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What Is an ARM® Board?

Alex Newth
Alex Newth

An ARM® board is a single-board computer created by ARM® Holdings. A single-board computer is one in which all hardware, including the memory and processing units, are soldered onto a single printed circuit board (PCB). ARM® board computers are very small, but they have relatively high power for their size. Most ARM® boards use the Linux® operating system (OS), because this system is open-source and can be used without trademark or copyright infringement. These boards are made for advanced users who prefer to build and program their own computers, rather than average consumers who prefer pre-made computers.

Most computers utilize a large motherboard unit that allows many different pieces of hardware to be soldered to the surface. The board is large, which offers computer designers a large amount of space in which to add powerful random access memory (RAM), a central processing unit (CPU), and other components. The size also drives up the price of the board. With a single-board computer, an ARM® board, all these components are placed on a single PCB.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Using an ARM® board instead of a regular computer has its pros and cons. The price is much better, and the installation and customization of the PCB’s programming and hardware are easier than with a large motherboard unit. Users who are not computer or computer design experts may find it difficult to install the computer and the needed programs. The hardware is often less powerful than motherboard-based computers made at the same time.

The best reason to get an ARM® board is that, unlike motherboard computers, the processes in ARM® hardware can be shifted around and changed. The coding can be altered using another computer, which allows a computer designer to customize the hardware to his or her needs. Unlike building a motherboard, which requires a lot of soldering and has locked coding after the programming is finished, single-board computers are easier to shift and manipulate.

It is open-source and does not cause any trademark problems, so the Linux® OS, rather than mainstream or more popular OS programs, is most often found installed on ARM® boards. While this is a big reason for using Linux®, there is another reason, as well. Linux® does not use as much memory, because all the commands stem from a command line, and a complicated and memory-heavy graphical user interface (GUI) is typically not used. This means that, although the hardware is weaker in an ARM® board, the system can make better use of what hardware it has.

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