Intel's first 'open-source PC' on sale for $US199

The MinnowBoard is the first commercially available open-source PC board with an Intel chip

MinnowBoard specifications

MinnowBoard specifications

Intel has shipped its first "open source PC," a bare-bones computer aimed at software developers building x86 applications and hobbyists looking to construct their own computer.

The PC, called the MinnowBoard, is basically a motherboard with no casing around it. It was codeveloped by Intel and CircuitCo Electronics, a company that specializes in open-source motherboards, and went on sale this month for $US199 from a handful of retailers.

It's the first open-source PC to be offered with an Intel x86 processor, and the board's schematics and design files are published and can be replicated under a Creative Commons license. Development kits based on x86 processors from Via Technologies are already sold for robotics and other projects, but those boards are not open source.

Intel has also shared server designs through Facebook's Open Compute Project, but they're aimed primarily at large companies that design and build servers in-house. The MinnowBoard, which measures 4 inches (10.16cm) by 4 inches, is Intel's first open-source hardware design for enthusiasts and developers.

Other open-source boards are available based on ARM processors or Arduino microcontrollers. The most notable ARM example is the Raspberry Pi, which starts at $US25 and has sold in the millions.

The MinnowBoard is more expensive than ARM or Arduino boards and might be less attractive since it uses older hardware, including a 1GHz Intel Atom E640 processor, a 32-bit chip that was released in 2010.

However, the MinnowBoard is still cheaper than most PCs and could appeal to developers looking to write and test commercial applications before they're deployed in servers, embedded devices and other computers.

Other hardware in the MinnowBoard includes 1GB of DDR2 memory, an HDMI port, Gigabit Ethernet, USB ports, and a micro-SD slot for expandable storage. The board's open-source UEFI firmware allows for the development of custom secure boot environments.

The board comes pre-loaded with the Angstrom Linux distribution and is compatible with Yocto Project, which enables the creation of hardware agnostic Linux-based systems.

The MinnowBoard also includes support for Intel's hyperthreading and VT virtualization technology, which are only available on processors from Intel. Advanced Micro Devices and Via use different technologies to speed data transfer on chips.

The MinnowBoard is available at online retailers including Digi-Key, Farnell, Mouser Electronics, and Newark.

Intel and CircuitCo have also established a community website for MinnowBoard, which provides the specifications and other details of the PC.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

Tags hardware systemsintel

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?