The Top Ten Dev Boards of 2016

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Interested in the Top Ten Dev Boards of 2018? Read our updated list here! 2016 is officially here! While you’ll still be writing “2015” on emails and checks for the next 6 months, last year is a thing of the past and it’s time to turn toward your eyes toward the future -- and we're starting the future with our list of the...

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I know what you’re thinking. “But IoT this…and virtual reality that. And what about wearables?” You're right — those things are going to be absolutely massive this year. But behind the amazing technologies built this year, deep in the labs of engineers across the globe, will be the development platforms that are powering the prototypes of the future. 

With all of that in mind, we sat down to brainstorm our early list of the Top Ten Dev Boards as we kick off 2016. If you’re looking to build a project, one of these ten dev boards almost assuredly will meet your needs. So without further ado, here’s your list.

Intel Edison 

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Don’t be fooled by the Edison’s diminutive size (it’s a touch bigger than a U.S. quarter) -- this board packs a punch. It’s powered by the Intel Atom SoC dual-core CPU and has built in WiFi, Bluetooth LE and a 70-pin connector that allows users to attach a variety of peripherals. It supports Yocto Linux, Arduino, Python, Node.js and Wolfram, so it’s as flexible as it is powerful. It’s low-energy consumption and miniature footprint make the Intel Edison a go-to for embedded and size-sensitive designs.


Arduino Uno 

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A000073 | Arduino Uno Rev3 SMD

Arduino Corporation Embedded System Development Boards and Kits View

Sure this piece of tech has been around for a few years, but it’s still a star of the embedded world. Equally at home in homegrown designs or professional prototypes, the Arduino Uno is built around Atmel’s ATmega328 processor and features 14 digital IOs, 6 analog inputs and is programmed with the very user-friendly Arduino IDE. It’s a star for reading sensors and rapid prototyping. 

Freescale Semiconductor Freedom Board FRDM-KL43Z  

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Low cost? Check. On board capacitive touch slider? Check. Accelerometer and magnetometer? You get the idea. The Freedom Board gives you a variety of power options (whether you want to use a coin cell, USB or external power supply) and is ready for your next embedded design.

Arduino Yun 

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Arduino Yun | A000008

Arduino Corporation Embedded System Development Boards and Kits View

Two spots in the top ten for Arduino? Why not! The Arduino Yun is based on the Arduino Leonardo, but adds WiFi connectivity and an ethernet port, giving you the user-friendliness of the Arduino with a lot more connectivity. It also runs a version of Linux making this a great board if you want to use the massive library of Arduino shields but need a little bit more sizzle than a traditional Arduino would give you.

Texas Instruments AM3359 Industrial Communications Engine 

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While the last platform was low-cost, this development tool is...not so much. But with the AM3359, you get what you pay for -- and you’re paying for a powerful platform centered around the Sitara AM335x ARM Cortex A8 Processor. That means plenty of processing power (and it runs Windows) and, more importantly, has an integrated Programmable Real-time Unit (PRU), that makes this board a start for real-time communication technologies. Add to that an on-board OLED display and incredible power performance, and you’ve got yourself a top ten dev board.

RFDigital RFDuino 

Similar name...different company. The RFDuino comes from RF Digital Corporation and, as the name implies, gives the user all the functionality of a basic Arduino and is programmed using the same IDE. However, the RFDuino is a fingertip-sized development platform that features built-in Bluetooth. RFDuino also has an entire line of stackable shields, giving this tiny platform a lot of oomph for its size. 

STMicroelectronics STM32F4 Discovery 

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The STM32F4 is a nice low-cost option if you're looking for a dev board for your next design. With 192KB of RAM and 1MB of on-board flash memory, this board also features an on-board digital microphone and a one-audio DAC. It also includes an integrated class D speaker driver -- meaning this is a great choice for audio applications.

Atmel SAM V71 Xplained 

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To quote our engineer Nick Powers, this board has a “nutty amount of power.” At the heart of the V71 is an ARM Cortex-M7 microcontroller. This board can run at up to 300MHz and up to 2048 Kbytes of Flash. It’s a true workhorse for just about any application, ranging from automotive projects to smart energy. 

BeagleBone Black Industrial 

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The BeagleBone Black has been one of the industry’s favorite development platforms for a while now, and for good reason. With 512MB of RAM, 4GB of onboard flash, a Cortex A8 processor and tons of hardware support, the BeagleBone is one of the most popular choices out there. The BeagleBone Black Industrial takes it a step further by adding industrial temperature capabilities, meaning this board will run at temperatures anywhere from -40 degrees Celsius all the way up to a blistering +85 degrees Celsius. 

This product has not yet been released, but will be at the end of January, 2016. Stay tuned! 

DragonBoard 410c 

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DragonBoard 410C

Arrow Development Tools Embedded System Development Boards and Kits View

Finally, we have the DragonBoard 410c, one of the newest players to the development board landscape. The DragonBoard is built around a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410c processor, has built in WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, 4 on-board USB ports, an HDMI interface, and much more. With support for Android 5.1, Linux Ubuntu, and Windows 10, this board is versatile, powerful, and ready for just about any project you can throw at it. 

Here is our list for the Top 10 Dev Boards of 2017!

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