BeagleBone® Blue and OSD3358: The Fastest Way to Build Your Own Robots

 

Robots are everywhere. Self-guided vacuums cruise across our floors.  Manufacturing robots construct cars and appliances with speed and precision. Self–driving cars are only a few years away from commercial viability. The R2 Robonaut has been helping astronauts on the space station for years. A little closer to Earth, drones help people take stunning overhead photos and videos. Soon, drones may even deliver packages or rescue lost hikers.

Even with the explosion of robots all around us, building them can be challenging. For a robot to complete a task safely and correctly, the robot needs to interact and sense its environment and know how to react.  This requires complicated mechanical, electrical, and software functions all working together with precision. With so much complexity, robot development might seem the sole province of well-funded institutions and companies.

Not any longer.

Enter BeagleBone®  Blue

BeagleBone® Blue

The BeagleBoard.org® Foundation in partnership with Octavo Systems has developed BeagleBone® Blue, an open-source robotics controller platform that allows anyone to quickly and easily build their own robots. The controller is LINUX-enabled, community-supported, and fully open-source. Octavo Systems’ OSD3358 System-in-Package (SIP) technology provides BeagleBone®  Blue’s primary computing power and RAM.  The board also provides 4GB of on-board flash storage. BeagleBone®  Blue is compatible with Debian, ArduPilot, ROS, and features the Cloud9 IDE.

BeagleBone® Blue includes powerful high-performance connectivity interfaces, including USB 2.0 client and host connections. The controller also provides wireless connectivity using 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Through the pre-configured WiFi access point you can begin your code development simply by connecting a battery and opening your web browser.

BeagleBone Blue Detail Featuring the OSD3358But this is a robotics controller, so it must be prepared to do real things in the real world. BeagleBone® Blue includes multiple motor control options including four DC motor drivers, four quadrature encoder inputs, and eight servo motor controllers.  It also has a variety of power source options from a microUSB, to a two-cell LiPo battery connector, and  9-18V DC jack. On-board sensors include a barometer and a 9-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU).

BeagleBone® Blue utilizes the active and engaged BeagleBoard.org community to help support you through all phases of the development process. Also, with BeagleBoard.org® focusing on education they intend to provide a full curriculum for BeagleBone® Blue via a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). Whether you’re a newbie, or an experienced developer, BeagleBone Blue can help jump start your next robotics project.

The OSD3358 and BeagleBone® Blue

The OSD3358 enabled BeagleBoard.org to provide this powerful robotics platform in a small, low-cost package. It integrates the TI Sitara™ AM3358 ARM® Cortex® A8 processor running up to 1GHz, 512MB of DDR3 RAM, and two power supplies into a single IC package. At roughly the size of a quarter, the OSD3358 uses 35% less space than separate components. OSD3358’s compact System-In-Package form enables BeagleBoard.org to fit all this functionality into a small form factor that still fits in an Altoids-tin. Its small size and powerful features (6 PWMs, 3 Quadrater Encoders, ADCs, PRUs, etc.) make the OSD3358 a perfect fit for drones and other robotics platforms where size and weight are key concerns.

OSD3358 the Size of a Quarter

The OSD3358 and the Future of Robots

Now, with BeagleBone® Blue and the OSD3358, robot designers have an easy and clear path to building their own robotics systems. BeagleBone® Blue is a low-cost prototyping platform that allows you to spend less time developing a controller and more time focusing on the mechanical and software design aspects of your robot. Using the OSD3358, you can quickly build your customized solution and get into production faster.

Find out more about our OSD3358 SIP technology and related development boards at OctavoSystems.com.

Why System in Package Technology Must Replace System on a Chip Technology

 

System On Chip
System On Chip

System on a chip (SoC) technology has got us a long way, allowing for entire electronic systems to be integrated into a single microchip, and SoC technology has long been the driving force behind smaller and smaller electronic systems with higher and higher levels of performance. Like all great technologies, though, SoC technology must eventually give way to something even more innovative and effective. In an article published by Stephan Ohr on EE Times, Ohr discusses how the increasing costs of transistor scaling has made SoC technology less viable and has created a demand for a specialized design process, and we at Octavo Systems completely agree with that assessment. With current manufacturing trends demanding an efficient process to manufacture an entire electronic system at one time and at increasingly smaller sizes, SoC technology is no longer an optimal solution. Fortunately, we have  a replacement–System in Package (SiP) technology.

What is System in Package Technology?

System in Package (SiP) technology is simply combining a number of integrated circuits together in one highly compact module (package) and that function as one unit. In SiP, integrated circuits are attached to a substrate then electrically connected via fine wires within the package. Rather than focusing on how many transistors we can fit onto one piece of silicon, SiP technology aims to develop new and innovative ways to integrate system components into a single package. This is especially valuable in space-constrained designs, and SiP technology has paved the way for smaller and smaller electronic devices by decreasing the complexity of circuit boards and eliminating the need to add a large number of external components in order to make the device function. In this way, SiP technology has been the driving force behind miniaturizing devices that once would have been too complex for SoC methodology to make work.

Why SiP is Replacing SoC

System in Package (SiP) technology was born out of the overwhelming success of Moore’s Law. Moore’s Law has allowed for the production of semiconductors that are less expensive, dissipate less power, and have higher performance. What it has also done, however, is make it so there is no longer one semiconductor manufacturing process that works for all of the components which

Octavo Systems OSD335x SiP
Octavo Systems SiP

make up a system. For SoC to work at a system level, one or more necessary components will need to be severely compromised. As more devices begin to rely on integrating components into a single system, SoC is losing its viability as a cost efficient, functional option for system integration. SiP, however, opens the door for the design of a near limitless variety of complex systems. While SiP is already a popular methodology in a variety of industries, our goal at Octavo Systems is to promote SiP as the go-to technology for all facets of electronic design.

Opportunities SiP Provides

One of the biggest opportunities SiP provides is for the production of specialized sensors that will be affordable enough to have potential on the market. One example of such sensors would be smart sensors placed inside of cups at coffee shops. Many coffee shops already provide free internet, encouraging visitors to linger and hopefully order more coffee. However, for a customer to order more coffee they must get up from their seat, leaving their computer behind and risking losing their seat to go stand in line. In this way, ordering more coffee becomes inconvenient for the customers and hurts the coffee shop’s chances of making a sale.

With a smart cup, however, sensors could be integrated into the cup, alerting the barista when the coffee in the cup is almost gone or has grown cold so they can come by with a fresh cup of coffee. The cup then becomes a sort of an “infinity cup” that is continually replenished, and the customer’s credit card charged, without the customer ever having to leave their seat. If the  cup is sold to the customer as a personal cup, the barista could be alerted as soon as the customer walks through the door with the cup and could begin making the customer’s order. Alternatively, the customer could choose to have a menu of drinks for the day, in which case the barista would wait for the customer to place their order as normal.

As the Internet of Things becomes increasingly more of a reality rather than just a concept, the need for a multitude of affordable, highly functional sensors grows more apparent. The SiP methodologies we are pushing for at Octavo Systems help make those sensors possible.

Another great example of the innovations SiP provides can be found in imaging systems. SiP technology allows for devices as complex as a high-resolution camera to be produced at incredibly small sizes. Several years ago I was involved with a medical research team at USC as they were creating artificial vision. The aspect of their research that encouraged me was their designing a camera that could be surgically implanted into the eye of the patient, and the end goal of the project was to produce a camera the size of a grain of rice. Before SiP technology, a camera of this size would not have been possible. However, using the advantages of a SiP solution, the team at USC was able to conceive a viable design that could provide artificial sight to a blind patient.

These two examples are just a small sample of the opportunities involved with embracing SiP technology. We at Octavo Systems believe that SiP technology is soon to become the new poster-child for technological innovation, paving the way for an unimaginable number of new and innovative designs.

Now Even More Ways to Buy Octavo’s Products

 

I have another exciting announcement to make!  We are expanding our distribution network, giving you even more ways to buy Octavo’s products.  At Octavo, we are continually evaluating how best to reach our customers and give them the support they need.  Today, Octavo Systems is happy to announce that Mouser has joined Digi-Key as one of our distribution partners.  Partnering with these two world-class distributors ensures our customers have easy access to our devices.

Digi-Key

Digi-Key ElectronicsSince our launch, Digi-Key has been the main channel for customers to buy Octavo’s products.  Through Digi-Key, we have been able to reach customers around the world, helping them create new and innovative products.  With Digi-Key’s focus on customer service, technology, and engineering support through every stage of production, they play a key role in getting Octavo products into customer hands.  We are very proud to have them be a part of our team.

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 Mouser

Mouser ElectronicsToday, Mouser joins the Octavo team.  Mouser is a global electronics distributor headquartered in Texas, not too far from our own headquarters.  They have a strong commitment to both customer service and innovative technology.  Having them as part of our distribution network is a huge milestone for us.  We believe that their values align perfectly with our goals as a company.  We are very excited to have them be a part of the Octavo team.

 

At Octavo, we strive to help designers focus on what makes their design unique by removing the tedious aspects of electrical designs.  This includes the procurement process.  Through our System-in-Package integration, we remove a lot of the complexity around sourcing parts.  However, if you can’t easily access our devices then we haven’t helped much.  That is why having partners like Digi-Key and Mouser is so important.  They ensure anybody who has an idea gets what they need to make it a reality.

We hope that these partnerships set a solid foundation for us and our customers for the years to come!

New OSD3358 Development Platforms from GHI Electronics

 

It has been a busy couple of weeks around here lately with a lot of exciting news.  First we had the announcement of the BeagleBone® Black Wireless which features the OSD3358-512M-BAS instead of the discrete TI AM3358.  Then we went to World Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science.  Now we have a couple more announcements.

We are happy to let everybody know that GHI Electronics has released two development platforms for the OSD3358.  Both boards utilize the OSD3358-512M-BAS which integrates the TI Sitara™ AM3358 ARM® Cortex® A8 processor running at 1GHz, 512MB of DDR3, 2 power supplies, and passives into a single IC package.  The boards are available to order today from the GHI Electronics website.  Their status is listed as preview.  This means there are some things that haven’t been completely tested yet (all of which are outlined).  It also means there could be some minor changes when the production versions are released.

The GHI OSD3358 BeagleBone® Dev Board

GHI OSD3358 Development BoardThe first platform is the GHI OSD3358 BeagleBone® Dev Board.  This is a full featured development board that includes a capacitive touch screen display and features popular industrial interfaces like RS232 and CAN.  It also has a single 10/100 Mbit Ethernet, USB Host, and USB Client ports. For nonvolatile memory, the board has 4GB EMMC and a SD Card Slot for expansion.  The GHI OSD3358 BeagleBone® Dev Board also boasts an expansion header that allows access to the ADC channels and the remaining GPIOs of the OSD3358 System-In-Package.

With all of the features and connection options, the GHI OSD3358 BeagleBone® Dev Board is the best way to explore the full capabilities of the OSD3358.

 

The GHI OSD33558 BeagleBone® TH Module

GHI OSD3358 TH ModuleThe next platform is the GHI OSD3358 BeagleBone® TH Module.  This is a bare bones system that allows you to easily start integrating the OSD3358 into your designs.  It adds 4GB of EMMC, a MicoSD slot, and USB to the OSD3358 System-In-Package.  It also brings the GPIO, Analog, LCD, and Ethernet pins to a 100mil header footprint making it extremely easy to connect your custom circuitry.

This board is designed to be the next step after the Dev Board.  It provides a natural progression to integrating the OSD3358 into your system.  It has just what you need to boot Linux and start controlling your custom circuitry.

GHI Electronics

We are really excited to release these boards to the community.  We have been working with GHI Electronics for over a year on them to ensure the best possible experience.  GHI’s vision and customer knowledge combined with their in-house, US based, hardware design, software services, and manufacturing allowed us to ensure the best possible quality.  We are proud GHI Electronics is part of our partner network and look forward to working with them to continue supporting the needs of our customers.

BeagleBoard Compatible

beaglecomp_200pxAs the names might suggest, both development platforms are BeagleBoard Compatible, just like the OSD3358 itself.  This means both boards are capable of running the well supported Linux distributions provided by BeagleBoard.org®.  By leveraging the BeagleBoard community and software you can get Linux running in matter of minutes.

Also since the OSD3358 and the development platforms are all BeagleBoard Compatible you can rest assured whatever you build on the platforms will perform the same when you go to an OSD3358 only design.

 

 

We hope these platforms will provide designers an easy way to start developing around the OSD3358 System-In-Package.  As you start designing please give us your feedback on the platforms.  We really want to continue to improve the experience.  Let us know what you think here.

Meet Us at World Maker Faire New York 2016

wmf2016_logo

Hey everybody.  I wanted to let you know the Octavo Team will be attending World Maker Faire in New York this weekend on October 1st and 2nd.  We will be roaming around Hall of Science checking out all of the incredible projects.  We will also be at the BeagleBoard.org booth in Zone 3 and giving a talk on how the OSD3358 and BeagleBoard can simplify the design of embedded Linux systems.

If you are interested in meeting with us please contact us.  We look forward to meeting all of the Makers out there who can use the OSD3358 to create new and innovative products!

See you there!

The BeagleBone® Black Wireless and BeagleBoard Compatibility

 

Today is a very exciting day!  After months of hard work, we are finally ready to make two big announcements.  First, is the release of the BeagleBone® Black Wireless, which features the Octavo OSD3358-512M-BAS System-In-Package.  Second, the OSD3358 is now officially BeagleBoard Compatible!  These developments strengthen our relationship with BealgeBoard.org and make the OSD335x family of devices even easier to use.

BeagleBone™ Black Wireless

We are proud to be a part of BeagleBone® Black Wireless!  It builds on the success of the very popular BeagleBone® Black with two exciting changes.  First, the design was greatly simplified by replacing over 150 discrete components with the OSD3358-512M-BAS.  BeagleBone Black Wireless Featuring the OSD3358Additionaly, the Ethernet peripheral has been replaced with the WiLink8 WL1835 module from Texas Instruments, providing both 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth V4.1.  BeagleBone® Black Wireless is completely compatible with all standard BeagleBone® Black capes.  Finally, like everything in the BeagleBoard family, BeagleBone® Black wireless is completely open source!

BeagleBone® Black wireless now offers developers a low cost evaluation platform for the Octavo OSD335x device.  They can use it to start prototyping on a Linux system in a matter of minutes.  Then, once ready, designers can quickly go from a prototype to a custom board by leveraging the OSD3358 and Beaglboard.org®’s active community, open-source hardware, and software.

The OSD3358 becoming an integral part BeagleBoard.org®’s newest board is a huge honor for us.  We have been collaborating with BeagleBoard.org® since the beginning of the OSD335x.  This is huge validation that we are on the right track, and we are excited to continue to work with BeagleBoard.org® on future products.

OSD3358 is Officially BeagleBoard Compatible

This one is really important if you have a design built on BeagleBone® and want to create your own custom board.  By integrating the processor, DDR3, and power supplies from the BeagleBone® Black into a single device, the OSD3358 already simplified the hardware design required for a custom embedded Linux system.  beaglecomp_200pxMaking it an ideal starting point for any new design.

Now that the OSD3358 is officially BeagleBoard Compatible you have the confidence that the software you developed on BeagleBone® will perform the way you expect when you transition to the OSD3358.  It also means you will be able to get support from the large and active BeagleBoard community that you are already familiar with.

The BeagleBoard Compatible OSD3358 is now the easiest way to create your own BeagleBone® based embedded Linux system.

We are very excited about these two developments.  We look forward to our growing partnership with BealgeBoard.org.  Together we are striving to bring the simplicity of microcontrollers to the world of embedded Linux.

System-In-Package: The Next Step of Integration

 

Our CTO, Gene Frantz, published an article on Embedded Computing last week titled System-In-Package: The Next Step of Integration. In his article, he poses an interesting question: How do small, innovative companies work with larger semiconductor manufacturers to further integrate their designs?  He outlined four questions that need to be answered “YES” before a large S/C manufacturer will agree to work with any company for a custom integration.

What happens, however, if you can’t answer “YES” to all of them? Are you out of luck?  Is there no path to further integration?  Not quite.  Gene points out that there just might be a way forward with the advances made by Octavo.

Integration Decision Tree

I want to take a minute to dive a little deeper into this statement.  Why do we think we can offer an alternative path of integration for innovative organizations?  The answer is simple. There are three key factors that enable us to provide these solutions:

  1. Our Culture. Our company was founded by a group of people who’ve spent large chunks of their careers trying to promote innovation within the corporate structure of a large S/C company.  We understand that innovation begins small, and we believe in enabling smaller companies to pursue innovation.
  2. Our “Aha!” Moment. Our biggest “aha” moment came when we realized that the ultimate integration takes place as a system level integration of all the transistor types, each on its own die. The obvious solution was to use System in Package (SiP) technology to integrate it all together. We can take the best process for each part of your system and integrate them into a standard IC package, giving you the integration you need.
  3. Our Approach. We believe that there are ways to make the high volume S/C manufacturing process work for lower volume opportunities. This means that we can quickly and affordably produce SiPs for you.

In a nutshell, if you have an electronic design and are looking for an integration path, you have two options.  You can go to a large S/C manufacturer to see if you’ll pass their four tests, or you can contact us and see what we can do for you.

IoT Road Show

IoT Road Show

Last week Rich Nass from Embedded Computing stopped by our Austin headquarters for their IoT road show.  Our CTO, Gene Frantz, spent some time talking to him about the OSD3358 and how it helps designers get into production.  Through packaging the key components of the BeagleBone Black SBC into a standard package, the OSD3358 gives designers a clear path from prototyping on the BeagleBone Black to producing their own boards around the OSD3358.  Check it out!

 

http://iotdesign.embedded-computing.com/2998-iot-roadshow-austin-tx-octavo-complete-beaglebone-black-in-a-module/#

Meet Us at Maker Faire Bay Area

maker

I am excited to announce that members of the Octavo Team will be attending Maker Faire in the Bay Area on May 21st and 22nd.  We will be roaming around the event center and volunteering at the BeagleBoard.org booth, booth #2434.  If you are interested in meeting with us please contact us.  We look forward to meeting all of the Makers out there who can use the OSD3358 to create new and innovative products!

See you there!

The OSD3358 – A New Era of Integration

 

Today is a very exciting day at Octavo Systems. We’re officially launching our first product, the OSD3358-512M.  The OSD3358 is a System-In-Package (SiP) device that integrates the Texas Instruments (TI) Sitara™ AM3358 Arm® Cortex®-A8 processor, the TI TPS65217C PMIC, the TI TL5209 LDO, a 512MB DDR3, and over 140 Passives into a single easy to use BGA package. The OSD3358 gives designers of all levels access to unprecedented integration and to ease of use.

OSD3358 SBC Reference Design
OSD3358 SBC Reference Design

The OSD3358 aims to make designing custom systems around the BeagleBone® Black as easy as possible.  Take a look at our Single Board Computer Reference Design.  Integrating the DDR3 and the Power Managements systems into the OSD3358 removes the need for designers to spend time on the DDR to Processor interface or power sequencing, allowing them to focus on their proprietary value add. At the same time, the single package simplifies the supply chain and facilitates lower cost manufacturing.  Check out the product page for all the details.

The OSD3358 isn’t just for BeagleBone® Black users either.  It has the flexibility to greatly simplify any design based on TI’s Sitara™ processors.  So, along with the OSD3358, we also launched, in partnership with GHI Electronics, a set of development boards and kits to allow you to design your own product around the OSD3358 without starting with a BeagleBone®.

What makes today truly special is that we have given substance to our vision.  Historically, SiPs have been available only to the largest and most specialized customers. Today we change that.  Our innovations in design and manufacturing have allowed us to bring SiP-based products to the mass market.  This is the culmination of many efforts. Our Octavo team spent many long nights and weekends to make this day a reality.  I am proud of the entire team and am honored to work with such outstanding individuals.

Octavo SiPs
Octavo SiPs

While we are excited about what we have achieved with Product #1, we are even more enthused about where we’re going.  The OSD3358 is just the beginning.  Over the next few months we will be working to widen the OSD335x family, offering options to fit almost any system built around the AM335x processor.

Beyond that, our goal is to change the way intelligent systems are designed and manufactured.  We will continue our quest to introduce products that make it easier for innovators to innovate.  We will integrate more functions to provide more solutions for a wider variety of subsystems.  We’d love to hear your feedback on what you’d like to see next or what we can do to improve our current product.  Please don’t hesitate to let us know what you think here.

Thank you for your interest in what we are doing.  We look forward to sharing a lot more with you in the future!  If you want to stay informed please sign up for our newsletter through the Contact page or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

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