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BeagleBone Black: The Sub-$50 ARM Linux Board

Michael Larabel

Published on 17 February 2014
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 3 - 39 Comments

The BeagleBone Black has been one of the popular low-cost ARM development boards in recent months for budget-minded hobbyists due to its $45 price-tag, being Linux friendly, and support for powering off a USB cable. While it may be a cheap ARM development board, is its performance too dauntingly slow?

The BeagleBone Black launched in Q2'2013 with the AM335x. This AM335x ARM SoC runs at a mere 1GHz and is only a single core solution. Other specs on this single-core ARM development board is 512MB of DDR3 RAM, 2GB of eMMC on-board flash storage, a 3D graphics accelerator, and two PRU 32-bit micro-controllers. This is far from being the fastest ARM development board around. The specs on the BeagleBone Black are just a minor step ahead of the Raspberry Pi with its ARM1176JZF-S that has a 700MHz single-core ARMv6k processor while also boasting just 512MB of system memory but with not nearly the same level of hobbyist interest level even though the BeagleBone Black just sells for a few dollars more.

The BeagleBone Black has been out for the better part of one year, but only now I've gotten around to testing it... I ordered a BeagleBone Black shortly after its release, but it was rather hard to get me interested in this $45 USD board. Up until a few days ago it was just sitting in the test labs on a shelf. Many other more interesting low-cost ARM development boards out there are more attention drawing. For just a bit more money you can get a Cortex-A15 Chromebook or the more powerful ODROIDs or even buying the several-year-old PandaBoards I find to be more appealing. After months of the BeagleBone Black finally sitting around, I finally got around to powering it up with being curious how it performs against the Intel Bay Trail NUC Kit.

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