A new Kickstarter project aims to take on both the Raspberry Pi and the Arduino with a hybrid device that offers the benefits of both in a single, compact single-board computer.
Dubbed UDOO - to be pronounced, the project's founders explain, as 'you do' - the design combines two already successful projects: the Raspberry Pi and the Arduino Due. For those not familiar, the Raspberry Pi is an impressive single-board computer
with basic general-purpose input-output capabilities based on a low-power ARM processor and designed to run Linux; the Arduino Due
, meanwhile, uses an even-lower-power ARM chip as a microcontroller to run a vast amount of input and output pins for use by electronics enthusiasts.
Both devices have their advantages and disadvantages: the Arduino Due allows for easy connection to external electronic components and runs in hard real time - a must for command and control applications - while the Pi is significantly more powerful and can run a full desktop operating system complete with graphical user interface. For those who want the best of both worlds, the previous solution has been to connect an Arduino to the Pi and deal with managing two separate devices.
That's something the UDOO looks to change. A single-board computer, the UDOO includes a high-power ARM Cortex-A9 processor alongside the same Cortex-M3 chip as found on the Arduino Due. Rather than having two devices, the system is a single design that combines both microprocessor and microcontroller in one - and is the first Arduino-compatible capable of running its own integrated development environment (IDE.)
Although that's a boon for electronics enthusiasts, those interested in general purpose computing will also find much to like about the UDOO. The device will be available in dual- or quad-core versions running at 1GHz, giving it significantly more power than a Raspberry Pi, and it will pack 1GB of DDR3 memory. Gigabit Ethernet is included as standard, along with Wi-Fi connectivity, while the quad-core model includes a SATA connector for high-capacity high-speed local storage. The device is designed to run Linaro Linux, a distribution designed specifically for embedded platforms, although the group states the platform is also compatible with Google's Android.
The device certainly promises much, but it's not quite ready for prime-time just yet: the team behind UDOO admits that it's having a few problems getting the system ready, struggling to convince the device to boot without the need for a script delivered over a serial connection, and that the Linaro Linux operating system does not include acceleration for the graphics processor or drivers for the Wi-Fi module or optional touch-screen interface.
It's these last few tweaks, plus switching physical jumpers to software configurable flags and upgrading the compatible version of Android to Android 4.2 'Jelly Bean,' that has caused the group behind the project to turn to Kickstarter for cash. It's a move that has certainly paid off: with 53 days left to go, the group has smashed past its $27,000 target with a total of almost $120,000 raised at the time of writing.
Those interested in the project can find out more, and plonk down some cash of their own if they are convinced as to its merits, at the official Kickstarter page