back to article Intel's DIY MinnowBoard goes Max: More oomph for half the price

Intel has announced a new version of its pricey Raspberry Pi challenger, the MinnowBoard, which upgrades its Atom processor, shrinks its footprint, and slashes the price in half for one of two new models. MinnowBoard Max This is a prerelease card – don't worry, the production units will include a CPU heat sink (click to …


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  1. Eddy Ito

    Oh well

    Just a little too late, I've already got an Odroid U3 on the way. I would have liked a direct SATA connection.

  2. Charles Manning


    Why would I want a Minnowboard for more grunt when I can get a dual core ARM board for about half the price... right now... no heatsinks.

    By the time the new Minnowboard actually ships, the quad core variant of this ARM board will probably be shipping.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      You want to be able to use any Linux distribution "off the shelf" without wondering if somebody has ported package X to ARM (most performance critical apps aren't just autoconf+make)

      This also has twice the RAM, more CPU (for most tasks) and USB3

      Doesn't mean it's better for everything, but "ARM good Intel bad" is just as silly as the other way around.

  3. Mage Silver badge

    Cheap NAS controller?

    Though maybe NAS without drives are cheap. I haven't looked lately.

    1. P. Lee

      Re: Cheap NAS controller?

      No, NAS without drives aren't at all cheap - at least probably not cheap enough to make a big impact on the home market.

      I might be more interested if there were 8 sata ports on there. Call me a luddite, but SATA 1 would be fine, still faster than any of my spinning disks. Dual Gig Ethernet too please.

      Still no temptation to shut down the core2 in the garage.

      I predict some more fail. Still not cheap enough for a throw-away device and not enough features for a server. I suspect the same problem as MS with RT vs FullFatWindows: they don't want to cannibalise their market.

  4. heyrick Silver badge

    "enough grunt to take on tasks that would leave the Pi panting in exhaustion"

    The amusing thing is my eeePC901. Atom, not exactly two cores but not exactly single core. Can be clocked to 1.8GHz. Can play middling bitrate 720P and HD XviD without too much struggle so long as you don't mind the fan kicking in as the temperature shoots through the roof. Higher bitrate 720P is when it starts to struggle. And 1080P is when you get a frame or two per second if you are lucky. Fluid playback at 1080P? Never managed that. [SMPlayer and VLC under WinXPSP3 with CPU speed cranked up as high as it'll go using the built-in hotkey]

    The Pi, on the other hand. Running RaspBMC, clocking the ARM at 800MHz. It just does it. And doesn't even heat up, even with no heatsink or anything.

    So raw grunt is less important than what you do with that grunt. There's no question the Minnowboard will trounce a Pi, given those specs, but I suspect that in some areas the difference may be less than one might imagine.

    1. jdoe9001

      Re: "enough grunt to take on tasks that would leave the Pi panting in exhaustion"


      Are you REALLY comparing a crappy Atom made in 2008 with one made FIVE years later, with all the IPC improvements and a fundamental restructuring of the entire architecture?

      The Bay Trail one is at least 3x more powerful than the one you've got in that eeePC, and it also comes with a more advanced underlying architecture which can cut thru higher-rates 1080p with no issue.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: "enough grunt to take on tasks that would leave the Pi panting in exhaustion"

        No, I'm comparing a crappy old Atom with an old ARM core clocked considerably slower and pointing out that there is more to the equation than the illusion of raw power.

    2. Tom 38

      Re: "enough grunt to take on tasks that would leave the Pi panting in exhaustion"

      Invalid comparison. You are comparing a general purpose CPU decoding H264 against a chip designed to decode 1080p H264 content.

      It's even more invalid if you take in to account that the minnowboard itself has dedicated hardware for H264 decoding (via VAAPI; your EeePC does not).

      If you did a true CPU comparison, for instance, how many PPS can this shift, or IPSEC tunnel throughput, you would find that this is vastly more powerful than the RPi. RPi is a very cool and inexpensive piece of kit that can be used for a lot of things, but some things it cannot, and you might want a slightly more beefy CPU.

      For instance, this thread is about using RPi as a router and it's limitations. RPi has no GigE port, and acting as a NAT router, can't even fill it's 100Mbit FE.

      This minnowboard has a gigabit port - the Atom CPU probably wont hit 1.2 Mpps but it will get a damn sight closer than a RPi. It's also significantly cheaper than an equivalent high end router board like a Soekris 6501-70, which is ~$450, although that does come with a slightly higher spec Atom CPU and multiple GigE ports.

  5. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Overkill and over-priced

    I don't want something that solidly trounces a Raspberry Pi. Anything in that range, I'd use my crappy laptop.

    The market for the Pi is running odd little jobs around the house, like teaming up with my smartphone to open the garage door when I am riding home down the street. All it has to do is click a relay when commanded over an SSL connection, or check a couple reed switches.

    My first choice was an Arduino, but a wi-fi shield is freaking $85 BUCKS when I can get a Pi and a USB wi-fi dongle together for $50.

    Using this board for that would be a waste of money and resources.

  6. Mikel

    Sweet stuff

    I like to fiddle around with these little boards. The dual core core version would probably be best for me. Nice to see Intel venturing outside their comfort zone with Linux gear for the maker community.

  7. Pookietoo

    Power requirement?

    No mention of power in the specs or FAQ, except "5V". It seems to me that this board isn't really a rival to R-Pi, it's just another pico-ITX PC (and "blessed" with Intel graphics at that).

  8. GotThumbs

    I've run XBMC on my RasberryPI and watched HD movies

    With zero issues and for the price of $35.00.

    Intel simply wants to jump on the bandwagon, but for higher prices.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Two models will be available when the MinnowBoard Max ships". Model A and Model B?

    Posting anonymously - in case I have annoyed some Pi-miesters

  10. Sanctimonious Prick

    "but the 64-bit x86 Atoms"

    Is there something wrong with that?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: "but the 64-bit x86 Atoms"

      Username is relevant.


      1. dogged

        Re: "but the 64-bit x86 Atoms"

        But he's not wrong.

  11. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Has its uses

    My Pi's do excellent work, but they do struggle with internet banking and some shopping sites. The vast quantities of javascript required to increase the attack surface and run exploit code slow page loads enough to test my patience. The Pi can just about handle Libre Office or the GIMP, but there is visible latency and given the choice, I use an ancient laptop for all the above tasks. The Pi's 100Mb/s ethernet and USB2 mean the Pi often spends all night transferring newly format shifted DVDs to the backup disks.

    1.5 SATA interfaces, 1Gb/s ethernet (both not on USB2) and a USB3 interface make this product useful in situations where a Pi would be a poor choice. Intel have made an effort with their traditional weakness - price. The photograph without the heat sink is worrying: 5 to 8 W should not require a fan, but Intel have messed this up before often enough that I want to see the complete product. Also: why UEFI? there is enough space for uboot and a Linux kernel in the on-board NAND.

  12. Dr. Mouse

    Missing a trick

    While I love these developments, from Intel, RPi, and others (just looked at the ODROID, looks fantastic), I think Intel are missing a trick here.

    If they supplied this with the ability to run Windows, there would be a lot more potential buyers. I would be one: Unfortunately, my employer's EPOS software is written for Windows. If I could run it on an SBC of RPi-ish size, the computing hardware could actually be integrated into a till drawer, massively reducing the bulk of our setup.

    AFAIK, the closest I can get at the moment is a VIA Pico-ITX board, which are both expensive and rare. If Intel released this with Windows, I would snap up one for testing immediately.

    Just FYI, I am looking into porting our EPOS software to run on Linux, but it is most definitely non-trivial. If I got that done, there would be nothing stopping me running it on a Pi: The front end is so simple that the Pi would actually be overkill.

    1. jbuk1

      Re: Missing a trick

      It's a PC. It will run Windows.


      1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

        Re: Missing a trick

        No, it isn't/won't. At least not according to their current FAQ.

        Q: Is MinnowBoard MAX a PC?

        A: No, MinnowBoard MAX is an open hardware embedded platform. MinnowBoard MAX is for embedded applications or product development where interfacing with custom hardware (whether I2C sensors, custom FPGAs through PCIe, etc.) is needed.

        I HOPE they will add some Windows functionality. Bolting this into/onto a drive enclosure would make a kick-ass ultra-small footprint WHS

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