TI E2E Community
Power to the People: BeagleBoard.org leads the Open Hardware and Software Movement
In the beginning, overzealous semiconductor vendor overlords commanded that every developer beg on their hands and knees to use the latest technology on the latest development kits. These oppressors demanded outrageous sums of money and refused to offer any help. The earth became a desolate wasteland of overpriced and poorly supported development kits. The masses suffered as the privileged looked down on them from upon their thrones.
Then, four engineers – we’ll call them Jason, Gerald, Steve and Khasim – came up with the idea of creating a low-priced open-source platform that everyone could use and support. Word of this idea quickly traveled to the tyrants and, needless to say, they were not pleased. They demanded the heads of these engineers. The four engineers were able to escape and found refuge in a land called Texas.
There, they shared their idea with the people of Texas, explaining the valuable benefits of low-cost community-supported boards to developers, as well as students and hobbyists. The people were so amazed at the prospects and possibilities of this this idea. After much collaboration, countless late nights and colorful debates, Jason and Gerald agreed on a platform.
On July 28, 2008 BeagleBoard.org was born with its first low-cost development board offering: the BeagleBoard. Its birth began the dawn of a new era—0ne in which both new and experienced developers alike had access to the most powerful processors in the market. An era in which creativity and ingenuity was not hampered by the price of a development board. An era in which “all for one and one for all” truly became the mantra of an open-source community that found itself united on http://BeagleBoard.org.
In the five years of its existence, four low-cost open hardware and software development boards utilizing the latest Sitara™ processor technologies have been created, including the new BeagleBone Black. With the 1 GHz Sitara AM3358 processor, a developer can boot Linux in under 10 seconds and get started developing in less than five minutes with a single USB cable.
The people of the world rejoiced; with these development platforms they were able to let their imaginations run free and create upper body exoskeletons, 3D printers, superhero suites, larger-than-life video games and other revolutionary ideas. With their newfound freedom, their happiness exponentially increased – as did their productivity. This translated into more chip sales, pleasing the semiconductor vendors. They soon realized that an open-source-community-supported platform can have a positive impact on their bottom line. Thus, more boards from various vendors became available to the open-source community. Was this competition to BeagleBoard? No - it was a community. A community in which all members encourage each other to thrive, prosper and succeed.
The open hardware and software community has become so important to the development process that semiconductor companies both collaborate with and hire its members in order to make their own product offerings better.
This all happened in the first five years of BeagleBoard.org’s existence. Imagine what will happen in the next five!
And a great video about the past five years...
Happy birthday, BeagleBoard.org!
Interesting how the idea has spread to other semi manufacturers and products!
I just finished reading, Bad to the Bone by Morgan and Claypool. (In my opinion, a very poorly written book.) I am amazed that TI would sponsor a poor implementation of their ARM processor under Beagle Bone Black. WHY? In BoneScript (Node.js), you can access pins by '.' elements of a data structure. However, in C/C++ you have to open not one, but two files through the OS to set the pin mode and pull up/down resistors, and to read or write data. This wastes processor cycles and adds several orders of magnitude to the time required to access a pin. I have never had to write to a file on a PC, Microchip, AVR, Arduino, Timex Sinclar 1000, etc. to access processor pins. Please provide example C/C++ code (even if it is inline assembly) to allow direct seting/reading/writing to the pins or this board will die a miserable death due to the inefficient execution. Embedded controllers are supposed to be as fast as possible to react to the real world. If this cannot be done, I will dissuade all my colleagues from selecting Beagle Bone!
I'm sorry that you feel that way about my book. I understand you have strong feelings about having direct access to the registers and don't want to deal with Linux in any way. Using TI's StarterWare Library it is of course totally unnecessary to run Linux and it is disappointing you didn't start out in that direction.
Steve and I have started a second edition and will take your comments in account as we perform our edits.
Accessing hardware from the Linux userspace does provide several advantages as well as disadvantages---and I think if you are overly concerned about the bit-banging performance of the 1GHz CPU you might be significantly underutilizing it in the first place. The on-board PRUs provide one mechanism for overcoming the disadvantages while still having a full Linux system at your disposal. The next edition will give treatment to those 200MHz microcontrollers on-board with optimal real-time control over the pins. There will also be several examples posted on this and sites (like learn.adafruit.com/.../beaglebone) moving forward.
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