“96Boards EE” SBC Emerges With AMD A1120 Opteron

“LeMaker’s “Cello” is a $299, server-oriented single board computer with a quad-core Cortex-A57 AMD A1120 SoC and a 96Boards Enterprise Edition form factor…
…The specs currently posted on the Lenovator pre-order page for the LeMaker Cello lack much in the way of detail, and there’s no posting yet on LeMaker’s site. The LeMaker Cello backs up the Opteron A1120 with dual DDR3 sockets. This presumably lets you load up to 16GB of RAM, the recommended RAM allotment for the EE spec. A microSD slot is also available.”
See First “96Boards EE” SBC debuts with AMD ARM SoC
Well, it’s not state of the art by any means, but this is the first motherboard I’ve seen which comes close to what I want to replace Beast. It’s only quad core and only has two SATA connections but it has sockets for two DDR3/4 RAM modules. It uses an AMD A1120 Opteron. It will ship in Q2 of 2016. I like it. No doubt there will be more competition in this space giving better options or lower prices.

I think this thing uses a bit too much power but it’s a huge improvement over Beast. I think at $299 USD it’s a bit too expensive but compared to what I paid for Beast, it’s fine. I have 4GB of ECC DDR3 RAM available from Beast but I could install 16gB or so for ~$100. It has no display interface, which is fine because I can use thin clients. This is feasible and I am impatient… It will be a big incentive to rest Beast’s ancient keyboard for a newer model using USB.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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8 Responses to “96Boards EE” SBC Emerges With AMD A1120 Opteron

  1. ram says:

    It would be nice to see some real competition from AMD again, and it would be nice if the chip has the promised performance. It also would be nice if Linux friendly motherboards were made for said AMD chip. However, given AMD’s recent disappointing performances, I’ll wait and see what benchmarks others get, such as the Phoronix site. (https://www.phoronix.com)

  2. DrLoser says:

    Notebooks and fans are just silly and thigh-burns are painful.

    Not what you said when Asus Eees were all the rage a few years ago, Robert. Why, you were practically damning Microsoft for “illegally” taking the opportunity to burn thighs away from the Gnu/Linux flagship for Burning Thighs at the time.

    Still, one burnt thigh here, one slowly parboiled frog there. In the grand scheme of things, I suppose it all makes sense.

    Buggered if I know how.

  3. kurkosdr wrote, “why all this desire to replace Beast? The PC form factor is the best form factor out there, in Desktop and Laptop form”

    That’s true for ATX stuff but not notebooks. Notebooks and fans are just silly and thigh-burns are painful. My biggest beef with Beast is wasted energy. It’s 45nm stuff and doesn’t compare well with something like 14-22nm. I don’t mind energy being used to spin a platter but the fans and CPU really are archaic. Beast’s CPU is 10 years old and the motherboard is 4, I think, because the first one fried/died. I can replace five fans, several hard drives, and a 600W PSU just by changing the CPU. I could go to a more modern AMD64 but I want to embrace ARM. It’s good enough and getting better. I want to put more money into what I need and that’s not compute-power/heat. Beast’s 4 hard drives are also old enough… I could easily replace them with a couple of *TB drives and have more storage and faster performance. The extra cost of this mobo might be offset by not buying a NAS as required by some of the ~$100 boards. I expect there will be a bunch of competitive boards this summer. Lots of folks are grumbling about the limited options with ARMed mobos. For desktop/server we don’t need a throttled CPU (tiny cache/few cores) with tiny embedded RAM.

  4. DrLoser says:

    Designed for higher-end, $200 to $400 boards aimed at networking, server, and high performance computing (HPC), the 96Boards EE spec has the same 40-pin, low-speed I/O connector as the CE, with the same mix of UART, SPI, I2C, and GPIO.

    Seems a bit overpriced on the cost/benefit analysis to me, Robert. You’re not a one man datacentre. Nor does the Beast spend its time on HPC activity.

    No, I still recommend the Kangaroo. Goodness knows what the Little Woman is going to say if you splurge $199 on a motherboard.

    It’s a special one, isn’t it?
    1) UART — completely useless for supporting thin clients.
    2) I2C — Lovely for supporting a set of hosted microcontrollers. In much the same way that Beast doesn’t.
    3) SPI — once again, a bus for local serial communication. Awfully useful when serving recipes up from your PostgreSQL database, I imagine.

    No, Robert. Go bark up another tree. This one doesn’t fit either your budget or your requirements.

  5. kurkosdr says:

    (anyway, this board is better than the rest, because it has DDR3 slots, but still, Desktop Linux has more stuff pre-compiled for x86 anyways)

  6. kurkosdr says:

    BTW, why all this desire to replace Beast? The PC form factor is the best form factor out there, in Desktop and Laptop form. Want to upgrade the RAM? You can do it. The storage? You can do it. No soldered-on parts, meaning that a small amount of RAM will either lead to your apps asphyxiating from lack of breathing space, or replacing the entire board.

    ARM boards have their uses in mobile devices, set top boxes and servers (which contrary to popular belief are rarely upgraded), but your personal computer should be a PC.

  7. kurkosdr says:

    Ahh… yet another board that will replace Beast… never.

    Okay, on topic now, I actually like the idea of ARM making it into the server. With ARM’s licensing model, it could only mean one thing: Relentless, ruthless price war. I wouldn’t be surprised if MediaTek did their magic in servers and brought down the prices of everyone else…

  8. luvr says:

    Hmmm… This is getting interesting. I have a currently empty computer case (after a recent motherboard failure), and I was beginning to think about transforming it into a local file server. I was wondering if ARM could be an option, but I wasn’t sure if there would be any boards available that fit in an ATX case. Looks like they are coming.

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