The Giant Board — Linux on a Feather

Alasdair Allan
9 months ago

The Giant Board is a single-board computer running Linux crammed into an Adafruit Feather form factor. I’ve been waiting for this one since September last year. However it now looks like the board is almost here, with the first hand-built boards ready to go out to early adopters really soon.

The Feather form factor has been picked up by multiple communities, and is well on its way to becoming the next community standard almost by default. With the form factor now bringing multiple chipsets, as well as snap on attachments known as “FeatherWings,” all under a single roof. However, at least to my knowledge, this is the first time the form factor has been used for a single-board computer running Linux, rather than a micro-controller board.

However perhaps the most interesting things going on in the micro-controller market right now have little to do with the hardware, instead it’s all about how we build, rather than what we build with. Which makes the idea of a Feather single-board computer make a lot of sense.

Built around a Microchip SAMA5D2 Arm Cortex-A5 processor running at 500MHz, the Giant Board has 128MB DDR2 RAM on the system-in-package, and breaks out 6 × 12-bit ADC, and 4 × PWM, both with external triggers, as well as I2C, SPI, and UART serial. The board has 3.7 LiPo battery support, along with a micro SD card slot for storage, and has been tested with official Adafruit FeatherWings like as TFT FeatherWing.

“On the software side of things, I need to wrap up a few odds and ends in the linux kernel and finish up the release images. Mostly trivial things like what drivers and software to include in the default images.”

The board should ship with a Linux distribution based around the 4.14 kernel.

“…the Giant Board [supports] Adafruit’s Blinka python library. This library allows you to use CircuitPython in Linux! This unlocks a bunch of libraries for all sorts of different hardware, making projects a little easier.”
“Right now the Giant Board is 95% complete as far as the design of the board itself goes. The pinout is solid, but some minor changes to other parts of the design might still be needed before production. The plan is to release a small amount of Giant Boards to developers and early adopters interested in providing feedback, so I can make any final tweaks before the main production.”

No pricing or availability information is available yet. But it sounds like the board is near the end of alpha testing, and some early adopters and beta testers should be getting hardware really soon now.

In a post updating us on the status of the board earlier today, the developer mentioned that “…[he has] been getting quotes from a few manufacturers and should have pricing soon.”

More information on the Giant Board is available on the product page, although most of what we know about the board comes from the developer’s Twitter account. So if you are an early adopter that manages to get your hands on one of these boards, we’d love to hear from you!

hardwaresingle board computer
Alasdair Allan
Scientist, author, hacker, maker, and journalist. Building, breaking, and writing. For hire. You can reach me at 📫 alasdair@babilim.co.uk.
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