On April 19, the Release Candidate for Ubuntu 9.04 on ARM was announced. This will most likely be used as a platform for new ARM netbooks, as Canonical previously hinted at. The announcement made several references to a Babbage development board, which piqued my interest. Wanting to learn more about the board, I searched for “babbage i.mx51” but found only a couple pages of results (including BabbageJauntyRCInstall), mostly relating to the Ubuntu 9.04 announcement. Eventually I tried an image search for “i.mx51”, which turned up this image, which I suspect is the Babbage development board:
Here are some more details about the board with references:
The majority of the information I found about the Babbage board was on a Korean web page entitled Freescale Semiconductor i.MX51 media briefing (translation). Although the translation does not mention “Babbage” exactly, it mentions “Baddage” twice (in the phrases “Baddage for SW Development” and “software development through the ‘Baddage'”). This is probably just an error in translation. The rest of the article follows Freescale’s i.MX51 description fairly closely.
Also of note are references to Adobe Flash Player 10 for ARM, which Adobe is working on (this is a full Flash player, not Flash Lite). The translation reads “YouTube has a frame drop” and “flash player is still unfinished”, but suggests it will be “Completed before the launch”.
Along with details on the i.MX51, the Korean article also has several more images of the suspected Babbage board. From these it appears that the board has the following connectors:
- VGA port
- DVI port
- 4 USB ports (2 each on 2 sides)
- RJ-45 network jack
- SD card slot
- 3.5mm speaker jack
- 3.5mm microphone jack
- DC power input
The board also has some other connectors that seem to be non-standard ports for add-on boards which provide serial and possibly JTAG interfaces. If you know what some of the other ports might be, let me know by adding a comment to this post.
While it is difficult to make out exactly which chips are on the board, it’s probably safe to assume that the largest chip is Freescale’s i.MX515 chip, currently the only chip in their i.MX51 line of processors.
Unsatisfied with only one source of images for the suspected Babbage board, I continued my search and soon found a thread in the Power Developer forums. Here is the image from that thread:
At the top is the Open Client and beneath is “a Freescale Reference Design for the i.MX51”, according to the forum post. This reference design looks identical to the previous Babbage board image, suggesting that this is the real deal.
If you have more details about the Babbage development board, especially if you have worked with one yourself, please add a comment with your information. This board is an interesting peak into what we might be seeing inside ARM netbooks running the i.MX515 that should be ready “for the 2009 holiday shopping season” and cost around $200 (according to CNET).