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Dev board targets Atom Z3000 tablet designers

Jul 29, 2014  |  Eric Brown
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[Updated 3:15PM] — Intel and Microsoft launched a community-backed, quad-core Atom Z3735G-based “Sharks Cove” SBC aimed at designers of Windows or Android tablets.

As you might expect from the fact that the $299 Sharks Cove development board ships with a Windows Embedded 8.1 image, this is not an open source SBC — at least from the Windows OS perspective. However, it’s backed up by a SharkCove.org community site, which has posted hardware documentation, but currently lacks a forum. The board is available on pre-order from Mouser.



Sharks Cove
(click images to enlarge)

According to SharksCove.org, the Sharks Cove SBC was “designed by Intel’s Mobile and Communications Group (MCG), in conjunction with Microsoft, to provide a solid, flexible and community based platform for development on Intel Atom processors.” The board is being built by CircuitCo, a contract manufacturer known for building the BeagleBone Black and BeagleBone-based BlueSteel-Basic single board computers. SharksCove.org links to a Microsoft MSDN support page dedicated to the board, and the announcement came from Microsoft, which noted the inclusion of a Windows Embedded 8.1 image. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft’s announcement made no mention of the board’s Android compatibility, which is prominently mentioned on the Sharks Cove site.

In contrast to the Windows-oriented Sharks Cove SBC, Intel’s earlier $199 MinnowBoard, $99 MinnowBoard Max, and $60 Galileo SBCs, introduced over the past year, targeted both hackers and professional developers and set sail under open-source Linux and Android flags.



MinnowBoard, MinnowBoard Max, Galileo Gen 2
(click images to enlarge)

 
Sharks Cove details

The Sharks Cove board features the Intel Atom Z735G, a quad-core, 1.33GHz (1.83GHz burst) member of the tablet-focused, 22nm Atom Z3000 Bay Trail-T SoC family. According to Microsoft, the board is designed for prototyping hardware and drivers for tablets and phones, but will also support other form-factors. One can consider it as the x86 answer to tablet-focused ARM development boards like Intrinsyc’s Snapdragon 800-based DragonBoard 8074 Development Kit.



Sharks Cove features
(click image to enlarge)

The 6 x 4-inch Sharks Cove board is equipped with 1GB of DDR3 RAM and 16GB of eMMC 4.5 flash, with more flash storage available via a microSD card. Real-world coastline ports include USB 2.0, micro-USB, HDMI, and audio. There’s no built-in Ethernet or WiFi available currently, although an onboard WiFi module — possibly an extra-cost option — is in the works. Meanwhile, all communications must occur via USB extensions.


Sharks Cove topside connectors, identified
(click image to enlarge)

The Sharks Cove provides MIPI DSI (display) and CSI (camera) interfaces, as well as additional headers for audio, I2S, I2C, UARTs, GPIOs, and clocks. A 5V, 2.5A power supply is provided, and the board can also be powered via the micro-USB port, which is primarily available for debugging.


Sharks Cove block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

 
Summary of Sharks Cove specs

Specifications listed for the Sharks Cove board include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom Z3735G (4x Silvermont/x86 cores @ 133GHz/1.88GHz burst) with 2MB L2 cache, Intel HD Graphics
  • Memory:
    • 1GB DDR3L-RS-1333 RAM
    • 16GB eMMC 4.5 flash
    • MicroSD slot
    • 2MB SPI NOR
  • Display/camera — HDMI port; MIPI DSI interface; MIPI CSI interface (camera)
  • Networking — Ethernet or WiFi via USB
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 2.0 port
    • Micro-USB port for debug or power
    • 3.5mm audio jack (Realtek ALC5640)
    • Speaker and mic headers
    • Headers for I2S, I2C, UART. GPIOs, clocks
  • Other features — 4x stand-offs (legs); status LEDs; buttons for power, volume up/down, navigation, home, and rotation lock
  • Power — 5V, 2.5A supply; supports micro-USB power; PMIC
  • Dimensions — 6.0 x 4.0 in. (Type 3; 6-layer)
  • Operating system — Windows Embedded 8.1 image supplied; also supports Android

 
Further information

The Sharks Cove Development Board is available for pre-order for $299, with no ship date listed. More information may be found at the Microsoft Sharks Cove announcement and SharkCove.org. The board is available at this Mouser Sharks Cove page.
 

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PLEASE COMMENT BELOW

One Response to “Dev board targets Atom Z3000 tablet designers”

  1. werewolfc says:

    For me, as an end user (not a developer), the minnowboard max looks waaaay more appealing. I guess, the $300 will be a high price to pay for a lot of devs.

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