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Intel announces Bay Trail MinnowBoard Max

Intel announces Bay Trail MinnowBoard Max

Intel's MinnowBoard Max is a worthy successor to the original, boasting a far more powerful 64-bit chip and an entry price half that of its predecessor.

Intel has announced new entries in its MinnowBoard family of hobbyist-oriented development boards, adding a range of more powerful 64-bit processors with the promise of still more to come.

Designed in partnership with CircuitCo and produced under the open MinnowBoard.org umbrellas, the original MinnowBoard proved a precursor to the far more affordable Arduino-compatible Galileo, and was announced as a response to the growing popularity of the ARM-based Raspberry Pi and AMD's overtures into the market with the APU-powered Gizmo. A high price and a relatively underpowered 32-bit Atom processor meant it was not, however, a particular success for the company - despite an open hardware design which left hobbyists free to peruse the firmware and board design to their hearts content.

The MinnowBoard Max, a direct successor to the original MinnowBoard, is the project's attempt to learn from the past. The 32-bit Atom chip has been replaced by a 64-bit Atom E38xx Bay Trail Series system-on-chip processor, with Atom E3815 and E3825 single-core and dual-core models confirmed for launch and hints of a quad-core variant in the works. Users have access to 1GB or 2GB of DDR3 memory respectively, depending on model chosen.

Designed as a development platform rather than a general-use computer, the new MinnowBoard Max features micro-HDMI video output, single USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, a SATA 3.0Gb/s connector, and a gigabit Ethernet port, along with the promise of general-purpose input-output (GPIO) capability that shines: as well as eight buffered pins for easy experimentation, the MinnowBoard Max includes a low-speed expansion port offering SPI, I2C, I2S, UART, eight more GPIO pins, and power, and a high-speed port offering a PCI Express Gen. 2 lane, a further SATA 3.0Gb/s channel, a USB 2.0 port, I2C, JTAG debugging support and yet more GPIO pins.

All these features come in a cut-down footprint of 99mm x 74mm, but it's the trimming Intel's done elsewhere that is really eye-catching: the MinnowBoard Max is to launch in the US at $99 for the single-core or $129 for the dual-core variants (around £59 and £77 respectively, excluding taxes), meaning a starting price of around half that demanded by the original MinnowBoard.

Sadly for those salivating over the potential of the board, the MinnowBoard Max isn't quite ready for release with Intel and CircuitCo expecting to have the first models on shop shelves by June.

5 Comments

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GuilleAcoustic 1st April 2014, 10:40 Quote
That is the greatest news since a long time. Hope a version housnig the quad core E3845 will see the light. Been eyeing on 3.5" and Epic form-factor SBC from compagnies like Kontron but that's way more expensive.

Even the size is perfect ! My keyputer will finally comes true me think.

Edit: Just one thing .... does it have HDMI (or at least LVDS) ?

Self-Answer: It does have micro-HDMI http://www.minnowboard.org/meet-minnowboard-max/
Gareth Halfacree 1st April 2014, 10:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuilleAcoustic
Edit: Just one thing .... does it have HDMI (or at least LVDS) ?
Self-Answer: It does have micro-HDMI http://www.minnowboard.org/meet-minnowboard-max/
Aye, which I'm guessing is a sacrifice made to reduce the board footprint; the far larger original MinnowBoard I've got sat on my desk 'ere has a full-size HDMI port.
GuilleAcoustic 1st April 2014, 10:57 Quote
micro-HDMI is nice and full x86-64 will be perfect for assle-free Linux. It only lacks Power-Over-Ethernet :D

Edit: the 2x 13pins header carries I²S audio signals .... that board is god-sent !
Gareth Halfacree 1st April 2014, 11:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuilleAcoustic
micro-HDMI is nice and full x86-64 will be perfect for assle-free Linux.
Don't get too excited: compatibility for the original MinnowBoard was bunk, with only Intel's own Yocto-based Linux booting correctly thanks to an esoteric 32-bit UEFI implementation. Sure, you could download board support packages and roll your own - but compared to the Gizmo, which just booted whatever Linux distro I threw at its USB ports, no questions asked - it was a nightmare.

Now the MinnowBoard Max is 64-bit, so it *may* be more Gizmo-like in its approach - but I'd certainly wait for a review before assuming you can stick Ubuntu or the like on there.
GuilleAcoustic 1st April 2014, 11:24 Quote
Sure, I never buy without reading several reviews :). I still can save for a small SBC from Kontron or the likes.
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