Microsoft Partners with Intel for DIY Mini PC, Sharks Cove


SharkCoveThe Raspberry Pi, a credit-card sized single-board computer developed in the UK, has become a hugely popular sensation since it's start in 2012. It not only created waves in the developer/computer community, but even had big rivals like Intel and Microsoft paying close attention. Even if it takes the company a long while to jump on an emerging trend, Microsoft has never been ashamed of following in the steps of smaller companies. After announcing its plans of working on its own developmental board specifically for SoC (system on a chip) hardware back in April, the tech giant is ready to show it off. Now joining hands with hardware manufacturer CircuitCo, Microsoft is teaming with Intel in targeting the mini PC market to release its very own low-cost, Windows-compatible developmental board called Sharks Cove.

Now available for pre-order, you should know the computer isn't priced like the $35 Raspberry Pi. Sharks Cove is just shy of $330. However, it is more fully featured than the Pi. As the brainchild of Windows and Intel, Sharks Cove runs Windows 8.1. It also has a Bay Trail 1.33GHz Intel Atom processor with integrated graphics, something usually reserved for mobile devices. Measuring at 4 inches x 6 inches, the tiny PC features 1GB of RAM, 16 GB on board storage, a micro SD slot, an HDMI output, a MIPI connector, a single USB 2.0 port, as well as a micro USB port for power. Because there is no on board Wi-Fi or Ethernet, you will have to use the USB adapters for Internet connectivity. The board also has power, volume, and home screen buttons, as well as a rotation lock, and plenty of pin headers.

SharkCove1The $330 price tag still not leaving your brain? Even the recently released Raspberry Pi B+ version features half the RAM, no on board storage, and a slower processor than Sharks Cove. So, if you're looking for a bang for your buck, the Cove pretty much has it. Microsoft also defended the higher price on its developer blog:

"That price not only covers the cost of the hardware, but also includes a Windows 8.1 image and the utilities necessary to apply it to the Sharks Cove. When you additionally consider that the Windows Driver Kit 8.1 can pair with Visual Studio Express and are both free with a valid MSDN account, the initial outlay for Windows driver developers is a lot less cost prohibitive than it once was"



The board is geared towards developers that want to create software and drivers for Windows devices, such as phones and tablets. According to Microsoft, Sharks Cove can also be used for Android development. Microsoft hopes this powerful microcomputer will entertain its presence in the development board market, something it has lacked when counting experience points. Microsoft also noted in its April post that it's looking into the possibility of teaming up with additional companies besides Intel. Early adopters may pre-order Sharks Cove from Mouser.com. The official launch date will be August 7, 2014.

Topics: Technology News Intel Inventions & Innovations Microsoft Mini / Nano PCs Raspberry Pi

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