Would you ARM yourself? (Or, Who wants a slice of Badj-berry Pi?)
May 4, 2013
Right now, there's only about one ARM Cortex processor,the M0, available as a DIP package. It doesn't have an MMU, so chances are slim that you could get Linux on it in a useful way. However, its existence proves that a Mfr can get Advanced RISC Machine architecture into a format that most of us could manage without worrying about micron-level solder bridges.
But that brings up another point-would it really be useful for hobby robotics and embedding? Other than the fact that it would be really cool to do it, is there a good reason to? The Pis and Beagles and Pandas are so cheap and reliable that for sot purposes, it doesn't make sense to make a dedicated Linux SBC on your own (a Badj-berry? A Beagle-Roy? ;-).
With an ATMel or a Pic, it is often the case that you have a board you use for testing and then you move a less expensive and less featured brain (ie, no USB or a smaller pcb footprint) to the body of the robot or the heart of the embedded appliance. Would that make sense in the Linux SBC context? Does the power and complexity of the ready-made boards overcome the cost factors that make this frequent with the 8 and 16 bit SBCs? Are there other factors-the challenges of standard I/O like monitor and keyboard interfacing for example-that are bigger problems than would be worth it? And most importantly, is it even interesting to anyone? Am I the only one who's imagined this project? I mean, there are guys who have built versions of the Altair just for fun (and I'm not talking about the Arduino version-this was an actual umpteen-thousand register Altair with lots of wires.)
Let me be clear, here. I don't think that if there was a through-hole M9 available that I would be up to the challenge of breadboarding one up and dropping Debian onto it tomorrow, but if it were a possibility I don't think it would take me as long to make it work as it would to get the parts shipped to me. Anyone else?