sunnuntai 7. helmikuuta 2016

SBCs are for the hobbyists, not for the masses?

Single Board Computers (i.e. SBC) are very popular among hobbyists; inexpensive and versatile. There is no project which can't be done using these tiny little miracles. So why isn't everyone using SBCs?

There are many answers:

  • First off, SBCs run Linux. This is something people are not used to. Most of us own a laptop with Windows, Apple's OS X or Chrome OS from Google inside. Linux Desktop is a rarity.
  • Secondly, Raspberry Pi has done a good job and is offering not just inexpensive hardware but easily installable software. However there are manufacturers which haven't. For example Hardkernel, a company behind Odroid C1, has been competing against Raspberry Pi for some time. In the beginning there was not that stable Linux around for C1. Users trust is achieved by supporting hardware.
  • The third challenge is poor performance of the SBCs. If a computer costs 5 $ it's not as quick as your laptop. No way. The tiniest SBCs only have 512 MB of RAM. That is something we last saw ten years ago in budget laptops.
  • However, you can see things differently. Read on...
For the time being, not everyone of us is using an SBC. But things can change. 80 % of all phones and tablets run Android which has Linux in the bottom of the operating system. There you have it! Linux is already around! Why not run Android in an SBC?

In the future you might run an SBC without knowing it. It's predicted tiny computers and micro controllers will be everywhere and they will get even tinier than today. Embedded systems don't need that much memory or fancy graphical interfaces. Next time you buy a fridge there probably is an SBC inside.

We have been living the stone age of computers for the past 30-40 years. It's time to move on to the next era when not just hobbyists but all of us use SBCs daily.

My Raspberry Pi meets an old TV from Casio

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