MinnowBoard Max serves up Bay Trail on a tiny, open circuit board

The MinnowBoard is a basic computer platform designed for both hobbyists and embedded systems. It's based on an open hardware design and employs Intel's old Atom E640, a 45-nm chip with a single core clocked at 1GHz. That chip was released in 2010, so it's a little long in the tooth. However, there's a new MinnowBoard Max with Bay Trail onboard, and it's even smaller than the original.

The MinnowBoard Max fits on a 2.9" x 3.9" circuit board that's 36% smaller than the original. Bay Trail is likely responsible for some of the space savings; the SoC integrates functions that had to be handled on separate silicon with the Atom E640. The MinnowBoard site lists versions with the single-core Atom E3815 and the dual-core E3825. Linux Gizmos also mentions other processor options, including the quad-core E3845. All the chips are rated to consume 10W or less.

In addition to the SoC, the MinnowBoard Max has a decent collection of onboard hardware. DDR3 memory is soldered directly to the board, and there's a 3Gbps SATA port for storage. Other goodies include a Micro SD slot, a Micro HDMI output, Gigabit Ethernet, and both USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports. Power is provided by a 5V DC input, and there are a couple of expansion headers reserved for interfacing with sensors, FPGAs, and other hardware. Bay Trail's PCI Express connectivity is accessible via one of those headers.

The MinnowBoard Max is expected to ship out in June. The entry-level model will include a single-core CPU and 1GB of RAM for only $99, while a second version will come with a dual-core chip and 2GB of RAM for $129. There's no word on pricing for the quad-core variant, which could be equipped with up to 4GB of RAM. With that sort of horsepower available, the MinnowBoard Max should be suitable for a wide range of DIY projects and embedded applications.

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