While reading the state of the beagle today I noticed that there are
plans for a next generation Beagle, the XM. One of my gripes about the
current Beagle design is the lack of low-level hardware interfaces
available on the expansion connector. USB, S-Video, and DVI are great,
but many applications need nothing more than to communicate with other
For example, we have recently been putting together a general purpose
data acquisition and analysis module based on the BeagleBoard. Our
requirements call for reasonably fast floating point math and we found
that the Beagle is one of the few boards that actually provide an ARM
with VFP and NEON support.
In addition, we require many SPI interfaces (or really just chip
select lines, but full controllers are certainly preferable) to
communicate with our DACs and ADCs.
Unfortunately, while the OMAP's McSPI controllers are quite capable and
have plenty of CS lines, the expansion connector only exposes the two
least capable units. It is incredibly frustrating to have such powerful
hardware yet be able to use so little of it.
I completely understand that there are only a certain number of
expansion pins you can physically fit on the board, but the current
pin-out is a little underwhelming when one considers how little of the
chip one has access to. Even if we had to switch to a finer pitch
connector to accommodate the additional pins (perhaps in addition to the
0.1" connector for more commonly needed balls), I think the trade-off
would be well worth it.
Anyways, those are my thoughts. I'd be interested to hear others
opinions about this matter. Regardless, thanks for an awesome piece of