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Ask Slashdot: Best Dedicated Low Power Embedded Dev System Choice?

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the what-should-I-get? dept.

Programming 183

An anonymous reader writes "I'm a Solaris user which is not well supported by the OSS toolchains. I'd like to have a dedicated Linux based dev system which has good support for ARM, MSP430 and other MCU lines and draws very little (5-10 watts max) power. The Beaglebone Black has been suggested. Is there a better choice? This would only be used for software development and testing for embedded systems."

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UDOO (5, Informative)

danomatika (1977210) | about 4 months ago | (#47422053)

Check out the UDOO: []

A pretty capable machine at a decent price and low power draw. Yes more than a Raspberry PI, but multi cores and real USB controller is worth it (at least for my realtime audio needs).

Weird question, but... (2)

TWX (665546) | about 4 months ago | (#47422063)

...why the extremely low power draw requirement? Seems like for a dev box you'd want some horsepower, though you'd want to test on a box that's like your expected production machine...

Re:Weird question, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47422109)

Probably to test how code performs under such low power conditions?

Re:Weird question, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47422133)

naw - read TFS again; xie's devving for Solaris. Good luck getting Solaris running on a pi/bone/whatever.

Re:Weird question, but... (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 3 months ago | (#47423169)

naw - read TFS again; xie's devving for Solaris. Good luck getting Solaris running on a pi/bone/whatever.

Maybe you should read TFS again instead since the submitter clearly states that they want a dedicated *Linux* based dev platform. There's no mention of running Solaris on it.

Re:Weird question, but... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 3 months ago | (#47422847)

*Probably to test how code performs under such low power conditions?*

not really. he's developing for mcu's. not for the system itself, so that has no point.

for it to be portable, it would need to have some other stuff.. like a monitor, keyboard and other stuff all which take power. now he might be doing it under solar power at his cottage or yacht or whatever.. but then kind of still would be needing the monitor and other peripheals.

basically the answer is just buy a friggin netbook. even if you need to have usb programmers for the stuff you're going to program due to not having gpio right on the system. my bro uses a raspi for mcu development but that's just mainly for flashing from the thing and using ssh to connect to it from a computer. so if he just wants to attach a big battery to the thing and leave it at where the mcu is doing some controlling or data acquisition and wants to update it live there.. then get a raspberry pi.

for data aquisition get Arduino (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47423275)

For microserver try:
Arduino Yun of you need wifi and limited resources.

Beaglebone Black for more horsepower or Beaglebone of tou prefer to boot/reimage from sdcard .

RPi's CPU is very slow.

And for generic development get a microinstance in the cloud. Power consumption zero.

Re: Weird question, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47422135)

Because electricity is expensive. Douche bag.

Re: Weird question, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47422171)

Because electricity is expensive. Douche bag.

As if the operating power savings for something esoteric is really worth it compared to a simple laptop. He can probably even get a used laptop for free, which would more than compensate for any difference in power consumption costs.


Re: Weird question, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47422319)

I think you need to reign in your vocabulary until you learn what the words mean. The word esoteric in that context makes no sense whatsoever.

Re: Weird question, but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422373)

I'd say 'esoteric' is an apt adjective for Solaris.

You're guilty of what you're accusing the grandparent for.

Re: Weird question, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422509)

"I'd like to have a dedicated Linux based dev system which has good support for ARM". Nah, I'm also not seeing how "esoteric" makes sense here. Has Slashdot strayed so far from the path that we truly believe that Linux and/or ARM are esoteric?

Re: Weird question, but... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422673)

Using a Beaglebone Black as a dev workstation (as the poster mentioned) certainly counts as esoteric.

Go ahead, we'll wait while you Google that and then we'll wait longer as you try to synthesize some implausible definition that no one else shares where using a Beaglebone Black/RPi/whatever-flavor-it-is-this-week-embedded-card as a dev box isn't esoteric.

You, however, aren't really a twat—you're just feeble-minded.

Re: Weird question, but... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422881)

Or someone who believes that when a poster says they want to install *Linux* on something (anything, really (this is still Slashdot, right?)) that responding by saying that "*Solaris* is esoteric" is a little... what's that phrase? Feeble-minded.

Re: Weird question, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422387)

That would be "rein" in, as in the reins of a horse, Mr Vocabulary...


Re: Weird question, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422737)

No, it's not, not even if you pay 30 Eurocents per kWh. A typical quadcore Intel system can be built to have an idle draw under 20W. Power consumption under load is better (compared to the processing done) for Intel desktop processors than for low power embedded systems, and load power consumption does not dominate the average consumption for anything but heavily loaded servers. What does the idle load cost you per year, assuming you leave the system on around the clock? 0.3EUR*0.02kW*24h*365=52.56EUR. The power consumption costs less than the incredibly cheap hardware over a couple of years.

Re: Weird question, but... (1)

queazocotal (915608) | about 3 months ago | (#47422947)

I'd hesitate calling a quadcore intel system 'incredibly cheap' - but that aside.

In some cases, power can be rather more costly than that.
For example, I did some simulations using accurate local solar data here in Scotland, and if I want a system that works 24*7, with storage to back it up, it comes out to around $200/W initial capital, and maybe $20/W ongoing (battery replacement), or $.90/kWh equivalent.
Assuming a 10 year life, that doubles it to $1.8/kWh.
Or $15 per watt your device uses, per year, amortised over 10 years.

And this neglects structure - a 20W system will use 2500W or so solar panels, or 4m on a side.

Re: Weird question, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47423095)

On the incredibly cheap bit: Of course an Intel quad core from the low to mid range is incredibly cheap, absolutely and relatively. If you can't afford that kind of computer, what are you doing that requires a computer at all? There's no cheaper alternative if your time isn't free. You'll need to lower your requirements a lot to save very little on price. And relatively speaking, an Intel quad core desktop system can be cheaper than a fancy tablet that isn't even in the same league or in the league next to the one where you'd find a desktop system. Mobile comes at a hefty price premium.

On the power bit: Sure, if you have to make your own electricity, every Watt counts. Why you'd want a 24/7 developer system in addition to a Solaris desktop off-grid in rural Scotland though is beyond me. If you have internet access, why not electricity?

Weird question, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422991)

I think the question is qeird because ARM and MSP430 are two completely different architectures. I'm not sure if the submitter is asking for a host system, in which case any laptop that can run Linux will do fine, or an actual target device, in which case there is none for both MSP430 and some ARM flavor. You can get one dev board for each.

The display will draw more power than the CPU (2)

Animats (122034) | about 4 months ago | (#47422101)

Any display big enough for development will draw more power than the CPU. (Although I suppose you could kludge some non-backlit e-reader into being a dev system.)

Re:The display will draw more power than the CPU (1)

Alioth (221270) | about 3 months ago | (#47422821)

No need for a second display. Just ssh -X develsystem and have everything display on the Solaris machine.

Solaris not well supported by OSS toolchain (2)

Nutria (679911) | about 4 months ago | (#47422125)

It's my understanding that "install a bunch of gnu tools" is the first thing that many Solaris sysadmins do on a new system.

Anyway, why do you need a low-power ARM system? The description heading mentions "embedded", but your description mentions irrelevant stuff like Solaris, but not the important stuff like what sort of embedded work you'll be doing: industrial control, point-of-sale, sensor monitoring, etc, etc ad nauseum.

Re:Solaris not well supported by OSS toolchain (0)

Kelxin (3417093) | about 3 months ago | (#47422489)

Why do people always as WHY someone wants something?! I see it over and over throughout the internet, they asked for something specific!

Can't help them?

Just because you don't understand their needs doesn't mean you need to step in and try to change what you think they need. (Ever think they just MIGHT be smarter than you or know their needs better?)

They want a low wattage test system for doing embedded dev. Period. Don't skirt around it, don't try to poke and make fun of anything he says in the comment, either you can't help him or you can. MOVE ON.

Teaching a man to fish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422519)

It's meta-helping. You find out why they want to do (possibly stupid) thing X and then you help them do related (presumably clever) thing X' instead.

Or are you saying it's never appropriate to suggest to someone that they do something different simply because it's better? People with their head in the sand have to be helped to breath sand rather than told how to pull their head out?

Re:Solaris not well supported by OSS toolchain (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422551)

Probably because about 99.99% of questions such as this one play out like this:

"I need a hammer. What is a good hammer?"

"Why do you need a hammer?"

"I need a hammer to chop down trees."

"No, you need an axe."

They don't even allow questions like this on stackexchange because they're so open ended and worthless that they serve no purpose and provide no value (other than to instigate arguments such as this or flameboy arguments such as Home Depot hammers versus Lowe's hammers). I can tell you've never dealt with customers and requirements management, because understanding why customers need something is extremely important: it may lead to a better product for the customer or new products for more/new customers. Lastly, you must be new to the internet if you go around assuming anyone knows shit (especially on Slashdot).

Re:Solaris not well supported by OSS toolchain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47423255)

I agree, the question didn't even include weight restrictions or the need for radiation hardened, there was also no mention of the number digitial i/o pins needed or even wind river

Re:Solaris not well supported by OSS toolchain (5, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | about 3 months ago | (#47422567)

Why do people always as WHY someone wants something?!

Excellent question, young Padawan.

People often ask for help, assuming an answer and thus embedding it in the question. The experienced helper asks probing questions to see what the asker really wants, and then asks that question. When you're older, you'll understand.

In this case specifically, embedded development typically requires specific "non-consumer" I/O requirements that little hobbyist systems just don't support. Thus, saying BeagleBoard or Udoo or RaspberryPi would steer him wrong.

OTOH, maybe he just doesn't know WTF "embedded" really means and is just tossing out the buzzword du jure, when a used laptop would serve his needs much better.

So, we ask probing questions.

Re:Solaris not well supported by OSS toolchain (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 3 months ago | (#47422633)

I find it incredibly annoying when I have accurately researched some topic and know what I'm doing, but when I'm asking about some detail, some jackass starts walking me through that whole jarring "why do you want to do that" dance!

Re:Solaris not well supported by OSS toolchain (4, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | about 3 months ago | (#47422703)

but when I'm asking about some detail

Can you really not figure out that the solution to such a problem is to add more detail to your question, indicating what you've already researched?

Methinks more people should read "How To Ask Questions The Smart Way". []

Re:Solaris not well supported by OSS toolchain (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about 3 months ago | (#47422727)

Vampires don't figure, they just suck.

Re:Solaris not well supported by OSS toolchain (0)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 3 months ago | (#47423003)

Can you really not figure out that the solution to such a problem is to add more detail to your question, indicating what you've already researched?

It really isn't.

A ran into a fine example of why you are wrong just last week.

I was looking for a way for a .NET library developer to specify a type contract that included a non-default constructor with a specific prototype/signature. Now for some this may sound like an Interface, but others will argue that Interfaces should not specify implementation details and they (rightly or wrongly) include constructor prototypes as an implementation detail and argue that this is why interfaces should not (and do not) define constructor prototypes. The questions that appear throughout the internet (on msdn, stackoverflow, etc..) always involved the use of generics and so did the usage I had intended, so of course generic type constraints also came up. Quite specifically my need (and many others) is to develop a library which can construct generic types, however there is another related class of problems dealing with operator overloading that also spawns a similar set of questions based on the same framework limitation.

It did not matter how accurately anyone had described their need to define a constructor signature contract. Every discussion devolved into the same lesson about why interfaces shouldn't specify constructors or any other static functions and methods.

Every single time it was suggested that the person asking the question include a non-static method in the interface which could then construct the type. When it is pointed out that that would require an instance of the type to begin with, it then occurs to these people you suggest coddling, "have you tried the factory pattern?"

Isnt that what they are trying to implement? sigh...

So then the discussions devolve into these people devising more and more complex contortions to defend their belief that interfaces should not ever under any circumstances leak any implementation detail so therefore the questioner is wrong about needing a constructor contract, as if one actually led to the other. Quite remarkably they suggest alternatives that leak far more implementation details the other direction.

They just cannot imagine the need and no amount of explaining will get them to acknowledge that there really is one, therefore its all about something unimportant like the philosophy of interfaces rather than an alternative method of enforcing a constructor contract in the setting of a generic type constraint.

The GPP is 100% right when he says "Just because you don't understand their needs doesn't mean you need to step in and try to change what you think they need. (Ever think they just MIGHT be smarter than you or know their needs better?)"

You sit here defending that behavior on the grounds that you also default to the position that you understand the questioners needs better than they do, and I know why.

You learned that you shouldnt pretend to have answers that you don't have... but you've not handled that knowledge correctly. The proper course of action is to acknowledge to yourself that you don't have the answer, rather than attempt to alter the question so that you do have the answer. When you try to alter the question, it stops being about you helping the questioner and starts being about you helping yourself look smarter.

Re:Solaris not well supported by OSS toolchain (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 3 months ago | (#47423031)

Can you really not figure out that the solution to such a problem is to add more detail to your question, indicating what you've already researched?

Let's say you want to develop a 3D game that has to work in all the absolutely most crusty computers that can be found. Then you want go with OpenGL 1.x and the fixed function pipeline. Just observe all the whining that appears. How you should use shaders, and how even shader-based OpenGL 2.x is not sufficient but for some academic reasons you want at least 3.x because it has the core profiles, so that even accidentally you won't be using any legacy functionality. Even despite the fact that games like Angry Birds and Minecraft actually still support OpenGL 1 for the best compatibility.

Re: Solaris not well supported by OSS toolchain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422661)

du jour

Re:Solaris not well supported by OSS toolchain (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47423179)

For all we know this guy does development work inside his van and wants to drain the battery as slowly as possible.

Asking "why" is often a pretty good question, because you can't tell from the very first question that the person actually knows their needs, or indeed knows what they fuck they are doing at all. Development on embedded systems is slow, the processors are slow. Is the poster willing to put up with slow compile times compared to a laptop?

I saw online a person who was asking how to design a power supply with that supported a variable power correction factor (PFC) of about 0.7 to 1.
After some questions it turned out this person didn't really know what power factor correction was, he just saw an "acceptable PFC" range in some electrical standards document and made some assumptions about the requirements, not knowing that the standard meant your power supply had to have a PFC in this range (it wasn't asking for variable PFC), and not knowing why ideally you want a PFC near 1.
So if this guy got defensive for being asked why he wanted a variable PFC, he wouldn't have learned much.

I get coworkers asking all the time for roundabout ways to solve problems. So I often ask "what's this for?" Often the case is that I already built a tool to solve the problem, or I can build one in 5 minutes to save several hours of work.

They point of asking "why" isn't to embarrass, shame or trick the questioner, it's to find out the big picture of their end goal, and the discussion often leads to better solutions.

Re:Solaris not well supported by OSS toolchain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47423401)

You've got to admin, the requirements sound fishy. A low-power machine on which to develop? That's an odd requirement. Most developers want high power machines on which to develop so that they can run bulky IDE's, compile quickly, and do integrated debugging. A low power embedded platform makes perfect sense, but needing a low power platform on which to develop embedded applications is a quirky requirement at best.

Re:Solaris not well supported by OSS toolchain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47423049)

Only the competent ones.
As the question clearly indicates even the incompetent ones can and do post to Slashdot.

Answer #1: install the GNU tools and learn the difference between --host and --target
Answer #2: wipe the Solaris install and drop a sane linux distro on the box.
Answer #3: get a fscking *fast* amd/intel machine that can do a Yocto (or buildroot) embedded from scratch in a few hours. [I use an 8 core AMD w/SSD and 32gb RAM - make -j32 or higher is fine .. just watch the free RAM and the the CPUs burn :-)]
Answer #4: if you cannot learn the difference between --host and --target then *at least* get an embedded option with a SATA controller. Wandboard Quad or similar.

IMO: Avoid TI at all costs. Freescale is the most open and best supported of the A9 cores that I use. Odroid can get you a faster processor but not as open or general purpose as Freescale. TI is an unsupported mess. NVidia is very closed. The radxa looks promising but the chip (video encode/decode/egl) is not as capable as Freescale.

Derp (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47422139)

Fuck me with a spoon!

With Ubuntu. BBB (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47422157)

Now that Ubuntu can be had with ease on the Beaglebone Black it is a good bet. Mine sits at the end of a ssh connection and I use the USB port for a storage device connection. The new BBB version is popular and hard to find but the extra flash is nice. Raspberry Pi has the richest software universe and by swapping out one SD card for another you can switch projects... (The BBB is almost as easy). BOTH are bargains and recommended. Have fun...

CPU cores and clock speed matter. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47422173)

Alright, I've been working on getting a build server setup on a BeagleBone Black that I had lying around. The ARM->x86_64 compiler I had to build so the executables could run elsewhere was a pain, so be careful about that. Also, the speed at which it compiles is "dog" slow. It reminds me of the stories I used to hear from old programmers about turning in their punch cards and waiting a day to get an answer back. It's not that bad, but it is slower. nohup quickly becomes your best friend. If it sounds like I'm harping on the compile speed it's because binutils--headers--gcc--glibc--binutils--gcc is a long build process and the Beagle bone black made it take even longer.

It's not all bad though. I find that the BeagleBone Black runs Linux quite nicely. Most common packages are there and working, and anything else can be compiled from scratch. It even acts a a nice PostgreSQL server. Also, it uses a processor that, if I recall correctly, will be supported by the general Linux kernel community. I believe the Raspberry PI has to use a special driver, so you are stuck with the raspberry flavors of Linux.

Now as far as a testing platform, as long as your program isn't graphically intense then it would be fine. But I think the Raspberry PI has a better graphics setup.
Don't forget to look at They offer single, dual, and quad core ARM 9 systems that would probably be spiffier than the BeagleBone Black. Not as open of course, but that was not one of your requirements. The Utilite Pro running Ubunutu 12.04 consumes around 5 Watt in idle mode and around 8 Watt average when 3 cores are active.

A bit of a ramble, but I hope it helps.

Best <insert-x-here> (4, Funny)

weilawei (897823) | about 4 months ago | (#47422181)

Emacs! Oh wait, wrong flame war..

Re:Best (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47422317)

Emacs! Oh wait, wrong flame war..


Re:Best (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422517)

That's vi, you insensitive clod!

This is a very good website (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47422189)

Hi This is a very good informative website thank u.. every one

Intel NUC (3, Insightful)

enter to exit (1049190) | about 4 months ago | (#47422191)

The OP doesn't need Solaris (He currently has a Linux Dev box) or an ARM system. He needs a low powered machine that can compile to ARM (and other things).

I would look into an Intel NUC.

Re:Intel NUC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47422253)

^ This. I just bought one of these and it's an incredible machine for its size and price. TONS of I/O options (not sure if that matters to you) and a small, fanless, X86-compatible board. I've read you have to jump through some hoops to get Linux installed properly on it (due to the BIOS) but once you get past it, it's a great little machine.

Re:Intel NUC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47422261)

NUC overheats, doesn't come with RAM nor SSD, and is more expensive than a regular low-end laptop.

Re:Intel NUC (2)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 4 months ago | (#47422345)

The one with quad core 22nm Atom (named Celeron N2820 or N2830) should be great and is cheap and low power. Dangerously cheap too!

Probably higher perf/watt than cell phone and tablet ARM.

Re:Intel NUC (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422771)

Zotac is currently bringing passively cooled quad core mini Intel boxes to market (the low end NUC has a fan but doesn't really need it under normal load). The Zotac ci320 nano looks particularly nice: Celeron n2930 (quad core, 1.8GHz) with a thermal design power of 7.5W and an even lower scenario design power. It offers a much better interface selection than the NUC: plenty of USB3 ports, display port, HDMI, eSATA, (shared SATA and mSATA inside). Costs about the same as the low end NUC.

The NUC allegedly has some issues with USB that are supposedly fixed by the 2830 CPU revision. This revision also brings QuickSync. The hardware video encoder wasn't available in previous revisions. But Intel decided not to change the SKU, so getting one that has the new CPU is a little difficult right now as they are selling the old stock first.

The Zotac is difficult to find. It's just coming to market.

Re:Intel NUC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422839)

The Celeron N2830 is a dual core processor by the way. The quad core is called Celeron N2930.

Re:Intel NUC (1)

queazocotal (915608) | about 3 months ago | (#47422957)

For embedded intel - a better match may be the new minnowboard max. [] $99 - shipping real soon now, preorderable.

Re:Intel NUC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422997)

He's not looking for an embedded system. He's looking for a system to do software development on. He wants to run the toolchains for ARM and other embedded CPUs which are unavailable on Solaris. Apparently he doesn't want a full desktop because he already has one (the Solaris system) and wants to keep it.

Re:Intel NUC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47423241)

>The Beaglebone Black has been suggested. Is there a better choice?
Maybe he is looking for an embedded system.

Re:Intel NUC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47423301)

If he is, then he should say so. There is no system which is built on "ARM, MSP430 and other MCU lines" at the same time. Those are his specified target platforms. Nothing in his question requires an embedded system. He mentions one which would satisfy the requirements, but that doesn't mean that other options also have to be of the embedded kind. I guess people just aren't aware that "less than 10W" doesn't exclude full-fledged Intel desktop systems anymore.

Cheap windows laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47422199)

The tools are slowly moving over; but embedded development is still really a Windows world.
All the 3rd party tools work on Windows. Only some on OSX, Linux.

In our embedded consulting company, it's all Windows to cope with the 20 or so different processors at any one time.

Re:Cheap windows laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47422265)


Re:Cheap windows laptop (1)

goarilla (908067) | about 3 months ago | (#47422739)

But you see you are in the Windows CE embedded niche. Your vision is clouded.

Buy a netbook (3, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47422223)

You can get a netbook that will draw around 5-10W. If you get one with intel cpu and chipset you will have the advantage of massive compatibility, especially if you skip the original Atom chip. Once the dual cores came out it was pretty well abandoned by everyone.

That, or get one of these ~$100 android units which also runs Debian. But I don't really recommend that. The only one which seems very performant and yet inexpensive is the mk908 which is a bit of a turd reliability-wise and which doesn't yet have complete hardware support, e.g. []

I stand by the netbook

Re:Buy a netbook (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 4 months ago | (#47422255)

I got a dual core atom netbook for around 60 bucks, bumped it up to 2 gig of ram, and slapped a 32gig SSD in it, runs a couple days on a battery charge and in total have about 125$ into it thanks to ebay

its a good choice

Shuttle DS437! (5, Informative)

ravyne (858869) | about 4 months ago | (#47422237)

Finally, an Ask Slashdot I can answer with personal experience and some authority!

Do yourself a favor and order a Shuttle DS437, I bought one myself and cannot think of a better little box for playing with embedded systems. Here's why:
  • Its small -- about the size of a 5.25" disk drive.
  • Its low-power -- not as low as you'd like -- but less than 20watts under load for the system. Its passively cooled.
  • It takes a 12v barrel-plug from a standard 65watt laptop power adapter (included) -- easy to replace anywhere in the world. Also good if the impetus for your low-power requirement is an exotic wish, like being able to run the system from battery or solar.
  • Its relatively inexpensive -- about $200 from, and qualifies for Prime shipping. You'll need to add storage and RAM, but maybet have some DDR3 so-dimms and a spare 2.5" drive kicking around from an old laptop.
  • Its got two DB9 Serial ports, right on the front. Handy!
  • Its a modern system: 64bit, dual-core, Ivy Bridge, SSE 4.2, supports up to 16GB ram.
  • Connectivity: VGA/HDMI, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, dual gigabit NICs, Wireless N WiFi
  • Storage options: you've got one mSata slot and one 2.5" sata drive. I've got a 128GB SSD in the mSata slot, and a 500GB magnetic drive installed
  • It took Ubuntu 14.04 without any significant fuss. Most things worked out of the box. I'm not a linux super expert, but got the rest working within an hour or so.

It's "only" 1.8Ghz, but we're talking Ivy Bridge here, not some wimpy Atom or ARM core. Plus, in my experience you really want x86 for your host machine. Not every compiler or tool you might want to use is going to be supported on, say, a lower-powered ARM system.

I considered a lot of exotic ARM boards as my development host, including BeagleBone, Jetson-K1, and a handful of others. I think the D437 leads by a wide margin, but for what its worth I considered the Jetson-K1 board a distant runner-up.

Re:Shuttle DS437! (2)

ravyne (858869) | about 4 months ago | (#47422285)

Also, forgot to add -- Beware the potentially-confusing Shuttle DS47 -- it's nearly identical in appearance and pricing, but has a dual-core 1.1 Ghz Atom-based CPU inside which is significantly slower than the ivy-bridge (3rd-gen i-series) processor in the DS437.

Re:Shuttle DS437! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422513)

Finally, an Ask Slashdot I can answer with personal experience and some authority!

If only you had read and understood the question asked.

Re:Shuttle DS437! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422921)

Looks like you didn't read the question. The inquirer isn't looking for an ARM system: The specification is for a low power system which runs Linux so that it will support the toolchains for ARM and other common embedded CPU architectures. The Shuttle DS437 runs Linux, as described by Ravyne. Idle power consumption certainly fits the desired envelope of 5-10W. It's a little more under load, but you get vastly more processing power in return for that, and the widest support of developer tools available. There are other options available in the Intel world too: The NUC DN2820FYKH from Intel and the new Zotac CI320 nano come to mind. They truly fit the 10W power envelope and are cheaper than the DS437, but have lower single core performance and lower maximum RAM capacity. They are still much, much more able systems than the small ARM boards which are mentioned in other comments.

you can do TI in oss (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 4 months ago | (#47422241)

but I wont shed a tear for you when you have to jump though your 20th hoop

TBH the msp's are not NEARLY as bad as their arm based devices, where you will have more console windows up than lines of code

Here is a pretty complete list (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47422271)

This is the most complete list of embedded linux systems I have seen:

di3k (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47422289)

are havi8g trouBle

odroid u3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47422291)

Re:odroid u3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422397)

Look around and there's a Debian release for it too.
I've been running one for a while and love it. Quad core 1.7GHz, 2GB RAM.

PcDuino (1)

bobm (53783) | about 4 months ago | (#47422295) []
I have a raspberry Pi, Beagle Bone Black and PcDuino.

Raspberry PI: don't like the fact that you have to boot off the sd card.
BBB - no complaints, nice board and has an optional display that's pretty nice
PcDuino - my favorite, more memory and flash than the other 2 devices and the v3s is in a really nice case.

The Pi and BBB lack a decent case (from what i can find)

The Differentiators are SoC Peripherals... (2)

linearz69 (3473163) | about 4 months ago | (#47422321)

The ARM architecture has some fairly good Linux support and wide adoption.

One of my favorites out there today is the A10-OLinuXino-LIME This is a low cost 1GHz ARM board with a Mali-400 GPU, a SATA port, 100BT port, two USB ports for under $50. I'm a big fan of the SATA port... using a SSD for the system solves many reliability problems. It also has support for LIPO battery but I haven't tried it.

Perhaps the best value/performance is the Wandboard QUAD. Quad iM.6 with 2GB Ram, WiFi, SATA, and an OpenCL supported Vivante GC 2000 all for $129. For the price it can't be beat... though the power consumption may be a bit higher than other small embedded systems..

The most popular two boards out there seem to be Beagle Bone and Rasperry PI. I'm not big on either...

The Beagle Bone was good in its day, but it is kind of over the hill. The processor is underpowered compared to other ARMs out there today for the same price/power consumption. Its peripherals are limited to essentially one USB 2.0 port and a bunch of multifunction IO on a header - which may be useful if you are hobbying. The one USB2.0 limits storage options. Because of the poor reliability of MMC, I prefer to use SSD these days, which means I need a USB drive enclosure of some type and need to get a hub if I want other USB. With all this, I'm still stuck at 2.0 speeds on the SSD.

The other issue with the Beagle Bone is that the processor is kind of on a dead end in terms of development cycle. That is, TI is not actively developing new OMAPs, but they have been authoring most of the Linux drivers for these chips. TI will continue to produce the OMAPs that are on the Beagle Bone, but I wonder how much they will continue to support driver development for future Linux.

Raspberry PI is useful for what it was designed as, an educational tool. But as an embedded processor it is not that great, kinda overhyped. The boot option is very limited - boot loader must reside on an SD. Also, Raspberry PI hardware is not open source. The Broadcom processor most nifty feature is a closed sources GPU, and the hardware requires a mysterious bin blob to boot properly. It is a toy.

Re:The Differentiators are SoC Peripherals... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422349)

The beagle bone and the bb black are more about embedded and gpio, if you want to hook up 5 stepper motors and a bunch of sensors you will be pushed to do it with SoCs that are optimised as little pcs, and dont breakout gpio. Its why an arduino still beats a raspberry pi for many applications, a mega2560 gets you 54 programable i/o lines, some pwm, some analog in/out, some pure digital i/o . The due does the same as a mega2560 but with an arm processor. You wont find an hdmi or ethernet port on these boards but thats not what they are for.

A10-OLinuXino-LIME and BBB are both Cortex-A8 (1)

Morgaine (4316) | about 3 months ago | (#47423065)

One of my favorites out there today is the A10-OLinuXino-LIME. ...

The Beagle Bone was good in its day, but it is kind of over the hill. The processor is underpowered compared to other ARMs

Just to be clear, the A10-OLinuXino-LIME, BeagleBone white and BeagleBone Black all contain a single Cortex-A8 core, and the TI AM3359 runs at the same 1GHz speed in the BBB as the Allwinner A10 does in the LIME.

The original BeagleBone (white) ran its AM3359 at 720MHz so its CPU performance is a bit less, but the BeagleBone Black (BBB) superceded it a year ago and at a much lower price. As a result, the reasonable current-day comparison is between A10-OLinuXino-LIME and BBB, and on CPU power their similar speed Cortex-A8 cores make them pretty much identical.

I have all of these boards and many other similar ones, and my assessment is that BBB is much more capable for embedded projects because of its additional dual realtime 200MHz PRU cores (which are quite unrivalled), while the A10-OLinuXino-LIME is more suitable as an extremely low end desktop-style "computer" because of its dual USB2 host sockets and rather more capable MALI-400 GPU.

This assessment doesn't change when the just-released A20-OLinuXino-LIME [] is brought into the comparison, except that the dual Cortex-A7 cores in the A20 make it a far better general purpose "computer" than its A10 sibling for a mere 3 euro more in price.

Re:The Differentiators are SoC Peripherals... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47423391)

Portions of this are incorrect...TI just released a new broad market "OMAP" device not 2 weeks ago and others are on the roadmap.

Google AM437x for more details...A9, 1GHz, xHCI, etc.

TI+ARM is alive and well.

For anyone looking for x86 options (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422355)

The PC Engines APU board is pretty damn spiffy. []

6"x6" board, AMD G series T40E APU 1 GHz dual core processor, 2 or 4 GB of RAM, GPIO, 2 miniPCI expres slots, SD slot, three gigabit ethernet ports, plus other features, and uses 6-12 watts of power. Depending on what board and accessories are selected It's in the $150-$250 price range.

Jetson TK1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422371)

Can't beat 4+1 nice cores, 192 cuda cores, usb3, gig-e, real sata, on and on...

Re:Jetson TK1 (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 3 months ago | (#47422413)

Its page implicitly but strongly says it's for people who register as a CUDA developer.

Re: Jetson TK1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422437)

To get the cuda development suite, for sure. Possibly to get other nvidia binaries. But it's free to register, it's just an account in their portal system.

The TK1 base model can be bought by anyone, although advertised as an automotive development board. The pro model with expansion boards however, was industry only last time I checked

Install Linux in a VM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422375)

Install Linux in a Virtual Machine on your Solaris box. Any reasonably modern hardware (ie., Core 2 Duo or newer) should have hardware support for virtualization. Pass through the USB device of your microcontroller to the VM to program it.

Hardware cost: $0

Effective power use: minimal

Re:Install Linux in a VM (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 3 months ago | (#47422419)

What's more Virtualbox is made by the same vendor that makes Solaris and using it is a piece of cake..

Save yourself some pain ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422433)

And use an atom box which meets your power envelope. Having worked on different embedded systems, I have to be honest that unless you need really low power performance best to stay with x86. x86's best selling point ... it is very well supported across the board. If you are building a project which requires some special hardware then you don't have to waste time porting a driver from x86 to ARM, MIPS, Sparc, etc.

It is funny how quickly you realize you are doing make work stuff when you constraint yourself in terms of budget and time. This doesn't mean that you still don't have some opportunities for learning or development, it just means you get the platform issues out of the way very quickly and focus on the value add.

Why ? (1)

dargaud (518470) | about 3 months ago | (#47422457)

Why do you want to _develop_ on an embedded system ?!? Use a Linux PC for development and then test your code on your embedded platforms. I use Ubuntu for the former, with either buildroot or a direct gcc eabi. If the development platform _must_ be low power, like you develop from an african field with a solar panel, get a netbook.

Re:Why ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422555)

Lol, seriously. I was doing native development of OpenCV code on a Raspberry Pi in QT4. You can probably imagine my compile times. It was like I went back in time and got to experience "the good old days" I always heard the age discrimination victims wax nostalgic about in my CS classes.

You can make a normal desktop that is low power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422483)

The J1800i board has a 10 watt TDP processor, see

Considering the hatred Republicans have... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422493)

for anything that isn't Intel x86, none of these systems are going to be allowed to be successful. Just buy one of the power hungry Intel low-performance per Watt CPUs and be happy.

Not quite sure if I'm following ... (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 3 months ago | (#47422549)

What exactly is the point of the dev system? You write/compile MCU software on it and then download the software to the MCU?

A simple, cheap small notebook computer should be able to do this.

oxnardmovers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422575)

cubie board (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422641)

I was in the same position. I have a Mac laptop an ubuntu laptop and a Windows laptop. All for different purposes. I bought a cubie board for dedicated arm development and love it. It's perfect.

Zone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422747)

Run Debian in a Zone. You can cross-compile what you need.

rasberry pi? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422811)

It depends if the box is just for compiling or also for testing.

If it's just for compiling then you can get some supercheap desktop pcs these days.

If you also want a development board to do some testing then linux gizmos is a good source of information [] []

Of course, there is always the Rasberry pi.

Last post! (1)

jimmetry (1801872) | about 3 months ago | (#47422813)

The correct answer starts with raspberry and smells like pie.

linux on ARM (1)

fonske (1224340) | about 3 months ago | (#47422845)

Igor pecovnik maintains a Debian Wheezy branch for Cubietruck boards.

To answer the question (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 3 months ago | (#47422859)

Look at the Olimex range of boards.
I've been using these for a year or two and found them to fit the bill nicely.

There are single and dual core boards, with / without embedded flash memory (or micro-SD card slots) and they'll run Debian (or other) Linux They have a lot on on board peripherals and pinouts for their own range of LCD screens - though I use an HDMI monitor for simplicity. The power supply will accept anything from 6 - 16 Volts from a phone-charger type PSU and you can even plug in a LiPo for backup.

I'll stop there before someone accuses me of advertising (I'm not, and I have no connection to the company). But as a last point, they are also pretty cheap.

homro (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47422889)

in eternity...Romeo 'YES' TO ANY if desxired, we

Baytrail-D boards? (1)

speculatrix (678524) | about 3 months ago | (#47422897) [] The Intel Silvermont Atom boards are very electrically efficient and offer surprisingly good performance. You can buy a board for under US$100 and all you need to add is case, PSU, RAM and mass storage. Some boards have VGA, some DVI, with or without legacy serial and parallel, lots of choices. Manufacturers include gigabyte, msi, Asus, supermicro.

RDP (1)

Adam (3469959) | about 3 months ago | (#47423199)

Personally I'd have a netbook... In a Lab (Garage, whatever) I'd have the Oscilloscope/Logic Analyzers meters power supplies etc... connected to a Beefy desktop with plenty of RAM for running VM's so I don't stuff around with the build environment. When coding just remote (SSH/RDP/whatever) to the VM of choice. You don't mention price so stick solar panels, batteries and inverters on it till you're sub 5W.

Atmel SAMA5D3x (1)

jcdr (178250) | about 3 months ago | (#47423243)

This is a new chip with a ARM Cortex-A5 core, making it directly compatible with all distributions with an 'armhf' port like Debian, Ubuntu or Linaro.I like the fact that it is compatible with the Arduino Due connector. It's probably the easiest Linux based Arduino hardware compatible board. [] [] []

That makes no sense. (1)

seebs (15766) | about 3 months ago | (#47423271)

Don't try to use super-low-power things for software development. Get something that will run things quickly and efficiently, and turn it off when you're not using it.

AllWinner Mele set-top boxes (1)

FilmedInNoir (1392323) | about 3 months ago | (#47423273) []
There's a good dozen or more configurations for the hardware.

There's guides on the internet to installing different versions of Linux on it. (Unless you want to do Android dev)
I bought the A1000 version and a laptop HD (plugs in the top).
Then I installed Debian (using an online guide) and MiniDLNA. I use it as a media server for my TV.

Recommendation for Big-Endian dev board? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47423309)

Similar to OP's question, what would be a good linux-based board for a Big-Endian CPU ?

Seems like all the ARM boards are little-endian (though ARM itself is bi-endian, the boards are configured as little-endian).
Preferably 64-bit, bit 32-bit will do in a pinch.

Many people recommend simply getting an old G4/G5 macs, but I'm looking for a product that's not 10 years old...

You got what you need (1)

slash0r (3734763) | about 3 months ago | (#47423313)

You want 5-10 Watt max.

You have Beaglebone Black.
That works with 5V. 1A is recommended. That makes it a 5W device.

Most of similar embedded devices have same requirements. just look for functionnalities/ports you need and test/use it.

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