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MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro Mini PC Review – Part 2: Windows 10 Pro

September 5th, 2017 3 comments

MINIX launched NEO Z83-4 Cherry Trail mini PC last year, but the company has now launched NEO Z83-4 Pro, an updated version with a slightly faster Atom X5-Z8350 processor, Windows 10 Pro (instead of Home), and a a VESA mount kit. I’ve already checked the hardware in the first part of the review, so today I’ll report my experience with Windows 10 Pro.

Windows 10 Home vs Windows 10 Pro

My main computer runs Ubuntu 16.04, and I’m only using Windows 10 during reviews… But so far all other mini PCs I tried came with Windows 10 Home, and NEO Z83-4 Pro is my first Windows 10 Pro computer. So I had to educate myself, and Microsoft website has a comparison between the two versions of Windows 10. Windows 10 Pro supports all features of Windows 10 Home, plus the following:

  • Security
    • Windows Information Protection – Formerly Enterprise Data Protection (EDP), requires either Mobile Device Management (MDM) or System Center Configuration Manager to manage settings. Active Directory makes management easier, but is not required.
    • Bitlocker – Full disk encryption support. Requires TPM 1.2 or greater for TPM based key protection. More details here.
  • Business – Management and deployment
    • Group Policy
    • Enterprise State Roaming with Azure Active Directory – Separate subscription for Azure Active Directory Premium required
    • Windows Store for Business – Available in select markets. Functionality and apps may vary by market and device
    • Assigned Access
    • Dynamic Provisioning
    • Windows Update for Business
    • Shared PC configuration
    • Take a Test – app in Windows 10 to create the right environment for taking a test (education)
  • Windows Fundamentals
    • Domain Join
    • Azure Active Directory Domain Join, with single sign-on to cloud-hosted apps – Separate subscription for Azure Active Directory required
    • Enterprise Mode Internet Explorer (EMIE) – For compatibility issues of web apps in Internet Explorer 11 (emulates IE 8).
    • Remote Desktop
    • Client Hyper-V

If you don’t understand some of the option, you most probably don’t need then. Bitlocker works more securely if a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip is present in the system, so the presence of that secure chip is something I’ll have to check out during the review. AFAIK, the original MINIX NEO Z83-4 does not include any TPM.

A few days ago, I wrote about BBen MN10 TV stick available with either Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro, and the former is offered for $21.39 extra, the later for $30.33, so the Pro version is only about $10 more expensive than the Home version on such entry level hardware. If you had to purchase Windows 10 Pro license by yourself, it would cost $199.99, or the same price as the complete MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro mini PC including the Win10 Pro license… That sounds crazy/unbelievable, but apparently that’s just the way Microsoft handles licenses, and one of the main reason MINIX decided to launch this new model.

MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro Setup & System Information

I connected a USB 3.0 hard drive to the USB 3.0 port, USB mouse and keyboard, HDMI and Ethernet cables, and started up the device by pressing the power button right after connecting the 12V power adapter.

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The first boot was a little different than what I’m accustomed to, as I was doing something, I started to hear a female voice… asking to select the region… So Microsoft has now enabled Cortana voice assistant by default in the setup Wizard. If you don’t like it you can turn it off by pressing the Volume icon on the bottom right corner.

NEO Z83-4 Pro does not come with an built-in microphone, but you have one you can answer “Yes” to go the next step while Cortana is listening. I’ve shot a short video to show what the new Windows 10 (Pro) setup wizard feels like.

The whole process is slightly different. For example, I normally do not sign-in with a Microsoft account, and used to press skip in that section, but there’s no such Skip button in the new interface, and instead you can click on Offline account button in the bottom left.

You’ll also be asked about privacy settings for location, diagnostics, speech recognition, and so on, which I cannot remember in other mini PCs I tested with Windows 10. All options are enabled by default, so if you want better privacy you should set them to off.

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Once the setup is complete Windows 10 Pro looks just like Windows 10 Home, except you’ll be informed you are running the Pro version in the System window.

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That window confirms the information we already knew with Z83-4 Pro model powered by Intel Atom x5-Z8350 processor @ 1.44 GHz, with 4GB RAM, and Windows is activated..
The eMMC flash has a 28.2GB Windows drive (C:) with 16.5 GB free. The system could also detect the NTFS and exFAT partitions on my USB drive, as well as some Windows network locations.

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I’ve also taken a screenshot for the Device Manager to get more technical details, and we can also notice a Trusted Platform Module 2.0 is enabled, so that’s another feature in Z83-4 Pro that was absent from Z83-4 mini PC.

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I also started tpm.msc to get some more details about the TPM as shown above, and by default it is not enabled, but you can follow Microsoft TPM instructions to use it properly for better – hardware based – security.

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HWiNFO64 show further details about the system and processor.

I noticed the computer would turn off (not sleep) by itself after a few minutes when I ran benchmarks. I could fix that by going to Power & sleep settings and changing the 10 minutes sleep time to Never.

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MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro Benchmarks

Z83-4 Pro was strangely slightly slower than Z83-4 mini PC in PCMark 8 Home Accelerated 3.0 with 1,445 points against 1,543 points for the latter.

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If we look at the details, we can actually see Z83-4 Pro was faster in most tests, but is 50% slower in Advanced Photo Editing Accelerated, and significantly slower in Video Chat Encoding v2 Accelerated, so there might be a driver issue with OpenCL support since those accelerated tests are supposed to leverage the GPU. You’ll find the detailed results here.

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I’ve also run the newer PCMARK 10 benchmark to have a reference point for Cherry Trail platform, and in this test Z83-4 Pro got 896 points, which compares to 1,334 points on a faster Celeron N3350 Apollo Lake mini PC.

Passmark 9.0 failed in the 3D graphics section, so I ran Passmark 8.0 instead, where the device got 698.8 points, against 656.30 points in the original Z83-4 mini PC, a results closer to expectations.

NEO Z83-4 Pro archived 20,284 and 233 points on respectively 3DMark’s Ice Storm 1.2 and Fire Strike 1.1 3D benchmarks, which compares to 16,030 points and 187 points on the older version.

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The extra boost is likely due to the higher GPU frequency on x5-Z8350 SoC.

CrystalDiskMark 5.2.1 shows roughly the same eMMC flash performance as on MINIX NEO Z83-4 model. That’s rather average but normal for 32GB parts mandated by Microsoft for a discounted license.


What’s not so good however is the sequential write speed on the NTFS partition of my USB hard drive, as it can normally achieve 90 to 100 MB/s on most hardware.
The read performance is normal however. So I repeated the test, but got the same poor write speed. I retried a few days later, and after a disk scan, but write speed only went up to around 45 MB/s. So something looks wrong here.


For that reason, I also ran the benchmark on the exFAT partition, and write benchmark is fairly normal at close to 80 MB/s, so it’s not a USB issue, and looks like some issues with NTFS or caching.

Sadly, WiFi AC testing with iperf yielded under average performance.

  • Upload:

  • Download:

Throughput in Mbps

So overall the tests show everything is mostly working as expected, except OpenCL acceleration in PCMark 8, NTFS sequential write speed, and 802.11ac WiFi performance does not look that good compared to the competition, at least with my TP-Link router.

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Finally, I’ve compared MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro benchmark results (adjusted for easier comparison) to Atom x5-Z8300 / x5-Z8500 mini PCs including NEO Z83-4, Kangaroo Desktop, and Tronsmart Ara X5, and as one should expected, there aren’t that many differences between the devices. Z83-4 Pro is slightly faster than x5-Z8300 devices, but a bit slower than an x5-Z8500 mini PC.

Chart adjustments as follows: 3DMark Ice Storm divided by 20, 3DMark Fire Strike multiplied by 4, and storage results multiplied by 5.

MINIX NEO Z83-4 Usability and Stress Testing

I repeated the test I did for Z83-4 to see how the mini PC performs in a typical desktop use case, and check out some BIOS settings.

  • Multi-tasking – Using Firefox, Thunderbird, LibreOffice, and Gimp at the same time
  • Web Browsing
    • Loading multiple tab with CNX Software blog in Firefox
    • Playing 1080p & 4K YouTube Videos in Firefox
    • Playing Candy Crush Saga in Firefox (now smoother/faster since it’s not using Adobe Flash anymore)
  • Gaming with Asphalt 8: Airbone
  • MINIX UEFI Settings

The experience is so similar to MINIX NEO Z83-4, that I have not done another video, and if you want to get a feel about the system performance you can check out last year video.

One difference is that there’s a new MINIX option in the BIOS: USB charging that allows you to charge your phone or other device via the USB 3.0 ports even when the mini PC is turned off. That’s an addition to existing BIOS options to set earphone standard, (automatic) AC power on, Wake-on-LAN, and RTC wake up.

I used Aida64 Extreme’s system stability test for 2 hours to stress the computer in combination with HWiNFO64 to monitor CPU temperature and potential throttling, but the latter never happened, and temperature never exceeded 69°C, or a cool 34°C away from the junction temperature, with an ambient room temperature of around 30°C.

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So I’d except the mini PC to perform consistently even in hot climate / room with temperatures exceeding 35/40°C.

Finally some power consumption numbers with all USB devices connected:

  • Power off – 0.2 Watts
  • Sleep – 3.3 Watts
  • Idle – 4.2 Watts
  • Aida64 stress test – 9.4 Watts

Conclusion

If you’re one of the customers who purchased MINIX NEO Z83-4 mini PC and installed Windows 10 Pro, upgrading to NEO Z83-4 Pro for your next purchases is a no-brainer, since performance is similar – usually a bit better -, and you’ll save a nice amount of money on the Windows license. The device also includes enterprise features like a TPM 2.0 module, and ships with a VESA mount. So overall, I’m very pleased with the device, and the only issues I found are disappointing sequential write speed to external USB 3.0 storage with NTFS file system, OpenCL based tests in PCMark 8 are slower than usual for this type of hardware, and WiFi 802.11ac – as tested with iperf – is not quite as fast as on other 802.11ac platforms I’ve tested.

MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro mini PC sells for $189.99 and up on various sites including AmazonGeekBuying, GearBest, Chinavasion, and others.

MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro Windows 10 Pro mini PC Review – Part 1: Specs, Unboxing & Teardown

August 11th, 2017 8 comments

While I reviewed MINIX NEO Z83-4 mini PC last year, I found out the fanless mini PC based on Intel Atom X5-Z8300 processor performed well, even matching some Atom X7-Z8700 and Braswell systems in some cases, and offered some BIOS features not always found in competitor models, with the only real downside being the 32GB eMMC flash with average performance. Since then, it’s become quite popular becoming the best seller on Amazon US in the mini PC category, outselling devices like ASUS Chromebox and Apple Mac Mini, and the company has now launched a new variant called MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro with Windows 10 Pro, an upgraded Intel Atom X5-Z8350 processor, and an included VESA mount making it more suitable for enterprise applications such as digital signage, point-of-sales, and thin client.

MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro Specifications

Highlights show differences against Z83-4 model:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x5-Z8350 “Cherry Trail” quad core processor @ 1.44 GHz / 1.92 GHz (Turbo) with 12 EU Intel Graphics HD graphics 400 @ 200 / 500 MHz (2W SDP)
  • System Memory –  4GB DDR3L
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC 5.0 flash + micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 up to 4K @ 30 Hz, and mini DisplayPort (only support mini DP to D-sub conversion or direct Mini DP to MiniDP/DP connection, bot mini DP to HDMI or DVI)
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.2
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x USB 3.0 port supporting phone charging while the PC is turned off
  • Misc – Power button and LED, RTC battery, Kensington lock ready
  • Power Supply – 12V/3A
  • Dimensions – 12.8 x 12.8 x 2.75 cm
  • Weight – ~350 grams

So from the mini PC point of view on the processor has changed, but it comes with Windows 10 Pro 64-bit instead of Windows 10 Home 64-bit, and as we’ll see below supports VESA mount.

MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro Unboxing

I’ve just received an unexpected review sample this morning, so I’ll start by doing an unboxing and teardown post, before completing the review with Windows 10 Pro in a few weeks.

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The package lists the main selling points of NEO Z83-4 Pro fanless mini PCs with Windows 10 Pro 64-bit, VESA mount, and the main target: industrial and commercial applications.

The other side of the package lists the specifications mentioned above.

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When you first open the package, and take out the mini PC, you’ll find out it’s already clipped to the VESA mount, but it’s very easy remove it by pushing the top of the clips.

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The mini PC also ships with an external WiFi antenna, a HDMI cable, 6 screws for the VESA mount (only four are normally needed), a 12V/3A power supply and power cord, MINIX product brochure, and MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro setup guide.

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The ports are exactly the same as in MINIX NEO Z83-4 unboxing post, but last time I forgot to mention the pinhole close to the WiFi antenna connector is used to reset the CMOS memory in case of issues.

 

MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro VESA Mount Installation

If you want to leverage the VESA mount, you’ll need to find a compatible TV or monitor, and tighten the mount to the back of the display with four screws.

Then it’s easy just clip the mini PC to the back. No tools required for that last step.

MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro Teardown

In order to open the case, we need to take out the rubber pads, and remove the four screws underneath.

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The bottom cover should then come off fairly easily, and the board and thermal design appear to be identical to the ones used in MINIX NEO Z83-4 with a large heatsink covering the processor, storage, memory, and (Realtek) Gigabit transceiver, that makes contact with a thermal pad glued to the bottom of the case.

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I’ve not removed the heatsink since this time, but since the company still uses an eMMC 5.0 flash, they certainly went with the same Samsung KLMBG4GEND-B031 flash since it’s the fastest 32GB eMMC 5.0 flash from Samsung, and SKHynix SDRAM chips.

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The bottom of the board comes with the same Realtek ALC5645 audio codec, and Winbond 25Q64FWSIG 64Mbit SPI flash.

The original MINIX NEO Z83-4 mini PC sells for $179.99, so what can we expect for the Pro version with the VESA mount, a faster processor, and a Windows 10 Pro license? It’s actually not that higher, as MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro sells for US$199.99 including shipping on sites like GeekBuying. If you already own MINIX NEO Z83-4, and are just interested in the VESA mount, it’s called MINIX M-83, and sold for $14.90 on Amazon.

Continue reading “MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro Mini PC Review – Part 2: Windows 10 Pro“.

Intel Mini PCs Sold with Ubuntu on Aliexpress

August 4th, 2017 7 comments

Many low power mini PCs equipped with Intel Bay Trail, Cherry Trail, Braswell, or Apollo Lake processors have been launched over the years, but most of those come pre-loaded with Windows 10, and many readers of this blog prefer to run a Linux distribution. It’s usually possible to install Ubuntu by yourself, but not always, and when you buy a Windows 10, this increases the price by several dollars (around $20). The ideal case would be to get such low power, low cost mini PCs pre-installed with a recent version of Ubuntu, without having to worry (too much) about hardware support, nor having to pay the “Windows tax”. MeLE used to sell Ubuntu mini PCs on Aliexpress, but sadly not anymore, so I went to Aliexpress to look for those Ubuntu mini PCs, and BBen offers three operating systems options for some of their systems with “Windows 10 Activated”, “Windows 10 pre-loaded” and “Ubuntu”.

The last two options have the same price, and the “Windows 10 Activated” adds $17 for the discounted Windows 10 license. I found two such models with an Ubuntu option: MN-C200 mini PC (left) and MN9 TV stick (right) powered by Intel Atom x5-Z8350 Cherry Trail processor starting respectively at $148.99 and $97.99 including shipping with 2GB RAM and Ubuntu, but you can also select 4GB RAM model. I could not find any more recent Apollo Lake models sold with Ubuntu pre-installed on any Aliexpress sellers. BBen does not specify the Ubuntu version used, so I asked for that information for the MN-C200 model, and the answer is somewhat perplexing at first:

It is 16.04 Ubuntu version.
But we don’t suggest the Ubuntu system. because you couldn’t adjust the time after we have set it well for you. Please know that.
We also have another mini pc that supports Ubuntu. You could have a look.
https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Newest-BBen-Mini-PC-Stick-Windows-10-Ubuntu-Intel-Z8300-Quad-Core-2GB-32GB-4GB-64GB/2659132_32757157813.html
Thanks for your work and understanding. Any other question or anything I could do for you, just contact me freely. I will do my best to assist you.

The good news is that Ubuntu 16.04 is installed, but somehow it’s not possible to adjust the time in MN-C200, while it’s no problem with MN9 TV stick? I guess they mean the front panel clock display shown in the top photo does not work in Ubuntu, which may not be a big issue.

I continued searching for other Ubuntu computers up to $150, and many sellers are using “Ubuntu” are a SEO word, just to indicate that you could install it yourself, and/or get more traffic to their page. The only other alternative I found was MeegoPad T02, but it comes with an unsupported Ubuntu 14.10 version. The only advantage is that it’s quite cheaper than BBen MN9 at $80.84 shipped. So overall the choices are extremely limited, if you want a computer pre-installed with Ubuntu.

UP Core Intel Board Has Launched for 69 Euros and Up on Kickstarter

June 1st, 2017 2 comments

During spring, we discovered UP Core, a tiny board powered by Intel x5-Z8350 Cherry Trail processor  that promised to sell for as low as 69 Euros. But at the time, it was not available yet for purchase, and the good news is that UP has just launched a one month crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds for mass production, and promote the board.

UP Core specifications have not changed since the first announcement:

  • 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
  • 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
  • Certifications – CE/FCC Class A, RoHS compliant, REACH

Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The board supports Microsoft Windows 10, Windows 10 IoT Core, Linux via Ubilinux, Ubuntu, and the Yocto Project, as well as Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The block diagram shown in March also included an extension HAT connected to the 100-pin docking port, but we did not have many details. With the launch on Kickstarter two stackable expansion boards are available:

  • Expansion board A [BRKH01] carrying high-speed signals: 1c2 channel PCI Express switch, Gigabit Ethernet (RTL8111G-CG / RJ45), HSIC/USB ports, uSIM card reader, SD card, etc…
  • Expansion board B [BRKL01] based on MAX10 CPLD exposing low-speed signals such as RS-232/422/484, I2C, I2S, and GPIOs, as well as 12 to 24V power input

The documentation to make your own UP Core expansion board will be made available, so more are likely coming, and up to three expansion boards can be stacked under UP Core board. The company will also pay royalties to makers of expansion boards that are selected (by UP community) to be sold on their store.

A chassis for UP Core and its carrier boards is also available in your prefer to keep the boards in an enclosure.

The company goal is to raise at least 10,000 Euros, but they should reach a much higher level once the campaign is completed. Some of the most interesting rewards are:

  • 69 Euros (early bird) then 75 Euros for UP Core with 1GB RAM, 16GB eMMC
  • 85 Euros (early bird) then 95 Euros for UP Core with 2GB RAM, 32GB eMMC
  • 119 Euros (early bird) then 129 Euros for UP core with 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC
  • 125 Euros starter pack with UP Core with 2GB RAM, 32 GB eMMC, aluminum chassis, AC adapter, and WiFi+Bt antenna
  • 189 Euros dev.pack with UP Core with 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC, A & B expansion boards, AC adapter, and WiFi+Bt antenna

They also have variations up to the 225 Euros super pack with comes with the 4GB/64GB board, the two expansion boards, three aluminum chassis, and accessories. Shipping adds 16 to 27 Euros depending on the destination country, and delivery is scheduled for August to October 2017 depending on the selected reward.

Thanks to Harley for the tip.

$399 Intel Euclid Robotics Devkit Runs Ubuntu & ROS on Intel Atom x7-Z8700 Processor

May 22nd, 2017 No comments

We’ve seen many mini PC based on Intel Atom x5/x7 “Cherry Trail” processor in the last year, but Intel has also integrated their low power processor into hardware aimed at robotics, such as Intel RealSense development kit based on Atom x5 UP Board and RealSense R200 depth camera. The company has now launched its one-in-all Intel Euclid development kit combining Atom X7-Z8700 processor with a RealSense camera in a single enclosure.

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Intel Euclid specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x7-Z8700 Cherry Trail quad core processor @ up to 2.4GHz with Intel HD Graphics Gen 8
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR3-1600
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC 5.0 flash, Micro SD slot up to 128GB
  • Video Output – micro HDMI port up to 4K @ 30 Hz
  • Audio – 2x I2S interfaces, 1W mono speaker, 3x DMIC with noise cancellation
  • Camera – Intel RealSense ZR300 camera
    • RGB camera – 2MP up to [email protected], 16:9 aspect ratio, rolling shutter, fixed focus, 75° x 41.5° x 68° FOV
    • Stereo imagers – 2x [email protected], global shutter, fixed focus, 70° x 46° x 59° FOV
    • Depth output – up to 628 × 468 @ 60fps, 16-bit format; Minimal depth distance: 0.6 M (628 x 468) or 0.5 M (480 x 360); active IR stereo technology
    • Tracking module
      • Fisheye camera resolution: VGA @ 60fps,  FOV: 166° × 100° × 133° FOV,
      • IMU: 3-axis accelerometer & 3-axis gryroscope with 50 μsec time stamp accuracy
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 a/b/g/n 1×1 WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS (GNS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo, QZSS, WAAS, EGNOS)
  • Sensors – Integrated Sensor Hub (ISH), accelerometer, digital compass, gyroscope, ambient light, proximity, thermal, environmental (barometer, altimeter, humidity, temperature)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x micro USB OTG port with power, 1x micro USB 2.0 port for UART / serial console
  • Misc – ¼” standard tripod mounting hole; power and charging LEDs;
  • Battery – 2000 mAh @ 3.8V
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A via battery terminals
  • Temperature Range — up to 35°C (still air)

The kit runs Ubuntu 16.04 with Robotic Operating System (ROS) Kinetic Kame, and custom software layer to allow developers to control the device using a web interface. It also supports remote desktop application, and includes evaluation versions of Intel SLAM and Person Tracking Middleware.

Euclid Camera Output: Color Stream, Depth Stream, and Fisheye Stream – Click to Enlarge

Intel RealSense SLAM Library middleware enables applications in robots and drones to understand their location and surroundings more accurately than GPS allows in GPS denied environments and inside yet unmapped spaces. You’ll find documentation about SLAM, person tracking middleware, the camera API,  RealSense SDK framework, Euclid user guide and more in Intel Euclid product page. You’ll be able to get support in RealSense forums and Euclid developer kit community, where you’ll find tutorials and example projects.

Intel Euclid Development Kit can be pre-order for $399.00 on the product page with shipping starting on May 31, 2017.

Via LinuxGizmos

$100 Qotom Q1900G4-M Nano-ITX Board Powered by Intel Celeron J1900 SoC is Equipped with Four Gigabit Ethernet Ports

March 30th, 2017 23 comments

Qotom Q1900G4-M is a motherboard designed for networking applications thanks to four Gigabit Ethernet ports connected to an Intel Celeron J1900 quad core “Bay Trail” processor. The board supports up to 8GB DDR3 RAM via a SO-DIMM slot, storage through a SATA port and an mSATA connector, and WiFi or cellular connectivity through a mini PCIe slot and SIM card slot.

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Qotom Q1900G4-M board specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron J1900 quad core “Bay Trail” processor  @ 2.0 GHz / 2.41 GHz (Burst) with Intel HD graphics (10W TDP)
  • System Memory – 1x SO-DIMM sockets for up to 8GB DDR3 memory
  • Storage – 1x SATA 3.0 port + power (14 & 15), 1x mini PCIe connector for mSATA SSD (16)
  • Video Output – VGA (5)
  • Connectivity
    • 4x Gigabit Ethernet ports (3) with Wake-on-LAN support
    • SIM card socket (17)
    • USB only mini PCIe connector for WiFi, 3G or 4G (18)
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x USB 3.0 port (4)
  • Expansion
    • Front panel audio header (6)
    • RS232 header (10)
    • USB header (12)
  • Misc – HDD LEDs (2); power LED (7); power button (8); CPU fan header (9); automatic boot jumper (11)
  • Power Supply – 12V DC (1)
  • Dimensions – 120mm x 120mm (Nano-ITX form factor)
  • Temperature Range – -10°C to 50°C

The board comes with a heatsink by default. You’ll find some details about the hardware in the user manual. The board is said to run Windows 7/8/10 and Linux distributions, especially now that Linux 4.11 is almost out with several fixes for Bay Trail processors.

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Since the board is supposed to comply with Nano-ITX form factor, you should be able to find a case for it, but if not, Qotom also sells Q190G4 mini PC based on the board. It reminds me of X29 mini PC, except it comes with four Gigabit Ethernet ports instead of just two, and lacks HDMI and audio ports, as it targets networking applications.

Qotom Q1900G4-M board sells for $99.90 + shipping, while Q190G4 barebone mini PC goes for $120 plus shipping with a 12V/3A power supply and free VESA brackets, and you can optionally add WiFi, memory (up to 8GB RAM), and/or storage (up to 64GB SSD) to your order. I could also find Q1900G2-M motherboard still with 4 Gigabit Ethernet port – contrary to what the name implies – and selling for $91 + shipping. I have not been able to find a difference between Q1900G2-M and G1900G4-M. If you do, let me know.

isorespin.sh Script Updates Ubuntu ISO Files with Mainline Linux Kernel

March 29th, 2017 13 comments

Devices based on Intel Bay Trail and Cherry Trail processors have been popular due to their integration into low cost system (for an Intel platform), but Intel did not prioritize Linux development for those processors, so while Linux could run, you’d have various problems with HDMI audio, system freezes, and wireless drivers, unless you used a custom kernel. The goods news is that Linux 4.11 will feature fixes for HDMI audio and system freeze, and so you won’t need a custom kernel anymore. Ian Morrison (Linuxium), who has been working on improving Linux for those devices since they were first released, has now released isorespin.sh script to automatically update any Ubuntu ISO image to the latest mainline Linux RC kernel built by Canonical, but not integrated by default in the ISO.

Once you’ve downloaded isorepin.sh and your ISO of choice, e.g. ubuntu-16.04.2-desktop-amd64.iso, you can update the ISO with mainline Linux using the following command:

The script will update the ISO with the latest Linux-4.11-RC4 kernel, but as new Ubuntu mainline Linux kernel versions become available, you’ll be able to update two lines in the script to match the latest version:

If you run this image on Bay Trail or Cherry Trail mini PC, you should get HDMI audio and no problem with the “frequent freezes” bug, but if you also need WiFi and Bluetooth support, you may have to run a few more scripts for Broadcom or Realtek wireless modules, and analog audio (headphone jack) support.

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

March 18th, 2017 19 comments

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.