October 29, 2012
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There are two types of ARM based development boards in the world today, the cheap ones like the Raspberry Pi and the expensive ones like the new Arndale board which has just been announced by Samsung. The Raspberry Pi starts at $35 for the basic board while the Arndale starts at $250. Quite a difference. But, as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. The Arndale comes packed with power!

The Arndale uses Samsung’s Exynos 5 dual core Cortex-A15 processor running at 1.7 GHz and includes 2GB of RAM. There is also 4GB of internal storage and a whole load of connectivity options. The board supports the use of a touch screen display as well as HDMI, plus there are connections for NFC, USB 3.0, Ethernet, GPS, Wi-Fi, SATA and a camera.

The Exynos 5 processor is a monster of a chip and is the same one that is used in the Google Nexus 10. It has the world’s first dual core Cortex-A15 CPU plus it incorporates the world’s first quad-core ARM Mali™-T604 GPU based on 32nm High-K Metal Gate technology. The result is a 12.8 GB/s memory bandwidth, 1080p 60 FPS video performance and VP8 codec decoder and USB 3.0 support.

The release of the board is part of Samsung’s promise to open up its Exynos chipset. The lack of information has held back some developers from working to optimize their apps for Exynos-based devices since Samsung was not sharing the full documentation nor the source code for the chipset.

Samsung’s spin on this board is that not only does the Arndale give developers access to a complete dual-core Cortex-A15 processor and Mali-T604 GPU platform, but it has features not usually found on other community board such as NFC, GPS and a camera sensor.

But with great power comes great expenses. The bare board costs $250, while the seven inch touch screen costs another $250. If you want to add Sound + WiFi + Bluetooth + GPS + FM, that costs another $120. In total if you buy everything including the camera module and the accessories package then the total development kit comes to $740!

Samsung have set up a dedicated site for the board: arndaleboard.org which has loads of documentation and instructions on how to build Android (from a Ubuntu host) and flash it onto the device. The only unpublished bit so far is the actual Android source code for the device which Samsung says will be available in December.


Gary Sims
Gary has been a tech writer for over a decade and specializes in open source systems. He has a Bachelor's degree in Business Information Systems. He has many years of experience in system design and development as well as system administration, system security and networking protocols. He also knows several programming languages, as he was previously a software engineer for 10 years.
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