Intel's MinnowBoard Max coming in late, commanding higher prices

The open-source PC board lists at $129 but will cost more from the first retailers selling it

It's been a rough start for Intel's MinnowBoard Max open-source computer, which has been delayed and is now pricier.

The Max is like the Raspberry Pi, an open-source computer that has taken hobbyists by storm. The Max is a circuit board, with no case, that includes most components of a PC, including a CPU, memory and slots for add-ons such as storage and graphics. It's designed for people who want to build a basic Linux PC and for software developers looking to write x86 applications.

The Max was due to ship in June, priced at US$129 for a board with a dual-core Atom chip and $99 for a single-core board. Two retailers are taking orders for the dual-core board, but they're asking more than the list price. One of the retailers, Mouser, is selling the board for $146. It estimates the dual-core board will ship on Aug. 4. The other, Tigal in the U.K., is going even higher to a!135.60 (US$182). Tigal said it hasn't determined a delivery date.

The single-core board will be available shortly, an Intel spokesman said in an email interview. The company did not comment on the retailers' prices.

Apparently, the demand for Max was so high that it disrupted Intel's product shipment plans, according to the MinnowBoard website.

"The dual-core version is available before the single-core because we ordered them for internal development. Purchasing demand has been so high, however, we decided to release some of those to distributors. Single-core parts will be available in the second run of boards, which will follow shortly," Intel said on its website.

Intel is adding more distributors so the board will be available worldwide, the company spokesman said.

The MinnowBoard Max is an upgrade to the original MinnowBoard, which shipped last August with a 4-year-old Atom chip. The new board has Atom E3800 chips based on the latest Bay Trail architecture.

Other features on the board include DDR3 RAM, integrated graphics, a USB 3.0 slot, Gigabit Ethernet and HDMI ports, and 8MB of SPI flash memory for system firmware. It also has a PCI-Express 2.0 slot and SATA controllers. Other expansion options include UARTs and GPIO ports.

Like its predecessor, the MinnowBoard Max is open-source hardware, and Intel has published schematics of the board design so it can be easily replicated.

Intel also sells the Galileo Gen2 board, which runs on the Quark CPU. Intel and Microsoft jointly developed the $299 Sharks Cove board, which can be ordered but has not yet shipped.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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