The new wave of fun geek toys is inexpensive, hackable, tiny Linux-powered ARM computers, and they're red hot. This is the year to go small.
The ARM platform has been around for a long time, and nearly everyone has used an ARM-powered device. ARM CPUs come in 32-bit, 64-bit, and multiple core flavors. They are paired with amazing tiny powerful GPUs that deliver high-end video in mobile phones, tablets, media players, game consoles, calculators, routers, backup drives, GPS devices, e-readers, set-top boxes and digital video recorders, robots, 3D printers, home automation, and cameras. ARM Holdings claims that over 20 billion ARM-based chips have shipped since they were developed.
ARM started out as the Acorn RISC Machine way back in the early 1980s. RISC is reduced instruction set, in contrast to the Intel x86 processor family, which is CISC: complex instruction set. RISC doesn't mean fewer instructions, because some RISC processors have large sets of instructions, but rather more efficiency, because each instruction doesn't have to work as hard as a comparable CISC instruction. A single CISC instruction may require a dozen or more memory cycles, while a RISC instruction needs only one.