Design Goals

Board Design Goals:

This web site is in the process of being updated to reflect information about both MinnowBoard and MinnowBoard MAX. If you see the word MinnowBoard without “MAX”, then assume the information applies only to the original version of the board. Thanks for your patience while we update our content accordingly!

Our goal was to create a customizable developer board that uses Intel® Architecture and can be easily replicated. It is a simple board layout that lends itself to customization. The hardware design is open.  We used open source software as much as possible. We used standard (not cutting edge) components that are in stock and affordable, to keep the cost down. Finally, we designed a small footprint with hopes of making it even smaller.

Software / OS:

The MinnowBoard is powered by the open source Angstrom Linux* Distribution, which provides a variety of software packages that are relevant to and optimized for embedded applications. It is easy to install additional software from the Angstrom package feeds.  Angstrom is registered as Yocto Project Compatible which is the most flexible build system for embedded Linux on the open source market.

Yocto Project Compatible

The MinnowBoard’s UEFI firmware offers a modern, standards-based firmware environment which allows you to develop custom firmware features.

Intel Architecture:

Many Intel Architecture based boards are really focused on the PC market. They are typically missing important features needed by embedded developers. Thus, we targeted clear performance, standards, and flexibility goals to make working with the board easier for makers and hackers.  We included as many of these features as we could at a low price point while maintaining fairly low power requirements, which are suitable for embedded and maker use.

Performance / Standards:

The Intel® Atom™ processor and standards provide these benefits:

  • Strong performance
  • Access to a mature ecosystem
  • Standards-based busses (PCIe, USB, SPI, I²C, and CAN)
  • SATA, GbE, GPIO, SDIO, UARTs, LVDS, and SDVO
  • Generous I/O, video capabilities, and Ethernet throughput

DVI through HDMI and providing headless debug support through a real UART were priorities

Flexibility / Expandibilty:

The “Lure” concept, the daughter card capability, has a flexible expansion connector which is chassis-friendly and stackable.  We’ll offer some open source designed Lures starting with some basic functions.  You can also design your own Lures.

We hope a MinnowBoard finds a small space on your desk and helps you create something fun or useful.  We’re looking forward to hearing what you think of the board and your plans for it in the future.

Performance
  • Intel® Atom™ 1.0 GHz 32-bit CPU with Hyper-Threading and Virtualization Technology
  • Integrated Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 600
  • Generous I/O
        PCI Express
        SATA2 3Gb/sec
        Gigabit Ethernet
        SDIO
  • UEFI Firmware
Openness
  • Open Hardware Platform
  • Customizations Possible Without Signing NDAs
  • Open Source Angstrom Linux* Distribution
  • Open Source MinnowBoard Lure Designs
Flexibility
  • Affordable Intel® Atom™ Platform
  • Scales up to Higher Workloads
  • Small Form Factor
  • Extensive Firmware Capabilities
  • Expandability via MinnowBoard Lures
Standards
  • X86 compatibility
  • PCI Express, SATA, USB – PC Architecture Standards
  • SPI, I2C, CAN, GPIO – Embedded System Standards
  • Angstrom Linux* Distribution (Yocto Project Compatible)
  • UEFI Firmware
  • ACPI 5.0