Arduino has announced the Portenta X8 (opens in new tab), not quite its first Linux-based computer (hands up if you remember the Yun) but certainly its first to combine an SBC and a microcontroller board in one Arm-based package. As spotted by CNX-Software (opens in new tab).
The unassuming package, about the same size as a Raspberry Pi Zero (opens in new tab), contains a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor running at up to 1.8 GHz, an additional Arm Cortex-M4 core up to 400 MHz, 3D and 2D GPUs, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of eMMC storage, a USB-C port, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, a gigabit Ethernet interface (not port), and a separate microcontroller. The smaller chip, the same as in the Portenta H7 (opens in new tab), sees an Arm Cortex-M7 core at up to 480 MHz paired with an Arm 32-bit Cortex-M4 core at up to 240 MHz with an adaptive real-time accelerator. There's 1MB of RAM and 2MB of flash storage too, along with an NXP SE050C2 crypto chip for hardware security including TPM.
While the board itself is relatively bare, apart from a USB-C port for power, data and video out, it slots into a carrier board (similar to the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4) to expose its IO options, many of which are packed into high-density connectors on the board itself. These include USB 3, DisplayPort, 1 lane of PCIe 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, four UARTs, a micro SD card slot, four lanes of MIPI DSI for display connections, seven GPIO pins, and the Phillips I2S and I2C interfaces for digital audio and serial communication.
The Portenta Max carrier board shown in the announcement video also features attachments for Wi-Fi antennas, RS485, and what looks like an RJ11 socket, along with a battery holder. Hidden at the rear appears to be a SIM card slot, and we can see a UBlox radio chip which could have some form of cellular connectivity.
Aimed at professional and industrial use rather than being a straight Raspberry Pi alternative, the Portenta comes with Yocto Linux pre-installed, and costs rather a lot even without the carrier board. It features the ability to containerize applications, and can be programmed using Python, Java or Ruby, among other languages. Arduino foresees uses such as edge computing in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles, home control systems, navigation systems for smart agricultural vehicles, and even behavioral analytics for factories and offices.
At the time of writing, the Portenta X8 is sold out on the Arduino store, where it’s priced at $239. The carrier board, at the moment, only seems to exist in the announcement video.