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Udoo spins $89 quad-core Intel Braswell hacker SBC

Apr 14, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 6,402 views

Udoo has surpassed its Kickstarter goal for a “Udoo X86” hacker SBC with a quad-core Braswell SoC, 4GB RAM, and Arduino compatibility via a Curie module.

Seco’s project has won Kickstarter funding for the Udoo X86, the third community-backed, x86 based hacker-friendly single board computer we’ve seen that’s not backed by Intel or AMD. With its Intel Braswell processor, it appears to also be the fastest x86 hacker board around. Like the Intel MinnowBoard Max and AMD Gizmo 2 boards, but unlike the third-party Jaguar Electronics JaguarBoard and the newly updated UP board from Aaeon, it comes with promises of fully open spec hardware.

Udoo X86, from two angles
(click images to enlarge)

The 120 x 85mm Udoo X86 has almost doubled its $100,000 pledge, and with 52 days to go, there are still plenty of boards left at the lowest prices. For $89, you can get the Udoo X86 Basic with 2GB of RAM and an Atom x5-E8000 SoC, while the Udoo X86 Advanced goes for $129, with 4GB RAM and a faster Celeron N3160.

Both packages include 8GB of eMMC and ship in November. The SBC supports any x86 compatible Linux, as well as Android and Windows.

Udoo X86 top and bottom views

The Atom x5-E8000 and Celeron N3160 are both quad-core SoCs from the recent, 14nm Intel Braswell generation, and have 2MB cache. Braswell is closely related to Intel’s 14nm, mobile-oriented “Cherry Trail” processors, such as the quad-core Atom x5-Z8300 found on the UP board.

The JaguarBoard uses an older 22nm Atom, as do the Minnowboard Max SBC and Intel Edison module, while the Intel Galileo runs Linux on a much slower Quark processor. AMD’s Gizmo 2 uses a dual-core G-Series SoC roughly equivalent to a dual-core 22nm Atom.

While the $89-and-up UP board’s x5-Z8300 clocks to 1.33GHz with bursts to 1.85GHz, the Udoo X86 Basic’s Atom x5-E8000 starts at a low 1.04GHz, but bursts to 2.0GHz, and the Advanced model’s Celeron N3160 starts at 1.60GHz and bursts to a sizzling 2.24GHz.

The two Braswell SoCs also have advantages over Cherry Trail like the addition of SATA support and the ability to drive three simultaneous 4K displays. The Cherry Trail Atom x5-Z8300 does, however, win on power consumption with a 2W TDP, compared to 5W for the Atom x5-E8000 and 6W for the Celeron N3160. No power consumption was listed for the Udoo X86 in its entirety.

Long story short, even with the somewhat misleading emphasis on burst speeds, the Udoo project seems to be entirely justified in calling this “the most powerful maker board ever.” According to Udoo’s own Sysbench benchmarks (shown below), the Udoo X86 Advanced is 10 times faster than its i.MX6-based Udoo Quad or the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, and it’s even faster than the i.MX6 SoloX-based Udoo Neo.

Udoo benchmark data
(click images to enlarge; source: Udoo project)

The power of the Braswell platform enables support for advanced peripherals like Intel RealSense, Microsoft Kinect 2, or Leap Motion, says the Udoo project. The Udoo X86 can also be used as a Steam gaming client, and the triple 4K display support can also be used for signage applications, among many others.

Like the Edison and Galileo boards, the Udoo X86 integrates an Intel Quark processor. However, instead of using the original, Linux-ready X1000, it uses an Intel Curie module with a Quark SE, which like the Quark D1000 and D2000 is a microcontroller without Linux support. The Curie also includes a 32-bit ARC (Argonaut RISC Core) MCU.

Udoo details, top (left) and bottom
(click images to enlarge)

The postage-stamped size Curie, which is typically aimed at wearables, provides the Udoo X86 SBC with Arduino 101 IDE compatibility, including the ability to connect Arduino 101-compatible shields, sensors, and actuators. The Curie module connects with the Braswell SoC via an internal USB port. The design allows the Curie to run when the Braswell CPU is powered off, “and wake it up when something’s happened in the world,” says the Udoo project.

Udoo cluster
(click to enlarge)

The Udoo project is offering add-ons in the form of a starter kit, a performance kit, and a cluster kit. The starter kit gives you various cables, a 12V adapter, as well as an acrylic enclosure, while the performance kit gives you a 32GB SATA SSD, a WiFi-ac/Bluetooth 4.0 module that hooks into an M.2 slot, plus all the starter kit items. The cluster kit gives you four 12V adapters, enabling stackable cluster computer configurations for high performance computing.

In addition to the 8GB of eMMC, the base feature set includes a microSD slot, as well as SATA III and M.2 connectors. The board features dual DisplayPort++ ports and an HDMI port with CEC, which would, for example, let you control the SBC via a remote control. You also get S/PDIF, as well as analog audio jacks. There are no camera ports, but the specs suggest other ways to hook up a camera.

Udoo’s optional acrylic enclosure (left) and Curie-driven Arduino pinout
(click image to enlarge)

A Gigabit Ethernet port is included if you don’t want to go for the optional M.2 wireless module, and the Curie module also has built-in BLE. Other features include three USB 3.0 ports and various headers, including a 20-pin GPIO connector. A separate Arduino pinout is driven by the Curie module, which offers additional interfaces.

The 3.3V board is further equipped with an RTC and a 6-axis accelerometer and gyroscope. There was no mention of a temperature range.

Summary of Udoo X86 specs

Specifications listed for the Udoo X86 include:

  • Processor — Intel Braswell:
    • Basic — Atom x5-E8000 (4x Braswell cores @ 1.04GHz with 2.00GHz burst); 5W TDP; 320MHz Intel Gen 8-LP GPU with 12 execution units
    • Advanced — Celeron N3160 (4x Braswell cores @ 1.60GHz with 2.24GHz burst); 6W TDP; 640MHz Intel Gen 8-LP GPU with 12 execution units
  • Intel Curie module:
    • Intel Quark SE MCU @ 32MHz
    • 32-bit ARC MCU
  • Memory/storage:
    • 2GB (Basic) or 4GB dual-channel (Advanced) DDR3L RAM
    • 8GB eMMC
    • MicroSD slot
    • SATA connector
    • Optional Transcend MTS600 32GB SATA III (6Gbps) SSD, available with performance kit
  • Display:
    • HDMI port with CEC
    • 2x DisplayPort++
    • HW video decode — H.265/HEVC, H.264, MPEG2, MVC, VC-1, WMV9, JPEG, VP8
    • HW video encode — H.264, MVC, JPEG
    • Touchscreen management signals on exp. connector
  • Audio:
    • Mic/headphone connector
    • Internal speaker header
    • S/PDIF output
  • Wireless:
    • BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) via Curie
    • M.2 Key B slot with optional wireless module (802.11ac and BT 4.0), available with performance kit
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • 3x USB 3.0 ports
    • 2x UART headers
    • Up to 20x ext. GPIOs (LPC, 2x I2C, GPIOs, touchscreen management)
    • RC5 IR interface
  • Curie-based I/O:
    • SPI flash
    • JTAG
    • Arduino 101-compatible pinout
    • 14x digital I/O pinout (4x PWM)
    • 6x analog I/O pinout (10-bit)
  • Other features:
    • RTC battery connector
    • Multiboot from LAN, M.2, microSD, eMMC, USB 3.0, SATA
    • 6-axis combo sensor with accelerometer and gyro
    • Supports optional Udoo Bricks sensor modules via I2C connector
    • Optional starter kit with 12V power adapter, HDMI cable, SATA and power cables, acrylic enclosure
    • Optional performance kit with 32GB SATA, M.2 wireless, starter kit items
    • Optional cluster kit with 4x power adapters
  • Power:
    • 3.3V input
    • All pins protected against 5V overvoltage
    • Optional 12V 3A AC adapter (USA/EU/UK) via starter kit or 4x adapters via cluster kit
  • Dimensions — 120 x 85mm (4.72 x 3.35 in.)
  • Operating system — Linux, Android, Windows 7/8.1/10

Further information

The Udoo X86 is available on Kickstarter through June 6, with shipments due in November, starting at $89. More information may be found at Seco’s Udoo X86 Kickstarter page and at the website.

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