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$39 Arduino Compatible Boardset Runs Linux On New x86 SoC

timothy posted about 9 months ago | from the plenty-of-room-at-the-bottom dept.

Hardware 95

DeviceGuru writes "DM&P Group has begun shipping a $39 Arduino compatible boardset and similar mini-PC equipped with a new computer-on-module based on a new 300MHz x86 compatible Vortex86EX system-on-chip. The $39 86Duino Zero boardset mimics an Arduino Leonardo, in terms of both form-factor and I/O expansion. The tiny $49 86Duino Educake mini-PC incorportates the same functionality, but in a 78 x 70 x 29mm enclosure with an integrated I/O expansion breadboard built into its top surface. The mini-PC's front and back provide 2x USB, audio in/out, Ethernet, and COM interfaces, power input, and an SD card slot. The hardware and software source for all the boards, including the computer-on-module, are available for download under open source licenses at the 86Duino.com website."

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Imagine... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45550271)

a Beowolf cluster of those!

Other OS'es (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45550273)

Can I run bsd on it?

Re:Other OS'es (3, Informative)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 9 months ago | (#45550299)

You should. Most BSDs are compatible with x86 and I don't see anything in the spec list that would be a showstopper.

Re:Other OS'es (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45550837)

What about linmodems?

Re:Other OS'es (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45554617)

Side note, you can run FreeBSD and NetBSD on Raspberry Pi too, which is Arm.

Re:Other OS'es (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about 8 months ago | (#45555565)

Minix 3 should be good as well

Slashdotted (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45550275)

First post and the fucking website is slashdotted.

Re:Slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45550629)

You're not first, and all the sites in the link load fine. You fail at posting and web browsing. Typical.

Non-starter for me. (5, Insightful)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about 9 months ago | (#45550285)

More expensive than a Raspberry PI, with a slower processor.
Add in the community that has grown up around the Raspberry and I know where my money will be going.

Re:Non-starter for me. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45550399)

This board has Ethernet, so you should compare it with the $35 Ethernet equipped version of RPI.
  ADC, PWM, CAN, ISA, PCIe are on there too.

Compared to a "Arduino", this is not too bad.
The latest "Arduino" is $90 http://blog.wickeddevice.com/?p=494 and still running a 8-bit CPU.

Re:Non-starter for me. (3, Informative)

JackDW (904211) | about 9 months ago | (#45551255)

I think it sounds quite good, but international shipping is $35.60, nearly doubling the cost.

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 9 months ago | (#45554363)

I love it when companies destroy any chance of being successful by trying to screw you on shipping.

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 8 months ago | (#45557039)

That's what international shipping costs. You should see the cost of shipping something from the USA to Canada, 35$ is not unheard of.

Re:Non-starter for me. (3, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | about 9 months ago | (#45552253)

The latest "Arduino" is $90 http://blog.wickeddevice.com/?p=494 [wickeddevice.com] and still running a 8-bit CPU.

The latest Arduino board, the Due can be found here: http://arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoBoardDue [arduino.cc]

And its ARM based, a 32 bit CPU.

There is also the older Yun: http://arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoBoardYun [arduino.cc]

Which has a Atheros AR9331 daughter board as well as an 8bit CPU. It runs Linux out of the box.

The board you linked to is a clone, not an actual arduino, and there are hundreds of different clones that run all sorts of CPUs right down the the Intel Galileo which is an Atom board (x86)

Re:Non-starter for me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45559543)

Which has a Atheros AR9331 daughter board as well as an 8bit CPU. It runs Linux out of the box.

And if you need to run a real OS, you're SOL, because the AR9331 is an NDA piece of shit, just like the Raspberry Pi.

Re:Non-starter for me. (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 9 months ago | (#45554357)

I really don't understand why people don't get this. The Arduino is a micro controller, it's NOT a computer. The RPI is a computer, NOT a micro controller. This new thing they are talking about here is a combination of both. It can not be compared to either. I wasn't aware that you could get a RPI shield for a Arduino but I just checked and apparently you can. So add up the price of all 3, then compare them with this.

A Microcontroller IS a computer (1)

billstewart (78916) | about 9 months ago | (#45566443)

No, it's not a blazingly fast computer, but both the Arduino and RPi are computers. If you want a built-in graphics chip, no, Arduino doesn't have one of those, but you can still drive simple displays. If you want to listen to sensor wires and turn on LEDs, either one will work, though the Arduino and BeagleBoneBlack have a lot more connector pins than the RPi, but you can do microcontroller jobs with either one. If you want an operating system, yeah, Arduino isn't going to run anything very sophisticated, but it's still more powerful than the 8-bit computers my friends were using in the late 70s and early 80s. (Not me - I was using PDP-11s, VAXes, and mainframes back then, or vacuum tubes; I'm only now catching up with this retro integrated circuit stuff :-)

Much slower than Beaglebone Black (2)

billstewart (78916) | about 9 months ago | (#45566411)

The main problem with Raspberry Pi is that it's an earlier ARM spec; the new Beaglebone Black is ~$45 and has a newer ARM version so you get more choice of operating systems (I've read that RPi can't do Ubuntu, but BBB can, though reviewers differ on whether RPi can also.) On the other hand, the RPi has a more powerful graphics chip, so it can do full 1080p, which the BBB can't (which answers the question of which one I'm going to get to put next to my TV.) BBB has a 1 GHz CPU and a lot more I/O pins than RPi, but so far I haven't been doing anything where that matters, and I can use the Arduino to play with sensors.

Re:Non-starter for me. (3, Funny)

Threni (635302) | about 9 months ago | (#45550461)

Slower than a Raspberry Pi? Wow! There must be a reason for making such a device, but I can't for the life of me imagine what it might be.

Re:Non-starter for me. (5, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 9 months ago | (#45550547)

Far more GPIO (the Pi only has 8, which is rather pitiful), compatibility with Ardiuno (so lots of expansion modules readily available), built-in SATA/COM/parallel port support, etc. Not everything is about speed. Also, it's x86, so it's compatible with a totally different set of programs/OSes.

Re:Non-starter for me. (2)

MMC Monster (602931) | about 9 months ago | (#45551295)

[...]Also, it's x86, so it's compatible with a totally different set of programs/OSes.

I'm sure someone will manage to compile a Debian based distro that can handle x86.

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#45551429)

But probably not on this particular CPU... Any time soon.

Re:Non-starter for me. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45551813)

you know debian runs native on x86, right? also fuck debian (and ubuntu). too insecure by default

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

idunham (2852899) | about 9 months ago | (#45553353)

This should be able to run standard Debian.

Or is that an attempt at a joke?

Re:Non-starter for me. (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 9 months ago | (#45551417)

Well not to mention that unless ALL you care about is getting the teeniest tiniest device with X86 you can possibly get this isn't really a good value because for a few bucks more you can get an AMD Bobcat board [amazon.com] which gives you dual cores, an HD6310 GPU capable of 1080P over HDMI and you can use up to 8GB of RAM.

I'd say if you want a dirt cheap X86 board they can't be beat, you can even use something like OpenELEC [openelec.tv] which has the drivers and XBMC baked in and have a nice media tank/HTPC for less than $200 complete. I've built several as media tanks and even replacements for aging P4s in offices and I have to say everybody just loves the things, quiet as can be, just sips power, great little systems they are.

Re:Non-starter for me. (3, Informative)

Goaway (82658) | about 9 months ago | (#45551595)

That one doesn't have any GPIOs or micocontroller buses. Completely useless for the kinds of things this board is meant for.

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#45551833)

That one doesn't have any GPIOs or micocontroller buses. Completely useless for the kinds of things this board is meant for.

Out of genuine curiosity, I'm honestly deeply unfamiliar with this side of the game, is there a lot of low-power/embedded x86 code out there that continues to drive demand for very anemic 4-to-586s with decent embedded I/O?

I assume that the crop of 'expensive device connected to ancient computer that runs DOS more or less as a bootloader for a very specific control application' PCs is definitely up for replacement, now that you can put anything up through the mid '90s onto a little solid-state module the size of a pack of cards; but I don't know how big that crop is/was and whether there is much still to be replaced(or even still in production) and how much has already been swapped out for more modern embedded x86 gear or ported and/or replaced by a new product.

In the absence of a specific legacy, choosing the comparatively small selection of x86 vendors seems odd, particularly for systems too weak to be broadly compatible in the 'but it has to run my Windows stuff!' sense; but I'd assume that these aren't being made purely for somebody's amusement.

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 9 months ago | (#45553219)

Well friend that is what isn't making a shitting lick of sense when it comes to this either. After all if all they care about is microcontrollers? the ARM systems are a LOT, we are talking several orders of magnitude better supported here and if its for some legacy crap program? Well DOSBox runs just fine on ARM and would probably run better than on a CPU that was out of date a dozen years ago.

Hell these don't even have ISA board support which is the only place I've ran into a need for ancient computing solutions, everything else? You could run a good 2 or 3 VMs of DOS on that Bobcat board so to me this is a solution in search of a problem that hasn't existed since the mid 00s. Even that mini Atom board Intel put out last year would run rings around a 300MHz 486.

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#45553615)

Lack of ISA could be an issue for certain specialty applications that they'd otherwise be suitable for; but I suspect that they aren't to worried about DOSbox(barring pretty significant modifications to your usual setup)

I've thankfully not had too much of the pleasure of dealing with them; but x86s running DOS and a suitable control program had a period of popularity as a (comparatively) cheap CNC machine drive/controller mechanism. Typically using the OS as little more than a bootloader, making dubiously safe assumptions about the CPU clock's safety as a timebase for operating dangerous machinery, and driving the actual motor control board by hammering the memory space assigned to the parallel port directly.

I imagine that, if the incentive were right, a build of DOSbox with the necessary time stability, and some sort of very fast, very predictable, I/O passthrough to hardware I/O pins, all running on a real time kernel, could be made to work; but it wouldn't be trivial.

What I don't know is how many such applications continue to exist. If they do, something like this is probably a good way to deal with them: DOS is a joke as an actual operating system; but it's ability to get out of your way and give you direct access (or, rather, it's inability to do anything else) means that it hosted more than a few 'Poor Man's RTOS' type applications in its day, exactly the sort of thing that would be most painful to virtualize. If they don't, I have difficulty seeing the point vs. either much more powerful x86s or other embedded options, depending on the nature of the application.

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 9 months ago | (#45574497)

Well I've had to work on some of those "poor man's RTOS" and they all required ISA as they were being used to drive CNCs and other automation through specialized ISA boards. There is a lumber company that right now is using my very first gaming PC (a 100MHz Pentium I with 32Mb and a 2Gb HDD) as a lathe controller using ISA and the reason why they paid out the behind to have me throw them my old gear (this was in 06) was the simple facts that 1.- The company that built the lathe went out of business over a decade ago, and 2.- A replacement would cost north of $100K.

But that STILL don't explain WTF this is for! Like I said no ISA makes it a non starter for the legacy control systems, if they strictly want a tiny embeded the ARM units are better supported and if all they want is something to run some legacy Windows crap the AMD Bobcat has hardware VM and runs rings around that system....so who in the hell is buying 300Mhz PIIs and for what?

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45553627)

VMs are 100% useless for embedded applications. The V in VM totally destroys all assumptions about timing. The advantage of these boards over AMD Bobcat, Atom, etc, is that they are based on 486 and so have a shorter pipeline, therefore, for timing critical interrupt driven processing, they are actually faster than an Atom. Of course an ARM M4 has even better critical path timing characteristics, but there is no standard OS for Cortex Mwhatever, and certainly nothing you can login to remotely like BSD or DOS.

I have plenty of applications where I still use DOS where I can't use a VM because the time from interrupt to response is critical, and a VM will totally fuck that up.

Re:Non-starter for me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45553839)

Well, let's just say that hardware worth a couple of billion USD has been sold over the last decade, the control system for which is an embedded 386 board with a bunch of I/O and field buses.. Runs a simple RTOS rather than straight DOS, but the PCI memory map etc. is 99% DOS compatible.

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#45554543)

Out of genuine curiosity, I'm honestly deeply unfamiliar with this side of the game, is there a lot of low-power/embedded x86 code out there that continues to drive demand for very anemic 4-to-586s with decent embedded I/O?

There's a metric shitload of x86 PCs out there from XTs up to usually about 386s running all kinds of industrial automation from flood control valves to milling machines. If you can reuse the existing code with just some tweaks to the driver section, then you win. And indeed, since this thing will run DOS (and pretty much all those old embedded PCs are too) it's a perfect fit. Some of those programs are so old they were written in x86 ASM to begin with, so a port is not practical.

Beaglebone Black (2)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about 9 months ago | (#45552351)

Get a BeagleBone Black. Tons of GPIO along with ADCs and PWM channels. Of course all the usual SPI and 1Wire stuff as well.

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

amorsen (7485) | about 9 months ago | (#45551041)

It has useful I/O, i.e. actual ethernet and SATA and non-broken USB.

Re:Non-starter for me. (2)

Anomalyst (742352) | about 9 months ago | (#45551937)

le'ts not forget the PI's inability to boot from/use many class10 SD cards (i,e, those that dont obey the magic "degraded access" command.)

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | about 9 months ago | (#45553409)

The important question is: does it do analog input? That's the biggest limitation on the RPi IMHO. Adding a cheap AC current sensor for home automation monitoring would be a lot simpler if the RPi had analog inputs.

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45553647)

Yes, 6 pins at 11 bits precision.

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 9 months ago | (#45551371)

Maybe not everything is designed to run a full blown Linux desktop at 1080p?

Seriously the RPi is lightning fast. I'm running a bunch of 8MHz processors for my most common work.

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#45554553)

The RPi is lightning fast, but its I/O is shit. And therein lies the biggest problem with the Pi. You can calculate very quickly, but unless the data you want can easily be represented via the HDMI port, you can't trust that you'll be able to use the data quickly. Which is why the best thing you can do with the Pi is build a media player, for example, with internal Ambilight clone. There's better options for pretty much any other purpose now.

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 8 months ago | (#45557891)

Fully agree, though there's one other use case for the RPi which is any system requiring a full network stack. The most appealing uses of RPis I've seen are media players (like mine running Raspbmc), emulators for old games, or some network applications like an auto Tor re-router, or proxy server or something like that (though not NAS thanks to it's lack of SATA.

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#45558737)

Fully agree, though there's one other use case for the RPi which is any system requiring a full network stack.

I'll let you have that with the provision that you're using the SD card for storage, and you're not trying to max out the network interface... Otherwise you want a cubieboard or a pogoplug. I cannot understand why the community has not embraced the pogoplug more, you can run arch on debian on 'em and the newer ones have USB3 and GigE. For those cases where you don't need SATA... This little x86 machine at least has SATA, so you could use it for a low-end filer I guess.

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 9 months ago | (#45564187)

Do you really have to ask that question? The cheapest place I've found the Pogoplug is ebay and still double the cost of the RPi. The same can be said for the Beagleboard or any number of devices which are better speced and yet can't be had for $25.

The reason people don't embrace it is the same reason we're having this discussion, not everyone needs a premium priced ultra speced out box to do basic tasks. Also your provision is indeed a good one, but then again there's very few applications other than a NAS that would require full utilisation of a 100Mbps network interface. Most of the network stack applications I've seen centre around getting data, doing local storage, then either network access or uploading data into the cloud.

There's a product for every application out there, and while the RPi is definitely NOT the best or even suitable for every application, an amazing number of applications require something with the specs of the RPi. (and then there's those people who throw a full blown computer at a project just to make the lights blink but we won't go there).

Video is why RPi, not PogoPlug (1)

billstewart (78916) | about 9 months ago | (#45566457)

RPi and BeagleBoneBlack have HDMI video built in (though BBB won't do 1080p and RPi will, because the graphics chip is heftier even though the CPU's a bit slower.) None of the Pogoplugs I've seen have video; they're headless only.

But yeah, if this x86 thing has SATA, that does make some extra applications possible.

Re:Non-starter for me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45550517)

It looks cool
x86
2 watts tdp

Re:Non-starter for me. (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 9 months ago | (#45550615)

I know where my money will be going.

To the BeagleBone Black, of course.

No? The pcDuino, then? No? Cubieboard? El cheapo chinese tablet with an I/O expander? Don't leave us hanging!

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

tom229 (1640685) | about 9 months ago | (#45550853)

The Pi is ARM based. This is x86, and Arduino compatible.

Re:Non-starter for me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45551821)

but what is the point of an x86 ? it not like you are going to run windows on a 300MHz 486 it is about 15 years out of date for that

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about 8 months ago | (#45555625)

No, but just about every OS is available on an x86 - FreeDOS, QNX, Minix, Windows CE... So if you are building something for which you want tried and tested software that already exists for the platform, going w/ one of the legacy x86s from someone like VIA or any other company that makes low end x86s would be a good idea. Use that, then use something like FreeDOS or Minix on it, and you're off to the races.

Re:Non-starter for me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45550879)

Love all the trollish comments -- let's all keep comparing Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and BeagleBone as if they're direct competitors in a singular, targeted market so all the newbies falling for the link bait title of the OP will just become more and more confused.

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

trackedvehicle (1972844) | about 9 months ago | (#45550965)

Add in the community that has grown up around the Raspberry and I know where my money will be going.

The Arduino community is huge and extremely productive/creative.

Re:Non-starter for me. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#45551425)

I've never really understood the charm of ultra-weak x86 embedded boards (if 'embedded' actually means 'desktop or greater power', x86 is an obvious choice, and there are certain chunks of legacy code, probably still happily twiddling things in DOS that could now be replaced with much more reliable embedded board the size of a postage stamp, if that board is x86); but if you are writing something new, or doing low-level work with peripherals, anything that isn't a nigh-perfect clone of a common wintel is going to be a hardware specific project, same as an ARM board, and the ARM scene is faster and cheaper.

The rPi, though, is sort of a poor example for 'embedded' products, though, given its scarcity of I/O, and useful embedded interfaces. Doesn't change the general point, of course.

Re:Non-starter for me. (2)

idunham (2852899) | about 9 months ago | (#45553431)

x86 has more OSs available.
The vendor supports DOS, Linux, and purportedly WIndows. From what I understand, "Windows" would be "XP or older", since a Vortex86EX appears to be 586-level or so.
Coincidentally, that's the same ISA as Galileo.

It's an option if you have some 16-bit code that you need to keep going...which is especially likely on any sort of continuation of an older hardware project.

The other aspect is that you can compile on your PC without setting up a cross-compiling environment. On the one hand, that's easier. On the other hand, you don't learn to cross-compile. And on the gripping hand, these processors are the sort where you don't want to compile natively.

Re:Non-starter for me. (0, Flamebait)

tiagosousa (1931172) | about 9 months ago | (#45551451)

More expensive than a Raspberry PI, with a slower processor.

I'm sick and tired of seeing the Raspberry Pi, which is essentially a black box run by a binary blob both fully controlled by Broadcom, being compared to proper open source and open hardware platforms, such as Arduino, OLinuXino, Beagleboard and others. Yes they are more expensive for what they do, but that is the cost of not being locked down to proprietary hardware. I'm glad 86Duino and in particular its Vortex86EX SoC is truly open [google.com] .

Add in the community that has grown up around the Raspberry and I know where my money will be going.

I know where my money goes: to platforms that unreservedly foster education, both civic and technical.

Re:Non-starter for me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45553577)

I totally agree, except the cost comes from the fact that the Socs in the other platforms are better than that in Rpi.

wow its a vortex board (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 9 months ago | (#45550323)

and a shitty one at that, though not 39$ I have a 800Mhz vortex86 board with ISA, pci, 8 serial ports, printer port, IDE port, floppy port, 4 USB, 32 5 volt GPIO, network, and uses laptop DDR ram.

That thing is so old every major part on it has been obsoleted to the point of just about impossible to find, so A whats so impressive about yet another PC on a board, and B) why is it so fucking slow?

Re:wow its a vortex board (2)

makomk (752139) | about 9 months ago | (#45550347)

Probably still better than Intel's Galileo board, which doesn't even have proper native GPIOs (they all go through a slow I2C I/O expander), is more expensive, and has worse power usage.

Re:wow its a vortex board (1, Funny)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 9 months ago | (#45550661)

Plus the Intel may be assumed to have an NSA mod.

Re:wow its a vortex board (4, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 9 months ago | (#45550941)

Probably still better than Intel's Galileo board, which doesn't even have proper native GPIOs (they all go through a slow I2C I/O expander), is more expensive, and has worse power usage.

Compatibility is worse on this board though - it's a 486 core. Most modern Linux is compiled for i586 (Pentium) ISA, so you can't even run a stock Linux distribution (even the "i386" distros usually assume Pentium and up). You'll need to basically recompile everything for i486 instruction set to get it to work.

Last time I dealt with this, Puppy Linux was all that could run by default on it (I think it compiled everything i386 - though Linux needs 486 or better). Everything it didn't come with had to be recompiled from source as practically all binaries available were i586.

Though it can probably run Windows - I think XP should run just fine on it.

And yes, I've tried running i586 binaries on boards with the Vortex processor on them. You usually get a segfault or illegal instruction error sooner or later.

Re:wow its a vortex board (1)

amorsen (7485) | about 9 months ago | (#45551151)

That is a real problem. The Raspberry is annoying in the same way, you have to recompile everything because it uses such an old ARM standard. Come on people, it really should be possible to be Pentium Pro compatible at this point.

Re:wow its a vortex board (1)

Anomalyst (742352) | about 9 months ago | (#45551963)

Arch linux ARM image on an SD card boots/runs without a problem. Repos seem to cover everything I wanted to do, no compilation on my part needed. kernel is at 3.10, not the absolute latest, but plenty recent.

Re:wow its a vortex board (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 9 months ago | (#45552743)

not a problem at all, forget that bloated penguin and get the beastie or blowfish on there.

Re:wow its a vortex board (1)

JackDW (904211) | about 9 months ago | (#45551155)

That matches my experience with a similar Vortex x86 CPU. It was 486-compatible, but Pentium-specific instructions such as RDTSC were illegal. I had to compile a custom kernel, and make sure that all the userspace libaries and programs were 486. But this was no big deal. You always have to do things like that for embedded development, and it's usually a lot more hassle for an ARM-based platform because of the higher degree of variation.

I'd also expect it to run older versions of Windows, though XP may be a stretch.

Re:wow its a vortex board (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45553873)

It might be a fun weekend project to get a latest Debian to run on it. I wonder what would be the easiest way to do it? Install first some ancient version on the device and build everything from scratch there (current gcc, autotools, etc..) or setup a cross compiler setup on a modern pc? Compiling anything on such a slow machine takes ages, but at least it has enough memory so it does not need to use swapping so much.

Re:wow its a vortex board (1)

tick-tock-atona (1145909) | about 9 months ago | (#45554091)

As always, Debian will run on it [debian.org]

Re:wow its a vortex board (2)

LinuxIsGarbage (1658307) | about 9 months ago | (#45559833)

Probably still better than Intel's Galileo board, which doesn't even have proper native GPIOs (they all go through a slow I2C I/O expander), is more expensive, and has worse power usage.

Compatibility is worse on this board though - it's a 486 core. Most modern Linux is compiled for i586 (Pentium) ISA, so you can't even run a stock Linux distribution (even the "i386" distros usually assume Pentium and up). You'll need to basically recompile everything for i486 instruction set to get it to work.

Last time I dealt with this, Puppy Linux was all that could run by default on it (I think it compiled everything i386 - though Linux needs 486 or better). Everything it didn't come with had to be recompiled from source as practically all binaries available were i586.

Though it can probably run Windows - I think XP should run just fine on it.

And yes, I've tried running i586 binaries on boards with the Vortex processor on them. You usually get a segfault or illegal instruction error sooner or later.

Windows 2000 is the last version you can get to run on a 486. XP requires Pentium/586 or higher, Vista requires some certain level of ACPI, and Windows 8 requires PAE, NX, and SSE2.

Re:wow its a vortex board (1)

yuhong (1378501) | about 9 months ago | (#45566611)

On a true 486 yes. All that XP requires to run however is the CMPXCHG8B instruction which Vortex86 implemented probably years ago.

Re:wow its a vortex board (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45560233)

And yes, I've tried running i586 binaries on boards with the Vortex processor on them. You usually get a segfault or illegal instruction error sooner or later.

That was true of earlier Vortex processors, the newer ones (including this one, and the MX) support Pentium, but not Pentium Pro instructions (no CMOV or RDTSC).

Re:wow its a vortex board (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45550379)

Because it's $39?

ps Vortex86 will run windows too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45550337)

so you can use it for something productive as well

Intel lagging again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45550363)

They are trying to prevent ARM from dominating in yet another sphere.

Re: Intel lagging again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45550975)

It's not an Intel chip, dude.

What do people do with these things? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45550715)

I can't think of any need I have that would need a small computer that I'd have to interface and program. We are surrounded by an ocean of already existing solutions for anything at all, what's the appeal here? You want to program? Go get Python. The last thing I was interested in technically were I built my own things was audio, but this was years ago. Now all I have is a power amp, two speakers and a PC. No one needs switching between two VCRs, a reel to reel, a cassette deck, a record player, an equalizer and effects processor and outboard dolby decoders. That is in the past.

What possible need or use is there for a 40$ microcontroller on a board? What great pressing needs do people have?

Is it just a silly hobby because we no longer have so much hardware in our houses anymore?

Re:What do people do with these things? (1)

John.Banister (1291556) | about 9 months ago | (#45551365)

I can think of dozens of tasks being done by thousand dollar PLCs that could be done by this thing instead. I can think of many other instances where industrial automation was foregone due to the price that could be affordably done with this sort of thing. It's especially nice to be able to solve problems without getting locked in to some manufacturer's proprietary gravy train.

but why x86? (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 9 months ago | (#45551909)

There are ARM and MIPS boards that are even cheaper, and if you're doing it from scratch they're not much more work since you'd need to rebuild everything for this board anyway (it's not 586-compatible).

Re:but why x86? (1)

John.Banister (1291556) | about 9 months ago | (#45552951)

I don't disagree. "These things" came across to me as a little less processor specific in the comment above.

Re:but why x86? (1)

idunham (2852899) | about 9 months ago | (#45553479)

Would you mind pointing out or naming one of the MIPS boards?
Not that I doubt you, but I've been looking for them for a couple years and have yet to find anything MIPS in that price range, except a few routers.

Re:but why x86? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45553679)

Because there's far more people who can program DOS/DOS32 than esoteric RTOS, and Linux is wholly unsuitable for hard realtime control.

Maybe if someone made something like DOS for ARM or MIPS, AND ported it to every ARM SoM on the market and taught two generations of programmers how to program for it, ARM and MIPS could compete.

Re:but why x86? (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about 8 months ago | (#45556267)

Given that FreeDOS exists, can't it be ported to MIPS?

Re:What do people do with these things? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45552545)

If they're using a PLC, there's a reason for it. Can you make a system that's reliable 24/7 for years on end in an industrial environment of heat, vibration, noise and dust? There's nothing more proprietary than a hacker's single solution and that guy doesn't work there anymore.

RepRap (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 9 months ago | (#45551213)

I think we just found a new board to control 3D printers. I keep saying that we need to keep the processor, the stepper drivers, the heated board controller and the LCD+controls on distinct boards and this is exactly why.

Re:RepRap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45553685)

The 69usd board (One it is called) has 3 encoder inputs, a lot of PWM outputs etc. I was thinking that would be a good board for a 3d printer. You could do the stepper controlling in software and only have h-bridges, which would bring the costs down, only someone needs to write the module for that.

The processor module itself is the same in both, so you could buy that 39usd version and make your own baseboard.

300MHz x86? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 9 months ago | (#45551223)

What CPU is it equivalent to? Any chance of running older MAME versions on this? Could it run Pac-Man and Dig-Dug? Or even games such as Rygar or Black Tiger?

Re:300MHz x86? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#45551479)

I'd be surprised. A 300MHz CPU with no FPU, implementing a slightly pre-Pentium Pro set of instructions, is not a fast device. And emulation can be fairly demanding, even emulation of quite old systems. Actual bencharks seem to be a bit thin on the ground, though.

Re:300MHz x86? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45551491)

Good question. The older Vortex86 chips were basically 486SX (no FPU) chips with a high clock speed, but according to the data sheet [86duino.com] , this one has an FPU, uses DDR3 RAM and has a 6 stage pipeline. I wasn't able to find any real performance information, but as a wild guess, it would probably be equivalent to an original Pentium at the same clock speed. So it should probably be able to handle emulating 16-bit games with an efficient emulator. Though this may not implement a full 586/686 instruction set, much less MMX or any form of SSE.

Though the greatest challenge to running an emulator is the fact that this doesn't come with a video output :)

Re:300MHz x86? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45551525)

You would have to hook up an external graphics card to the PCIe 1x for your monitor.
Not every embedded processors comes ready to work with your monitor you know.

Re:300MHz x86? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45552241)

From other comments seems to be similar to a 486-SX, uses the 486 instruction set and doesn't have an FPU. Those ran in the 20-66MHz range in their time though.

Good for three things (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#45552875)

First, the educake is actually a complete solution with a breadboard on. That's great no matter what the architecture is.

Second, the platform plays to the strengths of educators. Namely, there's already DOS ASM instructors just sitting around waiting to instruct.

Third, the platform will be useful for replacement of existing embedded systems which also have x86 processors. A little fringey, but a lot of those embedded systems are just a DOS system with a GPIO board (basically) to begin with.

Diversity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45553705)

Do you want to live in a world with only 1 dominant CPU design company, namely Intel?
Diversity is good. Buy an ARM or MIPS system for a change.

Re:Diversity (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about 8 months ago | (#45555695)

Problem w/ ARM or MIPS at the moment is that one is forced into Unix like OSs - either Linux or BSD. With x86, one has additional choices like FreeDOS, QNX, Minix. Yeah, right now, Minix is being ported to Beaglebone, but that's about it. MIPS would be more interesting if one could get some more OS choices for it

Vortex86MX (1)

FithisUX (855293) | about 9 months ago | (#45554179)

I would buy one if it came with Vortex86MX even if its pricier. It would be a competitor to the BeagleBoard but with hopefully more open VGA.

lame name (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45555873)

I'm kind of sick of all the 'duino naming of hardware these days. Arduino was a really lame name choice to begin with, and then everyone else seemed to jump on the 'duino bandwagon. The 'duino namespace is so dilluted it makes me wonder why anyone would chose to tack-on 'duino to their project name. It's really lame, stop doing it.

Re:lame name (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 8 months ago | (#45557017)

If you see *duino you can probably assume that's it's compatible with Arduino shields, hence the *duino names.

Lights out module? (1)

Jimbo God of Unix (221452) | about 9 months ago | (#45561763)

I wonder, since the zero has a pcie board connector, if this could be used as some sort of lights out module on the cheap.

James

please visit all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45595417)

games [myfog.org]

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