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Gemini Lake based Hackboard 2 starts at $99 with Ubuntu

Dec 11, 2020 — by Eric Brown — 6973 views

A “Hackboard 2” SBC has launched on Crowd Supply with Ubuntu ($99) or Win 10 Pro ($140) running on a dual-core Gemini Lake CPU with 4GB DDR4, 64GB eMMC, 3x USB, HDMI, 40-pin RPi GPIO, and 2x M.2 for NVM and 4G/5G.

The Hackboard 2 is billed by Austin, Texas based startup Hackboard as “a powerful and affordable Windows 10 Pro SBC” and “one of the lowest-priced Intel-powered and Windows-based single-board computers ever.” Yet, unlike most PCs and mini-PCs, you are not paying a Windows tax for the pleasure of erasing Windows to load Linux. The Intel Gemini Lake based Hackboard 2 is available with Ubuntu for $99 or Win 10 Pro for $140.

Yet, this is clearly a Windows-oriented product — the Linux version will only be available for the Crowd Supply campaign through Jan. 15, and the kit bundles with accessories are only available with Windows. The campaign blew past its $1 goal to over $41,000 at publication time, and shipments are due April 30, 2021.



Hackboard 1 prototype (almost identical to Hackboard 2 except for backside features
(click images to enlarge)

The Hackboard 2 ships with a dual-core, 1.1GHz/2.8GHz Celeron N4020 with a 6W TDP from the second wave of Gemini Lake Refresh SoCs. The 120 x 80mm board follows a Hackboard 1 that was deployed as a pilot but was never for sale. The Crowd Supply images show the Hackboard 1, which had a microSD slot instead of one of the two M.2 slots.

The SBC ships with 4GB DDR4 and 64GB eMMC and provides M.2 B- and B/M-key slots. The slots can be loaded with NVMe modules for up to 4TB storage total or can be used for a $50 4G or $299 5G modem. A SIM card slot is also available.

For low-power expansion, you get a 40-pin GPIO header that Hackboard claims is compatible with Raspberry Pi HATs. Python is pre-installed for hacking the GPIO.

The Hackboard 2 is equipped with a GbE port, 802.11ac with Bluetooth 5.1, and 3x USB 3.0 ports. The board ships with a 12VDC power supply, a battery connector, and other minor features listed in the spec list farther below.

The extensive list of media features include HDMI and eDP connectors, a touchscreen interface, and a USB-based camera interface. You also get a 3.5mm audio I/O jack, a mic, and a speaker interface.



Hackboard 2
(click images to enlarge)

A $180 Starter Kit and $299 Complete Kit, which are available only with Windows 10 Pro, offer accessories for some of the media I/O. The Starter Kit gives you a 1080p USB 2 video camera and the Complete Kit adds to this with a 13.3-inch, IPS display with 1080p resolution and integrated speakers. The display also includes a USB Type-C output and an HDMI input. It is powered via a microUSB port and has a protective cover that doubles as a stand. Both kits bundle an ABS plastic case, dual antennas, and a wireless keyboard with trackpad.

 
Comparisons with other Intel based maker boards

Hackboard is correct that the Hackboard 2 is one of the lowest priced x86-based SBCs that support Windows. However, it can’t compete with Team IoT’s Cherry Trail based, barebones Atomic Pi SBC, which may not be around much longer, but which sells for $39.95 on Ameridroid. The $140 Hackboard 2 model with Windows is roughly on par with Aaeon’s original, Intel Cherry Trail based UP board when you factor in the cost of adding Windows.

The Hackboard 2’s dual-core Gemini Lake SoC should be faster than the quad-core Cherry Trails for most applications. The 14nm Gemini Lake follows Apollo Lake and precedes the 10nm Elkhart Lake in Intel’s Atom-oriented lineage. The processor is also found on Seeed’s dual-core Celeron J4005 based Odyssey — X86J4105864 SBC with a faster 2GHz/2.7GHz clock rate. DFRobot’s quad-core LattePanda Delta 432, a reboot of the earlier LattePanda Delta, ships with a quad-core Celeron N4100, which has the same 1.1GHz base speed but a slower 2.4GHz burst.

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Seeed’s Odyssey starts at $188 with 8GB RAM or $218 with 64GB eMMC, ranging up to a $298 model that includes Windows pre-activation. The LattePanda Delta 432 sells for $188 with 4GB RAM and 32GB and $228 with Win 10 Pro pre-activated.

CHUWI’s $179 LarkBox Pro mini-PC, which we covered in June, runs on a quad-core, Celeron J4115 Gemini Lake part clocked at 1.5GHz/2.3GHz. Hardkernel’s Gemini Lake based Odroid-H2 is listed as out of stock and obsolete.

Other Intel-based maker boards, which like the models listed above support Windows and Linux, are much more expensive, as can be seen in our soon-to-be-updated catalog of 136 Linux hacker boards. Aaeon’s upcoming, 11th Gen Tiger Lake based UP Xtreme i11 and Elkhart Lake based UP Squared Pro 2 SBCs are likely to cost hundreds of dollars.

Finally, like most x86-based hacker boards, there is no promise of open hardware support. It is unclear to what extent Hackboard will provide community support.

Specifications listed for the Hackboard 2 include:

  • Processor — Intel Celeron N4020 (2x Gemini Lake cores @ 1.1GHz/2.8GHz); Intel UHD Graphics 600
  • Memory/storage:
    • 4GB DDR4
    • 64GB eMMC
    • Up to 4TB NVMe storage available via M.2 B-key and M.2 B/M-key (see expansion)
  • Networking:
    • Gigabit Ethernet port
    • 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.1 via Intel AC95060 rated at up to 1.73 Gbps
    • 4G or 5G modem available via M.2 B/M-key slot
  • Media I/O:
    • HDMI 2.1 port at up to 4K
    • eDP 30-pin connector for 11.6- to 15.6-inch displays
    • Optional 13.3-inch IPS HD display with integrated speakers via eDP with Complete Kit
    • Touchscreen interface (6-pin)
    • Stereo speaker connector (5-pin)
    • Mic
    • Camera interface (5-pin via USB 2.0)
  • Other I/O — 3x USB 3.0 ports
  • Expansion:
    • 40-pin RPi HAT compatible GPIO header with pass-through adapter
    • M.2 B-key slot for optional NVMe
    • M.2 B/M-key slot for optional NVMe or 4G/5G modem
  • Other features — heatsink; fan connector; 2x LEDs; corner mounting holes
  • Power:
    • 12 VDC, 3/A international power supply
    • Rechargeable battery input connector (10-pin 3.7V)
    • Cell battery for up to 2x years BIOS backup
  • Dimensions — 120 x 80mm
  • Operating system — Ubuntu Linux or Windows 10 Pro

 
Further information

The Hackboard 2 is available on Crowd Supply through Jan. 15 starting at $99 with Ubuntu and $140 with Win 10 Pro (see other pricing above). Shipments are due April 30, 2021, with shipping costing $8 in the US and $20 elsewhere. More information may be found in Hackboard’s announcement and on the Hackboard 2 Crowd Supply page and the Hackboard website.

 

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