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From robots, to jukeboxes, the AMD-backed Gizmo 2 can power just about anything

Since the first Raspberry Pi came to light, a number of developers from companies including Microsoft, Intel, and IBM have attempted similar projects. For the most part, they’ve failed, either by offering expensive Pi rivals, or by making them difficult to use for newbie hardware tinkerers.

Now, GPU maker AMD is backing an interesting open-source option called Gizmo 2. Conceived by nonprofit development board community GizmoSphere, it’s meant to be used as a testing ground for new technologies and inventions.

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A few of the use cases, or “experiments”, as detailed on GizmoSphere’s official product page, include network-connected media players, home automation systems, and Bitcoin miners. The designers insist that you let your imagination run wild, and view the Gizmo 2 as the stepping stone towards the future of computing.

Of course, there are performance limitations to take into account here, but compared to the Raspberry Pi, the Gizmo 2 is a powerhouse.

It’s pretty small, measuring 4 x 4 inches, yet it squeezes in a dual-core 1 GHz AMD embedded G-Series processor, and discrete AMD Radeon HD 8210E graphics. Plus, it includes 1GB of DDR3 RAM. There’s no reason to worry about power consumption, as the CPU/GPU combo eats up only nine watts.

Pictured above is a potentially noisy fan, but you can always remove it and rely on passive cooling. Gizmo 2 will be easily customizable once all the hardware schematics are shared with the community. The Gizmo 2 supports Windows 7 and 8, as well as Linux.

The Gizmo 2 impressively finds enough room to accommodate an HDMI port, a Gigabit Ethernet connector, a microSD card slot, and no less than four USB 2.0 ports. Clearly, this is way out of the Raspberry Pi’s league from a hardware standpoint, and the Gizmo 2’s price reflects that performance gap fairly accurately.

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Whereas you can find a basic, low-end Pi for $20, the Gizmo 2 costs ten times as much. It will run you $200, and can be had from MCM Electronics, Semiconductor Store, or Newark Element14.

None of the retailers have the single-board computer/development kit in stock as of this writing, but it should be there in no time.