Samsung unveils Origen Exynos board

Samsung has announced its first low-cost ARM development board to feature a dual-core Exynos processor, in partnership with open source development collaborative Linaro.

Unveiled to press at an exclusive event ahead of the Computex 2011 show in Taipei, the Origen development board joins similar devices from companies including Texas Instruments and ST-Ericsson in allowing Linaro developers - and the wider open-source community - to develop software that runs efficiently on ARM-based system-on-chips.

The Origen board partners a 45nm Samsung Exynos dual-core 1GHz processor - based on the Cortex-A9 design from British low-power chip specialist ARM - with 1GB of high-speed DDR3 RAM. The in-built graphics hardware is capable of accelerating both 2D and 3D performance, and is able to push 1080p video at 30 frames per second in a variety of codecs.

The board includes in-built Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, in-built HDMI and audio outputs, a connector for an LCD touch-screen and one for an internal camera - if the device under development needs such a feature. There's also full JTAG and serial debugging support, USB 2.0 Host and OTG, and two SD/MMC card slots.

Interestingly, Samsung has opted to include a clever upgradability feature rarely seen in a low-cost development board: the application processor is located on a separate board, which can be replaced with higher-performance units in the future without having to replace the entire development board.

"We are pleased that Samsung has joined companies including ST-Ericsson and Texas Instruments in offering a low-cost development board," Linaro chief executive George Grey told thinq_ at the exclusive press unveiling ceremony, explaining that it allows developers a low-cost way of producing software for the Exynos platform - whether they are members of Linaro or not.

The deal also sees Samsung embed a team of engineers into Linaro to ensure that future developments in the core Linux kernel, Google's Android distribution, and Canonical's Ubuntu will be well suited for use on Exynos as well as its other members' SoC designs.

The device is expected to launch shortly, priced at $199 - although users will have to shell out an extra $40 to get a power supplier, serial, USB, and HDMI cables, Wi-Fi antenna, and 4GB SD card. A touch-screen development kit, which incldues a small LCD, capacitive touch-screen overlay, acrylic panel, and the required LCD extension PCB will be available for an additional $155. Linaro will also be releasing a software development kit for the platform under an open-source licence, which it expects to have ready by Q3.