$199 Minnowboard is an Open Source Embedded Board Powered By Intel Atom E640 Processor

Minnowboard is a development board designed by Intel’s Open Source Technology Center, powered by Intel Atom E640 processor @ 1GHz with 1GB RAM, SATA2 and Gigabit Ethernet support, and several embedded I/O such as SPI, I2C and CAN, and that ships with Angstrom Linux distribution.

Minnowboard (Click to Enlarge)
Minnowboard (Click to Enlarge)

Minnoboard Specifications:

  • Processor –  Intel Atom E640 @ 1GHz (32bit)
  • Chipset – EG20T Intel Platform Controller Hub
  • GPU – Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 600
  • System Memory – 1 GB DDR2 RAM
  • Storage – 4 MB SPI Flash (for Firmware),  micro SD card slot and SATA
  • Video Output – SDVO to DVI (over HDMI connector)
  • Audio –  1/8″ (3.5mm??) jack line Input and Output
  • I/O:
    • 1x SATA2 3Gb/sec
    • 2x USB host ports + 1x micro USB device
    • 1x Serial debug via Serial (UART 0) to USB conversion (mini-USB-B port)
    • 10/100/1000 Ethernet
    • PCI Express
  • Expansions:
    • 8x Buffered GPIO pins
    • 2x GPIO controlled LEDs
    • 4x GPIO switches
    • System Firmware Flash Programming Header compatible with Dedi-Prog programmer
  • Board Dimensions – 10.67 x 10.67 cm
Minnowboard Block Diagram
Minnowboard Block Diagram

All software will be provided in binary and source code form, except for the eventual items where they are legally restricted to provide the source code. As mentioned in the introduction the board will run Angström Linux, but it will also be supported by the Yocto Project, and since this is just an x86 platform should be able to run whatever you please on the board. UEFI Firmware (Compliant to the UEFI 2.3. Specification with some 2.3.1 features) will be available for the board in July, and allow things such as fast boot. The hardware files will also be released once hardware development is complete.

Expansion boards called “Lures” that connect via an 100-pin header (See pin description) will be available for the board. Lures will come in 3 different form factors, and currently developed expansion boards include the Beacon Lure (7-Digit Display / EEPROM / LED), Trainer Lure (Arduino compatible board with prototyping area), and LVDS Lure.

If you want to get an idea to what’s possible with the platform, Scott Garman, Embedded Linux Engineer and Technical Evangelist at Intel’s Open Source Technology Center, has uploaded a video showing the board controlling a $100 robotic arm connected with a webcam, which can locate a “fish” on a table with OpenCV, and move it to a plate.

The board is not available yet, but it’s scheduled for July, and currently listed on Mouser, which apparently waits for 500 pieces of the $199 board manufacturer by CircuitCo. It’s one of the rare low cost x86 embedded development boards, and apart from Gizmosphere, I can’t even think of another one. The price seems OK, but it may not look as price/performance competitive as some other boards out there, but according to Darren Hart, who is also involved in the project, the price is such because it must be replicable, so it can’t be subsidized, and parts must have a long product life cycle. Adding support for embedded I/Os also added to cost.

You can find more information on Minnowboard site.

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