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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

BeagleBone Black - Unboxing

I just received my Beaglebone Black.
It looks cool, it's black...

Besides the color it looks like the previous (white) version, but you can immediately spot the presence of an HDMI connector.
This is probably a nice addition, being able, out of the box, to connect to an HDMI monitor, not sure I will use it since up to now I used my bone as a remote terminal only.
But still I think that keyboard + mouse + monitor might eventually get you out of the problem in the case you mess up with your network configuration.

The box it comes in is (I got mine from Adafruit, because I think LadyAda is really cool) a neat pretty soft box which also contains a MINI usb cable.

Checking the side of the board, you can see the micro HDMI connector (close to the SD slot, below the pcb) with the standard usb and mini SD.
No SD is included because the black has an internal flash that can store the SO, the SD connector is still available so you can use another SD for storage.
I think this is a neat feature because, besides lowering the total cost (no need for the SD card) it also allows you to store your stuff separately from the OS which in the end reduces the chances you mess up the OS filesystem (that happened to me, was logging data on the SD of the bone, power went off... and the file system was broken, had to recreate the SD.

The other side remains pretty much the same as the previous version : 5V connector, a mini usb and ethernet.

The main differences with the white bone are :
1) Price is about half (45$ vs 89$)
2) Added HDMI
3) Added internal flash 2Gb (with performance boost x8 vs x4 bits)
4) Memory was 256MB DDR2, now  512MB DDR3 (!!)
5) CPU (AM3359) clock was 720MHz, now 1GHz ( thanks to the  Sitara XAM3359AZCZ100)

Also, the white bone CPU was scaling down to 500MHz when powered via USB instead of the 5V connector, apparently (from the specs) this is not happening for the black, which should stay at 1000MHz.

I will start soon playing with this new toy, which apparently comes configured to start X immediately (not the way I like it, but it is normally easy to set it up).

One thing that really triggers my curiosity is that it is supposed to support StarterWare, a set of free TI libraries (kudos to TI, you manufactured my first computer -TI99/4A- 20+ years ago and still surprise me every month. Count me in your fan club :) ) supposed to give you API level access to the hardware without the need of an OS.

Will keep you posted


Doug Snyder said...

Have you been able to get anywhere with StarterWare? At one time, there seemed to be many problems using StarterWare with a BeagleBone Black - connectors, cables, .gel files, etc.

Francesco Agosti said...

Unfortunately, while I used the BBB a bit, I was focused on using it with Ubuntu, so no, not much progress with StarterWare lately.
Too busy with some other stuff and yes, the cables etc are a bit of a problem, first of all because the BBB does not come with a JTAG interface (like the White version did).
To use it with starterware you need to either sodler a jtag chip or to prepare an SD and boot it from there, which I tried a couple of times, but did not seem to work properly (entirely possible that I did not keep the boot button down in the booting process and it was booting internally, not sure)...