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Microsoft's Sharks Cove SBC up for pre-order

Microsoft's Sharks Cove SBC up for pre-order

The Sharks Cove single-board computer is now available to pre-order at £232, including a bundled Windows 8.1 licence and factory image from Microsoft.

Microsoft has jumped into the embedded space with both feet, announcing a new development board dubbed Sharks Cove created in partnership with Beagleboard creator CircuitCo.

That Microsoft has been eyeing the embedded space is no secret: the company recently launched a programme to give away Intel's MinnowBoard Gen 2 development boards with a heavily-customised Windows installation dubbed Windows On Devices. Now it's bringing its own development board to market, eschewing Intel's low-power Quark chip for the tried-and-tested Atom.

Sharks Cove, first teased back in April, is an undeniably professional-grade development board, powered by an Intel Atom Z3735G processor running at 1.33GHz with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of on-board storage expandable via micro-SD. A pair of 60-pin MIPI connectors allow for display panels and cameras to be hooked up without sacrificing the single USB 2.0 port, while 20 pins are provided for sensor connections and 12 batches of 10 pins apiece for general-purpose input-output (GPIO) use. Oddly, however, there's no networking: if Ethernet connectivity is required, Microsoft recommends the use of USB to Ethernet adapters.

'This marks a major milestone in our work, and we’re all pretty excited about it, to say the least,' wrote Microsoft's Michael Fourre in the company's announcement. 'This board is the product of a lot of collaborative effort amongst various groups from Microsoft, Intel, and the product manufacturer, CircuitCo. This “Windows compatible hardware development board” is designed to facilitate development of software and drivers for mobile devices that run Windows, such as phones, tablets and similar System on a Chip (SoC) platforms.'

Although the Sharks Cove board itself claims to be aimed towards anyone looking to do embedded or mobile development with a Windows or Android target, Microsoft is naturally hoping its users will choose the former. The board comes complete with a Windows 8.1 licence and factory image, and is supported by the Windows Driver Kit 8.1 for Visual Studio Express - both of which are provided with a valid Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) account.

For enthusiasts, however, the high price of entry may be off-putting: the board is available for pre-order now via distributor Mouser priced at a pro-grade £232 including VAT. More information is available on the official website.

5 Comments

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edzieba 29th July 2014, 10:21 Quote
120 GPIO pins (and nicely socketed rather than needing a breakout daughterboard)? DO WANT.
Gareth Halfacree 29th July 2014, 10:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by edzieba
120 GPIO pins (and nicely socketed rather than needing a breakout daughterboard)? DO WANT.
I'd be careful: the Nvidia Jetson TK1 has, technically speaking, 125 GPIO pins right there on the board - but only seven are available for true general-purpose use, with the rest being reserved for various other functions like CSI. I haven't found a proper pin-out diagram for the Sharks Cove yet, so I don't know how many of the 120 'GPIO' pins are actually available for direct use.
azazel1024 29th July 2014, 13:32 Quote
I certainly know the intended market for this and it seems like a great idea and fairly cheap for what it is.

However...I'd also love to see a similar "bare board" with integrated Bay Trail SoC, but stripping out a lot of stuff, like the GPIO, for things like basic low end system builders.

Something based on the Bay Trail-T platform maybe for low cost. Even if that means having to ditch SATA, for things like HTPC, router, SDS, lightweight server, etc it could still be awesome. Bay Trail-T board based on the z3775, with a pair of USB2, a USB3, maybe integrated 32/64GB of eMMC, SD card slot and gigabit ethernet port....awesome. Especially if it could be had for <$100. The Bay Trail-D based NUC is nice, but it is also still >$150 and the SoC on it is nearly the entire cost, where as the cost on the z3775 is something like $35 instead of >$100.
schmidtbag 29th July 2014, 14:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
I'd be careful: the Nvidia Jetson TK1 has, technically speaking, 125 GPIO pins right there on the board - but only seven are available for true general-purpose use, with the rest being reserved for various other functions like CSI. I haven't found a proper pin-out diagram for the Sharks Cove yet, so I don't know how many of the 120 'GPIO' pins are actually available for direct use.

Much like the Beagleboard, it wouldn't surprise me if you could just revert the GPIO pins, but since this runs on Windows I'm not sure how easy or doable that is.


I'm surprised they decided to make this x86 based, but since both MS and intel want this piece of the market I guess it makes sense for them to collaborate. I just don't understand why they didn't include any form of networking, but they felt adding webcam connectors was a better priority.


Anyway, considering the people involved, the price doesn't surprise me. I'd much rather get a Jetson or UDOO (then again, I already own an UDOO).
amagriva 29th July 2014, 15:27 Quote
300€ for a Atom board without network? DO KEEP IT FOR YOURSELF!!!
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