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Intel Upgrades MinnowBoard: Baytrail CPU, Nearly Halves Price To $99 92

DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "Intel and CircuitCo have revealed a smaller, faster, 2nd-gen MinnowBoard open SBC based on an Atom E3800 SoC and supported by both Android 4.4 and various standard Linux OSes. The MinnowBoard Max, which will ship in Q3 starting at $99, blows past the original MinnowBoard (Slashdot video) on price, performance, and energy consumption. The 3.9 x 2.9-inch Max's $99 starting price includes a 64-bit 1.46GHz Intel Atom E3815 (Bay Trail-T) CPU, 1GB RAM and 8GB SPI flash, and coastline ports for MicroSD, Micro-HDMI, GbE, dual USB, and SATA. Unlike the original MinnowBoard, the Max provides two expansion connectors: a low-speed header, with signals similar to the Arduino's Shield connector; and a high-speed connector, which can support mSATA and mini-PCIe sockets on expansion modules, among other interfaces. Although the Max's design supports CPUs up to Intel's quad-core 1.91GHz (10W TDP) E3845, only two choices shown initially at, with the higher-end $129 model stepping up to a 1.33GHz dual-core E3825 plus 2GB RAM.."
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Intel Upgrades MinnowBoard: Baytrail CPU, Nearly Halves Price To $99

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  • by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Monday March 31, 2014 @10:06PM (#46627513)

    Powerful enough Intel CPU for MAME and direct Arduino-style ports for all the inputs and outputs of modern, home-made arcade cabinets?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's about as powerful as a Pentium II, at a fraction of the thermal power. Perfectly fine for 15 year old computer performance. This is probably not the part you are looking for if you are actually trying to make a MAME cabinet, but it's better than the people who were previously using pentium 4's and celerons that had 90 watt thermal power envelopes.

      People need to remember the purpose of these things is to go into battery-operated devices, not be some kind of laptop/desktop replacement, because these devi

      • by tepples ( 727027 )
        It might run an older NES emulator at acceptable speed, or perhaps a native remake of the old game.
        • It might run an older NES emulator at acceptable speed, or perhaps a native remake of the old game.

          It probably depends more on what games you want, and how fanatical about fidelity you are. Reportedly, 100% timing-accurate simulation of even the humble NES is surprisingly computationally intensive, and nothing less will do to hunt down every last oddball that exploited weird edge conditions in the hardware and run it glitchlessly in its original form; but 'usually good enough' emulation was happening back when we were rocking PIII 450s on the desktop and worse than that on the laptop side.

        • NES emulation was no problem even on a low end Pentium II. Baytrail isn't 15 year old computer slow. The new crop of tablets equipped with it are actually quite speedy for what they have to do and appear to be selling quite well.
      • by Blaskowicz ( 634489 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @02:04AM (#46628303)

        I don't understand that netbook meme on slashdot, they were hugely successful and ran real software, not cell phone/PDA/Psion stuff. They made laptops affordable, for the better or the worse. There are probably more people running Photoshop on netbooks than playing with their Raspberry Pee. You're slightly wrong about the CPU power, an old netbook's CPU is around 3x more powerful than a Raspberry's one I think. The newly announced MinnowBoard is perhaps the first "single board computer" that surpasses a first-gen netbook.

        • Things like the Pandaboad and Wandaboard have been faster than most Netbooks for a while. The RPi wasn't, but it was never meant to be - it was meant to be so cheap you could buy them as almost disposable things and not worry about children breaking them. The SoC they used was cheap because it was originally designed for set-top boxes, where GPU performance was important and the CPU was an afterthought, but was a few generations old so now the GPU was no longer a major selling point.
          • The RPi's GPU may not be the top gaming rig out there, but it's fast enough to play 1080p television. For me, that's fast enough that sometime soon I'm going to get around to getting one and hooking it up to my TV, probably to run XBMC as well as using it as a home file server. The interesting alternative would have been the Beaglebone Black, but it looks like the BBB's GPU is more limited, and can only do 1080 at a really low frame rate. (And of course now the BBB seems to be sold out and backordered -

    • For inputs, skip the GPIO header and just use HID USB. Less hassle, and they perform wonderfully.

      Also, JVS to USB options exist too, if you want to use a cabinet made sometime this century.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        GPIO is for just that: general purpose input/output. You can hook up damn near anything to those pins and easily write code to control whatever device(s) you want. USB isn't quite as simple. GPIO is perfect for what these devices were designed around.

        • Unless the GPIO pins are exposed to mame as some sort of controller, you're going to have to write some kind of driver. As it stands now, I can wire up a couple of boards from MadCatz and have it working in under an hour. Well under an hour if I just use two TE sticks.

  • SPI typo... (Score:5, Informative)

    by __aajbyc7391 ( 1136715 ) on Monday March 31, 2014 @10:12PM (#46627533)
    err... that should say "8MB SPI flash," not "8GB SPI" (sorry!)
    • Wouldn't an "8 GB SPI" be an SDHC slot?
    • Is the clarification complete? Traditionally, 4Mb (as in bit) was used in BIOSes, which used to be parallel flash at one time before they migrated first to an LPC/Firmware Hub interface, and then SPI. Those are typically NOR flash with low densities. So I would have thought such a board would have 8Mb of flash - enough to contain Coreboot or EFI, but obviously not to contain the OS itself.
  • Cool but expensive (Score:2, Interesting)

    by afidel ( 530433 )

    Seems pretty expensive considering you can get a Dell Venue 8 with 2GHz dual core/2GB ram/32GB flash/battery/screen/case for $179. Still, for a lot of projects it would be useful.

    • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Monday March 31, 2014 @10:28PM (#46627601)
      The Dell Venue 8 has a Clover Trail Atom, not Bay Trail. Bay Trail was a big step forward for the Atom!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's Bay Trail.

    • Seems pretty expensive considering you can get a Dell Venue 8 with 2GHz dual core/2GB ram/32GB flash/battery/screen/case for $179.

      That really isn't the point. The Venue 8 is a tablet while the minnowboard is made for building embedded systems. Places where the minnowboard would be used would often have no use for the screen on the Venue.

      While they have vaguely similar hardware, they are really after very different markets.

      • by afidel ( 530433 )

        My point is it seems whenever you add the words embedded PC or hobbyist to the description you get an instant 50% bump in cost relative to the same/similar hardware in other uses. Perhaps it's because of the much smaller runs relative to a consumer device, but PCB's aren't really that expensive.

        • The low volume runs definitely increase the production cost. And as the other reply pointed out, the minnowboard also has a superior Atom CPU to the Dell tablet that you mentioned. If you could find a tablet with the identical CPU it would be a much better comparison.
        • Hmm, I think the Beaglebone Black still beats it for embedded jobs.
    • While the price point is obviously not as good as the Dell, the Dell only works with windows 8.1 and has almost zero IO capabilities. Yes, the hardware is still more expensive than it should be, but at least it's useful and getting closer to raspberry pi territory than the first generation.
  • by x0ra ( 1249540 ) on Monday March 31, 2014 @10:33PM (#46627621)

    From the article, it would seem the new board has a new expansion slot (two actually). I already cannot find any usable expansion card from the v1, it will certainly not help for the v2... By the same logic, in a year, the v3 will have yet-another expansion slot format which is mandates new schematics.

    I miss standard expansion capabilities...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      there is a post on the minnowboard mailing list that addresses you concerns:

    • It appears the expansion headers have been split in two to enable a high speed one with SATA and PCIe and a low speed one for GPIO.
      Makes it much more useful, since it can be a 0.1" header for low speed signals, while its still possible to connect PCIe 2.0 devices.

    • It has a header with a documented pin-out. If you're among the target audience for these boards, then you'll probably be able to have a board fabricated for your uses.

      I miss standard expansion capabilities.

      Then stick with standard hardware.

      • The usual nuisance is tracking down 'Unobtanium custom connector of inscrutable density' more than any real terror of pinout documentation. It's amazing how often the vendor fails to specify "We used connector X, you want connector Y to mate with it. Try Mouser catalog number X or Digikey catalog number Y, the part itself is a HiRose FOOPART in case you buy elsewhere." and how poor the search tools among part vendors(not just electrical, any sort of part that has two complementary pieces) can be for "I have
        • Yeah, that's becoming really annoying for a lot of newer systems. One of the good things about the RPi and Beaglebone Black is that both of them have HDMI connectors for the video, uSDHC storage, and USB for other I/O (SATA would be nice as well, but USB gets the job done.)

  • by Neo-Rio-101 ( 700494 ) on Monday March 31, 2014 @11:28PM (#46627843)

    Crazy idea, I know... but given that would be the drawcard of an x86 architecture over an ARM CPU...
      I have to ask if it would be possible and if there would be driver support.

    • I guessing that it can't unless we're talking windows embedded.
      Normal desktop windows throws a fit if it can't find a honest-to-goodness Hard drive or SSD to install onto.

  • I think I'd like one of these with Debian, Java and Crashplan. Slap it on a 4TB SATA drive, put it in a box, seed a backup onto it and ship it to a family member with broadband. Handy offsite backup.
  • All these SBC are nice, but I would really love one with two network interface. So far, my quest has not been successful. I'm not looking to route 1Gbps, but "normar" traffic. I know of the soekris & alix, but I would prefer an ARM based model. I was hoping to find an expansion board that would do the job, but still no luck.

    Does anyone know any which would do the job ?

    • by Manfre ( 631065 )

      If you're not routing gigabit, get a usb network port or configure it to have two IPs for its one port and route between.

      • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
        I thought about that, but an external USB network adapter is a hassle, especially prone to connection issue. I'd prefer something wired in (even if it is on a USB bus).
    • There should be a high speed IO board that supports another Ethernet port come out for it. That is a pretty common desire for a board like this.
    • by vjoel ( 945280 ) []

      The "pro" model is a bit expensive ($220 or so, plus shipping), but it has 2xGbE, wifi, bt, quad ARM.

      Or you could just add a USB network interface to something like Odroid U3: [].

      (I have both of above.)

    • plug it into a cheap mikrotik switch and run VLAN on it.
      • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
        I'd rather avoid microtik MIPS boards. They might be great to route traffic, but they are too much under powered for the use I would have. My requirement is at least dual core +1GHZ CPU with at least 1GB of memory and possibility to attach storage
        • I meant just to act as an ethernet port expander. One 1G ethernet with 4 VLANs plugged into a $40 5-port managed gigabit switch (eg. mikrotik, but there are others) gives the equivalent of 4 x 250Mbit/s ethernets, arguably faster if your application allows slack on one VLAN to be taken up by another.
    • by xrayspx ( 13127 )
      Here's an RSN product, Bunnie Huang has been building his own completely open hardware laptop, and demand has been such that they're looking to sell them sans-screen in a router case with two NICs: Novena []

      I have no idea about availability, but they're around, Jake Appelbaum was playing with one the other day in a recent talk.
    • All these SBC are nice, but I would really love one with two network interface. So far, my quest has not been successful. I'm not looking to route 1Gbps, but "normar" traffic. I know of the soekris & alix, but I would prefer an ARM based model. I was hoping to find an expansion board that would do the job, but still no luck.

      Does anyone know any which would do the job ?

      Conveniently, most home routers are ARM (sometimes MIPS) based embedded devices with plenty of NICs (100mb in the cheap seats, GbE doable). Find one with good OpenWRT support, ideally a USB port because they never come with enough storage, and you are ready to rock.

      • In my experience, most are Broadcom MIPS SOCs.
        ARMs are a distant second in the segment. (Again, in my experience.)

        MIPS is a bizarre architecture. I can't really see why it gained so much traction in the embedded market, short of much higher power than ARM devices at the time when embedded SOHO routing solutions exploded.
        • The 802.11AC-era devices seem to have turned the tide a bit (even for Broadcom). Still lots of MIPS further down the pile; but the future doesn't look so rosy for them.
  • It appears the price is $99 for the board with slower CPU, and another $99 if you would like to have memory with that board...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The price at the European distributor (listed on is 199EUR. That's for the cheaper model that is supposed to sell for 99$.

    • by frnic ( 98517 )

      $99 USD is without memory, it looks like, so the article is extremely misleading. I always ignore any product that the company feels requires misleading advertising to promote - and that seems to be most products lately...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The 199 is for the CURRENT model, the new Max is not released yet (sometime in June I read).

  • Cheep enough to have a dedicated system for hosting Arudino development, so you don't worry about frying your main system.

    Just saying...

  • I'm guessing their webserver is running on one of these MinnowBoards...
  • Does it support HDMI CEC? I would love this as a HTPC, with XBMC/Plex client

  • by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @07:33AM (#46629055)
    I've been looking for a router that can also host a HDD for network storage, and give me global access the data on it through FTP and HTTP. I've done this with various USB routers running TomatoUSB and the like, but the USB bus on those is so painfully slow that it's basically useless. This thing wouldn't suffer from the same problem, and the price and energy consumption are router-competititve. And compared to the price of NAT, this thing is a bargain! The way I picture it, you would need to add an 802.11AC radio to the USB3, and then you'd be set.
  • I've been really impressed with my Baytrail powered Windows tablet, and this might not be a bad option to turn an old monitor into an all in one PC(it looks like Windows 8 is doable as well as Linux in general) for most tasks that aren't too intensive like gaming. Though if my tablet is any indication, the dual core version with 2GB of RAM should be able to hand Civ V to an extent.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.