Intel and hardware partners launched a tiny, low-power single-board computer aimed at developers last year. Called the MinnowBoard, the system featured an Intel Atom E640 processor and a $199 price tag.

Now there’s a new fish in the pond and it’s both cheaper, and more powerful. The new MinnowBoard MAX is a developer board powered by an Intel Atom E38xx series 64-bit x86 processor and it has a starting price of $99.

The MinnowBoard Max should be available starting in June.

minnowboard max

The entry-level board has a 1.46 GHz Intel Atom E3815 single-core CPU and 1GB of RAM , while a $129 model is powered by a 1.33 GHz Intel Atom E3825 dual-core chip and 2GB of RAM.

These chips are aimed at the embedded market and designed for applications such as digital signgage, ATMs, or point-of-sales systems. But the chip is based on the same Silvermont technology as Intel’s Bay Trail processors for low-power tablets and notebooks.

Developers can use the MinnowBoard Max for projects involving Android 4.4, Debian Linux, or other operating systems and support for the Yocto Project.

The board features HDMI, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and Ethernet ports, 8MB of system memory for firmware, and a microSD card slot for removable storage. There are also GPIO pins and other developer-friendly features for debugging and connecting peripherals.

The MinnowBoard isn’t designed to compete with consumer-centric mini computers like an Intel NUC or Gigabyte BRIX system. But it’s an interesting option for folks looking for an x86 alternative to a Raspberry Pi or other low-cost, low-power ARM-based single board computer.

via LinuxGizmos

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15 replies on “MinnowBoard Max: $99 Intel Atom-powered single-board computer”

  1. Why doesn’t this have the standard micro USB 5V supply?
    Instead they went with a round 5V connector.

    1. they are probably using more than 2.4A most of the time you don’t see microusb being s=used on anything higher than that

  2. I bought one (the one with Intel Atom E640 processor) and I can tell you that this thing is a nice addition to a tinkerer. I installed Arch Linux instead of the provided OS (follow the guide they have for Debian) and it runs fast and smooth.
    The plan is to replace my Cubie2 NAS and media server; the Cubie2 has reached its limit and this gadget seems to the best choice for a low power media server.

  3. I’m excited about this board. Just checking though, when it is stated that “other operating systems” are supported… would that include WinXP/7/8? I imagine that is the strength of an x86 board (part of Gizmo’s success), but not always guaranteed (the original MinnowBoard was Yocto only, right?)

    Haven’t seen any official word on this, yet.

    1. I haven’t heard anything about the out of box firmware but someone could make a custom UEFI firmware that could boot Windows. Intel provides instructions on how to write and build your own UEFI firmware.

  4. Wow, this little thing looks great. Might have to pick one up to run my personal webserver

  5. Apparently the UEFI is closed-source. So close, but that is disappointing. Want a completely open source stack.

  6. I’d buy a 4 GB version. Not for development purposes though. I’d use it for an HTPC/media server.

    1. If you’re just using it for home theater 1GB would do everything you want.

      1. For a NAS, lots of memory is always good for caching files unless you plan on getting 1 TB+ SSDs or people are accessing it one at a time and on slow WiFi.

  7. If this is popular enough for cases to come out so I don’t need to make my own then I’d get one for a mini desktop PC. It’d be nice if there’s an option for 4 GB of RAM.

    I could also use this to talk to a Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA board and to my LAN for a hobby project of mine. Other x86 SBCs of this size are pretty expensive and ARM is too much of a pain to deal with.

    1. Hmm, LinuxGizmos is saying it can go up to 4 GB of RAM and a quad core CPU but only the single core 1 GB and dual core 2 GB will be sold initially.

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