Intel Launches Open Source SFF MinnowBoard Platform For Embedded Systems

Subject: General Tech, Systems | August 3, 2013 - 04:13 AM |
Tagged: SFF, open source hardware, open source, minnowboard, Intel, embedded system, atom

The Intel Open Source Technology Group along with CircuitCo recently launched a new small form factor bare-bones system based on open source hardware and running open source software. The Minnowboard includes a 4.2” x 4.2” motherboard, passively-cooled processor, rich IO, UEFI BIOS, and the Angstrom Linux operating system.

Intel MinnowBoard SFF x86 PC With Angstrom Linux.jpg

The Minnowboard is powered by a single core Intel Atom E640 processor clocked at 1GHz. It is a 32-bit CPU with HyperThreading and VT-x virtualization support. Other hardware includes an integrated Intel GMA 600 GPU, 1GB of DDR2 memory, and 4MB of flash memory used for motherboard firmware. Storage can be added by plugging a SSD or HDD into the single SATA II 3Gbps port.

The Minnowboard has following IO options:

  • 1 x micro SD
  • 1 x SATA II 3Gbps
  • 2 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 1 x micro USB
  • 1 x mini USB (serial connection)
  • 1 x RJ45 jack (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • 2 x 3.5mm audio jacks (line in and line out)
  • 1 x HDMI

The Minnowboard also has a GPIO header with 8 buffered GPIO pins, 2 GPIO LEDs, and 4 GPIO switches. As such, the system can be expanded by adding extra open source modules called “Lures.” The board is aimed at developers and embedded system manufacturers. The Minnowboard can be used as the bare system or can be integrated into a case or larger device.

Intel MinnowBoard SFF x86 PC With Angstrom Linux_top.jpg

The Minnowboard costs $199 and is available for purchase now from Digi-Key, Farnell (UK), Mouser, and Newark.

Obviously, the Minnowboard is nowhere near as cheap as the $35 Raspberry Pi, but it is running x86 hardware which may make it worth it to some users.

If you are interested, you can learn more about the hardware and get involved with the Minnowboard project over at Minnowboard.org.

New Atom C2000 processors and 14nm Server CPUs from Intel

Subject: General Tech | July 23, 2013 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: Intel, atom, 14nm, Avoton, Broadwell, Denverton, xeon, rangeley

Intel has spent the day announcing new products for the server room, from new Atoms to Xeons.  Atom will bear the names of Avoton and Rangeley, Avoton will deal with microservers where power and heat are a major concern while Rangeley will appear in network devices and possibly mobile communication devices.  In the case of Avoton it will be replacing a chip that has not yet been released, the 32nm Atom S1200 lineup is due out in the near future and will fill a new niche for Intel that Centerton failed to fill.  The Register talks a bit more indepth here.

intel_avoton_atom_block_diagram.jpg

Slightly more powerful will be new Broadwell and Denverton Xeons, the first SoC server chips from Intel which will be manufactured on the 14nm process.  We heard much less about these upcoming chips, due for 2014 but you can read what is available at The Inquirer.

intel-low-power-server-roadmap-370x229.jpg

"SAN FRANCISCO: CHIPMAKER Intel has revealed more details about its server processor roadmap, including its upcoming Atom chips codenamed Avoton and Rangeley and new 14nm Xeon and Atom parts codenamed Broadwell and Denverton, respectively."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Intel Announces Q2 Results: Below Expectations, but Still Good

Subject: Editorial | July 17, 2013 - 09:34 PM |
Tagged: silvermont, quarterly results, money, Lenovo, k900, Intel, atom, 22 nm tri-gate, 14 nm

Intel announced their Q2 results for this year, and it did not quite meet expectations.  When I say expectations, I usually mean “make absolutely obscene amounts of money”.  It seems that Intel was just shy of estimates and margins were only slightly lower than expected.  That being said, Intel reported revenue of $12.8 billion US and a net income of $2 billion US.  Not… too… shabby.

Analysts were of course expecting higher, but it seems as though the PC slowdown is in fact having a material effect on the market.  Intel earlier this quarter cut estimates, so this was not exactly a surprise.  Margins came in around 58.3%, but these are expected to recover going into Q3.  Intel is certainly still in a strong position as millions of PCs are being shipped every quarter and they are the dominant CPU maker in its market.

Intel-Swimming-in-Money.jpg

Intel has been trying to get into the mobile market as it still exhibits strong growth not only now, but over the next several years as things become more and more connected.  Intel had ignored this market for some time, much to their dismay.  Their Atom based chips were slow to improve and typically used a last generation process node for cost savings.  In the face of a strong ARM based portfolio of products from companies like Qualcomm, Samsung, and Rockchip, the Intel Atom was simply not an effective solution until the latest batch of chips were available from Intel.  Products like the Atom Z2580, which powers the Lenovo K900 phone, were late to market as compared to other 28 nm products such as the Snapdragon series from Qualcomm.

Intel expects the next generation of Atom being built on its 22 nm Tri-Gate process, Silvermont, to be much more competitive with the latest generation offerings from its ARM based competitors.  Unfortunately for Intel, we do not expect to see Silvermont based products until later in Q3 with availability in late Q4 or Q1 2014.  Intel needs to move chips, but this will be a very different market than what they are used to.  These SOCs have decent margins, but they are nowhere near what Intel can do with their traditional notebook, desktop, and server CPUs.

To help cut costs going forward, it seems as though Intel will be pulling back on its plans for 14 nm production.  Expenditures and floor space/equipment for 14 nm will be cut back as compared to what previous plans had held.  Intel still is hoping to start 14 nm production at the end of this year with the first commercial products to hit at the end of 2014.  There are questions as to how viable 14 nm is as a fully ramped process in 2014.  Eventually 14 nm will work as advertised, but it appears as though the kinks were much more complex than anticipated given how quickly Intel ramped 22 nm.

Intel has plenty of money, a dominant position in the x86 world, and a world class process technology on which to base future products on.  I would say that they are still in very, very good shape.  The market is ever changing and Intel is still fairly nimble given their size.  They also recognize (albeit sometimes a bit later than expected) shifts in the marketplace and they invariably craft a plan of attack which addresses their shortcomings.  While Intel revenue seems to have peaked last year, they are addressing new markets aggressively as well as holding onto their dominant position in notebooks, desktops, and server markets.  Intel is expecting Q3 to be up, but overall sales throughout 2013 to be flat as compared to 2012.  Have I mentioned they still cleared $2 billion in a down quarter?

Source: Intel

Podcast #259 - MSI Z87 MPower Motherboard, Mobile Frame Rating, Intel Bay Trail and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 11, 2013 - 02:06 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, frame rating, z87, mpower, msi, Bay Trail, celeron, atom, pentium

PC Perspective Podcast #259 - 07/11/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the MSI Z87 MPower Motherboard, Mobile Frame Rating, Intel Bay Trail and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:14:34

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
  4. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  5. Closing/outro

Leaked Bay Trail Product Lineup Reveals Atom, Celeron, and Pentium Branded Processors

Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2013 - 02:41 AM |
Tagged: valleyview, SoC, silvermont, pentium, Intel, celeron, Bay Trail, atom

A leaked Intel lineup reveals that the company's upcoming Bay Trail processors will also fall under not only the traditional Atom branding, but the Pentium and Celeron brands as well. The new lineup includes Bay Trail-D, Bay Trail-I, and Bay Trail M processors (note that Valleyview is the CPU codename, Bay Trail is the platform codename, with the CPU based on Intel's 22nm Silvermont architecture). The Bay Trail SoCs, which are based on the company's new 22nm Silvermont micro-architecture, include five processors in the Atom family, two in the Pentium family, and five processors that are part of the Celeron family.

All five of the Atom branded processors are Bay Trail-I chips. The leaked Atom lineup includes the following SKUs.

  • Atom E3810 (Bay Trail-I): Single core at 1.46 GHz with 400 MHz GPU and 5W TDP
  • Atom E3821 (Bay Trail-I): Dual core at 1.33 GHz with 533 MHz GPU and 6W TDP
  • Atom E3822 (Bay Trail-I): Dual core at 1.46 GHz with 667 MHz GPU and 7W TDP
  • Atom E3823 (Bay Trail-I): Dual core at 1.75 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 8W TDP
  • Atom E3840 (Bay Trail-I): Quad core at 1.91 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 10W TDP

Further, there will be one Bay Trail-M and one Bay Trail-D  Silvermont-based CPU under the Pentium brand. Specifications on those two chips are below.

  • Pentium N3510 (Bay Trail-M):  Quad core at 2 GHz with 750 MHz GPU and 7.5W TDP (4.5W SDP)
  • Pentium J2850 (Bay Trail-D): Quad core at 2.41 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 10W TDP

Finally, the new Bay Trail-M and Bay Trail-D SoCs under the Celeron brand includes two quad cores and three dual core CPUs.

According to this PDF, the N2805, N2810, and N2910 Celeron CPUs will have an MSRP of $132, though it seems as though the N2805 should be cheaper than that since it has much lower specifications than the other two. The new Celeron-branded chips have the following specifications.

  • Celeron J1750 (Bay Trail-D): Dual core at 2.41 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 10W TDP
  • Celeron J1850 (Bay Trail-D): Quad core at 2 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 10W TDP
  • Celeron N2805 (Bay Trail-M): Dual core at 1.46 GHz with 667 MHz GPU and 4.5W TDP (sub-2.5W SDP)
  • Celeron N2810 (Bay Trail-M): Dual core at 2 GHz with 756 MHz GPU and 7.5W TDP (4.5W SDP)
  • Celeron N2910 (Bay Trail-M): Quad core at 1.6 GHz with 756 MHz GPU and 7.5W TDP (4.5W SDP)

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information on Bay Trail and Intel's first OoOE Atom micro-architecture as it develops.

Also read:

Source: Fanless Tech

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1: Intel inside an Android?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | June 3, 2013 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: Intel, atom, Clover Trail+, SoC, Samsung, Galaxy Tab 3 10.1

While Reuters is being a bit cagey with their source, if true: Intel may have nabbed just about the highest profile Android tablet design win possible. The, still currently unannounced, Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 is expected to embed Intel's Clover Trail+ System on a Chip (SoC). Samsung would not be the largest contract available in the tablet market, their previous tablets ship millions of units each; they are a good OEM vendor to have.

Source: BGR India

Samsung is also known for releasing multiple versions of the same device for various regions and partners. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 did not have a variety of models with differing CPUs like, for instance, the Galaxy S4 phone did; the original "10.1" contained an NVIDIA Tegra 2 and the later "2 10.1" embed a TI OMAP 4430 SoC. It is entirely possible that Intel won every Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 tablet ever, but it is also entirely possible that they did not.

Boy Genius Report India (BGR India, video above) also claims more specific hardware based on a pair of listings at GLBenchmark. The product is registered under the name Santos10: GT-P5200 being the 3G version, and GT-P5210 being the Wi-Fi version.

These specifications are:

  • Intel Atom Z2560 800-933 MHz dual-core SoC (4 threads, 1600 MHz Turbo)
  • PowerVR SGX 544MP GPU (OpenGL ES 2.0)
  • 1280x800 display
  • Android 4.2.2

I am not entirely sure what Intel has to offer with Clover Trail+ besides, I would guess, reliable fabrication. Raw graphics performance is still about half of Apple's A6X GPU although, if the leaked resolution is true, it has substantially less pixels to push without being attached to an external display.

Maybe Intel made it too cheap to refuse?

Source: Reuters

New Silvermont Atom Chips Will Use Pentium and Celeron Branding

Subject: Processors | June 2, 2013 - 11:32 PM |
Tagged: silvermont, pentium, Intel, haswell, celeron, atom, 22nm

In addition to the impending launch of Intel's desktop Haswell processors, the company is also working on new Atom-series chips based on Intel's Silvermont architecture. Ryan Shrout wrote about the upcoming Atom architecture a few weeks ago, and you can read up on it here. However, in short, Atoms using the Silvermont architecture are 22nm SoCs with a Hyper Threaded, dual-module quad core design that comes with burst-able clockspeeds and up to 2.5x the performance of chips using the previous generation Saltwell architecture. Intel is promising up to a 50% IPC (instructions per clock) increase, and 4.7x lower power versus previous generation Atom CPUs.

A block diagram of Intel's upcoming Silvermont architecture.

With that said, over the weekend I read an interesting article over at PC World that hinted at these new Silvermont-based Atom processors taking up the Pentium and Celeron branded CPU mantle. In speaking with Intel employee Kathy Gill, the site learned that Intel will be using the Silvermont architecture in code-named Bay Trail-M and Bay Trail-D processors for notebooks and desktops respectively. The Bay Trail code name isn't new, but Intel's use of the Pentium and Celeron branding for these Atom chips is. For the past few generations, Intel has re-purposed lower-tier or lower binned Core processors as Pentiums or Celerons by disabling features and/or clocking them lower. It seems that Intel finally believes that its Atom lineup is good enough to serve those low-end desktop and notebook CPU purposes under the budget brand families.

Intel Celeron Logo.jpg

Kathy Gill further stated that "we aren't ready to disclose additional details on Haswell plans at this time,” which does not rule out Haswell-based Celeron and Pentium chips. It does not confirm them either, however.

After a chat with PC Perspective's Josh Walrath on the issue, I'm not certain which direction Intel will take, but I do believe that Intel will (at least) favor the Atom chips for the Pentium and Celeron brands/lines because the company will see much better profit margins with the Silvermont-based chips compared to Haswell-based ones. On the other hand, Intel would lose out on the ability to re-brand low binning Core i3s as Pentium or Celeron CPUs. Further, going with both architectures would complicate matters and invite a good amount of brand confusion for many consumers in spite of allowing a mix of better profit margins and re-purposing chips that otherwise wouldn't make the cut (admittedly, Intel probably has to artificially limit some number of chips to keep up with the volume of Pentium and Celerons needed, it's difficult to say to what extent though).

Hopefully we will know more about Intel's Bay Trail CPUs and branding plans at Computex later this week.

What do you think of this move by Intel, and will the Silvermont-based Bay Trail chips be up to the task?

Source: PC World

A last ride down Clover Trail? Asus' VivoTab Smart ME400C

Subject: Mobile | May 10, 2013 - 06:56 PM |
Tagged: clover trail, asus, VivoTab Smart ME400C, atom

While the new Atom processors that we discussed are a long way off you can still pick up some interesting devices powered by the current generation.  The ASUS VivoTab Smart ME400C has a Z2760 @ 1.8GHz, 2GB DDR2 and a 64GB eMMC SSD which is not too shabby for a $400 device.  The 1366x768 resolution screen might not be the best but at 10.1" it is a reasonable choice for ASUS to make.  The Tech Report's testing showed you can expect about 10 hours of battery life and it is capable of running Windows 8 and legacy x86 software as opposed to the ARM powered WinRT tablets it competes with.  They do recommend you purhase the TranSleeve and a bluetooth keyboard and mouse combo seperately as you will save a good amount of money doing so.

TR_asusthing.jpg

"This Windows 8 tablet has an Atom processor, solid battery life, and a $430 price tag. Is it compelling as a tablet, and can it really double as a productivity PC?"

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Intel plans a new Atom every year, starting with Silvermont

Subject: General Tech, Processors | May 6, 2013 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: silvermont, merrifield, Intel, Bay Trail, atom

The news today is all about shrinking the Atom, both in process size and power consumption.  Indeed The Tech Report heard talk of milliwatts and SoC's which shows the change of strategy Intel is having with Atom from small footprint HTPCs to POS and other ultra-low power applications.  Hyperthreading has been dropped and Out of Order processing has been brought in which makes far more sense for the new niche Atom is destined for. 

Make sure to check out Ryan's report here as well.

TR_core-block.png

"Since their debut five years ago, Intel's Atom microprocessors have relied on the same basic CPU core. Next-gen Atoms will be based on the all-new Silvermont core, and we've taken a closer look at its underlying architecture."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Author:
Subject: Processors, Mobile
Manufacturer: Intel

A much needed architecture shift

It has been almost exactly five years since the release of the first Atom branded processors from Intel, starting with the Atom 230 and 330 based on the Diamondville design.  Built for netbooks and nettops at the time, the Atom chips were a reaction to a unique market that the company had not planned for.  While the early Atoms were great sellers, they were universally criticized by the media for slow performance and sub-par user experiences. 

Atom has seen numerous refreshes since 2008, but they were all modifications of the simplistic, in-order architecture that was launched initially.  With today's official release of the Silvermont architecture, the Atom processors see their first complete redesign from the ground up.  With the focus on tablets and phones rather than netbooks, can Intel finally find a foothold in the growing markets dominated by ARM partners? 

I should note that even though we are seeing the architectural reveal today, Intel doesn't plan on having shipping parts until late in 2013 for embedded, server and tablets and not until 2014 for smartphones.  Why the early reveal on the design then?  I think that pressure from ARM's designs (Krait, Exynos) as well as the upcoming release of AMD's own Kabini is forcing Intel's hand a bit.  Certainly they don't want to be perceived as having fallen behind and getting news about the potential benefits of their own x86 option out in the public will help.

silvermont26.jpg

Silvermont will be the first Atom processor built on the 22nm process, leaving the 32nm designs of Saltwell behind it.  This also marks the beginning of a new change in the Atom design process, to adopt the tick/tock model we have seen on Intel's consumer desktop and notebook parts.  At the next node drop of 14nm, we'll see see an annual cadence that first focuses on the node change, then an architecture change at the same node. 

By keeping Atom on the same process technology as Core (Ivy Bridge, Haswell, etc), Intel can put more of a focus on the power capabilities of their manufacturing.

Continue reading about the new Intel Silvermont architecture for tablets and phones!!