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Quad-core x86 MinnowBoard and UP Squared SBCs begin shipping

May 24, 2017 — by Eric Brown — 2,065 views
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MinnowBoard.org’s “MinnowBoard Turbot Quad” and Aaeon’s UP Squared SBCs began shipping, featuring community sites and Intel SoCs running Linux and Android.

On May 23, Intel-backed MinnowBoard.org and ADI Engineering began shipping the first quad-core MinnowBoard, selling for $190. The “MinnowBoard Turbo quad-core,” which was originally billed as the MinnowBoard Turbot Quad when it went on pre-sale in Sept. 2017, features the quad-core, 1.91GHz Intel Atom E3845 of the 22nm Bay Trail generation.



Intel’s MinnowBoard Turbot Quad (left) compared to Aaeon’s Up Squared
(click images to enlarge)

The very next day, Aaeon’s UP community announced it had begun shipping to Kickstarter backers its new UP Squared follow-on to its Up board. The UP Squared offers the latest Intel “Apollo Lake” chips including a quad-core Pentium N4200 version that sold to backers for $185 (see farther below).

Both SBCs are now available for new pre-orders, with shipments due in June or July. The competing Udoo X86 board began shipping in March, and is also available for pre-order (see below).

 
Intel MinnowBoard Turbot Quad

The MinnowBoard Turbot Quad has the same 99 x 74mm footprint and an almost identical layout as the earlier MinnowBoard Turbot Dual. The Dual runs on a dual-core, 1.46GHz E3826 from the same Bay Trail generation, and sells for $146. Aside from the faster processor, the only major difference on the Quad is the addition of a heatsink and fan, and an upgrade from a Realtek GbE controller to an Intel I210.

The MinnowBoard Turbot Quad ships with 2GB DDR3L-1067 RAM, and offers microSD and SATA storage. There are USB 3.0 and 2.0 host ports, as well as a micro-HDMI port and an optional case. Like other MinnowBoards, the 5V board offers 26-pin low-speed and 60-pin high speed expansion connectors compatible with previous “Lure” expansion boards.



MinnowBoard Turbot case, front (left) and rear views
(click images to enlarge)

The Turbo Quad is released under a Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license, and offers downloads for Debian/GUN Linux, Ubuntu, Yocto Project, Windows 8.1 and 10, Android 4.4, and Android Things (the new version of Brillo). For full specs, see our earlier coverage, as well as the Netgate shopping page linked to at the end of the story.

The Turbo Quad’s five-month delay from its original ship date is not unusual for x86 hacker SBCs. While many ARM board vendors spin off a half dozen different open-spec hacker SBCs every year, the much smaller new segment of x86 hacker boards typically struggle to get a board out every one or two years, and they are often delayed by months if not multiple quarters. This may be due in part to the typically more complex feature set and need to keep the prices down despite the more expensive processors.


Udoo X86

The MinnowBoard Turbo Quad is most directly comparable with Seco’s (Udoo.org’s) faster, quad-core Intel Braswell based Udoo X86 board, which was promised to ship to Kickstarter backers in November, but only began shipping in March. Like the Turbo Quad, the Udoo X86 is fully open source. Its price has risen from the $89 provided to KS buyers to $125, but that still beats the quad-core MinnowBoard and UP Squared.


MinnowBoard
Turbot Dual-E

There’s still no word about whether the more feature rich MinnowBoard Turbot Dual-E, which was announced six weeks earlier than the Quad, will ever see the light of day. The Dual-E, which is larger than the Dual or Quad models at 103 x 99mm, was to offer both dual- and quad-core Bay Trail options. The Dual-E name came from the addition of a second GbE port. The board also added an M.2 and micro-SIM interfaces for WiFi, LTE, or SSDs.

 
Aaeon Up Squared (UP2)

Aaeon’s $89 to $149 UP board, which runs on a quad-core “Cherry Trail” Intel Atom x5-Z8350, did better on timing, and the newly shipping UP Squared board was only a month late. The board, which is billed as the fastest community-backed x86 SBC in the world, is now on pre-sale starting at $145 for the dual-core model and $219 for the quad-core, with shipments promised in July.



Up Squared (left) and Up Core
(click images to enlarge)

The 90 x 86mm Up Squared offers 4K video encode and decode, dual GbE ports, dual HDMI video outputs, a SATA interface, M.2 support, and mini-PCIe expansion. You also get eDP, dual MIPI-CSI, 3x USB host ports, and both a 60-pin GPIO and a 40-pin interface tied to an Altera Max 10 FPGA. OS support includes Linux (Ubuntu, Ubilinux, Yocto), Android Marshmallow, and Windows 10 IoT Enterprise. Comprehensive specs are in our Up Squared coverage.

Unlike the MinnowBoard and the Udoo X86, the UP boards do not ship with full schematics. The UP community does, however, post extensive documentation and software downloads, and offer community support.

Next “up” for Aaeon’s UP community is the UP Core, a smaller, 66 x 56.5mm version of the original UP board. Back in March, it was said to be coming soon to Kickstarter starting at $69, but it has yet to show.

 
Further information

The MinnowBoard Turbot Quad board is available for $189.95 at Netgate, with shipments due in June. More information may be found at MinnowBoard.org.

The UP Squared is available for $145 for the dual-core, 1.1GHz/2.4GHz Celeron N3350 model with 2GB RAM and $169 with 4GB RAM. The quad-core, 1.1GHz/2.5GHz Pentium N4200 model goes for $219 with 4GB RAM. All these models also supply 32GB eMMC. A $269 version of the quad-core model features 8GB RAM and 64GB eMMC. More information may be found at this UP Squared shopping page.
 

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2 responses to “Quad-core x86 MinnowBoard and UP Squared SBCs begin shipping”

  1. gizmoduck32 says:

    The most interesting thing to me about the Up Squared board is the Intel Max 10 FPGA. Can the Max 10 be programed by the user? What are the interfaces between the Max 10 and CPU?

  2. frank says:

    What’s the word on allowing users being able program the Max 10 FPGA on the Up Squared? I recall a while ago that it wasn’t which kind of defeated the purpose of advertising that it has an FPGA.

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