaker again, unfortunately.


What I'm worrying about regarding the Cubietruck is whether their linux distros have support for the Mali GPU... if not, it's kind of screwed (until they build it in)!
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: redbox on 20:10, 01 February 14
Quote from: Gryzor
What I'm worrying about regarding the Cubietruck is whether their linux distros have support for the Mali GPU... if not, it's kind of screwed (until they build it in)!

limadriver (http://limadriver.org)
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: Gryzor on 20:11, 01 February 14
Oooh ah-ha! Thanks for that :)
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: Gryzor on 20:25, 01 February 14
Hm, been reading a bit on the Lima performance, am I right to assume it's not ideal yet?
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: redbox on 21:22, 01 February 14
Hm, been reading a bit on the Lima performance, am I right to assume it's not ideal yet?

Yeah, not ideal but better than the closed source binaries that never work ;)

Although that driver hasn't had any updates in a while...
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: Munchausen on 21:49, 01 February 14
The Apalis has certainly good specs, but then again it should have at that monstrous size! :D No case = deal breaker again, unfortunately.


The Ixora carrier board isn't very big (90x125mm)... I guess you were looking at the evaluation board? But yeah you need a case!
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: Gryzor on 13:55, 02 February 14
@Redbox: well, looks like the GPU is not a problem. These boards have some CPU cores, a GPU and a VPU (damn). So video decoding is not dependent on GPU support (more here: Most Embedded GPUs Do NOT Support Hardware Video Decoding Acceleration. The VPU (http://www.cnx-software.com/2013/12/10/most-embedded-gpus-do-not-support-hardware-video-decoding-acceleration-the-vpu-does/) ). However I've been reading different opinions about the results of video decoding... the whole thing is a bit messed up :D


@Munchausen: ahhh yeah, must've been so, and it did look ugly to me :D
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: redbox on 19:52, 02 February 14
Zotac Ion is your friend.

Drivers are mature and work great with Windoze and Linux.

Sorry to say it again ;)
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: Gryzor on 20:59, 02 February 14
Yeah, you know what? You're probably right. I was looking at the Zotac Zbox thingies, but they're much more expensive. The lowest-specced one, for instance (ZOTAC ZBOX ID85 [ZBOX-ID85-U] (http://www.zotacusa.com/zbox-id85.html)) is $199 (without memory) and I'm not sure it can do a media player with XMBC @1080p, with its Intel Core Dual @1.1GHz (but I may be wrong?). Do you have a specific model in mind? Zotac have a bewildering 76 models on their site, with NO prices!


But, reading quite a bit on the rest of the market, I don't think I'll be getting the Cubieboard (or any other for that matter), too many distros, too fragmented support, too much uncertainty. It's not like I can see me and the missus sitting down to watch the latest True Detective episode and me saying "oh wait, this format requires me to recompile the kernel, give me a minute or thirty".
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: redbox on 22:39, 02 February 14
Yeah, you know what? You're probably right. I was looking at the Zotac Zbox thingies, but they're much more expensive. The lowest-specced one, for instance (ZOTAC ZBOX ID85 [ZBOX-ID85-U] (http://www.zotacusa.com/zbox-id85.html)) is $199 (without memory) and I'm not sure it can do a media player with XMBC @1080p, with its Intel Core Dual @1.1GHz (but I may be wrong?). Do you have a specific model in mind? Zotac have a bewildering 76 models on their site, with NO prices!

It does work out more expensive but they are powerful - check out the specs!  I'd build your own rather than get a packaged one.

See here (http://www.mini-itx.com/store/zotac) - 1.86GHz Atom Mini-ITX Board with onboard NVidia GT610 graphics.  Boards and components are expensive from this website though, you can get them cheaper elsewhere if you shop around.

You'll need motherboard, case, HDD and RAM but might have some of that lying around already ;)
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: TFM on 00:22, 03 February 14
Sounds like an old PC. So what's the point in these boards if someone already has a PC? What do I miss?

Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: redbox on 09:24, 03 February 14
Sounds like an old PC. So what's the point in these boards if someone already has a PC? What do I miss?

Size and noise.
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: Gryzor on 10:04, 03 February 14
Hm, that one is nice indeed, and Amazon has the cased kit for only 109 quid (€133):http://www.amazon.com/Zotac-Atom-D2550-Processor-Upgrade/dp/B009YC05O6/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1391414296&sr=8-3&keywords=zotac+D2550 . Not bad! I do have a nice 2.5" SATA drive, got to buy the memory too, but it's not bad. Not to big either, 19x19cm. Will keep this in mind when I do buy one :)


@TFM: you can't really place a PC under your TV set :D
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: TFM on 19:04, 03 February 14
Oh yes, my laptop fits there... to store it  :laugh:
Title: Re: Which dev board?
Post by: Gryzor on 19:06, 03 February 14
Yeah, we got two laptops near the TV, a medium-powered one and a nice i7 little beast. using them as media players? All sorts of problems - storage, power, control...