Τhe world of mini PCs and single board computers has become pretty fascinating nowadays: from Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone to Intel NUC mini PC and so many other boards, the maker community and the commercial world have a wide range of choices to jumpstart their projects.
However, that hasn't deterred companies like Solidrun, which released last year the HummingBoard as a more powerful alternative to the famous Raspberry Pi.
HummingBoard is a low-cost ARM®-powered Freescale i.MX6-based computer that can run a number of open-source operating systems, including Ubuntu, Debian and Arch, Android and Kodi (the ex-XBMC).
The HummingBoard (during development known as Carrier - One) is comprised of two main pieces; the carrier board which hosts all of the I/O ports and pin-outs and the removable microSOM (System on Module) which includes the CPU, GPU, RAM, power management, networking, and I/O connectivity hardware.
Both the business customers and makers can choose their preferred SolidRun microSOM and match it to each HummingBoard they wish, enjoying scalability from solo to quad core as well as optional WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. The technology supports a wide variety of embedded system product needs.
Last year, Solidrun announced the release of the HummingBoard models i1, i2, and i2eX.
SolidRun has now reorganized its HummingBoard line into four different models: the HummingBoard Base, HummingBoard Pro, HummingBoard Edge and HummingBoard Gate. The Base and Pro are the same products as the previous i1 and i2 models, except they joined the HummingBoard Edge in supporting a choice of MicroSOMs based on i.MX6 Solo, DualLite, Dual, and Quad SoCs.
As for the HummingBoard Edge model, SolidRun announced its release on July 2015.
This particular model is also based on Freescale’s i.MX6 leading embedded processor and incorporates features such as M.2 module support, eMMC storage, wide range voltage input (7 Volt to 36 Volt range) fueling a variety of demanding IoT applications.
In addition to HummingBoard Edge, Solid Run has most recently revamped its' line of community-backed HummingBoard single board computers with another board, the HummingBoard Gate.
On September 2015, SolidRun and MikroElektronica jointly announced the new board, which is SolidRun's fourth and most affordable SBC, starting from $49.99.
The HummingBoard Gate is the first SBC to include an integrated mikroBUS™ socket offering zero hardware configuration to MikroElektronika’s wide range of click board™ add-on modules. The mikroBUS™ pinout and the click board ecosystem is especially suitable for developers who are working on multi-purpose, modular products.
The new board is fully supported by the open source OpenHAB home automation project.
All in all, the professional, or “pro”, version of the carrier board offers additional features and native integrated capability for specific uses.
The Hummingboard Edge and Gate got a completely new layout compared to the two other models. (for a thorough look into the different HummingBoard models you can check SolidRun's comparison table and the detailed specs).
One of the interesting things about HummingBoard is that it mimics the physical form factor of the popular Raspberry Pi and as a result is compatible with much of its accessories including cases and add-on boards.
Starting at $49.99 and going as high as $232.00, the HummingBoard aims to fill pretty much the same niche as the Raspberry Pi, but its various models boast faster processors, more RAM, and more USB connections.
SolidRun has made a comparison video between the two boards which is available here.
HummingBoard sales and communities
Digging for sales numbers for the HummingBoard, we couldn't find any numbers of board shipments for the particular SBC. As for the communities, the most active ones around the HummingBoard are the following:
- The SolidRun community
- The Kodi community forum as the HummingBoard is considered one of the best choices to run media applications such as Kodi.
Companies shipping products based on the HummingBoard
Given that the HummingBoard has entered the SBC market last year, we could only find two companies that are shipping commercial products based on SolidRun's particular board: the Multibox Kit by Littlebox and Volumio. It should be noted that both of them run on different single board computers including the HummingBoard SBC:
However, if you know more companies, do help us complete the list by posting others in the comments or reaching out in our community chat
In the meantime, check out our report for the BeagleBone and stay tuned for more.
Author: Eleni Natsi