Create an X86 APU-powered SBC capable of running Windows and Linux

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Introduction

AMD's Ryzen and Radeon products could hold the key to more mainstream SBC adoption.

They are the only company with both high-performance x86 AND graphics hardware. They're also one of the handful of companies currently using the latest in high perf/watt silicon fabrication.

The Problem (for AMD)

AMD is not part of, and has not been part of, the popular and growing SBC market for a very long time (or at all, depending on what you consider a modern SBC).

As a company, AMD wants to sell as many of its chips as possible. Unfortunately for AMD, their extremely low-power APU lineup hasn't had a product category it could really dominate and stand out in. Android tablets, netbooks, and digital signage boards can't possibly be settle-worthy.

The Problem (for us)

SBCs (single board computers) are either very weak (Raspberry Pi) or too expensive and without a good entry point (NUC). Even if you buy a high-end SBC, you're not going to get a very powerful GPU. As a result, the SBC market really has nowhere to go on the graphics front unless one were to figure out a way to attach a dedicated GPU to a NUC and end up with a non-portable, hot, and loud mess.

Put simply, there's basically nothing you can do if you want to run anything beyond Super Mario Bros, Half Life, or Doom.

The Solution

Expand our options. Directly offer something compact, versatile, affordable, widely-available, and powerful enough for hosting, tinkering, basic general use, and basic gaming. The SBC market is absolutely FILLED with people trying to get their system to run games. Currently, extremely old retro games and basic emulators are pretty much the only option. With the power of a modern low-power x86 + Radeon chip, the possibilities would start to break into new mainstream territory.

There is no better way to showcase and grow a product line than to get it into many people's hands that are going to use it for every case imaginable. AMD's recent moves toward open source graphics technology (GPUOpen and Vulkan) has shown that they want their GPU technology to be open to public and collaborative optimization. There's also no better way to accomplish that than by getting a tiny open-sourced Radeon GPU + driver out with every board sold.

With newer technologies like USB-C (for power delivery AND offline I/O), M.2+NVME, super high-speed SD cards, LPDDR4, and ARM+X86 SoCs, the time is right for a successful single mass-market X86 SBC product line to begin.

 



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