In today’s competitive market, one key to success is having technology that can meet all of your project requirements. While not all companies use Open Source Hardware, for smaller startups it might be something to consider since there are several benefits to doing so such as increased reliability, development speed, and decreased overhead. If you are in the market for an open source board to use for your next project, we have compared 4 different companies who, we believe, produce some of the top open source technologies.
If you’ve done any research on open source boards, we are sure you have come across the ever popular Raspberry Pi. Although it is commonly used as a Web server, this little board can do just about anything. The Pi is compatible with Android and has been used to write and test smartphone/tablet applications. The Raspberry Pi comes in few different models, some a little more expensive than others due to add-ons such as wireless capability and Bluetooth. The hardware included on these are a Broadcom chip with 700MHz CPU based on the old ARM11 processor design. The PCB can also handle 1080p multimedia and comes with at least one HDMI port. Want to know more about the model differences? You can view their comparison chart here.
With its low cost and wide variety of capabilities the Raspberry Pi a top choice for programmers of all levels. It can be used as a maker tool, a teaching instrument or most commonly used as a home theater PC. For more information on everything Raspberry Pi does go here.
The Arduino board is the largest open-source platform in the world. Not only is it easy to understand, but its affordability makes it a viable choice to all skill levels. The size of the Arduino board paired with the great support that Arduino offers make it an easy pick for our top 4 open source boards list.
Typically, an Arduino board consists of a Microcontroller ATmega328, operating voltage varies between models, a variety of Analog input pins, digital I/O pins, Flash memory, SRAM (varies/KB), EEPROM (varies/KB), Clock speed which changes depending on model. You can see view what is offered in different models by viewing their comparison chart here.
To view practical uses of Arduino boards, you can check out our blog post demonstrating how to use one with PSpice technology here.
The BeagleBoard has made our top 4 open source boards list due to its various uses. Many hobbyists tend to lean towards the BeagleBoard due to its ability to create several different inventions. Common uses for the board are as Wi-Fi radio alarm clocks, solar powered controllers, and retro gaming computers. It is also a great educational tool that will advance your knowledge in the PCB world. The board has also been used for industrial robotics, flying drones, in vehicle entertainment, 3D printers and more.
The BeagleBoard pricing starts at an affordable $45 and goes up from there, depending on hardware specs and capabilities. Typical BeagleBoard hardware includes a Texas Instruments ARM Cortex-A8 processor, a 3D graphics accelerator, and a USB port. It also includes a 512MB of DDR3 RAM and 2GB of on-board storage as well as HDMI and Ethernet ports. You can view their product comparison chart here.
Last but not certainly least, are Intel’s Open Source Hardware. Intel currently offers two different type of Open Source Boards: the Edison and the Galileo. The Edison Development Platform is designed to help entry level inventors and entrepreneurs mass produce wearable computing merchandise, while the Galileo board is for the advanced user and is used primarily for commercial products. The link here shows you the different features of each board.
Intel's boards combines the best of both worlds the inclusion of both a Linux and an Arduino emulator. The Arduino emulator makes the design process run a lot smoother—being able to run the code on an emulator is always a good idea for debugging, especially on a Linux-based operating system since there aren’t many restrictions on what you can do. This family of boards also offers the wide range of projects which can be used at a beginner or expert level.
Overall, each open source board has different benefits, depending on the user’s intended purpose. Let us know what you think by tweeting us @ema_eda and tell us what your favorite board is and why.