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Cherry Trail hacker board is a Windows/Arduino mashup

Apr 28, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 3,078 views

DFRobot’s LattePanda hacker board, built around a 14nm quad-core Cherry Trail Atom SoC, is now available starting at $99, including Windows 10 Home Edition.

We skipped the Kickstarter launch of the Windows 10-oriented LattePanda hacker board back in December. In our three years as, we covered plenty of single-board computers that run Windows, but very few that focused solely on it, even if we knew that Linux could run on the board. Now that we’ve transitioned to the more non-denominational, we’ve decided to give LattePanda another look.

In recent weeks, LattePanda’s community-backed SBC shipped to most of its 4,060 Kickstarter backers, some of whom paid only 45 Pounds ($65). It’s now publicly available starting at $99.

The campaign raised an impressive 442,735 Pounds, or almost $647,000. Clearly, there was some pent-up demand for a Windows 10 devoted hacker board, as well as demand for more powerful x86 hacker boards in general.

LattePanda with and without its heat sink
(click images to enlarge)

The LattePanda is not a fully open source board, since it runs the proprietary Windows. However, it appears to offer some open specs, including a 3D model posted on GitHub, and provides strong community resources on its website. Although it’s likely to be able to run Linux and Android, a few early recipients of their LattePanda boards have already reported problems with various Linux distributions on the board’s user forum, and responses from the board’s developers have yet to appear. One user reported on the Kickstarter project’s comments page that Xenial Desktop (amd64), based on Ubuntu 16.04 packages, boots and runs, but it’s unclear whether functions such as WiFi, which requires chipset-specific drivers, work.

So far, aside from the older single- and dual-core hacker boards from x86 chipmakers like Intel and AMD, including the MinnowBoard Max and AMD Gizmo-2, the only fully open source board in this category is the $89 and up Udoo-x86. The JaguarBoard and Aaeon’s UP board do not appear to offer full specs and schematics with open licensing. They do, however, actively support open source Linux and/or Android builds.

Of all these boards, only the UP board does not currently offer Windows 10 support. Windows 10 is also available on some other Linux-oriented boards, most famously the Raspberry Pi 2 and 3, which offers the Windows 10 IoT version. The LattePanda instead supplies a pre-licensed and pre-installed version of Windows 10 Home Edition — the full edition, not a trial. It runs on essentially the same quad-core, 14nm “Cherry Trail” Atom SoC as found on the UP board (x5-Z8300 vs. the UP’s x5-Z8350), in this case clocked to 1.8GHz. The board supports development tools including C#, Javascript, and Ruby.

Arduino compatibility

Like the Udoo-x86, which won’t ship until the fall, the LattePanda also provides Arduino support. While the Udoo-x86 gets there via an Intel Curie module with a Quark MCU, the LattePanda goes to the bare metal with a Leonardo-compatible ATmega32u4 MCU from Dialog Semiconductor’s Atmel subsidiary. Although unlike the Udoo-x86, the LattePanda is not pin-compatible with Arduino shields, its “Arduino compatible” coprocessor should let you run Arduino sketches. Additionally, the board’s 24-pin GPIO header provides Arduino compatible signals controlled by the ATmega32u4 MCU.

“When discussing the compatibility of Arduino, we had a big debate in the team from the beginning,” states the LattePanda project team on the board’s Kickstarter page. “Some members wanted to optimize the size, and others wanted to make it compatible with [Arduino] shields. After research about all the functions of shields, we found that the most commonly used shields are Ethernet/WIFI/Bluetooth/LCD display ones. Since 80% of the features of all shields are already integrated in LattePanda, we choose to optimize the size for this particular version.”

Other details

The 88 x 70mm SBC is larger than a Raspberry Pi or UP board, but smaller than the Udoo-x86. The LattePanda is available with 2GB and 32GB eMMC flash for the $99 version, and 4GB of RAM and 64GB for the “Enhanced” $139 model. A microSD slot is also available.

LattePanda board features (left) and interface details
(click images to enlarge)

An HDMI port and a touch-ready LCD interface handle display duties. The latter connects to an optional, 7-inch, 1024 x 600 IPS display, which sells for $16, or $34 with capacitive touch. A 10/100 Ethernet port is also onboard along with WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.

USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports are available, as is a micro-USB port for 5V/2A power. Other features include an audio jack, some serial interfaces, and 22 GPIO, 20 of which are devoted to Arduino duty.

The GPIO connector hooks up to an optional Gravity:Starter Sensor Set, which is now on pre-order for $59.90. The kit bundles a variety of sensors from DFRobot, which is distributing the LattePanda, including motion, analog gas and flame, temperature and humidity, ambient light, rotation, and crash sensors. There are also pushbuttons, LEDs, and relays.

We doubt many buyers planning on running Linux or Android will choose the LattePanda over the UP or Udoo-x86. However, the SBC is certainly competitive.

The $99 2GB RAM version of the UP board with the same processor, has only 16GB flash instead of 32GB, and there’s no onboard WiFi and Bluetooth. On the other hand, like the Udoo-x86, the UP provides a Raspberry Pi-compatible 40-pin array, as well as Gigabit Ethernet, a MIPI-CSI camera port, and many more USB ports. So it depends on what features you prioritize.

Specifications listed for the LattePanda include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom x5-Z8300 (4x Cherry Trail cores @ 1.8GHz); Intel HD 400 Graphics; ATmega32u4 MCU
  • Memory:
    • 2GB or 4GB (Enhanced) DDR3L RAM
    • 32GB or 64GB (Enhanced) eMMC flash
    • MicroSD slot
  • Display — HDMI port for 1080p60 HEVC decode, H.264, and VP8; LCD interface with touch support; optional 7-inch LCD (touch and non-touch)
  • Wireless — WiFi; Bluetooth 4.0
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet port with Wake-on-LAN
  • USB —
  • 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, 1x Micro-USB port (power)

  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • Other expansion:
    • 10-pin Atom I/O header (4x I2C, 1x UART, 2x GPIO, power, ground)
    • 24-pin Arduino pinout GPIO header (GPIO, analog, 1x UART, power, ground)
    • 7x plug & play sensor connectors
  • Power — 5V/2A
  • Dimensions — 89 x 70mm)
  • Weight — 100g
  • Operating System — pre-installed, pre-activated full edition of Windows 10 Home Edition

Further information

The LattePanda board is available at DFRobot for $99 with 2GB RAM and 32GB flash, or $139 with 4GB RAM and 64GB flash. More information may be found at the LattePanda website, the LattePanda Kickstarter page, and the DFRobot LattePanda shopping page.

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One response to “Cherry Trail hacker board is a Windows/Arduino mashup”

  1. bernstein says:

    $65 lattepanda backer here, mainly got it because i figured that’s dirt cheap for fully licensed win10 desktop including wifi+bt. with the added benefit of possibly using it as a 4K kodi htpc, or as a hacker board or even linux server… just make sure you have a 12W (2.4A) usb power supply…

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