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LeMaker to release a Raspberry Pi-type board using AMD server chips

Think of LeMaker's upcoming Cello development computer as a supercharged version of Raspberry Pi 3.

The Cello is an uncased computer with all the components mashed onto a circuit board. It has the guts of a server and is well suited to run Web services and cloud applications.

The computer, priced at $299 and shipping in the second quarter, was announced at the Linaro Connect conference in Bangkok this week.

The Cello is a cheap way for developers to write and test software for ARM servers, which are emerging in data centers. ARM processors are often used in mobile devices, but they are drawing interest as a power-efficient alternative to dominant Intel x86 chips in data centers.

The new computer will be a "real low-cost way of getting access to server hardware," said George Grey, CEO of Linaro, a consortium of companies developing hardware and software for ARM-based devices.

Most server software development is for Intel chips, which hold more than a 90 percent market share for chips in server installations. Hardware to test ARM server software has been scarce, so Cello will fill a big hole.

The board will run Red Hat, CentOS and Debian Linux out of the box.

ARM servers are already recognized as a stable platform for the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) stack, used for serving Web applications. Linaro offers a standardized installation for ARM-based servers that includes OpenStack, Hadoop and OpenJDK tools that can be incorporated alongside Debian and CentOS.

The Cello has a processor that can beat the Raspberry Pi 3 CPU in benchmarks. It has AMD's quad-core Opteron A1120 server chip, which has four ARM-based Cortex-A57 CPU cores.

Other features in Cello include DDR3 memory, two USB 3.0 ports, a micro-USB port, a Gigabit Ethernet slot and two SATA ports for storage.

AMD's ARM-based Opteron server chip was also introduced in a similar product called HuskyBoard, but it has been delayed multiple times.

Other companies building ARM server chips include Cavium, AppliedMicro, Qualcomm and Broadcom.

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