Microcontrollers vs Small Computers
Posted 01 April 2012 - 10:43 PM
Posted 02 April 2012 - 06:51 AM
I've been hearing and reading a lot about new, full OS dev boards coming out like the Raspberry Pi, and the BeagleBone etc. What are the benefits of using a Microcontroller vs one of these full blown OS boards. The Raspberry Pi @ $35 sounds like a pretty compelling architecture.
The thing which immediately jumps out at me is the closed vs open environments and the full computer vs controller only.
The RPi is a full system and all you really need to do is plug in a keyboard, mouse and monitor and you are up and running with a full development environment (I believe that Python is being supplied by default). With a microcontroller you are going to need a PC to get up and running. Also, if you want to be able to get data into and out of the board you are really going to have to bake this yourself.
Netduino and Arduino are both open environments which allows you to develop using a prebuilt board from the manufacturer and then either embed the board in your project / product either "as is" or even build the equivalent board into your product on your own PCB. With the RPi you have to embed the full board at the moment - well when you can get them Looking at the comments on the RPi forums they are using propriety hardware from Broadcom and I cannot see this information about this ever being made public domain.
The Wiki on the RPi site has some information on how to get access to the low level IOs but using memory mapping. There does not seem to be any classes to help with things like SPI etc at the moment - you are basically addressing the pins directly. No doubt the classes will come along when the boards are available and the community has had a chance to work with them.
Is it pretty easy to still get to the low level GPIO's on these devices?
To be or not to be = 0xFF
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