A lot of old science fiction movies show people wearing the same–or nearly the same–clothes. We’re left guessing if this is because there is a single centralized plant mass-producing skin-tight jumpsuits, or if everyone is under orders to dress the same. Now that we live in the past’s future, it looks like science fiction was a poor predictor of fashion. People want variety.
Which calls to mind development boards. How many different ones do we need? Need doesn’t matter, because we have plenty of them. There may be strong leaders: in the 8-bit world, you think of the Arduino, and on the Linux side, maybe the Raspberry Pi. But there are options.
[Eric Brown] recently compared several inexpensive development boards from FriendlyARM including the NanoPi M3, the NanoPi M1, and the NanoPC-T3. These range from about $11 to $60 with the M3 costing $35. You can see an M1 booting on an HDMI screen in the video below.
The $35 board (the M3), in particular, is pretty impressive:
- Processor — Samsung S5P6818 (8x 28nm Cortex-A53 cores @ 400MHz to 1.46GHz; Mali-400MP GPU
- Memory — 1GB DDR3 SDRAM; microSD slot (up to 64GB)
- Wireless — 802.11b/g/n; Bluetooth 4.0 dual mode; IPX interface
- Networking — 10/100/1000 Ethernet port
- Multimedia I/O: HDMI 1.4a output; LCD interface; LVDS interface; DVP camera interface; 3.5mm audio jack; I2S audio interface
- Other I/O: 2x USB 2.0 host ports; 2x USB 2.0 host headers; Micro-USB 2.0 client port; Debug serial port header; 40-pin, Raspberry Pi compatible GPIO connector for UART, SPI, I2C, PWM etc.
- Other features — Power and reset buttons; power and status LEDs
- Power — DC barrel jack; +5V @ 2A; RTC Battery header; AXP228 power management unit
- Dimensions — 64mm x 60mm
The board can boot several Linux flavors and Android. It looks like a strong choice.
The geodesic dome didn’t replace conventional homes, and unitards didn’t replace the business suit. These probably won’t replace the Raspberry Pi, either. We’ve covered other “Pi killers” in the past that either compete on price or features. While none of them are likely to displace the Pi either, they do give you choices, should you dare to be different.