This month’s Linux User & Developer magazine is the place to go if you want to read a UK-exclusive review of the Gizmo Explorer kit, an open-source project of Sage Engineering that looks to bring a bit of x86 power to bear on the Raspberry Pi et al.
Based on an AMD embedded-series accelerated processing unit, the Gizmo is a microcomputer par excellence: its powerful 64-bit processor is, in real terms, around five times faster than that found on ARM-based rivals, while the 1GB of RAM is fairly generous as single-board computers go. Better still is the presence of a SATA port for high-speed storage, something criminally overlooked by many rival devices.
For developers, the board includes high-speed and low-speed expansion ports based on PCI Express connectors – and the kit includes an example board with detachable matrix keypad and soldered-down LCD panel to demonstrate how the low-speed port can be used, as well as providing a prototyping area for your own circuits.
Engineers are Sage’s target audience: the bundle, which costs $199, comes complete with a powerful JTAG debugging unit and advanced integrated development environment (IDE) – the same environment, in fact, that Sage has sold separately for thousands of dollars. Sadly, both are time-limited: you get 25 hours of use with the JTAG debugger and 30 days with the IDE before you’ll be asked to splash out for a licence, although non-commercial users do so at a significant discount.
I certainly had fun with the Gizmo, and it blows any other passively-cooled SBC I’ve seen out of the water when it comes to performance – but if you want to know if it’s worth the $199 asking price, you’ll have to pick up a copy of the magazine.
Linux User & Developer Issue 125 is available now, in both dead-tree and digital formats, with more information available on the official website.