Microsoft has jumped into the embedded space with both feet, announcing a new development board dubbed Sharks Cove created in partnership with Beagleboard creator CircuitCo.
That Microsoft has been eyeing the embedded space is no secret: the company recently launched
a programme to give away Intel's MinnowBoard Gen 2 development boards with a heavily-customised Windows installation dubbed Windows On Devices. Now it's bringing its own development board to market, eschewing Intel's low-power Quark chip for the tried-and-tested Atom.
Sharks Cove, first teased back in April
, is an undeniably professional-grade development board, powered by an Intel Atom Z3735G processor running at 1.33GHz with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of on-board storage expandable via micro-SD. A pair of 60-pin MIPI connectors allow for display panels and cameras to be hooked up without sacrificing the single USB 2.0 port, while 20 pins are provided for sensor connections and 12 batches of 10 pins apiece for general-purpose input-output (GPIO) use. Oddly, however, there's no networking: if Ethernet connectivity is required, Microsoft recommends the use of USB to Ethernet adapters.
'This marks a major milestone in our work, and we’re all pretty excited about it, to say the least,
' wrote Microsoft's Michael Fourre in the company's announcement
. 'This board is the product of a lot of collaborative effort amongst various groups from Microsoft, Intel, and the product manufacturer, CircuitCo. This “Windows compatible hardware development board” is designed to facilitate development of software and drivers for mobile devices that run Windows, such as phones, tablets and similar System on a Chip (SoC) platforms.
Although the Sharks Cove board itself claims to be aimed towards anyone looking to do embedded or mobile development with a Windows or Android target, Microsoft is naturally hoping its users will choose the former. The board comes complete with a Windows 8.1 licence and factory image, and is supported by the Windows Driver Kit 8.1 for Visual Studio Express - both of which are provided with a valid Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) account.
For enthusiasts, however, the high price of entry may be off-putting: the board is available for pre-order now via distributor Mouser
priced at a pro-grade £232 including VAT. More information is available on the official website