‘Minimum viable computer’ can run Doom, Crysis less likely
Crafted from $15 parts and looking more like a Nokia N-Gage (the original sidetalkin’ model), the “minimum viable computer” is the creation of San Francisco-based inventor and journalist Brian Benchoff. As reported by Liliputing, this is a Linux-ready computer based on an ARM9 processor that can slip into your pocket and can also run Doom. But then what can not?
For $15 we can buy a 2W Raspberry Pi Zero, but then we have to add a screen, keyboard, and other peripherals. What Benchoff theoretically offers for $15 is a low spec, permissively licensed complete machine with enough power to ping a server and toggle the GPIO. Don’t expect a GUI, because Benchoff doesn’t write one. The 2.3-inch IPS TFT display has a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels, and although it can run Linux (Built-in Buildroot) on its 533 MHz Allwinner F1C100s SoC, based on an ARM9 core with 32 MB of RAM , you will only get the command line. There’s no touchscreen, so you’ll have to use the 48-key membrane keyboard, split in half with the screen in the middle for efficient thumb input. Storage is provided by a micro SD card and powered by AAA NiMH batteries that charge via USB-C. Battery life is described as “long enough”.
|SoCs||SoC Allwinner F1C100s|
|533MHz ARM926EJ-S processor|
|32 MB DDR (64 MB with pin-compatible F1C200s)|
|Display||2.3″ TFT IPS|
|320 by 240 pixel resolution|
|ILI9342 controller (SPI)|
|Keyboard||48-key silicone membrane keyboard|
|To be able to||USB-C charging|
|2 AAA NiMH batteries (charging via USB C)|
With a board based on the now-discontinued LycheePi Nano, the minimum viable computer sits in a plastic clamshell case that snaps together without the need for tools. On the back are a USB 2 Type-A port, the micro SD card slot and the USB-C charging port. There’s no built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, but you can connect an adapter to the Type-A port.
There’s plenty more detail, a full parts list including component cost ($14.16), and some thoughts on future work on Benchoff’s GitHub page. Benchoff plans to make the device available, eventually, and asks interested parties to contact him. by Twitter.