BeagleBoard open source project gets shot in the ARM

BeagleBoard, the ARM-based development board from Texas Instruments, has caused a stir in the open source community, but it might not ever have appeared without the intervention of component distributor Digi-Key, writes Steve Bush.

“It was developed with a little bit of seed funding from TI,” BeagleBoard software architecture manager Jason Kridner told Elctronics Weekly. “In order to reach the right price point, we had to order 1,000 at a time with a commitment for 10,000.”

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There followed a debate over who would pay, when Digi-Key stepped in.

“They put up the initial money and made the commitment,” said Kridner. “Without that, it would have been very difficult to execute the project.”

BeagleBoard is a 75x75mm mini-computer based around the powerful ARM Cortex-A8.

It is the ARM equivalent of mini single board x86 computers like Via Technologies’ EPIA pico-ITX and Mobile-ITX motherboards, and slightly larger Intel Atom boards.

TI makes a range of OMAP ARM-based microcontrollers, some for specific applications and others for general purpose use.

“The idea was to make the OMAP chip family available to more people and to make something that would really address the needs of the open source community,” explained Kridner.

And the open source community has lapped it up. Currently, there are 164 projects registered with the BeagleBoard website.  

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