Pandaboard and Gentoo: Part one (unpacking and specs)


Like i did with the Nvidia Tegra2, i’m going to talk about the Pandaboard which i received two days ago.

The story begins at late september, once the brand-new Pandaboard got announced. Before it was announced how much it would cost and before you could buy it, the Pandaboard Early Adopter Program (PEAP) was available. This program allowed(the two phases are now over) developers to submit their project and be allocated a Pandaboard if the project was among the most voted ones. The first phase selected the top5 projects and the second one the top10.

I submitted my proposal for the first phase, and luckily enough my project and another one were tied with 5 votes, which was the maximum any project achieved.
My project is mainly about documenting the installation of Gentoo on the Pandaboard and provide everything needed to install it. Also to help users install it as well. After i have done everything, the board will be used to test/build packages and keep testing new kernels/applications made by OMAP developers.

Let’s go with the specs. The Pandaboard has a OMAP 4430 Dual-Core ARM Cortex-A9 processor @ ~1GHz, 1GB of DDR2-800(400MHz) RAM, audio input/output, Bluetooth(through TI WiLink 6.0 solution), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi(through TI WiLink 6.0 solution), 10/100Mb USB-based ethernet(SMSC LAN95xx), HDMI, DVI-D(using an HDMI port), 2 USB ports, 1 USB OTG port and 1 SD slot. You can expand the specs in their official webpage:

One of the things i should add regarding the specs, is that there are two revisions publicly available to the board: the EA1 and A1. The EA1 are the boards that were available through the PEAP program i talked above, the A1 are the ones that you can buy. The difference between them is that the EA1 boards use 2.0 silicon and the RAM is clocked at 200MHz(DDR2-400). The A1 boards use 2.1 silicon and are clocked at 400MHz(DDR2-800). That means that you can’t compare any benchmark i can do, since the RAM of my panda is slow compared with a panda you can buy, which after all is the real product.

Here’s the cpuinfo:

Processor : ARMv7 Processor rev 2 (v7l)
processor : 0
BogoMIPS : 2013.49

processor : 1
BogoMIPS : 1963.08

Features : swp half thumb fastmult vfp edsp thumbee neon vfpv3
CPU implementer : 0x41
CPU architecture: 7
CPU variant : 0x1
CPU part : 0xc09
CPU revision : 2

Hardware : OMAP4430 Panda Board
Revision : 0010
Serial : 0000000000000000

dmesg is here

For more information you can check the official webpage and the wiki page made available for it. Until i create the documentation for installing Gentoo, you can install either Ubuntu, Android, or a minimal Angstrom distribution following the instructions in the wiki. Obviously you can also install Gentoo by yourself 🙂

Have fun!


19 Responses to “Pandaboard and Gentoo: Part one (unpacking and specs)”

  1. Jeremy Olexa Says:

    Fun stuff.

    Side comment: Is there a technical reason that ARM boards don’t have GigE?

    • armin762 Says:

      There are ARMv5 boards that do have gigabit ethernet, have a look at the sheevaplug for example. But seems all the ARMv7 boards have 100mbps ethernet except the Marvell Dove. The technical limitation is that its USB ethernet…why is that? no clue.

    • Siarhei Siamashka Says:

      There seem to be new SoC’s from TI with more interesting stuff (ddr3 memory, gigabit ethernet, sata):

      The evaluation board listed there has a price tag around 2K USD. But it would be nice if they decide to make some new affordable ‘animal’board based on this chip 🙂

  2. Christopher Friedt Says:

    Nice – I can’t wait to get my hands on one as well!

  3. thomasg Says:

    I think the difference is, that OMAP based any many other SoCs don’t have many high-speed interfaces that allow a GigE PHY to be attached.

    Mavell’s SoCs however use their “System Crossbar” which allows PCI(e) and PHYs to be attached at high speeds.

    However, many ARM SoCs including the OMAP series are intended to be used in mobile devices with no steady power supply.
    Marvell’s SoCs are mostly (if not exclusively?) used for stationary embedded devices with steady power supply, or probably bigger devices that can hold bigger batteries, so I would assume that their architecture is just not that power efficient or doesn’t support that much power saving.

    • Raúl Porcel Says:

      Hi Thomas 🙂

      Well, there’s a smartbook prototype with Marvell Dove on it…but now that you say it…i think it didn’t had ethernet 🙂

      • thomasg Says:

        I do count the “Smartbooks” to bigger devices, because they usually hold batteries up to 70 Wh but at least 30 Wh, while high-end phones usually are around 5-6 Wh.

        Anyway, Marvell based “Smartbooks” would be nice because they could support everything from GigE to replaceable PCIe-Minicards what nobody else can offer.

  4. lu_zero Says:

    Single processor?

  5. Insulator Says:

    If you have the time and inclination, I’d love to know how well this works as a MythTV frontend.

  6. januszzz Says:

    “Until i create the documentation for installing Gentoo, you can install either Ubuntu, Android, or a minimal Angstrom distribution following the instructions in the wiki.”

    hey, that’s incomplete!

    One can always install Gentoo on Pandaboard by himself, it’s not that hard anyway :-))

    Good luck and have fun!

    • Raúl Porcel Says:

      Fixed 😉

    • Siarhei Siamashka Says:

      > One can always install Gentoo on Pandaboard by himself, it’s not that hard anyway

      My guess is that gentoo support on pandaboard should optimistically also cover installation of the needed drivers for 3D accelerated graphics, DSP and video accelerators (for 1080p video playback), WLAN/BT and the other parts of hardware. Surely, due to the closed nature of some (most?) of these parts, not everything might be easy or even possible in a proper way.

      And agreed, installing gentoo so that it just boots and can run something on ARM cpu is not so difficult.

  7. Fabian Köster Says:


    I am currently waiting for my PandaBoard to arrive but when it is here I would like to help you with that documentation. Looking forward to it!

    I already played a lot with Gentoo on the IGEPv2 which is currently my ‘Desktop’-System.


  8. Pandaboard and Gentoo: Part Two (Running Gentoo!) « Armin76's Blog Says:

    […] Armin76's Blog Gentoo « Pandaboard and Gentoo: Part one (unpacking and specs) […]

  9. krasi Says:

    TI say they have Win CE for OMAP4 – anybody knows details about it?

  10. mck Says:

    what abaout xorg configuration on pandaboard with gentoo? How to configure it?
    Thanks in advance.

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