Improv is a $75 modular, ARM-based computer core (EOMA-68)

Make Play Live is now selling a $75 module with the brains of a computer — and that’s exactly what the Improv is designed to be. You can theoretically slot the card into a laptop dock, tablet dock, or other device to turn it into a fully capable computer.

Or you can use it as a standalone device for a a headless system such as a server.

The Improv is about the size and shape of a PCMCIA card it’s one of the first devices based on the EOMA-68 design. It’s available from Vault Technology for $75



The board features a processor, RAM, storage, and other basic components. But you can pop it out and use it in other devices. That modular design lets you use a single Improv in multiple devices, or upgrade those devices by replacing the board when a new model is available.

The card features a 1 GHz Allwinner A20 ARM Cortex-A7 dual core processor with ARM Mali-400 graphics. It has 1GB of RAM, 4GB of storage, a micro HDMI port, micro USB port, Ethernet jack, and GPIO and UART pins.

The device ships with Mer OS, a light-weight Linux operating system based on the discontinued MeeGo OS, but it’s also been tested with Debian, Android, and Linaro. At this point open source graphics drivers for the Mali-400 GPU are still a work in progress, so don’t expect bleeding edge 3D or video performance.

Out of the box, the software boots to a command-line interface but you can also install, Wayland, or another display server for a graphical user interface.

All of which is to say, the Improv is a device for folks who know there way around open source software and are looking for a platform to build their own devices. Eventually there may be devices designed around this type of hardware that help turn it into a more consumer-friendly device — Make Play Live is also working on a “Flying Squirrel” tablet which will use an EOMA-68 card as its brains.

Hardware add-ons such as a VGA adapter, keyboard kits and thin client hardware are a work in progress.

via Aaron Seigo and Slashdot

  • anonymous

    The more competition the Raspberry Pi has the better. I look forward to the fast approaching day when there are no reasons left to choose a Pi over one of its competitors.

    • blacksmith_tb

      ARMv7 is a big win (hence the choice of distros), and the faster clock and twice as much ram are nice, too.

  • Michael Thompson

    A very interesting idea!

  • digi_owl

    That was the same base as they were working on for a tablet, right?