TINI Board (thing)
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The TINI Board is a small web server designed and manufactured by Dallas Semiconductor. The circuit board has the size and form factor of a 72 pin SIMM. The TINI Board is intended for embedding into all sorts of smart devices to give them a simple web interface allowing easy configuration and control from any computer on the local area network.
Unlike some competing products (see: picoweb), the TINI Board is more of a general purpose computer disguised as a dedicated web server. Under the hood there is a fairly powerful microprocessor with a sufficiently powerful bus controller that hardware expansion is pretty flexible. The default firmware contains a Java virtual machine, a simple multi user multi tasking operating system with file permissions and all the trimmings. All of the onboard hardware (see below) is supported through well documented Java APIs.
The board has the following perepherals built in:
The board cost $50 (quantity one), and for large orders I imagine it comes down, so this is probably a viable board for all sorts of embedded projects, both commercial and hobby. I bought one just because it was cheap and looked like fun, and it was. I never found a use for mine, but that's primarily due to lack of free time, etc... The one issue to consider is that it's not exactly a supercomputer, so if you use extremely computationally intensive control algorithms they may not be able to run in real time. Remember, this is just a smarter than average microcontroller. The nice thing is that it requires minimal support hardware, so it's easy to get up and running with a simple application.
One of the neatest things about this is they are friendly to all developers, even random basement tinkerers who are not likely to turn around and make a million piece volume order in 10 months. This is quite different from the recent trend of chipmakers shutting out hobbyists.