The Raspberry Pi’s enormous success has sparked new announcements from several companies hoping to capitalize on the device’s popularity. Last week, Via Technologies announced new ARM-based socs it calls “Rock” and “Paper.” This week, AMD is launching its own platform in cooperation with Sage Electronic Engineering.
The kit, dubbed the Gizmo Explorer, contains a dual-core AMD G-series embedded APU running at 1GHz. The Radeon GPU is clocked at 280MHz, with the entire 4-inch x 4-inch board rated for a sub-10W. Retail price for the kit is listed at $ 199. Included onboard is a 15-pin VGA output (1920×1080), 10/100 ethernet, 1x SATA port, 1GB of DDR3-1066 RAM, and three audio jacks.
The entire kit includes:
- 1x Gizmo Explorer board
- 1x Explorer “Companion Board” — an expansion card that plugs into the GE’s low speed interface and offers an LCD microdisplay, DC motor and stepper motor capabilities, a GPIO header for alphanumeric keypad attachment, and a prototyping area
- 1x Sage SmartProbe JTAG development tool for low-level debugging (only comes with 20 hours of operating time)
- 30-day trial of the Sage EDK Graphical Interface
- Ethernet and USB cables
- Power supply
Not exactly up against the Raspberry Pi
At $ 199, the Gizmo Explorer is clearly far out of the RBP’s price range. If you’re looking for a really cheap hobbyist solution, it’s not going to fit the bill. Similarly, if you need an ultra low power solution, the GE’s sub-10W TDP isn’t anything to get excited about. There are cheaper ARM-based solutions that draw significantly less power.
Dismissing the GE based on these two characteristics, however, largely misses the point. The board offers OpenCL capabilities that other enthusiast-oriented alternatives lack. Combine that with the dual-core 1GHz CPUs, AMD’s H.264/VC-1 hardware decode engine, and the 1GB of DDR3-1066 RAM, and you’ve got an embeded board that can handle sophisticated tasks that cheaper hardware can’t address. The SATA port and Windows support are potentially handy, as are the trial versions of Sage’s JTAG probe and the company’s EDK.
No, the GE isn’t a straight competitor for the Raspberry Pi, but it’s designed with some of the same goals in mind. The idea of affordable, embedded hardware is still fairly new. In the past, embedded development kits with this type of flexibility were typically quite expensive.
If the Gizmo Explorer proves popular, we could see a refresh in fairly short order. AMD’s upcoming Temash and Kabini products will offer significant power savings compared to Brazos and could be leveraged to bring board power within a 5-7W range.