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Intel HDMI stick runs Linux or Windows on quad-core Bay Trail

Jan 8, 2015 — by Rick Lehrbaum 12,383 views

Intel debuted an HDMI stick running Windows or Linux on a quad-core Atom SoC, with up to 2GB RAM and 32GB flash, plus WiFi, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity.

Intel often comes out with reference designs that demonstrate the use of its silicon in typical consumer, industrial, or embedded formats. Accordingly, the company unveiled the “Intel Compute Stick” at CES this week, a tiny PC that plugs into the HDMI port of a TV similarly to the use of the Roku Streaming Stick, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick, and numerous other stick-PCs that run Linux or Android.

But the difference here is Intel’s positioning of the device, as not just an adapter to smarten-up your TV, but as a tiny Windows 8.1 PC-on-a-stick that offers a “versatile experience across PC-like embedded, business, and consumer usages.” However, at $149 for the Windows model (or $89 for a Linux version with reduced memory and internal storage), the Compute Stick is in a different ballpark from the aforementioned entertainment dongles, which go for $35 to $50.

Intel Compute Stick
(click images to enlarge)

Intel offered few hardware specifics in its CES-week unveiling of the Compute Stick. From the Compute Stick product page, we learn that it comes preinstalled with Windows 8.1 or Linux, is “less than four-inches long,” packs a quad-core Atom processor, and offers wireless connectivity, built-in storage, and a microSD expansion slot. But not much more.


However, from various reports, we’ve managed to assemble the following more extensive list of specs for Intel’s Compute Stick:

  • Processor — Quad-core Atom Z3735F “Bay Trail” SoC:
    • 1.33GHz CPU clock rate (1.83GHz burst)
    • Intel HD Graphics
  • RAM:
    • Windows model — 2GB
    • Linux model — 1GB
  • Internal flash:
    • Windows model — 32GB eMMC
    • Linux model — 8GB eMMC
  • MicroSD slot for storage expansion
  • Display output — HDMI 1.4a
  • USB:
    • USB 2.0 port (for peripherals)
    • microUSB port (for power)
  • Wireless:
    • 802.11b/g/n WiFi
    • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Power — 5V DC (via microUSB port)
  • Dimensions — 4 inches (102 mm) long
  • Software — Windows 8.1; Ubuntu Linux

Déjà vu?

Interestingly, Intel’s Compute Stick bears a striking resemblance to an identically-named product that was on display at the Intel IoT Asia conference last October. According to that Compute Stick’s booth signage (shown below), the device was based on an Intel Bay Trail T-CR SoC, 2GB DDR3-L RAM, up to 32GB eMMC flash, microSD expansion, WiFi and Bluetooth wireless, and supported Windows 8.1 and Android — all of which are consistent with the Compute Stick that Intel announced at CES this week.

“Compute Stick” on display at Intel IoT Asia last October
(click image to enlarge)

Although the name of the manufacturer of the Compute Stick shown at Intel IoT Asia in October does not appear on the signage in the photo above, it’s clear by following the link from this Intel IoT Solutions Alliance page to the partner’s website that the “Compute Stick” displayed at Intel’s October Intel IoT event was the NH1 stick-PC (shown below) from Taiwan ODM, Quanta Computer.

Quanta’s NH1 is the “Compute Stick” that was at Intel IoT Asia

Given the similarity of features between what Intel lists on its Compute Stick product page, and those listed for Quanta’s NH1, we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the Intel device is derived from the NH1. After all, that’s what ODMs do. With that in mind, we might expect Intel’s Compute Stick, when it ships sometime in Q1, to have the specs listed below, which are those listed by Quanta for the NH1.

Summary of NH1 specs, as listed in the Intel Solutions Directory:

  • Processor — Intel Atom Z3735F
  • PMIC (via Dollar Cove AXP288)
  • RAM — 2GB DDR3L
  • Storage — eMMC 16GB/32GB/64GB
  • Storage expansion — microSD slot
  • HDMI out
  • Wireless (via Wifi/Bluetooth combo chip):
    • 802.11b/g/n
    • Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB:
    • USB2.0 type A connector
    • microUSB 2.0 B connector
  • Power LED
  • Operating system — Windows 8.1 with Bing, 32bit
  • Dimensions — 110.9 x 38 x 9.8 mm (includes HDMI connector)


Intel expects to begin shipping the Compute Stick in Q1 of 2015, priced at $149 for the model with 2GB RAM, 32GB eMMC flash, and Windows 8.1 preinstalled, and at $89 for the Linux model with 1GB RAM, 8GB eMMC flash, and Ubuntu Linux preinstalled. Further details may be found at Intel’s Compute Stick promotional page.

(advertise here)

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10 responses to “Intel HDMI stick runs Linux or Windows on quad-core Bay Trail”

  1. jezra says:

    Half the RAM of the Windows version. A quarter of the storage of the Windows version. No thanks.
    Why not offer Linux on the “Windows” hardware?

    • arun says:

      I feel the same. With such hardware(2+GB of RAM and 32-64GB storage) Linux user can create/show miracles. Bad for intel to go with such low specs for LINUX. Ill never buy such low hardware spec. (on second thought – But for running a server? I would like to think)

  2. Gene Mosher says:

    I very much would prefer Debian with Xfce instead of Ubuntu. Except for that this will be perfect for my Linux Point of Sale solution.

    • LinuxGizmos says:

      It seems likely that Debian+Xfce would work fine on it. Given the Windows 8.1 and Ubuntu compatibility, it seems very mainstream x86.

      • Gene Mosher says:

        Debian/Xfce is a better platform for those of us who are intending to use the Compute Stick in embedded solutions such as point of sale, and so forth. Ubuntu is designed to be a better Linux Desktop than what is otherwise available and I have no need for such targeting in a distribution. Debian Xfce is suitably lean without all the desktop baggage that Ubuntu brings to it. I have used the NUC Thin Client which also has eMMC but it has proven problematic to get Debian readily installed on the eMMC on that device and I will be very happy to simply not have to install anything more than my point of sale solution on a Compute Stick which is already properly booting into Linux from eMMC. These will make very nice graphical X terminals, I expect.

  3. metronome says:

    Isn’t the Quanta the Hanspree version?
    Also big fail, on no AC wireless, no steam in home streaming for you! Might be good as home server for taking Skype calls… What’s the wireless range like?

  4. arun says:

    Bad for intel to go with such low specs for LINUX. With such hardware(2+GB of RAM and 32-64GB storage) Linux user can create/show miracles. Ill never buy such low hardware spec.

    on second thought – But for running a server? I would like to think. OR if it is possible to simply format and install the windows on windows hardware. I would love to buy windows version of this HDMI stick and delete windows for LINUX. ;p

    • Yury says:

      I agree. I was interested in buying linux version, but after seeing 1GB RAM in the linux version, I change my mind. Shame on you Intel!!!

  5. arun says:

    sorry typo

    ….OR if it is possible to simply format and install the Linux on windows hardware…

  6. Matt says:

    I assume that I can use this little device as I have other Linux boxes (for port hopping / port redirecting). I would only need a monitor for initial setup and maintenance, but does anyone see any issues with getting one of these little guys for something as simple as my hopes?
    Thank you

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