Recently I’ve obtained a new player in the embedded desktop market, the Hackberry A10, the specifications are below:
CPU: 1GHz Allwinner A10 ARM Cortex A8
GPU: Mali 400 (single core with 3D HW encoder)
RAM: 1GB DDR (100MB reserved for Mali)
HDD: 4GB Flash storage
LAN: Realtek 10/100Mbps and Realtek Wifi N
OS: The flash storage contains Android 4.0
EXTRA: SDXC Reader supporting up to 32GB cards, serial connector, audio jacks, jack for video over Component cable. Contains 2 USB ports and a IR receiver
The unit isn’t booting fast into the Android system and is really out of date with Android 4.0. When booted, the system runs just fine, although you can see that there isn’t much optimized for this Android, graphically it seems to be lacking serious hardware support making games run unacceptably slow.
It should suffice for a small desktop environment where only basic internet and email usage is done, because the CPU is still single-core based. I think it should run pretty well using LXDE and 2D acceleration (still under heavy development) so you can have your low-power desktop running at max 5 Watts/hour.
For a server, this can be useful as well, although storage and the network speed can be troublesome. You can use the USB2 ports, since the lan speed will not go faster than 100MBits. But for serving your local music library or small website, this should be fast enough. If you account the power usage for this as a small server board, this is a very good investment.
Other operating systems are possible as well, since the CPU is armv7 compatible, zo any OS that supports this type of CPU should be able to run on it, currently being:
…and possibly many others
I’ve successfully booted Ubuntu 13.10 and Debian Wheezy on the device and runs pretty fast (via SD card). Power management is really good on the device as the maximum speed is 1GHz, but the lowest is at 60MHz which drastically lowers the running costs when idle.
I’ll create a post in a couple of weeks explaining how to create your own image, kernel and bootloader for the device, because the provided images for the hackberry are user created and therefore good for typical usecases. I’ll also share my prebuilt Debian 7 and Ubuntu 13.10 bare images.
Buy the board
The board can be bought from www.miniand.com (where I bought it as well). The URL is found below:
Miniand Hackberry A10 link