Strip down BeagleBone AI to save costs?


the BB AI is a nice piece of hardware - but unfortunately it is also extremly expensive (at least double as expensive as an BBB and about three times as expensive as an BBG). This is a problem for many applications where BBB/BBG are used at the moment.

So just as a theoretical idea, would it be possible to drop the following components from a BB AI board:

  • the on-board eMMC (to let everything run from the SD-card)
  • the Bluetooth-chip including all its external equipment like the antenna connector
  • the WiFi-chips
  • the touchscreen-controller


The cheapest solutio nfor this would be to have a placement variant where the related components simply are not used.

Question: is this possible? Would the board still work?

Yes, it would miss some nameable functionality but compared e.g. to a BBG, not everybody needs al this fancy and power-consuming stuff.

You could fairly easily drop all those things, but you’d still need to buy the processor at a reasonable price and do fairly large volumes to get below the price of BeagleBone AI.

So, that’s a list about what you do not need in BeagleBone AI? What are the parts you really value? PRU? HDMI? M4s? A15s? Drop-in faster compute for BeagleBone Green?

Hi Jason,

yes, I’m aware of the large volume problem (so for sure, 10 pieces of a stripped hardware would be more epensive than large amounts of the fully equipped hardware).

For my very specific application only Ethernet, USB, SD-Card (to be future-proof >32 GB), PRUs, “a lot” of computing power with an SoC accessing all the different pins/signals on P8/P9 connector are needed.

So comparing to BB AI even the HDMI and USB-A connector could be dropped. Means some kind of USB-C dual-core BBG would be nice.


I second that. There are many applications where BBB or often BBG is used without any display connected. It is used as headless controller for several devices while the HMI is a separate control-PC communicating with BBB via Ethernet or USB.

The problem: SD-cards with 32 GB or less are going to become rare, many brands start at 32 GB and it is to be expected they will drop even these in the near future.

Is there a specific brand of 32, 64, 128GB microSD that doesn’t work on your board?


Brands like Kingston or Transcend are working properly. No-name cards are working randomly, here it probably depends what is really inside.

About the size: as far as I know BBB and BBG are limited to 32 GB SD-cards? Bigger sizes are not supported at all?

This is more about the SD card spec…

So SDHC only goes UP to 32GB in size… These are 100% compatible with the IP block found on the am335x.

SDXC which came out afterward, which bumped the 32GB max to 2TB (These only start at 32GB in size)…

With SDXC, things were added such dual voltage (1.8/3.3) and ddr signaling/etc…

So while we can’t say all 100% of SDXC cards will work… Many do as long as the older communications and transport modes have not removed to save manufacturing costs…

root@BeagleBone:~# uname -r
root@BeagleBone:~# dmesg | grep mmc0
[   10.615814] mmc0: SDHCI controller on 48060000.mmc [48060000.mmc] using External DMA
[   10.679093] mmc0: new high speed SDXC card at address aaaa
[   10.687517] mmcblk0: mmc0:aaaa SN128 119 GiB 
root@BeagleBone:~# lsblk | grep blk0
mmcblk0      179:768  0 119.1G  0 disk 
└─mmcblk0p1  179:769  0 119.1G  0 part /
root@BeagleBone:~# cat /sys/kernel/debug/mmc0/ios 
clock:		50000000 Hz
vdd:		21 (3.3 ~ 3.4 V)
bus mode:	2 (push-pull)
chip select:	0 (don't care)
power mode:	2 (on)
bus width:	2 (4 bits)
timing spec:	2 (sd high-speed)
signal voltage:	0 (3.30 V)
driver type:	0 (driver type B)

SanDisk Extreme, 128GB V30 A2 microXC…