PandaBoard, Technical Reference and Review.

A PandaBoard is a low-cost, low-power single board development platform from the famous Texas Instruments OMAP4430 system. It is capable of running all major flavors of Linux with native support from Ubuntu. It has been on the list of Linux hackers for quite some time now and has a huge archive of project documentation from die-hard Linux fans all over the world.

PandaBoard consists of CPU and GPU which runs at higher clock rates which is a good news for the developers. The additional feature regarding the clock is that the PandaBoard has a RTC, but this feature is not of much help the developers as the PandaBoard RTC doesn’t have a battery back up. Then you have to think of some alternative means to add a power supply to feed the RTC. Which might look really absurd.

This means that once the power is plugged out of the board clock is disabled. Don’t worry programmers,we have a solution to this, nothing is impossible in Engineering. To solve this we need to use the Network Time Protocol (NTP) to synchronize the clock, provided the board should have an Internet access. Another way is by Software Clock which can set the clock at the time of booting of the board.

The PandaBoard is exclusively for Linux based developers as the board runs the Linux Kernel with the Android or Firefox OS. The PandaBoard has an integrated SGX 540 Graphics Processor and provides an HDMI output of 1080 pixels. Here comes an another headache to all my fellow developers - the GPU driver has to written ,by the very difficult and inefficient reverse engineering method.

Block Diagram of the PandaBoard:

Key Features:

  • Dual core 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 Processor
  • Wired 10/100 Ethernet
  • Bluetooth Connectivity
  • Wireless Ethernet
  • Primary persistent storage is in SD and whose memory is extended to 32 GB
  • Dual Core 1.2 GHz CPU and 384 MHz GPU
  • Supports DVI and HDMI video outputs
  • Has 2 USB ports.

Expansions Headers Details:

Primary difference between the BeagleBoard expansion and the PandaBoard expansion is the removal of the McBSP support from the header. As the McBSP was one of the least used features of the expansion header, they were replaced with additional chip select lines for the McSPI. This allows for a greater number of SPI devices to be used on the expansion header.

PINBeagleBoard/BeagleBoardXMPandaBoardES/PandaBoard
11V81V8
25V5V
3MMC2_DAT7MMC2_DAT7
4MCBSP3_DXMCSPI1_CS3
5MMC2_DAT6MMC2_DAT6
6UART2_TXUART4_TX
7MMC2_DAT5MMC2_DAT5
8UART2_RXUART4_RX
9MMC2_DAT4MMC2_DAT4
10MCBSP3_DRMCSPI1_CS1
11MMC2_DAT3MMC2_DAT3
12MCSPI4_SIMOMCSPI1_SIMO
13MMC2_DAT2MMC2_DAT2
14MCBSP1_CLKXMCSPI1_CS2
15MMC2_DAT1MMC2_DAT1
16MCSPI4_CS0MCSPI1_CS0
17MMC2_DAT0MMC2_DAT0
18MCSPI4_SOMIMCSPI1_SOMI
19MMC2_CMDMMC2_CMD
20MCSPI4_SCLKMCSPI1_SCLK
21MMC2_CLK0MMC2_CLK0
22MCBSP1_FSRGPMC_AD15
23I2C2_SDAI2C4_SDA
24I2C2_SCLI2C4_SCL
25REGENREGEN
26nRESETnRESET
27GNDGND
28GNDGND

Component Listing:

Here are the list of components that are used in the PandaBoard with reference to their vendors and part ID. If you are planning to purchase one of these then you should have a closer look at the components used and the actual license behind the components they have used.

FunctionVendorPart ID
Application ProcessorTIOMAP4460 / OMAP4430
MemoryElpidaEDB8064B1PB-8D-F
Power Management ICTITWL6030
Audio ICTITWL6040
ConnectivityLSRLS240-WI-01-A20
4 Port USB Hub/EthernetSMSCLAN9514-JZX
DVI TransmitterTITFP410PAP
3.5 MM Dual Stacked AudioKYCONSTX-4235-3/3-N

Display Connection:

DescriptionPandaBoardDisplayCable Type
H2HHDMI OutHDMI InHDMI-A to HDMI-A
H2DHDMI OutDVI InHDMI-A to DVI-D
D2DDVI OutDVI InHDMI-A to DVI-D
D2HDVI OutHDMI InHDMI-A to HDMI-A

PandaBoard Accessories & Peripherals:

The PandaBoard comes as is. That is it cannot be used fully out of the box. There are a list of accessories that you might have to purchase in order to use all the above features to its fullest extent. You can find a list of all the officially approved accessories here.

Conclusion:

PandaBoard is a good choice if you are a seasoned Linux user looking forward to some real beast in terms of processing and computation powers. For beginners and intermediate level users you might have to wait a little longer to use this board. There are other boards that will suit your need properly.

Also read our review on some other popular SBCs such as BeagleBone, RaspberryPi and Cubieboard.

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