After the BeagleBoard comes the PandaBoard

Brings OMAP4 and a bunch of other goodies

OPEN SOURCE DEVELOPMENT board for ARM seems to have become a new business opportunity, or something of the sort. The BeagleBoard was the first real hit, and now it appears we have a new contender that’s getting ready to unleash an even more powerful development board, namely the PandaBoard.

We’re not quite sure how these boards are named, but despite the odd name, the PandaBoard packs some serious hardware upgrades compared to the BeagleBoard. The PandaBoard contains a 1GHz dual core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore TI OMAP4430 SoC which has been paired up with 1GB of LPDDR2 memory. This makes it one of the most advanced ARM development platforms provided by a third party.

The board also supports HDMI and DVI output at up to 1920×1200 resolution. Thanks to the PowerVR SGX540 GPU this tiny board still handles 1080p HD video and 3D graphics. Other features include two USB 2.0 ports, a mini USB 2.0 OTG port, 10/100Mbit Ethernet, a pair of audio jacks, an SDIO compatible SD card slot, a serial port, and last but not least, a combined Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module. The board also has connectors for various add-on features such as a camera, a direct connected LCD screen, and some unspecified expansion connectors.

With Texas Instruments claiming a 150 percent performance increase compared to its own ARM Cortex-A8 board OMAP solutions, the PandaBoard ought to be a very attractive development platform. It’s fully compatible with a wide range of operating systems including Android, MeeGo, Symbian, and various Linux distributions such as Ubuntu and minimal-FS. There’s no on-board Flash memory, but the PandaBoard boots from the SD card slot. As this is a development platform, rather than a board intended for production use, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Interestingly, the first lot of PandaBoards will be given away – some in an early adopter’s program to which projects can be submitted on the official website, and then some via a request program, also available on the official website. That sounds like a pretty sweet deal for developers, although there’s no word as to what the pricing of the PandaBoard will be once it becomes available for purchase. However, considering that the BeagleBoard is retailing for $149, we’d expect the PandaBoard to be a fair bit more expensive considering the faster hardware and extra features.S|A

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