Balena, the company behind the Etcher image flashing tool, recently released a progress report on their EtcherPro — a professional SD duplicator and flashing docking station. The duplicator has been in development for nearly a year, but Balena is currently looking at a deployment date for the device in April or May of this year.
For those not in the loop, the EtcherPro is a standalone SD duplicator and flashing device that can copy images to bulk SD cards, micro SD cards, USB drives, and external hard drives to 16 destinations in one pass. Moreover, the platform supports flashing firmware for SBCs equipped with eMMC, such as the Raspberry Pi Compute Module and BeagleBone Black.
The EtcherPro mainboard is heavily populated by USB 3.0 ports, 34 of them all together, which includes 16 modular ports on the top of the board to easily compliment SD card readers without restricting access to the ports positioned below. The board also packs an i.MX 8 compute module, both wired and wireless Ethernet, as well as RGB LED indicators for each slot. If you find the boards 34 ports to be lacking, you can daisy chain multiple (up to ten) EtcherPro docking stations together for increased productivity.
As far as speed is concerned, Balena boasts running passing tests at 75MByte/s per port, which is impressive. Of course, all that speed, and the ability to duplicate images on a large scale come at a cost, as Balena is looking at slapping a $990 price tag on the EtcherPro upon its release. According to the blog post, “Alternatives on the market cost about 50% more, while at the same time forcing you to choose whether to flash USB sticks or SD cards, and lack extensibility. With EtcherPro you don’t have to make those hard choices, and can support our open source work on Etcher at the same time.”