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Jupiter Nano Is a Tiny Microcontroller That Runs Linux

Jupiter Nano
(Image credit: Jupiter Nano)

Updated, 7/9/21, 6am PT: Jupiter Nano creator Adam Feuer said the board "will most likely be $75, and should launch sometime in the next 4 weeks, hopefully sooner." He also explained that the project was created because he "couldn't find a small, open source hardware Linux board with a lot of I/O that could run on batteries." Jupiter Nano was designed specifically with those requirements in mind.

Original article, 7/5/21, 7:42am PT:

It seems the folks behind the Jupiter Nano open source hardware development board think the Arduino Due microcontroller board is overdue for an upgrade. The board, which is set to start crowdfunding via Crowd Supply, runs a version of Linux and is said to feature a processor that is 10x more powerful than the one found in Arduino's Due from 2012.

That additional power is largely a function of time. Arduino released the Due in 2012 with the Microchip AT91SAM3X8E, a 32-bit microcontroller based on Arm's Cortex M3 clocked at up to 84 MHz. The Microchip SAMA5D27C-LD1G inside the Jupiter Nano, meanwhile, is based on the Cortex A5 and capable of running at up to 500 MHz. Technically the Raspberry Pi Zero W is more powerful, but the Jupiter Nano is more of a precision tool compared to the "one size fits all" approach of the Raspberry Pi.

As for the rest of the Jupiter Nano: Its creators say the board features 128MB of memory—which is 1,280x more than is available in the Arduino Due—on a 48-pin form factor that measures approximately 1.125 x 2.5 inches (63.2 x 28.6 mm). It boots from an SD card, features several USB 2.0 ports, and can be programmed via a JTAG interface.

Jupiter Nano will purportedly support Linux as well as the Apache NuttX real-time operating system. The board's creators seem to have high hopes for its Linux capabilities, as they explained in the Crowd Supply crowdfunding page:

"Jupiter Nano is perfect for Arduino users who need a tiny, powerful computer with more CPU power, lots of RAM, or an internet-connected real time operating system (NuttX)," they said. "It should also be attractive to any Linux users who need a tiny, open-source hardware computer with lots of I/O and high-speed Wi-Fi."

We suspect most people will have a better Linux experience using more powerful boards. The open source aspect could be a draw for some hobbyists, however. Jupiter Nano's creators said they plan to release "the board KiCAD files, schematics, project files, and software" to the public "once the campaign is fully funded."

Jupiter Nano's creators didn't say when the project would officially start crowdfunding, how much they're hoping to raise, or how much the device is expected to cost. CNX Software reported that pricing information will be available at launch. (The Arduino Due, for reference, costs $40.30 at time of writing.)