Andrew "Bunnie" Huang made a name for himself hacking Microsoft's original Xbox console. Now, he's designing a laptop infused with hacker-friendly features. Work on the project began in June, and the prototype motherboard is currently undergoing validation testing. Interestingly, the board's components are as open as Huang could find; he notes that the datasheets for all the key parts are publicly available, allowing folks to build their own firmware and software for the system without having to worry about proprietary code. Yes, it's already running Linux.
The labeled board shot is a little hard to read at that resolution (check out the super-sized version here), so I'll give you the highlights. The system is based on a Freescale iMX6 SoC with quad ARM Cortex A9 cores clocked at 1.2GHz. Each core is enhanced my ARM's NEON FPU, and the Vivante GC2000 integrated graphics promises OpenGL ES 2.0 compatibility. The board contains a single DDR3 SO-DIMM slot and can support up to 4GB of RAM. There's also a 3Gbps SATA interface; SD and Mini PCIe slots; a collection of USB 2.0 ports; LVDS and HDMI video outs; and both Gigbit and 10/100 Ethernet jacks. Everything is squeezed onto a circuit board measuring 4.8" x 5.9".
Huang has spiced up the board with a number of "fun" features, including an FPGA loaded with analog inputs, PWM headers, and digital I/O channels. He's even added a Raspberry Pi-compatible expansion header. In another nod to the hobbyist crowd, the board is designed to work with the lithium-polymer battery packs favored by RC enthusiasts.
Although the system doesn't have a case just yet, Huang has a few ideas on that front. Looks like he's leaning toward a detachable keyboard and touchpad. Before you get too excited, though, note that Huang is mostly designing the laptop for himself. He may fund a limited production run through Kickstarter, but he cautions that the final product won't be cheap due to the component selection and low volume. Still sounds like a neat project, and probably one that will resonate with the hardware hacking community. Thanks to Boing Boing for the tip.
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