Tiny Boards Spark Low-Power Computing Maker Movement

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Getting hardware in the hands of developers can often be a struggle for vendors, but a new trend seems to be gaining traction out there. In the past week, global competitors Intel and Nvidia have both put out low-cost development platforms designed to get people using their tools in new and innovative ways:

  • MinnowBoard_MAX-Top-Angled_1280x960At $129, MinnowBoard MAX is an open hardware embedded board designed with the Intel Atom E38xx series SOC (also known as Bay Trail). Targeted at the low cost embedded market, MinnowBoard MAX was designed to appeal to both embedded developers and the maker community. MinnowBoard MAX offers great performance, flexibility, openness and standards for the price.
  • TK1_Dev_Kit-6350-GREEN-V4_280At $192, Jetson TK1 is a tiny but full-featured computer designed for development of embedded and mobile applications. The small device is based on a 5″ wide by 5″ long PC board with a Tegra K1 processor, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB 4.51 eMMC memory, and the following peripherals and ports. What makes Jetson TK1 exciting is it incorporates Tegra K1, the first mobile processor to feature a CUDA-capable GPU.

While these devices are not targeted at HPC, they do offer a lot of computational power and flexibility for innovators seeking to try new things with low-power devices. And with all their available ports, something tells me we will be seeing all kinds of these devices at SC14 in New Orleans this November.

In this video from the Emerging Technologies Booth at SC13, Thomas Sohmers from Rex Computing describes how the company is using ARM-powered Parallella boards from Adapteva as building blocks for low-energy HPC clusters.