Home > Android, Hardware, Intel Atom, Linux, Ubuntu, Windows 10 > UP Core is a Low Cost & Compact Intel Maker Board Powered by an Atom x5-Z8350 SoC (Crowdfunding)

UP Core is a Low Cost & Compact Intel Maker Board Powered by an Atom x5-Z8350 SoC (Crowdfunding)

The UP community has already launched Intel Cherry Trail and Apollo Lake boards in the past with UP Board and UP2 (squared) boards, and they are now about to launch a cheaper and smaller board called UP Core powered by Intel Atom x5-Z8350 processor with to 1 to 4GB memory, up to 64GB eMMC flash, HDMI, USB 3.0, … and I/O expansion connectors.

Click to Enlarge

UP Core specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x5-Z8350 “Cherry Trail” quad core processor @ 1.44 GHz / 1.92 GHz (Burst frequency) with Intel HD 400 graphics @ 200 / 500 MHz
  • System Memory –  1, 2 or 4 GB DDR3L-1600 (soldered on board)
  • Storage – 16, 32, or 64 GB eMMC flash, SPI flash ROM
  • Video Output / Display – HDMI 1.4 port, full eDP (embedded DisplayPort) connector
  • Audio I/O – Via HDMI, and I2S
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi  @ 2.4 GHz, Bluetooth 4.0 LE (AP614A)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 host port, 2x USB 2.0 via header
  • Camera I/F – 1x 2-lane MIPI CSI, 1x 4-lane MIPI CSI
  • Expansion
    • 100-pin docking connector with power signals, GPIOs, UART, SPI, I2C, PWM, SDIO, I2S, HDMI SMBUS, PMC signals, 2x USB HSIC, CSI, and PCIe Gen 2
    • 10-pin connector with 2x USB 2.0, 1x UART
  • Misc – Power & reset buttons, RTC battery header, fan connector, BIOS reflash connector
  • Power Supply – 5V/4A via 5.5/2.1mm power barrel
  • Dimensions – 66 x 56.50 mm
  • Temperature Range – Operating: 0 to 60 °C

The board will support Microsoft Windows 10, Windows 10 IoT Core, Linux including Ubilinux, Ubuntu, and the Yocto Project, as well as Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

If you look at the bottom right connector of the diagram above, we can see an extension HAT for the 100-pin docking port will be offered, as well as an IO board, both of which should be compatible with Raspberry Pi HATs with 40-pin connectors. But so far, I could not find details about the extension HAT, nor the IO board.

The UP core is coming soon to Kickstarter with price starting at 69 Euros with 1GB RAM, 16GB eMMC flash, and WiFi and Bluetooth. Other part of the documentation show a $89 price for the 1GB/16GB board, so maybe it’s the expected retail price out of the crowdfunding campaign. You’ll find a few more information on UP Core page, but we’ll probably have to wait for the Kickstarter campaign to launch to get the full details, especially with regards to add-on boards, and pricing for various options.

Thanks to Freire for the tip.

  1. nobitakun
    March 18th, 2017 at 13:03 | #1

    It should be a joke. No ethernet?. Are they trying to pester us with a nonsense board?, if there is just one USB out of the box they at least should include the 10 pin cable for that price.

    I’m not convinced this board is going to do any more good than the regular UP board. It’s sad that these are much more expensive than buying chinese z8300 with everything ready to go.

    For specs like 1GB + 16GB I would expect 50e more or less.

  2. Willy
    March 18th, 2017 at 13:33 | #2

    I’m amazed by the number of boards which ship without network connectivity, we’re in 2017, people have networks, NAS, laptops, we all want to connect these, we’re not at the MS-DOS era anymore where you installed your OS once for the whole life of your device. Another example of a totally useless piece of PCB+components unfortunately. And that’s sad because the original UP Board is quite a nice and well balanced device (though a bit expensive).

  3. March 18th, 2017 at 14:03 | #3

    @nobitakun
    @Willy
    That board still has WiFi for network connectivity.

    The fun thing is that I’ve just read a comment on social networks, where one guy commented about Orange Pi Zero Plus 2: “I like no useless ports (USB, Ethernet)”, so different people have different needs. 🙂

  4. Willy
    March 18th, 2017 at 17:58 | #4

    cnxsoft :
    @nobitakun
    @Willy
    That board still has WiFi for network connectivity.

    Well, WiFi’s performance, reliability and security are so poor compared to real networking that it’s generally limited to very basic stuff like reading e-mails and occasionally browsing the web. In short, what a tablet is made for. You can’t realistically use that for backups, to install your OS nor to repurpose your machine once it’s aging a bit and gets replaced. BTW, I do use a netbook to read e-mails and for occasional browsing, and when I back it up I connect the cable.

    The fun thing is that I’ve just read a comment on social networks, where one guy commented about Orange Pi Zero Plus 2: “I like no useless ports (USB, Ethernet)”, so different people have different needs.

    I can totally understand this for such small boards, there are various good use cases for these, like sensors, automation or very dedicated devices. Just like I have some ESP8266 in my heaters, or a WiFi-enabled NanoPI-M3 on an hexapod robot (which still uses Ethernet to SSH into it to repair WiFi every time it breaks by the way). But a PC-like board has very limited use cases with no reliable networking these days in my opinion. And for the price of an Ethernet jack compared to the price of the board, that’s a real shame.

  5. Henry
    March 18th, 2017 at 20:27 | #5

    The CPU has USB 3.0 and it is enough BW for USB to ETH converter, so ETH is not needed to save power I think.

  6. March 18th, 2017 at 20:39 | #6

    @Willy
    Ethernet on x5-Z8350 would require a PCIe to Ethernet chip. There will probably be an add-on board adding Ethernet through PCIe. But once you start adding add-on boards, price usually becomes much less attractive.

  7. tkaiser
    March 18th, 2017 at 21:16 | #7

    @Willy
    Just plug in a RTL8153 (driver added upstream in Linux kernel with 3.14, performance sufficient to saturate GbE).

  8. Galileo
    March 19th, 2017 at 01:55 | #8

    Meh, Rpi provides authentic legacy experience. Gotta love the single shared USB 2 host.

  9. tkaiser
    March 19th, 2017 at 02:21 | #9

    Willy :
    But a PC-like board has very limited use cases with no reliable networking these days in my opinion

    Well, that’s not entirely true but requires a completely different Wi-Fi installation compared to this cheap crap on SBC or this device.

    A friend doing tech support in a large agency just reminded me how less some users are used to deal with any cables any more. An art director complained the 2nd time within a few months his MacBook would be dead. In reality battery was completely discharged and the MacBook suspended to RAM. In the meantime the only cable those Mac users are connecting from time to time to their laptops is the Type-C thingie providing both power and display connection (and peripherals behind).

    In the past they provided their mobile users with so called Thunderbolt Docks (with USB connected peripherals and containing a ‘real’ PCIe connected GbE NIC) but with the switch to Type-C connector they chose to invest in BT keyboards/mice/trackpads instead and a bunch of new Ubiquiti and Dell APs. Performant Wi-Fi exists but you need 5GHz, at least 802.11n (802.11ac preferred) and most importantly as much antennas as possible to get MIMO and antenna diversity work properly (MacBooks are equipped with 2 antennas for a decade or so and most recent models have 3 antennas). In such a setup with many antennas in both AP and device performance doesn’t suck.

    When I do such Wi-Fi setups we graph the whole area with NetSpot first and then measure at the areas with less coverage. 10MB/s (Fast Ethernet speed) are required then with 2 antenna 802.11n and 802.11ac Wi-Fi (which isn’t that hard to achieve).

    BTW (and off-topic alarm again 😉 ): My 2 NanoPi M3 show worst Wi-Fi performance ever since I got the hardware revision without u.FL connector, the onboard aerial there is a joke.

  10. March 19th, 2017 at 06:38 | #10

    @nobitakun
    For my use-case, this board is a much better option than the other UP boards. I don’t need the Ethernet so it just gets in the way and makes the board taller and more expensive than it needs to be.

    @Willy
    Not everyone wants to use an UP board as a desktop replacement…

  11. Debeko
    March 19th, 2017 at 23:00 | #11

    @tkaiser
    Not to mention Macbooks are not a financially practical solution.
    Who knows, up core may be good for something for some people.

  12. tkaiser
    March 20th, 2017 at 13:35 | #12

    @Debeko
    Well, I fear I’ve to disagree about MacBook price tags but that doesn’t matter (here). They are just an example for ‘Wi-Fi done correctly’ using more expensive/capable dual-band Wi-Fi chipsets paired with a sufficient amount of antennas and approriate TX power settings. In other words: Something completely different than ‘Wi-Fi’ known from SBCs or this board here and useable for fast 24/7 data transmission when AP situation is also sufficient.

    BTW: I didn’t comment on the UP Core itself, just wanted to point out that adding Gigabit Ethernet to an USB3 device is just adding either AX88179 or RTL8153 (strongly recommending the latter) and that Wi-Fi doesn’t have to suck if implemented properly. I backed the first UP board and am quite happy with hardware and software/support done by UP folks. Also their reaction to constructive criticism (they sent out another board as ‘reward’ for free 🙂 )

  13. Harley
    March 20th, 2017 at 16:18 | #13

    Wonder if size is only reason they didn’t include an Ethernet port?

    There are low-profile spring-based Ethernet ports if so.

  14. tkaiser
    March 20th, 2017 at 16:46 | #14

    Harley :
    Wonder if size is only reason they didn’t include an Ethernet port?

    This SoC has no native Ethernet and just a single PCIe lane which is routed to the ‘docking connector’ supposed to be combined with ‘HATs’. So either you change the whole concept (no PCIe on the connector but a PCIe GbE controller on the board) or you change the whole concept (add VL812+RTL8153 and a huge Ethernet jack to the board which means larger dimensions in every axis).

    While I don’t trust that much in the above diagram (HDMI Type B? Really? Ampak AP614A? Really?) I would believe that thing is suitable for specific use cases. And it’s always easy to add an Anker AK-A7514041 or TP-Link UE330 (or any other thingie using the same 2 ICs) for wired connectivity+peripherals.

  15. tkaiser
    March 20th, 2017 at 21:01 | #15

    tkaiser :
    Anker AK-A7514041 or TP-Link UE330 (or any other thingie using the same 2 ICs)

    Just ordered an ORICO HR01-U3-BK which uses also VL812+RTL8153 for a few bucks less to test through 🙂

  16. Debeko
    March 21st, 2017 at 01:19 | #16

    @tkaiser

    “‘Wi-Fi done correctly’ using more expensive/capable dual-band Wi-Fi chipsets paired with a sufficient amount of antennas and approriate TX power settings.”

    There are portable routesr, with antennas, that does that at a fraction of the cost. (Attach catX cable, anchor poblem solved.)

    Cost is a big deal for many, its so bad where I live that a SBC was stolen several years ago (I don’t understand why, since it was less than $50.)
    I cannot imagine if i have a mac and it becomes damaged or worse, stolen.

  17. Willy
    March 21st, 2017 at 04:30 | #17

    [ responding again, this morning my comment was lost on a server error ]

    tkaiser :
    When I do such Wi-Fi setups we graph the whole area with NetSpot first and then measure at the areas with less coverage. 10MB/s (Fast Ethernet speed) are required then with 2 antenna 802.11n and 802.11ac Wi-Fi (which isn’t that hard to achieve).

    Unfortunately 10 MB/s is considered very fast these days while it’s the speed we all had in 1999. Interestingly, Macs used to be praised for their ability to manipulate large images, but these days given they’re massively dropping ethernet, their users can’t realistically work on networked files. At these very fast WiFi speeds, it takes no less than 5 seconds to load a 50 MB TIFF image while over ethernet it’s just half a second, just the time it takes to click. So crappy network connectivity has really changed our use of the network to the point that users consider it normal to constantly wait for data to come (often over the net since they’re used to wait) and in the end they don’t notice this wait time that they find normal.

    BTW (and off-topic alarm again 😉 ): My 2 NanoPi M3 show worst Wi-Fi performance ever since I got the hardware revision without u.FL connector, the onboard aerial there is a joke.

    Yep, the AP6212 chip and/or driver and/or SDIO layer is bogus. Many packet tails are truncated on Tx (I noticed 16, 32, 48, 64 and 96 bytes missing). I managed to workaround a little bit by modifying the driver to pad ethernet frames and reduce the MTU but it was neither convenient nor reliable. I finally switched to a mini-USB wifi adapter. I suspect the SDIO layer is the culprit here since it comes from the crappy BSP… Ah, non-mainline kernels…

  18. Debeko
    March 21st, 2017 at 12:17 | #18

    @Debeko
    Anker, not anchor. Typo

  19. tkaiser
    March 21st, 2017 at 15:04 | #19

    Willy :
    Unfortunately 10 MB/s is considered very fast these days

    Only when comparing to this type of Wi-Fi we have to deal with SBC or cheap laptops (single antenna, 2.4GHz only). Those devices would show at the same location 500KB/s or less. 10 MB/s isn’t fast at all, that’s just the minimum value in the above example to justify no further AP optimizations.

    But 10 MB/s and ok-ish latency can be considered ‘good enough’ for many types of workers and workloads (yeah, even TimeMachine backup works flawlessly through Wi-Fi while still being able to use a wired connection for large restores or desaster recovery).

    And now we’re getting off-topic again but we’ll still touch the topic (add GbE to wireless device). Apple did drop Ethernet by default on a lot of devices since they implement ‘good enough’ Wi-Fi but that doesn’t really matter since they added Thunderbolt in 2011 and USB3 in 2012. Thunderbolt 1 works with 10Gbps and all it needs to give any such Mac GbE back is plugging in a small adapter (that contains the usual BCM57762 attached through PCIe — not Thunderbolt — so no driver hassles). I’ve an older Mac Mini with two of those adapters attached running as ESXi whitebox to test through more complex network setups: ESXi kernel deals with 3 PCIe attached Broadcom NICs this way. There’s no difference between internal BCM57766 and the two external BCM57762: all PCIe attached and handled by tg3 driver.

    With OS X 10.9 Apple added ‘IP over Thunderbolt’ which allows data connections over these wires without using any Ethernet at all. Tested in 2012 with the slowest Mac around (my daughter’s MacBook Air): 700 MB/s (yes, MB not Mb), works in ‘idiot proof’ mode since the OS detects such TB connections, adds automagically a bridge device (using NetBSD bridge code, so it’s layer 2 in reality) and Bonjour/ZeroConf service location. The only sad thing: most users and even admins don’t know: they fiddle around with adapters, Ethernet cabling or Wi-Fi where they simply could plug a simple cable between two Mac to transfer data at speeds higher than local storage allowed back then (that changed, SSDs in recent Macs all exceed 700MB/s easily).

    Then came TB2 with 20Gbps (though limiting PCIe throughout to ~1350MB/s due a limitation in Intel’s TB controllers) and now we’re at 40Gbps with TB3 there. Adding 10GbE where really needed is as easy as plugging in a small box through TB that contains a PCIe controllers (usually Intel’s X540). We have one setup with a bunch of Macs interconnected solely through TB1/TB2 (mixing daisy chaining with a star topology with one MacPro in the middle) with 2 10GbE uplinks: that’s +500MB/s and means no difference between local SSD storage and server (which is the bottleneck here).

    But more importantly in OS X 10.8.2 drivers for Realtek’s RTL8153 have been added. With USB3 we have two alternatives to get full speed GbE: ASIX AX88179 or RTL8153. Less hassles and broad driver support in all major OS let (not just) me choose the latter. And it’s really just adding an RTL8153 device to get ‘good enough’ wired speed in the meantime (compared to Thunderbolt/PCIe as above though with more IRQs to be processed but that doesn’t matter any more on today’s CPUs).

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