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ESC Boston giving away Beagles

Aug 15, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

At the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) Boston show on Oct. 26-30, the organizers are giving away free Cortex-A8-based Beagle development boards. TechInsights will offer attendees either the Linux-based, Texas Instruments-made Beagle, which is based on TI's OMAP3530 system-on-chip (SoC), or a… Windows CE-based kit from iBase.

(Click for larger view of Beagle Board)

The giveaway is part of TechInsights's “Build Your Own Embedded System” (BYOES) program, which offers hands-on assistance to developers as they build embedded systems at the show. BYOES participants can choose from a variety of classes, several specific to Linux development. At the ESC show in San Jose this April, TechInsights gave away Via Artigo pico-ITX kits.

The Linux-based Beagle Board is a collaborative effort between Texas Instruments, Numonyx, and MontaVista, and is distributed by Digi-Key. The $150, 3-inch-square board is aimed at low-volume embedded developers, hobbyists, and students who want to evaluate ARM's Cortex-A8 and TI's OMAP3 architectures. TI employees began demonstrating the Beagle board in June, and Digi-Key started distributing it at the end of July.

Boasting an open hardware design and an open online community, the board was designed by Gerald Coley, who works in TI's marketing department. The board follows in the spiritual mold of TI's OMAP5912 Starter Kits, which have long been popular with embedded hardware hobbyists and community developers.

Beagle board
(Click to enlarge)

The Beagle board is based on a TI OMAP3530, the fanciest model in the OMAP35xx portfolio of system-on-chip processors, and one of the first available system-on-chip (SoC) processors based on ARM's Cortex-A8 processor core. Clocked at 600MHz, the A8 core is claimed to deliver 1200 Dhrystone MIPS, putting it theoretically alongside Intel's Pentium III in performance. Unlike the P-III, though, the 3530 adds a powerful Imagination SGX 2D/3D graphics processor supporting dual independent displays, and a TMS320C64x DSP core clocked at 430MHz.

Attendees may instead choose a kit from iBase that offers a development environment for Windows CE and Windows Embedded Standard. TechInsights did not disclose the exact kit, but iBase offers a variety of embedded boards based on Mini-ITX, ETX, and other formats.

ESC Boston 2008

Scheduled for Hynes Convention Center in Boston on Oct. 26-30, ESC Boston features a keynote by robot-swarm designer James McLurkin. An exhibition floor will be open on Oct. 28-29, but the main focus is on educational sessions. Major education-session topics include:

  • Commercial & open source operating systems
  • Debugging, verification & test
  • Design-team management
  • DSP & multimedia: algorithms & implementation
  • Hardware design including programmable logic
  • Multi-core & multi-threaded processing
  • Real-time development
  • Security
  • Software development
  • Virtualization
  • Wired & wireless networking

Linux-specific classes, which are 90-minute sessions unless otherwise stated, include:

  • Embedded Linux Jumpstart (full-day tutorial)
  • Linux userspace device drivers
  • Cellular communications with embedded Linux
  • Programming real-time Linux applications using the POSIX.1b API, Part 1
  • Programming real-time Linux applications using the POSIX.1b API, Part 2
  • Leveraging Linux for security protocols hardware offloads

Stated Richard Nass, editor in chief of Embedded Systems Design and editorial director of the Embedded Systems Conferences, “A lot of conferences give attendees a development platform to work on while they're at the event, but ESC Boston attendees get to keep their newly configured kit.”


The Beagle board (which normally costs $150) or iBase kit are free to attendees who pay the $1,500 five-day pass ($1,800 starting August 22) or the $2,300 all-access fee ($2,600 starting August 22). The all-access pass includes admittance to a “Stroustrup & Sutter on C++” two-day session, as well as access to the concurrent SD Best Practices show. More information on ESC Boston, scheduled for Oct. 26-30, may be found here.

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