Gigabyte Brix IoT is small and connects to almost anything

IoT is a buzzword that either gets people excited about new levels of convenience or makes them nervous about new types of security problems. Gigabyte's Brix IoT fanless miniature PCs are made specifically for embedded applications. The company says these machines are powered by Intel Apollo Lake SoCs and are ideal for use in kiosks, point-of-sale systems, digital signage, and industrial applications. The entry-level GB-EACE-3450 packs a Celeron N3450 running at a 1.1 GHz base speed and capable of boosting up to 2.2 GHz. The higher-end GB-EAPD-4200 uses a Pentium N4200 that also runs at a 1.1 GHz base clock but can hit a maximum speed of 2.5 GHz.

When it comes to embedded and IoT applications, connectivity is often more important than raw power. Both Brix IoT models come with a pair of Realtek-based Gigabit Ethernet ports, as well as 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity courtesy of an Intel chip. Gerbils who looked carefully at the pictures will notice what appears to be a third RJ-45 jack. That third connector is in fact a COM port suitable for communication over serial protocols. The little box also packs four USB 3.0 ports, a microSD slot, and a four-pole audio jack.

A pair of HDMI ports enables connection to a pair of monitors for applications like digital signage. The integrated graphics adapter can output up to 3840x2160 resolution at 30 Hz over each HDMI connector. Even the power jack is designed with connectivity and compatibility in mind, as the machine can run on input from 12V to 19V DC through its barrel connector. The machines ship with a 19V 65W brick, which should be more than enough to power them given the 6W TDP of the available SoCs.

The inside of the machine continues the lots-of-connectors trend, starting with a pair of SODIMM slots capable of accepting up to 8 GB of DDR3L memory. Buyers can opt for 32 GB or 64 GB of built-in eMMC, or add a 2280 M.2 drive for faster storage. The machine's 2230 M.2 slot is occupied by the Intel wireless card. A half-size mini-PCIe slot and a microSIM card connector are provided for use with a 3G module.

Gigabyte touts the Brix IoT's potential for use in what would have been called embedded applications a few years ago. As a connected home hobbyist, I think the machines look almost ideal for use as a silent, low-power routers, MQTT brokers, or as a hubs for managing and securing networks of simpler IoT devices like sensor nodes. The company didn't provide pricing or availability information for these machines, but FanlessTech found the upper-level GB-EAPD-4200 on sale for 19,000 ₽ (about $330) at Russian retailer

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