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Linux-ready, open-platform ARM9/DSP SBC costs $89

May 7, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 48 views

Four distributors have begun shipping the open platform, Linux-ready Hawkboard single board computer (SBC) for as low as $89. Based on the Texas Instruments OMAP-L138 system-on-chip (SoC), which combines an ARM9 core and a DSP, the community-driven Hawkboard project is structured on the TI-sponsored BeagleBoard project, and is similarly designed for hobbyists and general testing.

Whereas the popular BeagleBoard is based on the Texas Instruments (TI) ARM Cortex-A8-based OMAP3530 SoC, the Hawkboard is built around the lower cost OMAP-L138 SoC announced last year. The OMAP-L138 combines one of three new TI floating point TMS320C674x digital signal processors (DSPs) with a 300MHz ARM926EJ-S core, allowing developers to add human machine interfaces (HMI), as well as applications that support touchscreen or networking capability. Power usage is said to total only 440mW.

OMAP-L138 block diagram

(Click to enlarge)

Announced last October, the Hawkboard began shipping in limited quantities in February. Now four distributors are making it available around the world in larger volumes. These include the well-established UK-based distributor Farnell; Scottsdale, Arizona's Special Computing; India-based IDA Systems; and the driving force behind the project, Bangalore, India-based Innovate Software Solutions.


(Click to enlarge)

A spinoff of sorts from the BeagleBoard project, but with no direct sponsorship from TI, hosts an open source community with blogs, community chat rooms, and Linux development tools. The site also posts full schematics, documentation, and development tools.

Hawkboard, detail
(Click to enlarge)

The 3.94 x 3.54-inch (100 x 90mm) Hawkboard uses a 300MHz version of the C674x DSP line, which would appear to be the high-end C6748 model. It also offers 128MB each of DDR2 RAM and NAND flash. In addition, there are MMC/SD and SATA connections for storage. Other standard I/O includes an Ethernet port, serial port, USB Host and OTG connections, as well as a debug port.

Hawkboard with peripherals

A/V connections include a VGA and Composite port, as well as audio I/O. An expansion connector, meanwhile, gives rise to additional I/O, including I2C, SPI, and LCDC signals for driving an LCD display, among others, says the project.

Hawkboard block diagram
(Click to enlarge)

Specifications for the Hawkboard include:

  • Processor — OMAP-L138 @ 300MHz
  • Memory — 128MB DDR2 RAM
  • Flash — 128MB NAND flash; MMC/SD slot
  • Storage — SATA connector
  • Display — VGA port; Composite video in
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet
  • USB — 1 x USB host Type-A; 1 x USB OTG (for power)
  • Serial — 1 x RS232
  • Debug — 1 x JTAG; optional XDS 100 JTAG Emulator
  • Audio — Audio in/out
  • Expansion I/O connector:
    • I2C
    • SPI
    • LCD signals
    • VPIF
    • PWM
    • eCAP
    • UART
    • GPIO
    • PRU
    • UPP
    • eHRPWM
  • Power — 5V DC
  • Dimensions — 3.94 x 3.54 inches (100 x 90mm)

Hawkboard, back side

The Hawkboard is supported, via, with a Linux 2.6.2 distribution, including toolchains for kernel compilation. In addition, there is now an Angstrom Linux distribution available, as well as ports of the eCos and QNX RTOSes, says the group.

On one spec list, Android is listed as well, and the site offers a video (see farther below), which shows the SBC running Android, although with no other details supplied.

In his October announcement FAQ, Innovate Software Solutions' Khasim Syed Mohammed, who heads up the project, noted that a chief goal of the project is to introduce ARM programmers to DSP programming and get DSP programmers to work with ARM.

"The OMAP L 138 is a great and very simple processor; the register set is so simple that any one can start learning about the Linux drivers for any kind of peripherals," writes Khasim. "I think we as Linux developers need to learn DSP usage and not programming the same, and the DSP developers should learn how to program DSP so that ARM can use this. So, it's all about ARM utilizing the power of DSP."

Android running on a Hawkboard
(Click to play)


The Hawkboard is available now for $94 from Innovate Software Solutions, here, for $89 from Special Computing, here, as well as for 73.7 Pounds from Farnell, here, or for 5,000 Rupees plus tax at IDA Systems, here.

More information may be found at, here.

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