Future of Balloon
Balloon will develop according to the needs and enthusiasm of those using it. Various developments are already clear from those involved so far.
In September 2004 the Balloon 3.0 design process was started. Balloon 3 is an Xscale balloon variant which is needed as StrongARM 1110 becomes obsolete. This design remains very similar apart from the CPU upgrade, and remains compatible (as far as possible) with the Expansion connector physical and electric specs so add-on boards will still work. The most major change is the addition of an FPGA build option, allowing extensive DSP functionality. Some changes are also caused by the move to Xscale PXA270, which includes USB host and slave, so the extrenal USB device is gone (which is good because it used far too much CPU support to do its job). The design also incorporates a number of other improvements that seem sensible, such as a shift to FPC connectors which are cheaper and more reliable.
Balloon 3 is getting close! The spec is now available. 4 prototype boards (2 CPLD, 2 FPGA) were produced in March 2006. Now that the hardware has been verified, 20 more are scheduled for July, then a respin to fix a few layout issues and a build of 200 in August.
There are a number of add-on boards proposed for balloon3: