BeagleBoard.org is a non-profit that aims to progress open source in embedded – including down to the silicon level. They mix Linux and microcontrollers in one platform.
Beagle doesn’t just make cheap computers, but rather computers you can make into other things, giving powers to the individuals. That includes not prohibiting them from going to business. Lots of books have been written around beaglebone mainly, and also many courses use it, including the Linux Foundation’s. BeagleBone is even used in Dremel laser cutters.
Beaglebone AI-64 has 2 cortex A72 and a C7x accelerator for deep learning. It is shipped with a compiler for the C7x in the flash, so makers can start hacking on it immediately. It has 12 PRUs for hard realtime. PRU now has gcc support and LLVM is in progress. You can build a logic analyser in software in a PRU because some registers are mapped directly to I/Os, so a single read is enough to take a sample. There are people who write open source applications for the PRUs that can be reused in other projects. E.g. machinekit (for CMC mills) has PRU code for driving the stepper motors. This happens in close cooperation with the application processor, e.g. the AP fills the memory with patterns of pulses and the PRU pushes these out to the pins. The ISP blocks (for camera input) are still closed source, but TI is working on libcamera support which will be fully open source.
BeaglePlay is a quad A53 AM6254. It has onboard 2×2 wifi, Gb ethernet, a BLE with an M4 that can be used for SDR. It has an PowerVR GPU, but TI is allowed to release an open source driver. There are still two binary blobs: one for the secure enclave, this is signed so will stay binary, and another for the R5 for power management, that one could be replaced but there are no plans to open it from TI.
BeagleConnect Freedom is a microcontroller with a mikroBUS. mikroElectronika is in the process of putting 1-wire ID chips on all boards, so this can be discoverable and people are working on a Linux bus driver for it.
There was a lot of discussion about various aspects that is not covered here, it’s worth looking at the video.