BeagleBone BlackThe Raspberry Pi has created a mini-revolution among enthusiasts, hobbyists and those keen on learning programming and hardware design. But the $35 Raspberry Pi is now facing some stiff competition from the BeagleBone Black. The latest revision of the Beagle single board computer (SBC) is now available for just $45. The extra $10 compared to the Raspberry Pi gets you some worth while upgrades.

First the CPU. The  BeagleBone Black uses the Sitara ARM Cortex-A8 from Texas Instruments clocked at 1GHz. This is a major improvement over the Raspberry Pi which is using an ARM11 based CPU from Broadcom clocked at just 700MHz. The ARM11 is an older ARM architecture and Linux distributions like Fedora Core only support it with special rebuilds. The Cortex-A8 core used in the BeagleBone Black is more mainstream and supported out-of-the-box in distributions like Fedora Core.

However your extra $10 also gets you 2GB of on-board flash and a microSD card reader. Although the Raspberry Pi also includes a SD card reader, a SD card isn’t included in the $35 and without one you can’t use the Pi. But the BeagleBone Black comes preloaded with Angstrom Linux allowing the microSD slot to be used for additional storage.  Of course you can still boot off the microSD card if you want to run a different OS. There are also other ‘hidden’ costs for the Raspberry Pi including the need to buy a USB cable for the power, something that is included in the price of the BeagleBone Black.

The new board supports Android (code named rowboat) as well as various Linux flavors like Ubuntu, openSUSE and Ångström. The new board also supports other OSes such as FreeBSD, QNX, and Windows Embedded!

Previous versions of the BeagleBone cost $89 and upwards, but the good news is that the BeagleBone Black has managed to secure some large orders from its distributors and as a result of volume pricing it will be available in May at the new $45 price tag.