The Beagle Board

i-0e3c3251fc2b0bc25d45b7c1cbe06248-beagle_board.jpgThe beagle board, which costs only about 150 bucks, is a full blown Linux-capable computer that is so simplified and low powered that it does not need a fan. Its main method of communication (other than video output) is via USB (no ethernet). But that can work.

For a write-up about this cutie, go here. To just get it over with and buy one, go here.


  1. #1 Tony P
    August 17, 2008

    Damn it, I just dropped $150 on a 3 track card reader/writer. Knowing that MBTA’s Charlie Card can be hacked, and knowing that the system used by RIPTA might also be hackable I just had to do it.

  2. #2 phisrow
    August 17, 2008

    It’s a tempting little piece of hardware, and quite powerful for its size. In a similar vein, though not available yet, is the Pandora device. Largely equivalent hardware; but packaged as a PDA/Handheld Console type widget.

  3. #3 Brian X
    August 18, 2008

    That’s pretty cool. I would kind of think that’s where computing hardware is headed eventually anyway — full-power, ATX-sized desktop machines will probably be a rather limited market in a few years, so supersmall-format systems will be a general rule at some point. What might actually be interesting is to take a Beagle Board and mount it in a case with a power supply and sell it as an open video game console — if it’s got the video power it claims that ought to be a no-brainer. I think the only real issue is the cost of flash media — while it’s certainly relatively cheap compared to what it was even two years ago, $10/gig is still prohibitively expensive for software distribution, especially compared to $.25 for a CD-R, $.40 for a DVD-R, or pennies a piece for a run of pressed discs.

    Also, I’d love to see a Beowulf of those things. Running grits-pouring simulations on models of a naked and petrified Natalie Portman.

  4. #4 HennepinCountyLawyer
    August 18, 2008

    “. . .I’d love to see a Beowulf of those things.”

    How did we end up on Slashdot?

  5. #5 aporeticus
    August 18, 2008

    Darn. Brian X beat me to it.

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    August 18, 2008

    Is a USB connection sufficient for a Beowulf? I’m sure if you were going to do this with a hundred units or so, they would be willing to consider replacing the USB with a faster method of linking them.

  7. #7 phisrow
    August 18, 2008

    Either by using a PC with a lot of USB root hubs as a central controller, or by using decent USB network adapters, you should be able to get interconnnect performance adequately close to that of ordinary 100mb ethernet on PCI or PCIe. That is the sort of performance that had its lunch money stolen by Myrinet and Infiniband back in grade school, won’t even touch ordinary low end GbE; but it would be good enough for some applications. You wouldn’t be stuck bit-banging GPIO from your parallel port, or anything horrid.

  8. #8 Brian X
    August 19, 2008


    I wasn’t entirely serious in that suggestion 🙂 As far as bandwidth goes, I guess it depends on the kind of problem you’re doing. My backplane of choice would probably be a Firewire-800-over-fiber variant, but that’s limited I think to 64 devices. At that level you could get way more flexibility by spending the extra money for 64 cheap dual-core boxes on gigabit Ethernet — you’d probably spend about four times as much, but you’d have far less equipment overhead because you wouldn’t be shuffling hubs or wall warts around.

    The sort of thing I’d actually do with one of those things — patch it into an iRobot Create or some similar chassis or, like I said above, build a gaming system.

  9. #9 Tony Sidaway
    August 25, 2008

    Now I hate you. I want one.