I just studied learning micro controllers and try to understand difference between them and processors. I've read examples of how to use PIC micro controllers to switch on and off LEDs. However, then I found one board PC - https://www.olimex.com/Products/OLinuXino/A13/A13-OLinuXino/open-source-hardware . It's much powerful and I start to think if I can use this one board PC and manage i/o ports for working with LEDs. Do I understand right that 1) we can do it 2) we do it via GPIO connector which fulfil the same tasks as i/o ports in PIC?

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    \$\begingroup\$ That board uses an ARM processor. Totally overkill for lighting up some LEDs. But yeah, you can. GPIOs indeed serve that purpose, but you need to read the datasheet to make sure you don't exceed their max current. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fizz
    Oct 22, 2015 at 11:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems GPIO strength is 20mA on this A13 olimex.com/forum/index.php?topic=2864.0 \$\endgroup\$
    – Fizz
    Oct 22, 2015 at 13:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Respawned Fluff Thank you for your comments. I've read on forums that A13 is about 17mA. But I can't understand about voltage - 3.3V or 5V. Do you know? \$\endgroup\$
    – Pavel_K
    Oct 22, 2015 at 16:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ When in doubt or if connecting to anything off the board it is good to add a buffer stage, the voltage rating is what the chip will drive on output or withstand on input, take care. \$\endgroup\$
    – KalleMP
    Oct 22, 2015 at 18:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KalleMP Thank you for your comment. Could you take a look at this question electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/196741/… . Maybe it is offtopic but it is really problem for me. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pavel_K
    Oct 22, 2015 at 18:56

1 Answer 1


Yes, a simple task like turning on a LED should be possible through the GPIO ports as well as the IO ports of a microcontroller. Sometimes there are restrictions on how easy it is to perform certain tasks through a GPIO instead of a IO of the microcontroller. The raspberry Pi for example has more difficulties implementing a PWM than a microcontroller, but it still should be possible.

Simple answer: Yes you can practically almost use them for the same purpose.

  • \$\begingroup\$ They allow bare-metal programming on that A13 (it's open hardware), so the situation is not quite comparable with the RPi. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fizz
    Oct 22, 2015 at 11:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed, but the statement is clear :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Weaverworm
    Oct 22, 2015 at 11:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ One thing that this A13 does have in common with the RPi though is the difficulty in figuring out the max GPIO current. It's worse documented than RPi in this respect. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fizz
    Oct 22, 2015 at 12:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah you're right.. It's not easy to find the absolute maximum ratings of the Cortex A8 chip on the development board. \$\endgroup\$
    – Weaverworm
    Oct 22, 2015 at 13:07

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