Microsoft Announces Raspberry Pi-Like x86 Advance Panel for Windows

Microsoft actually wants to grab a piece of the growing market for affordable development boards used by students, enthusiasts, engineers and hobby inventors. The new Sharks Cove product, announced jointly by Microsoft and Intel, is a $299 (approximately Rs. 18,000) x86 Atom-based development board will facilitate development of drivers, software and apps for portable devices based on Intel processors that run Windows as well as Android.

In a post on its Windows Hardware and Driver Development Blog as reported by Ars Technica, Microsoft describes Sharks Cove as ideal for together independent hardware vendors and enthusiasts. The cost includes a Windows 8.1 license and additional utilities. This is still far more than the cost of ARM-based Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards, which have become popular with hobbyists, makers and inventors. Raspberry Pi models, for example costs $25 and $35 (approximately Rs. 1,500 and Rs. 2,100) even though they are aimed at different audiences.

Microsoft, Intel and CircuitCo have also set up a devoted website for Sharks Cove, which will host documentation, offer downloads, and be a source of news as well as venue for deliberations and community interactions.

The Sharks Cove board includes an Intel Atom Z3735G processor, which has four cores running at up to 1.8GHz and integated Intel HD Graphics. There’s 1GB of DDR3L RAM and a 16GB eMMC for storage. The board includes tablet-specific hardware controls such as volume, rotation lock and home, as well as connectivity in the form of Ethernet, USB, HDMI, sensors, and MIPI pins for display and camera interfaces. There’s also a microSD card slot, 3.5mm audio jack and microUSB for debugging.

The board itself measures 10.16×15.24cm. It is available for preorder from Mouser Electronics.

Boards such as the Raspberry Pi and Arduino have become accepted but are based on the low-powered ARM architecture. Intel also sells a $79 (approximately Rs. 4,750) x86-based Galileo development board, which is aimed at educational environments and hobbyist innovators, and has announced a much smaller Edison board as well.

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