The compact computer boards offered by the open-source BeagleBoard organization support a variety of Linux distributions and provide laptop computing power in vest-pocket format. The latest member of the family, dubbed “BeagleBone Black”, has credit-card dimensions and features a 1 GHz AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 processor, 3D graphics accelerator, NEON floating point accelerator, 512 MB SDRAM and 2 GB flash, as well as Ethernet, USB Client and Host, MicroHDMI and MicroSD ports.
The BeagleBone Black is compatible with Ångström Linux, Android, Ubuntu, Cloud9 IDE on Node.js with the BoneScript library, and many more operating systems and tools, and the hardware is fully open source. The ecosystem includes free access to documentation, example code and mainline kernel support.
On-board headers allow users to extend functionality with plug-in accessories called “capes”. To date the BeagleBoard community has developed more than 30 capes that are compatible with BeagleBone Black, including capes that allow the board to be integrated with a 3D printer, a DMX lighting system, a Geiger counter, a telerobotic submarine or an LCD touch screen.