When you think of home-brewed computer projects, Raspberry Pi or Arduino may be the first maker boards to spring to mind. But there are many capable alternatives. South Korean open source hardware firm Hardkernel has been selling ARM-based single board computers for a good while, but has now revealed details of its upcoming Odroid H2, its first built on Intel's x86 architecture.
The first Odroid boards based on an Intel x86 platform began development three years ago with the Odroid H, which was built around a Cherry Trail x5-Z8500 2.2 GHz processor. But higher manufacturing costs than expected and restricted RAM support meant that this iteration didn't make it production.
Undeterred, Hardkernel started working on a Braswell-based board in August 2016, which rocked Intel's N3160 CPU. The first Odroid H1 sample was made in February 2017, which included 8 GB of DDR3 memory. But this too didn't see production as Apollo Lake devices were already appearing and it was thought that a Braswell board wouldn't be competitive.
After briefly considering AMD's Ryzen 5 2500U 3.5 GHz mobile processor, Intel announced its Gemini Lake family of processors and the Odroid H2 design was born.
The H2 centers around 2.3 GHz J4105 quad-core brains with Intel UHD graphics and up to 32 GB of dual-channel DDR4 RAM. There are four PCIe 2.0 slots for storage, two SATA 3.0 connections, USB 3.0 ports and two gigabit Ethernet ports. HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 video outputs mean that two 4K displays are a possibility.
The board measures 110 x 110 x 43 mm (4.3 x 4.3 x 1.69 in) and tips the scales at 320 g (11.28 oz), including two DRAM modules and an M.2 NVMe SSD. The design includes a large heatsink for quiet, powerful performance.
The first engineering samples were ready by July this year, and after a few tweaks the next batch surfaced last month. These have been tested booting Ubuntu 18.10 with Kernel 4.18 and smooth gaming performance resulted, so all looks good for commercial release.
Mass production is set to begin and the Odroid H2 will be available from the end of next month, pricing to be confirmed. Four types of housing have also been developed, though makers adept at 3D printing may opt to produce their own.
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