I'm interested in purchasing an ARM dev board/kit. Nothing too fancy (well, maybe a little bit).

Basically, I'm aiming at a <=$60 price for these features:
500-1GHz ARM CPU
AC -> DC adapter power
SD card slot
2-4 USB ports
Ethernet port
Audio In/Out jacks
TFT/Touchscreen, either included or has a onboard port
Optional: LEDs, buttons, buzzer

I've looked all over the place, and the ones I find are either too much (read: BeagleBoard) or too little. And quite a few are above my budget.

So, any recommendations? Very Happy

(and a side note: the wireless calc link project and the hub project are not dead; quite the contrary, they will be revived VERY soon!)
alberthrocks wrote:
I'm interested in purchasing an ARM dev board/kit. Nothing too fancy (well, maybe a little bit).

Basically, I'm aiming at a <=$60 price for these features:
500-1GHz ARM CPU
AC -> DC adapter power
SD card slot
2-4 USB ports
Ethernet port
Audio In/Out jacks
TFT/Touchscreen, either included or has a onboard port
Optional: LEDs, buttons, buzzer

I've looked all over the place, and the ones I find are either too much (read: BeagleBoard) or too little. And quite a few are above my budget.

So, any recommendations? Very Happy

(and a side note: the wireless calc link project and the hub project are not dead; quite the contrary, they will be revived VERY soon!)


There's no way you're going to find something like that for $60. $150 maybe, but most likely a dev board with those specs is going to be $200+
Ahh ok. In that case, let me revise my spec list again:
Quote:
500-1GHz ARM CPU
AC -> DC adapter power
SD card slot
2 USB (host) ports (or 1, if a hub can support input devices, which from experience, has trouble doing so)
Ethernet port
Audio In/Out jacks (OPTIONAL)
TFT/Touchscreen, either included or has a onboard port (I'm content with a 3.5" LCD, if there's any that are included)


I'm probably not too sure of the specs I do need, so here's a list of what I'm planning to do with the dev board:
1) Occasionaly Fennec usage, aiming for non-glitchy usage, but it doesn't have to be if it requires a lot more CPU power
2) Web/SSH/FTP/SMB/streaming server
3) Some random bots, including IRC
4) (Optional) Stream FM radio (hence the Audio in) and output sounds when necessary
5) This will connect by Ethernet or by Wifi (USB or onboard, TBD)
Do you want to run all of these things on top of Linux or an RTOS?

Either way, you're still asking for way too much for a $60 price point. Here's what $60 gets you:
http://search.digikey.com/scripts/DkSearch/dksus.dll?pname?name=568-4916-ND

For what you want to be able to do, you need an ARM dev board with at least an ARM9 or Cortex-A8 core, along with graphics processing capabilities (OMAP comes to mind.) I recommend getting a Beagleboard (or a Pandaboard) with an LCD; if it's too much of a financial burden right now then save up for it and buy it later.
i recommend devkitPro, it compiles for the ARM cuz I use it to make GameBoy Advance games
Ultimate Dev'r wrote:
Do you want to run all of these things on top of Linux or an RTOS?

Either way, you're still asking for way too much for a $60 price point. Here's what $60 gets you:
http://search.digikey.com/scripts/DkSearch/dksus.dll?pname?name=568-4916-ND

For what you want to be able to do, you need an ARM dev board with at least an ARM9 or Cortex-A8 core, along with graphics processing capabilities (OMAP comes to mind.) I recommend getting a Beagleboard (or a Pandaboard) with an LCD; if it's too much of a financial burden right now then save up for it and buy it later.


Yeah, 120 MHz max isn't going to work well unless I'm creating OTARM, in which that's still the worst thing I could use. Razz

I'm definitely using Linux. RTOSes are nice and very light on power usage, but as always, you gotta write code on top of it, and all I really want to do is get a dev board for a cheap server, with the little perks of a touchscreen and smallness. The SheevaPlug would be something on the lines, but is a bit limited for what I want to do. Smile

Do I really need graphics processing? I guess Fennec may need that, but I don't think I need that much. If you're referring to the streaming I mentioned, I'm referring to file streaming, NOT video streaming to TV. Smile (That is, just getting a file played on my laptop from the device, not playing back a video/music onto my TV)

And that PandaBoard.... it's really a panda! With dual core ARM 1GHz, HDMI, and the goodies.... that's just feature creep that any (or at least me) electronic builder drools for! Very Happy The only thing preventing my purchase is that LCD expansion requirement - usually, the touchscreen LCDs (or TFT screens, for that matter) always has a connector that plugs into some pins, and then it would work. Maybe it's just soldering a connector onto the board, or am I not understanding it at all?

But yeah, on topic wise, what would you suggest then? Again, nothing too fancy, just something that can act as a server. Smile Heck, leave LCD/Touchscreen out if it's easy for me to assemble.
If you can live without Fennec & a touchscreen (or even getting rid of a screen altogether and just telnet into the device) then you can bring your specs and prices down considerably. 120MHz on a Cortex core is more than enough speed for using as a server.

Anakclusmos wrote:
i recommend devkitPro, it compiles for the ARM cuz I use it to make GameBoy Advance games


From what I've gleaned off of the devkitPro website, that software package is primarily for Nintendo ARM-based handhelds; alberthrocks is looking for an ARM dev board.
Ultimate Dev'r wrote:
If you can live without Fennec & a touchscreen (or even getting rid of a screen altogether and just telnet into the device) then you can bring your specs and prices down considerably. 120MHz on a Cortex core is more than enough speed for using as a server.

Anakclusmos wrote:
i recommend devkitPro, it compiles for the ARM cuz I use it to make GameBoy Advance games


From what I've gleaned off of the devkitPro website, that software package is primarily for Nintendo ARM-based handhelds; alberthrocks is looking for an ARM dev board.


Anak, I would probably use GCC x-compiling or even better, on device GCC Smile But yeah, I'm looking for physical hardware, not compilers.

@Ultimate: Meh... I still like the touchscreen part. Razz I can live with a slow Fennec though. How about 300-500 MHz? Oh, and USB + Ethernet is mandatory, no exceptions due to it being a server and all.

And are you referring to hardware telnet? If that, I'll have to go buy some $30-60 USB->JTAG (or serial RS) hardware to do any of that kind of interfacing, which may be better spent on better hardware? Smile Or should I invest in such a thing?
It seems a bit oxymoronic to me that you're trying to build a server (something I usually associate with super-par specs) with a lightweight dev board (with which I usually associate sub-par, low-power specs). I think the various ARM dev boards that are under discussion would be excellent tools for learning to write ARM ASM and increase your skill with low-level hardware interfacing, but I don't think it's realistic to think you can run a file and media server, web server, and IRC bots on a single board of these types.
KermMartian wrote:
It seems a bit oxymoronic to me that you're trying to build a server (something I usually associate with super-par specs) with a lightweight dev board (with which I usually associate sub-par, low-power specs). I think the various ARM dev boards that are under discussion would be excellent tools for learning to write ARM ASM and increase your skill with low-level hardware interfacing, but I don't think it's realistic to think you can run a file and media server, web server, and IRC bots on a single board of these types.


Meh, I still think it's possible. I ran an SSH, web server, and an IRC bot on a crappy iPod Touch, and it wasn't that bad. The GUI went a little slower, but that's just because of the GUI being way too pretty for it's own good. Razz

ARM based servers aren't a bad idea, and I wouldn't be surprised to see ARM create a server line of CPUs. Heck, there are even small servers out there right now (SheevaPlug, for one). If Atom can be used as a mini media center, why not ARM? Smile

PandaBoard is a really really good platform to use as a low end server. High end servers? Not yet. My planned server is not supposed to do anything crazy. (Although I might be crazy and offload some Blender rendering to it, if I get desperate, which does happen. Words like "Pentium III", "800 MHz", and "380MB RAM" come to mind. Yes, I'm that crazy. Razz

ARM ASM (or any ASM learning at all) will have to come later. School's keeping me on my toes, and I won't have time till next summer. My only purpose is to get a pretty low end server to experiment with, and obviously use as a low profile server. Smile
My concern is not the processor specifically; I'm sure a suitable processor could be found. My main problem is that you need sufficient disk to CPU to network bandwidth for a good media server, especially if it might be feeding more than one user, even before you worry about all the other things it might be running.
@KermMartian: You can run a web server off of far less and still get good performance (depending on the type of site and the number of visitors), though indeed for alberthrocks' intentions an ARM board would be pretty slow.

@alberthrocks:I think you're missing the point of a dev board. If it's a server you want, then just use an old PC (or even a router).
As for telnet you can do that over an ethernet connection.
Ultimate Dev'r wrote:
@KermMartian: You can run a web server off of far less and still get good performance (depending on the type of site and the number of visitors), though indeed for alberthrocks' intentions an ARM board would be pretty slow.
I could live with it as a web server despite the slowness; you'll note that my biggest complaint in my post directly above yours was its possible functionality as a media server.

Quote:
@alberthrocks:I think you're missing the point of a dev board. If it's a server you want, then just use an old PC (or even a router).
As for telnet you can do that over an ethernet connection.
KermMartian wrote:
Ultimate Dev'r wrote:
@KermMartian: You can run a web server off of far less and still get good performance (depending on the type of site and the number of visitors), though indeed for alberthrocks' intentions an ARM board would be pretty slow.
I could live with it as a web server despite the slowness; you'll note that my biggest complaint in my post directly above yours was its possible functionality as a media server.


Except that's not how your post was written Razz
Ultimate Dev'r wrote:
KermMartian wrote:
Ultimate Dev'r wrote:
@KermMartian: You can run a web server off of far less and still get good performance (depending on the type of site and the number of visitors), though indeed for alberthrocks' intentions an ARM board would be pretty slow.
I could live with it as a web server despite the slowness; you'll note that my biggest complaint in my post directly above yours was its possible functionality as a media server.


Except that's not how your post was written Razz
KermMartian wrote:
My main problem is that you need sufficient disk to CPU to network bandwidth for a good media server
KermMartian wrote:
Ultimate Dev'r wrote:
KermMartian wrote:
Ultimate Dev'r wrote:
@KermMartian: You can run a web server off of far less and still get good performance (depending on the type of site and the number of visitors), though indeed for alberthrocks' intentions an ARM board would be pretty slow.
I could live with it as a web server despite the slowness; you'll note that my biggest complaint in my post directly above yours was its possible functionality as a media server.


Except that's not how your post was written Razz
KermMartian wrote:
My main problem is that you need sufficient disk to CPU to network bandwidth for a good media server


Haha I seem to have missed that post entirely Razz ('tis what I get for leaving my computer for an hour before submitting my post)
Why use an ARM dev board? Simply:
1) Very small and portable
2) Very light on energy (300 W vs 10-20 W)
3) Somewhat fast (faster than Atom, as benchmarks show - 1.5 ish GHz Atom defeated by a 600 ish MHz ARM CPU)
4) Fun to play with (vs. assembling a computer, you get to play around with the board with components and such)
5) Good enough specs
6) Can be used for other things, like a somewhat portable internet device

I'm not looking for a Xeon server or anything similar to that. It's just for occasional use as a file server, streamer, and web server. My very terrible iPod Touch 3G (2G renamed) can do quite well. Of course, it won't win any server benchmarks anytime soon, but that's something to be expected.

Any other reasons I shouldn't use it? Smile I might aim towards the big PandaBoard, since it has nearly (if not all) everything I need. I'm not going to be hosting this 24/7, nor will I give any accounts on it, so low specs are perfect in this case. Smile
alberthrocks wrote:
Why use an ARM dev board? Simply:
1) Very small and portable
2) Very light on energy (300 W vs 10-20 W)
My netbook pulls around 20 watts under full load, including WiFi and screen and full CPU load; cf. my thesis. 1.6 GHz Atom, 1GB RAM.
Quote:
3) Somewhat fast (faster than Atom, as benchmarks show - 1.5 ish GHz Atom defeated by a 600 ish MHz ARM CPU)
Citation needed. I'm not taking that one at face value.
Quote:
4) Fun to play with (vs. assembling a computer, you get to play around with the board with components and such)
This point I can live with
Quote:
5) Good enough specs
What? I'm missing why this is a point for an ARM dev board, not a point against it.
Quote:
6) Can be used for other things, like a somewhat portable internet device
Keyboard? Mouse? Power supply? LCD? Perhaps what you really need is a netbook.

Quote:
I'm not looking for a Xeon server or anything similar to that. It's just for occasional use as a file server, streamer, and web server. My very terrible iPod Touch 3G (2G renamed) can do quite well. Of course, it won't win any server benchmarks anytime soon, but that's something to be expected.
Have you tried using your iPod Touch 3G as a file streamer?
KermMartian wrote:
My netbook pulls around 20 watts under full load, including WiFi and screen and full CPU load; cf. my thesis. 1.6 GHz Atom, 1GB RAM.

Quite understandable, but I was more or less referring to Ult. Dev's post about my slow computer being a server. Smile I have no idea what the AC->DC adapter power usage is though. I might look around or ask some people who've bought PandaBoard and received it...
KermMartian wrote:
Citation needed. I'm not taking that one at face value.

http://www.geek.com/articles/chips/arm-posts-cortex-a9-vs-atom-performance-video-intel-should-be-worried-2010016/
http://blog.linleygroup.com/2010/04/arm-outmuscles-atom-on-benchmark.html

First one is indeed made by ARM, but you have to admit that it's pretty impressive.

KermMartian wrote:
What? I'm missing why this is a point for an ARM dev board, not a point against it.

Well, it's not really a point, it's just saying that I don't need anything higher than that.

KermMartian wrote:
Keyboard? Mouse? Power supply? LCD? Perhaps what you really need is a netbook.

...which would be pretty slow Razz
Keyboard via on screen keyboard, mouse is the touchscreen, power supply is battery or AC->DC adapter, LCD = LCD. Nothing wrong with that, right? Smile
(And mind you, I am nabbing a cheap netbook on Black Friday. I love those guys, even if it sucks at performance. Wink )

KermMartian wrote:
Have you tried using your iPod Touch 3G as a file streamer?

Not really, since I can't really compile anything on the iPod Touch, despite my puny attempts to get it working. Razz
I've used SFTP on it, and get something like 700 KB/sec, which isn't too bad IMO. (KB as in kilobytes, not kilobits.) It's good enough for me. Note that this was tested on a wireless B network, so it might be just a limitation of the router. (This seems to be the case, as transfers from laptop to desktop via SFTP are around the same speed.)
alberthrocks wrote:
KermMartian wrote:
Citation needed. I'm not taking that one at face value.

http://www.geek.com/articles/chips/arm-posts-cortex-a9-vs-atom-performance-video-intel-should-be-worried-2010016/
http://blog.linleygroup.com/2010/04/arm-outmuscles-atom-on-benchmark.html

First one is indeed made by ARM, but you have to admit that it's pretty impressive.
Read more carefully. The second article, at least, is saying that clock-for-clock the ARM is faster, but that they haven't managed to get the clock speeds near Atom clock speeds, and hence the Atoms still have higher processing capabilities per unit time.

Quote:
KermMartian wrote:
Keyboard? Mouse? Power supply? LCD? Perhaps what you really need is a netbook.

...which would be pretty slow Razz
Faster than an ARM dev board. And only slow if you use Windows on it instead of installing a nice happy Linux distro.

Quote:
KermMartian wrote:
Have you tried using your iPod Touch 3G as a file streamer?

Not really, since I can't really compile anything on the iPod Touch, despite my puny attempts to get it working. Razz
I've used SFTP on it, and get something like 700 KB/sec, which isn't too bad IMO. (KB as in kilobytes, not kilobits.) It's good enough for me. Note that this was tested on a wireless B network, so it might be just a limitation of the router. (This seems to be the case, as transfers from laptop to desktop via SFTP are around the same speed.)
Peak or burst, sure, but I seriously doubt it can pipe out 700KBps sustained.
  
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