Why we built a RaspberryPi compatible computer?

We have sent tens of our mini computer evaluation boards to some of our community members and are planning to send few hundreds more during the next few weeks. They are compatible to the popular RPi computer and this started a wild spree of questions as to why we chose this form factor. Some even went to the extreme extent of claiming that we created a clone. This obviously is not the case when you take a closer look at our computer and start using it.

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The answer to why we built this board is simple. This board was built to expedite the development of our technology. Most of our products are community driven and technology enthusiasts do not usually limit themselves to one type of technology. Many of our community members own and work with an RPi computer and re-using as many RPi accessories that they already own meant that they can engage with our new technology with little effort and investment on their side. This creates a win-win scenario to all sides.

Anyone claiming this board to be a clone of the RPi clearly did not examine its details in depth and did not contact us to get the correct facts. It is similar to saying that all of Asus, Gigabyte and all other ATX mother boards are clones of each other, which they are not. The popularity of the RPi made it a standard in many aspects and our work on this board recognizes that fact.

Furthermore, it is important to stress out that while almost all the RPi connectors were kept in place, some significant differences between the two boards exist:

Carrier-one vs RPi

The difference between Carrier one and Raspberry Pi

- Processor was upgraded to more modern and much more scalable one. single, dual and quad versions are available. Up to 2GByte of RAM can be supported.

- Two independent and powered USB Hosts. No need to add external powered USB hub.

- Fast Ethernet (GigE in dual and quad core versions) that is independent of the USB ports.

- Infra RED Receiver.

- Addition of LVDS output interface.

- On board WiFi support (optional).

- PCIe and mSATA support (optional. mSATA limited to Dual and Quad core versions)

- External Audio DAC for higher quality compared to PWM based DAC (optional).

- On board RTC backup battery (optional)

 

The S-Video output was also changed to a coaxial SPDIF output.

Whether this computer will make it to the market as a product is not clear. Currently we only plan to sell the CuBox-i family of products and the recent distribution of these boards for free will benefit the CuBox-i greatly as they use exactly the same core technology.

22 Comments

  1. Matt Parnell September 26, 2013 Reply

    I’d buy a couple if they were priced right. I don’t need all the niceties of a case.

    • Author
      Waseem September 27, 2013 Reply

      Hi Matt and thank you for your feedback. did you notice that our CuBox-i1 price is $44.99 ?

  2. David September 27, 2013 Reply

    Question on the “The S-Video output was also changed to a coaxial SPDIF output.”

    The Raspberry Pi does not have a S-Video that I am aware of. Are you referring to the RCA output?

    If so does that leave HDMI as the only easy video output? (LVDS is video but requires more then just plug and play)

    Thanks

  3. limewire September 29, 2013 Reply

    do you have a twitter that i can follow?

  4. jas-hacks October 6, 2013 Reply

    Any chance of getting hold of one? Have worked on the i.mx6 since the launch of the GK802 see my blog (ttp://jas-hacks.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/imx6-gk802-xubuntu-1204.html) and produced a number kernels/rootfs for the community.

    Would like to stress test the thermal stability of your board.

  5. Quincy Roach October 14, 2013 Reply

    I would buy 3 of these. Providing the case it’s in doesn’t suck. That is one aspect i hate regarding raspberry pi, the cases are all horrible. I really like the additions and changes you made to the board. can you tell us if it’s possible to boot form the msata? basically, you changed everything on the raspberry pi that I was hopping you would! Please sell this board, I want one now.

  6. Quincy Roach October 14, 2013 Reply

    also with the similarities to the raspberry pi, does this mean openelec would work?

  7. Byoung Sup Ghill October 19, 2013 Reply

    Many audiophiles in Korea, if not the world, would be interested in buying Carrier One or CuBox with no-nonsense DAC capability. I, for one, would pay extra $s willingly. Because of low electricity requirement and no fan, hence silence, many early adopters here in Korea show interest in using CuBox-i4 Pro as media center PC. Due to similar merits, Alix board with MPD as music server stirs interests, too. But Ailx seems to scare many non-techie types off because it’s somewhat austere. If SolidRun equips its product line with DAC feature, it will defintely attract the attention of the PC audiophiles around the world.

  8. cctsao1008 October 25, 2013 Reply

    That’s great !! I would like to get one.

  9. Niklas Wellholt November 5, 2013 Reply

    Hi
    I will soon start a project in Sweden called First Grade Science. The project will include several RPI’s and I would be very happy to be able to show your RSPI compatible version. We are going to build a Math Workshop for primary students and above in which we will use RaspberryPi’s both as clients and as clustered in HA-Servers with XenServer

  10. emk2203 November 5, 2013 Reply

    I would be interested in one as well. I linked this page on Reddit (http://www.reddit.com/r/raspberry_pi/comments/1pxsf7/why_we_built_a_raspberrypi_compatible_computer/), and from what I see, there is definitely interest for the board. I am particularly happy that you ditched RCA in favor of SPDIF.

  11. Adam November 5, 2013 Reply

    Starting at* $44.99, this is important to note. The ultra, $95, and the Pro $120, are the ones most people would be interested in I’d imagine, since people interested in this product is looking for something more powerful than the Pi.

    The addition of the eSata is certainly nice. The storage speed bottleneck is one of the reasons I didn’t buy a Pi. I would have liked to see USB 3.0 for fast flash storage, but I do realize that would increase costs.

    Interesting product, definitely going to keep an eye on it.

  12. Jay November 20, 2013 Reply

    This is a very nice concept. I love the idea of it being compatible with the Pi because being able to run the same distributions, piggy back on the support and use some of the same peripherals would be a very smart and smooth transition. The only thing I don’t see in the Carrier One that I would really love to see would be 4GB of NAND that is bootable. Barring that, will I be able to boot from the mSATA (that could even be better, actually, as it would make creating images very easy)? Can I use the same MIPI camera as the Raspberry Pi? What version of GPU would come with the various CPU’s (Would it be the same models as with the CuBox-i’s)? It also looks like there is at least one distribution of gstreamer that supports hardware acceleration on this GPU. This looks like it would meet all the specs for some uses that are just beyond what the Pi can do for me and I would order a bunch. I’m working on customizable HD cameras by the way.

  13. Charlie Whitman December 4, 2013 Reply

    This board is hardware compatible with the Raspberry Pi (with the exception of the coaxial SPDIF connector replacing the composite video connector). It’s not fully software compatible. It’s software compatible with the CuBox-i rather than with the Raspberry Pi.

    Of course, this and the Raspberry Pi are both ARM based, so there is a degree of compatibility, but they have different GPU’s and the Raspberry Pi has an ARM v6 generation processor, while the Carrier One has an ARM v7 generation processor. You will not be able to just take a Raspberry Pi distribution and run it unmodified on the Carrier One board.

    There will be software that can run on either board, but the Carrier One CPU supports some features that are not supported on the older processor. Software that is compiled to take advantage of those features will not run on the older processor.

  14. James Copeland December 10, 2013 Reply

    I have bee lookinh to buy my mother a more “senior friendly” destop replacement PC.

    #1 problem – I’m not software savvy, and have no experience with open source OSs, besides Android (very limited there too).

    #2- I rather enjoy the the new overlay/desktop interface of Windows 8 (more “senior friendly”, and requires little to no prior knowledge of binary principle).

    #3 observing the fact, my mother ONLY uses her desktop to play games, and the OCCASIONAL search query, the desktop is quite the waste of space and power usage.

    #4 my intended purpose for this system would be to give her a simple, unintimidating/inviting way for her to broaden her use of web-based technology (Netflix, Facebook, etc.), with an overlay/desktop that would have large easily decernable app buttons, and yet maintain tye usage of her already familiar keyboard, mouse, etc.

    I though of buying her a “set top box”, but I have found these to be quite glitchy, aggrivating to use, low on memory, and low on processing power, with many of them straining to deliver a dependable Netflix stream, and offering very little in the gaming department… not to mention most are completely devoid compatibility with her peripherials (Logitech wireless USB keyboard, Logitech Z5500 audio, etc.)

    If someone would be willing to help me set one of these up with a virtually “idiot proof” GUI, I’d buy one in a heartbeat.

  15. JULES December 16, 2013 Reply

    External Dac support…..let the user bring their own! I2S to DAC or USB-I2S-DAC but the former would be preferred!

  16. Arthur January 16, 2014 Reply

    I’d be interested to develop on one of these boards… Is there a program where I can sign up to buy one?

  17. Fandy Backers January 17, 2014 Reply

    well, the Rasberry Pi has it’s disadvantages.. they say it can play 1080P and 720P flawless, but it can’t.
    Not in the way i would use it!

    I need a VPN, so i can play over VPN secure connections. So, there is one option the R-Pi would have to less power (700MHz) to have it play 1080P over VPN. I have a perfect working configuration for the R-Pi, such as VPN, SMB shares connected, and XBMC connected to remote MySQL DB. I have fixed the SMB problem of max 10Mbs bandwidth, by changing the queries in XBMC from SMB to HTTP protocol, so that it can stream 1080P content easily!

    but then it still can’t stream it flawless.. so, i am desperate having a R-Pi compatible board, which also runs the Raspbmc distro without problems! Why Raspbmc? and no open Elec or Raspbian? because of the VPN configuration!

    By the Way the CEC functionality in Raspbmc is so perfect! that i don’t need an extra remote to control XBMC!
    the rest is configurable by the phones remote app, so, genius!

    Well, I tried some android systems also.. with tegra 4 chip, with rk3188 and rk3066, but they also fail at 1080P, while it really is possible to play 1080P flawless over a maximized 20Mb bandwidth internet connection. The reason why? is because it all works on several laptop configurations! same hardware/software configuration for the streamed server..
    so the problem is what the client is..

    and if they say the cubox-i can do this all, i really have to get such device!

    oh, by the way, i would really want to boot from an ssd harddisk instead of a SD Card, even if it is an UHC 10 classed card!

    can someone say which board i need? and ofcoarse i can buy a NUC with windows.. (same as my laptop) then i know it works! but the reason is to have minimal cost, minimal configuration, minimal powerconsumption, minimal bootup speed like a R-Pi.. but then not a R-Pi if you know what i mean.. :-)

    best regards,
    Fandy Backers

  18. SRG March 15, 2014 Reply

    This is a brilliant idea : i have a few projects needing powered USB and i’m bored having to plug an additionnal USB hub for that (resulting in a huge mess of cables everywhere for raspberry pi + adapter + CPL + rj45 + usb hub + hub adapter + usb cable between hub and pi !).

  19. Doug March 21, 2014 Reply

    Has anything come of this? I am really interested in getting a more powerful RaspberryPi controller for my ZWave system. It needs to use the same GPIO pins as the Pi and I don’t want to use SD card for storage as it sucks with reliability, so mSata is the way forward…

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