There are many SBC plates on the market to rival the original Raspberry Pi. Some are also based on ARM, but there are others that use x86 chips, like the Atomic Pi. This allows them to have superior performance in some cases, as well as being able to use all the binaries and operating systems that you can use in a normal PC. However, they still maintain a small footprint and an affordable price.
Specifically, the Atomic Pi from DLI Direct uses an Intel Atom X5-Z8350 microprocessor. This allows it to have a higher performance than the official Raspberry Pi Raspberry Pi. So, if you are looking for a superior performance that the Raspi doesn’t give you, you can buy this other board…
Technical characteristics of the Atomic Pi
Atom Pi has some pretty interesting hardware. Its technical features are as follows:
- CPU: Intel Atom x5-z8350 of 1.92 Ghz of frequency (in most of occasions it does not pass the 1.4 Ghz) and able to develop simultaneously 4 threads (one by each one of its cores). This QuadCore only has a 2w SDP (Scenario Design Power).
- GPU: Intel HD Graphics integrated and with a clock speed of 480 Mhz.
- Cooling: uses a large heatsink block that covers the main chips to dissipate heat through passive air cooling. Enough to keep the temperature of this SBC between 50-60ºC. Another point in its favor, since the Raspberry Pi does not include this as standard (although you can buy them separately).
- RAM: the main memory of this board rises to the 2GB RAM of the low consumption DDR3L-1600 type.
- Storage: it has internal storage, something the Raspberry Pi lacks, which is simply limited to SD cards. In this case, you have 16 GB of flash memory integrated in an eMMC chip.
- Expansion: It has a microSD card slot if the internal capacity is too small. It supports up to 256 GB capacity.
- Connectivity: HDMI, audio, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, WiFi b/g/n/ac 2.4/5Ghz thanks to the integrated Realtek RT5572 IPX. It also has Bluetooth 4.0 CR8510 connectivity, and RJ-45 port (Gigabit Ethernet with Realtek RTL8111G chip). It also includes serial TTL for debugging, and 3.6 Mbps expansion serial port.
- GPIO: 26 pins that you can program for many projects.
- Sensors: internal motion sensor for 9-axis peripherals with BNO055 compass.
- Firmware: UEFI BIOS, same as PCs. Includes RTL clock and battery to keep data when it is off.
- Others: it has a preamplifier and 2 physical connectors for speakers (XMOS secondary output as class-D). It also has several connectors by the PCB frames to connect webcam, JST, etc.
- Consumption and power supply: it is fed with 5V 2.5A and consumes approximately 4-15w in the usual use. It does not have any kind of power connector, you must use one of the 3 options available through its physical connection interface:
- Use a Large Breakout Board, or large extension board as an addon to add new inputs and Arduino-like interface, as well as a power connector through an adapter such as Arduino.
- Use a Small Adapter Board, or small extension board. A mini board that only includes the connector for the power adapter.
- Or use an that you have to adapt at your own risk to the 4-pin connector that this board includes… That is to say, buy a standard charger, put 4 cables Dupont in it and connect it to the pins (2 positive + 2 negative).
An extremely complete plate for its size. However, it has some problems, such as not being as popular as the Raspberry Pi, its shape factor is a bit strange and you won’t find simple housings, or the power connector is high and atypical…
Starter and Software
The boot is quite delicate on this Atomic Pi. It’s nothing serious, but it easily stops recognizing the installed operating system. The problem does not come from the eMMC unit, as you might think. The defect is its BIOS/UEFI, which is not very good. Also, sometimes the boot can be up to 6 times slower, ranging from the usual 30s to 180s.
Now, regardless of that, you can use any operating system you use on a PC. That is by installing Microsoft Windows 10, if you want, or by using one of your favorite GNU/Linux distros, like Ubuntu. And of course, it supports many other operating systems like FreeBSD, etc. Being x86 and having BIOS/UEFI makes it a little easier than Raspberry Pi in this sense…
Android also has its x86 version, as you know. Therefore, if you prefer to install the Google operating system, you can do so as well. This will allow you to access a multitude of Google Play services and apps to do almost anything you can do with a mobile device.
What can I do with an Atomic Pi?
Basically the same as with a PC or an official Raspberry Pi. You can use it as a mediacenter if you want and connect it to your living room TV, or use its GPIO to do various DIY electronics projects, etc. You could also use the many existing projects to transform it into an entertainment center, or more things you can imagine…
By example, if you install Android you can connect it to your TV and transform it into a “smart” TV, with the possibility of installing apps such as Netflix, Disney+, Movistar+, etc., and watch content in streaming.
Buy the Atomic Pi and prices
Well, finally, if you’ve decided to buy it, you should know that the Atomic Pi is slightly more expensive than the Raspberry Pi. That’s obvious because its hardware is somewhat superior. Until recently, the only way to buy the Atomic Pi was to order it directly from the United States, but now you have more options.
The Atomic Pi has arrived at Amazon, where you can buy it for something more than 60 euros. So you won’t have to order it abroad from stores like ameriDroid, etc, or pay too high shipping costs or customs fees that would have to be added. Amazon makes it much easier and with all the guarantees that this online store has.
Moreover, Amazon will deliver it faster than the typical 2 weeks it took to arrive in Spain by the previous purchase method.