Mini PC market heats up with the launch of BeagleBone Black

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We’ve seen no shortage of low-powered, low-cost mini PCs hit the market since Raspberry Pi made waves a year ago. The latest entrant is the new BeagleBone Black, a single board computer that packs even more processing power than the system that jumpstarted the entire market.

The tiny PC, a follow-up to the original BeagleBone, is powered by a 1GHz AM335x Cortex-A8 chip, PowerVR SGX graphics, two PRU 32-bit RISC CPUs, 2GB of onboard storage and an ARM Cortex-M3 for power management. The processor allows the device to run Linux distributions like Ubuntu in addition to Android.

Additionally, there are more inputs and outputs than the Raspberry Pi for increased flexibility and compatibility with other hardware. The connectivity list includes a USB client for power, debug and device, a USB host, Ethernet, HDMI and two 46-pin headers.

The latest generation hardware is faster than the original and cost half the price, said co-founder Jason Kridner. The first production run will consist of 100,000 units – up from the 50,000 to 60,000 units the original sold.

So what exactly can someone do with a system like this? Pretty much anything they want. Kridner points out that people have built 3D printers, rovers, drones, art projects and even street lighting with BeagleBone computers.

The $45 kit includes a power supply and a network cable – items that are noticeably missing from the cheaper Pi kit. The system is available for purchase right now but we are hearing that it’ll be more widely available by the end of May.

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