Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Texas Instrument's OMAP and Inexpensive BeagleBoard Excel with Embedded Linux

Attending the TI Tech Days Toronto 2009, I was impressed with the capabilities of the BeagleBoard, an OMAP3530 single board computer that sells for only $149. It was on display serving video to a tiny DLP projector that is also available as a development kit from TI.

The BeagleBoard is a reference platform as well, with all schematics, gerbers and even design files available online. This allows third-parties like TinCanTools to develop a peripheral add-on board an an adaptor for their USB-JTAG board to support the BeagleBoard.

The OMAP is a great platform for Embedded Linux development. The OpenEmbedded project, the Angstrom distribution, and Android all have been ported to the OMAP, and there is a great community of BeagleBoard Linux users and a wealth of information online at BeagleBoard.org. In addition to the BeagleBoard, there are OMAP development boards from gumstix and Logic. Each of these boards also have embedded Linux distributions and online resources for developers.

At the Conference, the room was full for the OMAP embedded Linux presentation by Nuvation, and it could have lasted much longer if time permitted. Developers had many questions on each slide and the presenter had to rush to finish. You can tell that there are a lot of products in development with the technology or at least considering OMAP and Embedded Linux as a solution.

There were a number of development companies at the conference (including Aaron Clarke Consulting) offering support for OMAP development. bSQUARE was giving away copies of Microsoft's Windows Embedded CE Evaluation Kit that also runs on the BeagleBoard. They support both WinCE and Embedded Linux development. They are headquartered in Bellevue, Washington with offices around the world including one near me in Rochester, NY. bSQUARE, who aquired Vibren Technologies in 2005, also offers an embedded flash for Linux and porting services for Adobe Flash Lite.

You can see the BeagleBoard in action either at one of the remaining TI Tech Days or at the Embedded Systems Conference in Boston. TI will have a number of workshops featuring the BeagleBoard including Android development.