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World's fastest Pico-ITX motherboard?

Mar 7, 2014 — by Eric Brown 11,986 views

Axiomtek’s Pico-ITX “PICO880” SBC features 4th Gen. Intel Core processors at up to 1.7GHz (3.3GHz turbo), and offers Mini-PCIe, SATA, GbE, HD A/V, and more.

The PICO880 single board computer is billed by Axiomtek as “the most advanced, high-performance and extremely compact single board computer in the marketplace.” In this case, the hyberbole appears to be warranted. As far as we can see, this is the first Pico-ITX form-factor SBC that supports Intel’s 4th Generation “Haswell” Core processors. The 4th Gen Cores are generally considered the fastest CPUs aimed at the general embedded market.

(click images to enlarge)

The PICO880 follows the Intel Atom-based PICO822, among other Pico-ITX boards from Axiomtek. It’s aimed at vehicle PCs, small media entertainment systems, industrial automation systems, medical imaging, gaming, and small electronic devices customers, says the company.

Like the Adlink cExpress-HL COM Express module we covered yesterday, the PICO880 supports the lower-power, “ULT” members of Intel’s 4th Gen. Core (“Haswell”) processor family. These dual-core Core i7, i5, i3, and Celeron “U” models have lower-end 200MHz Intel HD Graphics compared to the 400MHz Intel HD Graphics 4600 on the “E” models. However, they also burn around half the TDP, at 15 Watts.


Axiomtek doesn’t list the accompanying chipset, but we imagine they’re using Intel’s QM87 Express. The SBC supports Intel AMT 9.5 remote management, says the company.

The 100 x 72mm Pico880 supports up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and provides a coastline gigabit Ethernet, DisplayPort, USB 2.0 port, SATA port, and 12V power input. An 18/24-bit, single-dual channel LVDS connector is also available.

PICO880 with optional heat management and real-world connector add-ons
(click images to enlarge)

Like its fanless, Atom-based PICO882 sibling, the PICO880 offers optional I/O expansion, but in this case you get a choice of two daughtercards instead of one. There’s also a full-sized Mini-PCI-Express slot with mSATA support.

Both the AX93275 and AX93276 expansion cards provide four USB 3.0 ports, a video port, and at least one RS-232/422/485 port. The AX93276 provides an HDMI port in place of the AX93275’s VGA port, and offers an additional Ethernet port in place of audio I/O. It also adds a second RS-232/422/485 port.

The PICO880 supports -20 to 70°C operation, although this would appear to require the optional heatspreader or heatsink with fan. Axiomtek lists no OS support, but in the announcement notes that it “runs well with Windows 7 and 8.” We imagine it runs even better with Linux.

Specifications listed for the PICO880 include:

  • Processor — Intel 4th Gen. Core i7/i5/i3/Celeron ULT:
    • Core i7-4650U — dual-core 1.7GHz (3.3GHz turbo), 4M Cache, 15W, Intel HD Graphics 5000 @ 200MHz (GT3)
    • Core i5-4300U — dual-core 1.9GHz (2.9GHz turbo), 3M Cache, 15W, Intel HD Graphics 4400 @ 200MHz (GT2)
    • Core i3-4010U — dual-core 1.7GHz (no turbo), 3M Cache, 15W, Intel HD Graphics @ 200MHz (GT2)
    • Celeron 2980U — dual-core 1.6GHz (no turbo), 2M Cache, 15W, Intel HD Graphics 4400 @ 200MHz (GT1)
  • Memory — up to 8GB DDR3L-1600 RAM via 204-pin SODIMM
  • Display — Single/dual channel 18/24-bit LVDS; DisplayPort
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port with wake-on LAN, RPL/PXE boot
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 2.0 port
    • 4x USB 2.0 interfaces
    • 4x USB 3.0 interfaces
    • SATA-600 port
    • 2x UARTs
    • HD line-out, mic-in audio interfaces
    • 2x expansion connectors
  • Expansion:
    • Mini-PCIe slot (full size) with mSATA support
    • AX93275 expansion card — 4x USB 3.0, VGA, COM 1 (RS-232/422/485), 2x audio, power-on, reset, LEDs
    • AX93276 expansion card — 4x USB 3.0, HDMI, COM 1 and 2 (RS-232/422/485), Ethernet, power-on, reset, LEDs
  • Other features — supports Intel AMT 9.5; watchdog; hardware monitoring; optional heatspreader or heatsink with fan
  • Operating temperature — -20 to 70°C
  • Dimensions — 100 x 72 x 1.6mm; Pico-ITX

Further information

The PICO880 will be available in March 2014 at an unstated price. More information may be found at Axiomtek’s PICO880 product page.

(advertise here)

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