Eren Akbulut's Blog

Single Board Computers Explained

January 25th, 2021

Today's post is going to be a fairly short one, I wanted to do this post for a long time but now that I've realized it's impossible to dive deep into each and every example of a single board computer out there.

So this post is going to be a conceptual explanation of the single board computers, an introduction about the most common use cases and some popular single board computers from the market.


By definition a single board computer is a computer that is built on a single PCB or circuit board in general. That PCB usually contains all the required parts of a computer on board like memory, CPU, required I/O.

Even though the history of the single board computers goes to as early as mid 70s they became mainstream mostly after the release of Raspberry Pi after 2012. They made a huge success by offering a fully functional computer that can run a customly designed Linux operating system with the cost of just 35 dollars. Today same company offers even a 5 dollar version of Raspberry Pi, of course there are many other single board computer producers in the market at the market, we'll talk about them in a minute.

Use Cases

There are many popular use cases for single board computers at the moment. I'll now briefly talk about the some widely practiced ones.

  • Single Board Computers are so widely used in the field of embedded applications. Even though unlike many embedded devices they come with a fully functional Linux based operating system, larger computing power and naturally higher power consumption Single Board Computer computers are widely used in the embedded applications at the moment. The main reason is the power and flexibility it provides while giving up on the power consumption, the second but actually as important reason is the highly configurable and easy to use GPIO(General Purpose Input Output) pins that comes with almost all single board computers, it makes them extremely accessible in terms of adding sensors, cameras and so on.

  • One other popular use field of them is education. Single Board Computers can be used to teach many things about many concepts. They are an awesome introduction for the ones who wants to know about Linux systems, or the kids when they first meet with a computer. Since they are so easy to use and setup at literally anywhere Single Board Computers are now widely used in technical education sessions that are prepared for industry professional, especially in the IoT(Internet of Things) and embedded programming side.

  • One other educational application of the Single Board Computers is to use them as a tool to reach online education material just like a normal computer. Since there are many powerful Single Board Computers at the market at the moment they can handle applications like Zoom to reach online video materials.

  • Some Single Board Computers are mainly designed to be used on AI(Artificial Intelligent) applications. When they designed to work on such specific duty Single Board Computers generally offers a quite decent performance/cost ratio.

Some Providers

There are many many single board computer models and series in the market at the moment yet I'll try just to list some most used ones. I can make a more detailed list with a seperate description for each provider.

  • Raspberry

  • The Rock Pi

  • The Banana Pi

  • The Orange Pi

  • The Latte Panda

  • The Tinker Board

  • Nvidia Jetson( the mentioned AI focused series from above)

Alright everyone, today's tutorial was a fairly short one and I didn't have much time to expand each concept with examples to be honest single Board Computers field is wide field to cover all at one post, I'll upload more sophisticated posts about specific topics in the future.

I hope to see you in the next one, take care :)

This blog has been created by Eren Akbulut 2020