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OLinuXino looks to take on the Raspberry Pi

OLinuXino looks to take on the Raspberry Pi

The Olimex OLinuXino packs a Cortex-A8 processor and a significant wodge of GPIO connectivity in an impressive open-source design.

Bulgarian open-hardware company Olimex has announced the launch of its own Raspberry Pi competitor, the OLinuXino - and it boasts some significant improvements over the Pi's design.

The A13-OLinuXino builds on an earlier design created by the company, but replaces the iMX233 processor with a far more powerful AllWinner A13 chip: a Cortex-A8 ARMv7 chip running at 1GHz with a Mali 400 graphics processing unit. With the Raspberry Pi offering an older Broadcom BCM2835 ARMv6 chip running at 700MHz - although now officially overclockable up to 900MHz and potentially beyond - that's a not-insignificant speed boost.

The board also includes 512MB of RAM - double that of the original Raspberry Pi and matching that of the Revision 2 model - along with three host USB ports, an addition on-pin USB port, and a single USB on-the-go (OTG) port which can be used to power the board in place of the dedicated 6-16V DC input jack. The Pi's digital HDMI output is replaced with an analogue VGA connector, with LCD signals present on the expansion connector for embedded projects that require a digital image. The in-built sound chip includes both audio output and a microphone input, to the Pi's output-only system.

It's the OLinuXino's general-purpose input-output (GPIO) connectivity that impresses the most, however. As standard. the board includes 68 user-accessible GPIO pins offering 17 for connection to NAND flash components, 22 for connection to digital display panels, 20+4 general-purpose pins with 8 GPIOs switchable between input, output and interrupt sources, three I2C channels, two UART channels, and SDIO2 support for connecting active SD cards for wireless communications or other functionality. Five system pins additionally present 5V, 3.3V, ground, reset and non-maskable interrupt (NMI) connections.

The system's more recent ARM architecture means software support is improved over the Pi, too: the board includes official support for Google's Android 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich,' something the ARMv6-based Pi can't offer, while the community surrounding the product has had success porting full-fat Linux distributions including Debian to the platform. With a Cortex-class processor, support for mainstream distributions including Canonical's Ubuntu should be possible.

The final icing on the cake is that Olimex is, as with its other products, making all the hardware and software details available under an open-source licence. For those who would like to create their own variants of the design, the company is also selling the A13 processor and its required AXP209 power management chip in individual units, something Broadcom does not offer for the BCM2835.

There are some trade-offs made in the design, however. While the Raspberry Pi Model B includes in-built Ethernet, the OLinuXino does not - but this can be added through external expansion modules. Other add-ons include biofeedback hardware, GPS receivers, accelerometers, radios, and even 7in touch-sensitive displays that can piggyback onto the device.

The OLinuXino is available now, priced at €45 (around £36 excluding VAT and shipping) from the official site, making it a more expensive option than the £30 Raspberry Pi.

9 Comments

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mi1ez 7th November 2012, 13:13 Quote
Quote:
...full-fat Linux distributions including Linux to the platform
Linux Linux I assume then?
Gareth Halfacree 7th November 2012, 14:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mi1ez
Linux Linux I assume then?
Ah, that well known distribution! Let me just go and edit that to read Debian... Ta!
DXR_13KE 7th November 2012, 22:46 Quote
This is algo interesting:

http://cubieboard.org/

1G ARM cortex-A8 processor, NEON, VFPv3, 256KB L2 cache
Mali400, OpenGL ES GPU
512M/1GB DDR3 @480MHz
HDMI 1080p Output
10/100M Ethernet
4Gb Nand Flash
2 USB Host, 1 micro SD slot, 1 SATA, 1 ir
96 extend pin including I2C, SPI, RGB/LVDS, CSI/TS, FM-IN, ADC, CVBS, VGA, SPDIF-OUT, R-TP..
Running Android, Ubuntu and other Linux distributions
ArthurB 7th November 2012, 23:13 Quote
This is useless without an HDMI port. Like many people, I got rid of my CRT over a decade ago!
fluxtatic 8th November 2012, 07:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArthurB
This is useless without an HDMI port. Like many people, I got rid of my CRT over a decade ago!

Are you not aware that VGA ports are still very much alive? I only switched to DVI a few months ago, and this monitor has a VGA port, as well. I'll admit I'm lagging the times a bit, but I've got two PCs with HDMI, and it's useless to me. I'd prefer HDMI on one, but the touchscreens I'm looking at don't have both HDMI and a reverse-wire hookup (for a car PC, to hook up a reverse camera separately to the monitor.) Aside from that, HDMI touchscreens are significantly more expensive.

Last I heard, the old-skool D-sub connectors aren't due to become deprecated until 2015.
Gareth Halfacree 8th November 2012, 09:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArthurB
This is useless without an HDMI port. Like many people, I got rid of my CRT over a decade ago!
I have three TFT monitors. Two have DVI and VGA inputs, one has VGA only. I also have a Samsung HDTV, which has four HDMI inputs, various analogue inputs, and a VGA input. So, a VGA-only device will work with 100% of my display devices; an HDMI-only device will work with 25% of my devices with a standard HDMI cable, or 75% of my devices if I buy an HDMI-to-DVI cable.

I'd say a VGA-only device is pretty useful, really...
DXR_13KE 8th November 2012, 12:51 Quote
+ all the video projectors out there and old computer screens in third world countries...
ArthurB 10th November 2012, 21:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fluxtatic
Last I heard, the old-skool D-sub connectors aren't due to become deprecated until 2015.
Yeah. About a decade too late! VGA ports really needs to die. I hate them.

Imagine if projector and laptop manufacturers all switched to HDMI (and/or Mini-DisplayPort) 5+ years ago. We wouldn't be in the situation we are in now.
BLC 13th November 2012, 09:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArthurB
Yeah. About a decade too late! VGA ports really needs to die. I hate them.

Imagine if projector and laptop manufacturers all switched to HDMI (and/or Mini-DisplayPort) 5+ years ago. We wouldn't be in the situation we are in now.

Er... What situation is that, exactly?
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