Ch9: Win HW Dev Boards: SharksCove, Minnowboard

[quote]We are hosting a live online event on August 25th where we will show you the capabilities of the Sharks Cove development board from Intel, demonstrate how it can be leveraged by developers for driver development and see how our partners have successfully used this platform to further their business. We will also hear about how Microsoft is collaborating with industry partners to make it very easy for developers interfacing with hardware to use Windows as a development platform.

We also have an exciting new hardware development to disclose.

The Minnowboard mailing list said that this board will also included — perhaps that’s the reference in the last sentence.

Can someone that’s watching this tell what they have revealed…?

Just started to watch, but below is the Agenda.

The link is: Shows | Microsoft Learn

Not sure if it’s still available, as I had the page up while away from my desk and it’s cached the video. The actual presentation starts at an 1 hour in.

The focus for both boards are primarily for system builders – these are 2 test platforms.

Both were designed to lower the difficulty and cost barriers for hardware developers. You could in fact use any Windows SKU on either board. Either could be your desktop computer if you wished, albeit slower and less powerful than a typical desktop system.

If you don’t have a Win license to use, you could use a trial Embedded version.

If you need highspeed display or camera interface, then Shark Cove is better. They likened the SC to a board you’d find in a tablet if you took the screen and case off.

There was a quick mention that Minnow could be used for enthusiast makers.

Intel/Circuit Co talked about the 2 boards


  • Minnow Max is fully open
  • Single core: $99 / Dual core: $139; Atom Baytrail

At that cost you’d need to REALLY REALLY want Windows. They’re not cost-competitive with the currently available ARM boards at all.

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Well, this is a MS presentation, so the presumption is that audience wants Windows and is building or wants to build Windows tablets/hardware.

These aren’t designed to compete with Pi or BBB.

The only comparable current gen ARM SOM that’s available via distribution channels that I know of (granted my knowledge isn’t vast) is a Variscite Snapdragon 600 1.7GHz A15. There’s no pricing available - so I don’t know how it compares; only Arrow has them, but again, no pricing info. But that’s not a “top of the line” ARM chip for them … that would be the 800/1/5.

Variscite also has a TI OMAP5432 2.0 GHz Dual Cortex-A15, but not sure how it compares to the Snap600 or Atom.

Both of these are SOMs, so you still need a dev board.

I like the Wandboard (which is SOM & dev board) which uses a single/dual/quad core iMX6 running at 1GHz - but that’s an A9 core. It costs 83/103/139 from Mouser. It has a camera, not sure about MIPI.

Just found another Snapdragon 600 -

It’s a $199, but again it’s only a DIMM looking SOM. So you’ll need a dev board to plug it into.

If you factor that in, then pricewise Sharks Cove is pretty close to this.

Do you have anything to show that these are “not cost-competitive with the currently available ARM boards at all”?

Or is this again IMNSHO??

(more review on the presentation – am about 1/2 way through it)

Sharks cove is a tablet reference device

Kept making reference to “anything you find on tablet, you’ll find here”

They are working on improving the step by step documentation – have the first one up for an Accelerometer driver

VS Express for Desktop (doesn’t require Professional) will work with WDK (win driver kit)

Have a number of driver templates to start from

F5 will build + deploy and you debug through VS debugger or Win debugger tools.

Win & IoT:

  • Large systems: Win Embedded Industrial edition
  • Handheld: Win Embedded handheld for x86 & ARM
  • Small: Win Embedded compact for x86 & ARM
  • Micro: ARM with NETMF

The talk then focused on Small Devices –
Spoke of the “Windows on Galileo” program.

In future this WoD project will use other boards, such as the MinnowMax, and they will also have Wiring support.

All these project use the same toolchain – primarily VS & Win32 and mentioned RT in a slide as well.

They then showed a top to bottom development based on the step by step Accelerometer which is on MSDN. Will watch more later or tomorrow.

It’s always IMNSHO :wink:

The obvious SoM here would be the Pi compute module. If you need more power, try an AW-SOM.

Except these aren’t competing with Pi class systems. These are current architecture Atom chips, not several gen old microarchitecture. They are variants of the chips you find in current gen consumer phones, tablets, desktop and servers. Additionally they are full dev boards, so they have full connectivity on the PCB - unlike the Pi compute which needs a board to plug into. They are running quite a bit faster clock speed than the Pi and have much strong processing power.

Again, in my humble opinion, these compete with Snapdragon class processors.


AW-SOM 2 core SODDIM = Developer mainboard = $98
MinnowboardMAX = $99

Found another Snap600 board: $149
Inforce Snap600: $149
MinnowboardMAX Dual = $149

Snapdragon 800 dev board: $475
Sharks Cove: $299

If this discussion was about Galileo, I’d be right there with you with the “not cost-competitive with the currently available ARM boards at all” comment. For that world I’d rather have a Yun - staying purely Arduino format.

But these prices really competitive. If you’re looking at these boards for embedded (with the Pi reference), then you’re looking at them incorrectly.

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I’m curious, though, what niche do these fill? What embedded application needs that much horsepower, but won’t be passing the work on to “the cloud”?

The SC wasn’t pitched as an end use device but as a dev kit. These are initially marketed for software people in HW firms to develop drivers on x86 dev kits while the production HW is being produced.

They didn’t pitch the range of devices for a specific niche. Minnow is a step-up from Galileo. Sharks is a step-up from Minnow. So it depends on what the HW/SW developer is trying to build.

As far as markets these could work in, they mentioned markets ranging from digital signage to navigation to kiosks to medical devices to automobile based systems were mentioned.

They had customer testimonials from:

  • Solteam Opto who makes “optical, Lighting and Sensor” solutions, including Ambient light & Proximity sensors found in portable devices. They talked about the difficulties of developing drivers for their customers, as they had to wait until they were completed and at times required BIOS modifications that can take a while - but now they can do work ahead of time on the SC board and use various MS tools to speed up the BIOS work. Because it’s a full Win8.1, they can integrate with a Windows HCK (Hardware Certification Kit) box and do automated testing.

  • STMicro’s team that makes Monition and Environment sensors, Bluetooth BLE & MEMS microphones uses SC to speed up driver development. In the past ODM collaboration on integrated PC or laptop required them to rework their designs before they could work on software. SC allows the validate their drivers for WHQL and modify BIOS and ACPI settings easily and before the ODM provides them production ready hardware. They also refered to HCK.

So both testimonials were similar for SC – they are for companies that work with other ODM companies. The dev kit is used to do dev work :wink:

They showed a chart of “IoT Device Taxonomy and our products today” – these 2 devices would fit anywhere in their Large to Small, in addition to quite a range of non-IoT devices.

Large: POS terminals, ATM, MRI - x86 PC-like
Mobile: Ruggedized handhelds, POS tablets with “shell experience and apps” - x86 and ARM
Small: Gateways, wearables, panels, cars with no shell - x86 and ARM
Micro: NETMF on ARM

imo, it’s also part MS selling their story of VS & Windows from Servers all the way down to the embedded world.

These boards aren’t best suited for the maker community. They are trying (a big uphill battle) to position the Galileo for that.

I am wondering if that the Minnow will be a replacement for Galileo in the future.

Don’t think so …

  1. Different form factor
  2. Different power (wattage) draws
  3. Different prices points
  4. Different h/w capabilities
  5. Different processing capabilities
  6. Different OSes supported

I’ve been following these discussions about “embedded” Windows with great interest. I signed up for the Microsoft IoT program, but have not yet received my Galileo board.

The two boards discussed in this Channel 9 video are very interesting, especially the MinnowBoard MAX. I see it as an ideal platform for a home automation controller that can provide low-level interfaces to devices such as sensors, keypads, thermostats, and so on, but can also provide a high-level UI through its HDMI interface to a TV or other monitor.

After watching the video I was excited to hear that “both boards can run any version of Windows 8.1”, but then when I read the deployment instructions on this Microsoft page Microsoft Learn: Build skills that open doors in your career it seems to indicate that only these two versions of Windows can be deployed:

  • Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Pro Evaluation
  • Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Pro with Update (x86) - DVD

Am I missing something??

I’ve been following the Minnowboard mailing list - and this was from yesterday (from John @ Intel):

So I assume that after the BSP comes out, then it should facilitate installation of various Windows versions.

They are still struggling to keep up with demand (similar to BBB), but Circuit Co (also the BBB producers) is ramping up production. The initial version is a dual core, but will eventually have a single core as well.

Add-on boards, aka Lures, are being produced as well: (prototyping board) (a demo of basic low speed I/O available)

@ mhectorgato - Thank you!

The Inforcelive link is not working , i think the right link is given below.
Inforce 6410 Plus: