Windows 10 On A Tiny Board

Over the past few months, a number of companies and designers have started picking up the newest Intel SoCs. Intel has to kill ARM somehow, right? The latest of these single board x86 computers is the Lattepanda. It’s a tiny board that can run everything a 5-year-old desktop computer can run, including a full version of Windows 10.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a tiny x86 board in recent months. Last October, an x86 board that takes design cues from the Raspberry Pi 2 hit Kickstarter. These are proper PCs, with the ability to run Windows 10, Linux, and just about every other environment under the sun.

The specs for the Lattepanda include a quad-core Cherry Trail running at 1.8GHz. the RAM is either 2GB or 4GB depending on configuration, and 32GB of eMMC Flash. Peripherals include USB 3.0, Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth, and integrated graphics supporting either HDMI or a DSI connector.

But of course a computer is just a computer, and you can’t sell a machine that only runs Skype to the ‘maker’ market. The Lattepanda also includes an ATMega32u4 as a coprocessor, giving this board ‘Arduino functionality’. In my day we walked uphill both ways to get a parallel port, but I digress.

While these tiny x86 boards might not be available in a year’s time, and the companies behind them may fall off the face of the planet, the introduction of these devices portends a great war over the horizon. Intel wants the low-power SoC market, a space until now reserved entirely for ARM-based devices.

105 thoughts on “Windows 10 On A Tiny Board

    1. That $80 gets a 1.8 ghz quad-core, 2 gigs of RAM, 32 gigs of storage, and a full copy of Windows 10. A Pi 2 with equivalent accessories (WiFi, Bluetooth, a 32 gig SD card, and an Arduino clone) will cost about as much, but have a weaker CPU and half the RAM.

      1. About the only thing I will question on your post is – why would you need an Arduino clone on a Pi? It has enough I/O as it is – and it’s far faster than using it over a USB link…

        And with the weaker CPU, you get lower power usage. (But yes, if you need the processing power, faster ethernet, RAM or x86 compatibility, the LattePanda is a better bet) (Okay, so that makes a couple of questions…)

        1. Microcontrollers support real time control in a way that a CPU is not designed to match. Using them intelligently in conjuntion allows far better machine control than you can achieve separately and having one natively onboard is just convient for controlling complex embedded devices. It also allows you to do things like having the 1uA controller monitor a device you want to control and wake the main board up only when it is going to be needed.

        2. Modern System-on-Chip (SoC) parts are hobbled by an inability to easily communicate with the outside world for user-defined General-Purpose I/O (GPIO) purposes. This is because the on-chip (internal) I/O is tightly wrapped in an internal (and often proprietary) optimized high-speed data Bus. The only time this bus is allowed to be exposed physically to the outside world is via (again, optimized) interfaces, such as for HDMI video, disk I/O, DMA (memory), USB, etc. Any other manufacturer-intentional exposure of this internal bus to the user is likely to be purpose-structured (e.g., I2C, SPI, asynch-serial), relatively slow, and/or inefficiently buffered. Also, SoC manufacturers are Very afraid to expose the system’s internal bus to the outside world for fear of users using it to “hack” the system. So a common user work-around to this problem is to hang a cheap microcontroller on whatever GPIO is available, and use it to communicate with and buffer external user GPIO through software drivers. An externally connected microcontroller can also be used to expand the number of GPIO ports available to the user. I hope this explanation helps. It is rarely seen in the “Maker” community.

    2. My first thought too. This is a bit of a step up from my kid’s HP Stream 7 tablet (It’s only 1GB ram and I think 1.6GHz). Frankly, once you have a mouse and keyboard (7″ touchscreen is horrendous for Windows desktop), it’s a decent little computer for around $100.

      That little guy should make for a great little basic Windows computer.

      Oh and FYI, battery life on the stream 7 sucks, so don’t expect miracles here. It is more like laptop life than tablet life.

      1. So don’t use it, then. Oh look. See that? It’s the majority of the population not caring that they have to give a little of their soul to get W10, Gmail, Facebook, Google Search, Wikipedia etc for free. Imagine telling someone in the 70’s that you’d get all of this awesome shit for free! And that people complain about getting it for free! Even though they don’t have to use it! I’m sure that they’d laugh very hard at that idea.

        1. its the farthest thing from ‘a little bit of their soul’.

          but thanks for playing, mr. microsoft shill.

          I’ll never touch win10 unless a corp forces me to and even then I’ll put up a fight.

          many of us have read what win10 is really about and if it does not scare you, you’re either dead or clueless.

        2. It’s not free though! You pay with your privacy. If you told those same people how much information their children would trade to use those services they would not laugh. They would cry.

          I’ll let other people argue about wether that is a high price or a low price but I don’t think an average “70’s person” would have been ready to give up that much privacy.

        3. Back in the mainframe days, software WAS free. Different sites would develop useful utilities, and they’d share with each other over a sort-of network of people in the business. IBM didn’t charge anything for their compilers, etc, since they’d only run on IBM hardware, they saw it as something to attract the user to buying (or usually leasing) their big iron.

          As far as “free” goes, as long as the shit’s really awesome, then that’s fine. But who wants a free video camera in their bathroom? It’s HD! A gift from Microsoft, at no cost to you! Who wants a free GPS tracker implanted in their forehead? Microsoft, as a business, wouldn’t be spending so much money on something, then giving it out for free, unless it was making them a profit somewhere down the line.

          They already dominate desktop computing, so it’s not simple dumping to eliminate competition. Their anti-competitive exclusivity requirements already did that in the 1990s. There’s something in it for them, something big, and involving every human being they can possibly get it to.

          I don’t even like Microsoft, bunch of fucking creeps. If they’re keen to give me a free OS, I’m immediately suspicious. Knowing the sort of sinister shit that goes on in software and business these days only makes me more so. Offered the choice I’d sooner take a “free” personality test from a man with a funny electronic meter.

    1. I’m thinking I might want to get one of these but ignore the Win10 and run Linux on it.

      Actually I’ve been thinking about getting a BananaPi to use as a low power, always on home server. I’m not too concerned about the difference in computing power, my needs are small. I’m afraid that if I buy a Pi or some sort of Pi like device I will only get to use it for a few years and it will become unsupported. X86/AMD64 stuff though… it would seem that you can pretty much keep running that forever!

  1. Apart from the ATMega, this is the exact same hardware that’s in Micro PCs from China that have been available for the past year.

    Last time I checked, though, CherryTrail support under Linux was incredibly rudimentary, lacking stable drivers for graphics, network, storage (eMMC), and especially audio.

    Be warned if you’re interested in buying one of these for anything other than Windows 10.

    1. Right! Getting non-Windows drivers for most ANY modern Intel SoCs (and even third-party peripherals) is a NIGHTMARE these days. Plus, regardless of your OS, 32-bit drivers are almost nonexistent now, and the hardware manufacturers won’t let you upgrade the SDRAM for 64-bit OS’s! Add to all that the trend to obfuscate the Linux init process (yes YOU systemd), and now distros that are unilaterally departing from the trusted Kernel API (yes YOU Canonical/Ubuntu), and now those trying to work on drivers – are just giving up.

    1. as being music guy – i depend on lotsa vsti(s) ( Virtual Instruments ( think of hybrid sampler/synth ) ) – I would care for a cheap machine that takes midi input and works with this natively. ( FL and that is my only excuse for running windows these days though )

        1. I’m sure it will handle stuff like multi channel tracking where a single track/instrument is being sampled around 1gb :D :D :D sure …. i’m gonna take a TI calculator and turn it into serato too

          1. What’s 1gb? Do you mean 1 Gigasamples per second or 1Gs/s?
            Because even at studio level (192ks/s and 24 bits) you’ll only generate 4,608Mbits/s per channel/track/instrument/whatever.

      1. Give WINE under Linux a chance then. I’m using the Reaper DAW with windows plugins such as NI Battery, B4 and ReFX Nexus with very good performance on my Debian pc considering the machine is several years old.
        WineASIO plus Jack installation needs some time but will pay a lot. I can move (copy, backup etc) the entire working environment just by copying the .wine directory from a machine to a different one such as a laptop then move it back.

        1. Sounds like a lot of work just so that he can say he uses Linux. Although I do love Linux, one should use the right tool for the job. If his music software is written for Windows, and especially if he depends on his music software for a living, wouldn’t it make sense to shelve the nerd-ego and go with the tool designed for the job at hand?

          1. I agree with you on principle, but fact is that Linux already hosts a lot if VSTs in well known studios worldwide.
            Very few people know that Muse Research’s Receptor, world’s most known and widely adopted hardware VST host actually is a Linux machine running WINE.
            Here’s a list of the artists using it:

            The DAW is another story, but Reaper developers test their product under WINE to ensure compatibility, and they’re always very collaborative to hear users requests.

        2. That’s really encouraging news – as I’ve thought about looking up wine/vst compatibility on google and got few not-so-positive results from 2014. Now I keep wondering if the PiZero could pull single instrument – NI Kontakt library ( from Colossus over Kontakt 5 for example) with low latency … hmmm

    2. Aside from the spying which is trivial to block who wouldn’t want Windows 10?
      I mean it’s faster has better resource management, better media interfaces (camera, audio etc), and don’t even get me started on trying to use Windows 7 with a pen input, that’s a complete write-off before windows 10.

      1. I don’t want windows 10. It has some nice software but the interface is ugly as sin.(I hope Microsoft is reading). I might be a little shallow judging a system largely on the interface, but the interface is what I am interacting with every day. I would upgrade in a second if there were a classic mode or some other way to add in the depth the pre-8 systems had. I don’t like this trend toward flat and sharp corners.

          1. Wherein lies my quandry…
            Do I install Win10 on my wife’s laptop to replace the Win 8.crap OS, and accept the reduced privacy?
            I did see a link to PC Magazine about shutting off a bunch of Win10 snoops, so I think I will go with the transfer.
            Currently, she prefers her Vista (yeccch!) laptop to the Win8…

    1. there is a hdmi to vga converter and it’s really cheap on those “asian” sites – – -go get the one with the headphone jack ( audio out ) – – so you can get both out of the hdmi ( the picture and the sound )

    1. It should be. There isn’t an RT version. Even the last gen Win8.1 stuff abandoned RT. My kid’s HP Stream 7 tablet has full Windows 8.1 (I’ll upgrade it to Win10 once I can get him to same up for an SD card so I can download the full update).

    2. I think you mean as opposed to the “Internet of Things” version that they put out for the Raspi. I was wondering that too. From the specs I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t put full Windows on it. I’m still wondering what actually is bundled with it though.

  2. 80 USD is not a competitive price … as I’ve bought for a complete ( intel atom ) based tablet with win8 ( with free upgrade to win10 ) – – — that tablet isn’t a FULL ROCKET SCIENCE PACKAGE either – but it’s so much more than bare bones of intel for that price – – – — – btw .. now that the Ra-PiZero is 5 USD – – – – intel can hardly touch this – – — that is for specific needs only … of course, there will be people who will appreciate this eco-system … but it has nothing to do with price-friendly ( more like price-repeling )

      1. sorry if being confusing – I’ve bought a tablet with Intel Atom board ( no hdmi, no Gps, but had wifi, and camera ) 7 inch 1280×720 with windows 8 ( and free upgrade to win10 ) — and I’ve bought it in Europe , in store ( no asian 3week import ) for around 70 euro … ….. so why would you go for a bare-bone for 80 ? if you can have intel tablet for 70 ? ( especially with the amlogic boxes out for 30 , or the forementioned RaSpiZero)

        1. The form factor. As tiny as your tablet is you can’t cram it into some of the places you could this board.

          Also you can’t compare it to the pi because the pi is woefully under-powered and can’t run windows. Running windows is a HUGE deal btw because it means you don’t have to rely on the quirky and often “write everything your damn self” mindset of the Linux environment.

          1. Not making your point – – – i understand the form factor is smaller than tablet – but if i can get tablet for 70 … why would i pay 80 for board ? oh wait … windows is a HUGE deal btw ……… ….but wait i still don’t get your point .. as the tablet is running it too .. it’s smaller and that’s it …. i’m also willing to accept “more ports than tablet ” argument … but please .. we all understand that the raw power of raspi to x86 atom devices is on a different level.

          2. Different boards for different people. Here we have a board that can handle computer vision processing and then send the results to the internal Arduino for talking to the outside world. The Arduino can also get the values from different sensors and present it to the Windows 10 Atom for heavier calculation.
            The Arduino runs one task. and only one task.. so all interrupts can be catered for in code. The Atom will be running many tasks so that real time processing and capturing events will be more problematic.
            I can see this board being a boon to robot developers or people who want a Windows system that talks nicely to the outside world.

        2. It’s easy. This Barebone is made for a different purpose than tablets. Mostly für headless Servers or Tinkering (Atmel Coprocessor). It can be used as a Desktop replacement or Media Center, but thats not the main purpose. It also beats every cheap Tablet in terms of hardware (Ethernet, USB3 and Quadcore).

  3. I honestly can’t imagine a use for windows on a small dev-board. Can you even administer that over SSH? I don’t want to have to remote desktop into my appliance to change a config bit. So much overhead!

    1. The only real reason for using Windows is because of the that I can think of, I don’t think there is a linux version and people who know VB might not know C++,C#…. that is about the only reason I can think of.

      1. It’s interesting… I don’t know anyone who willingly programs in VB or I wonder who decided that starting a project in either of those was a good idea, probably not the one who had to code it.

        1. VB6 is old,VB.Net is the equivalent of C#, almost exactly the same with different keywords/syntax. Both are modern languages. Both compile to equivalent code and run against the same runtime libraries. Honestly, I write in both languages and the only problem I have is that I keep putting semicolons at the end of my lines in VB.Net. There are some language features that VB has that people wish C# had, and vice versa, nothing major though (with the possible exception of Yield in C#, that’s a neat feature.)

          More practically, we have a ton of stuff written in VB.Net at work, the only reason we’ve been switching to C# is that more candidates have experience with it (though I still argue if you know one you can write in the other with a bit of googling.)

        1. You would be correct. VB.Net, F#, C#, IronPython, or any other .Net language all compile to CIL(Common Intermediate Language). Not sure how mono works, but the typical .Net framework compiles the CIL on demand to native code (this allows it to target multiple processors with the same executable), and while it technically could be implemented as a virtual machine, it is not a virtual machine like some people think (at least not on Windows). You can in the latest C# compile directly to native code to eliminate JIT delays and improve optimization if your target is known. (I think this is to avoid JIT delays on weaker ARM machines like phones/tablets, in my experience app load/JIT on a desktop or server is not noticeable and of course is a one time per Applicatoin Domain.) In previous versions and in VB you can pre-compile as well, it just generates companion files with the native code pre-generated (same optimization level as the JIt however)

    2. There are so many Windows-based control systems out there that are running on legacy PCs it’s not even funny. This could replace these systems with a stable platform that can be relied upon for some time in the future.

      There’s more to the computer market besides desktop PCs and web servers.

    3. Our products where I work run on .Net (unfortunately) and I would like to use them at home. There is no love from Mono for this one due to WinForms. I’ve been kicking around the idea of setting up a Windows server. I want it small, out of the way and to consume little power. This would be great for that. It isn’t a project I am excited to sink any money into though. It will only ever see light use by 2, maybe 3 people. I am more likely to go for a $20 x86 tablet with a broken screen than to buy even an $80 dev-board. I will probaby stick the guts in the case of some old, dead rackmount device.

      As for config… I’ll probably just use remote desktop b/c… it’s Windows. That’s just how you do it there. You could install an SSH server on it and you might be surprised how much can be done in Windows from the commandline. No matter what though, you running against the stampede when you do that. Need to know how to get something done? Google it? 9 out of 10 results show how to do it at the GUI. It’s not worth fighting it. Similarly you could use a GUI when configuring a Linux server but you would only be making things harder on yourself. Use Windows as it was intended, use Linux as it was intended. It is much more peaceful that way.

    4. Depends where your config bit is. Could use file shares. Most admin tools like Regedit have the ability to connect to another machine as long as its enabled and you have the right to do so. I image one of the big features of the windows board is that it would be easy to add it to the domain, then you can push policy or update packages to it from the domain controller.

  4. The intel compute stick runs full Windows 10 )and Linux) and although it is more expensive than this, it is much smaller. At the end of the day, there are big disadvantages to running Windows 10 over running Linux on a computer that is going to be used in projects especially where GPIO is involved (I could argue for all other things too but that would be slightly out of the bounds of this thread).

  5. Why would I buy one relatively powerful computer if I can buy two less powerful but equally useful computer for the same price? If I had 2 computers, I can do two separate tasks, *in two separate locations*.

    And why would Windows 10 be better than Linux, for the tasks that I would use a small SBC like this for?

    The thing is. Even NOW, Intel and Microsoft are still trying to keep their Wintel franchise alive. Where Microsoft bloats the software, and Intel delivers faster and faster processor to keep the software alive.

    But it doesn’t work like that for embedded computers. Embedded computers need to be cheap, so that we can apply one for every task around the house (or factory), and they need to network together if they need to know about each other.

    It’s not necessary for them to be all-powerful. It’s necessary for them to be as cheap as possible, so we can buy 10. And they need to be just powerful enough for their alotted task, because: power equals price.

    I’d buy 1 Raspberry PI 2 B+ (or whatever) to develop my stuff on, and then buy a few cheap Raspberry PI ONE’s to actually run the software on and use for the task. Raspberry understands that business model. Wintel does not.

    1. Part technical information, part bitch fight. It’s fine! Nobody gets hurt, I think we all know how to keep it in it’s proper place. No need to get your real-life ego involved in an Internet fight. It’s a way of exercising the old grey matter. And engineering types have never been known for their appreciation of social niceties. If it’s not logical, I don’t care how long everyone else in the world’s been doing it, I’m not!

      Hmm, just hit the ¬ key typing “not”. Coulda saved some typing.

    1. :P

      System 7 FTW!! A lot of great 2D games quit working with OS 8 and beyond, and emulating System 7 under later MacOS is just icky. It’s like getting a Porsche to emulate Ford Fiesta by putting limit on stick shift and throttle control.

  6. Why not just get a Beaglebone Green with a RTOS if you want to run a embedded system?

    This PandaMilk product OTOH looks to be just another Windows device. Fine if you want to browse the internet and play you tube videos and games like most Windows users, but otherwise you don’t need the sort of processing hardware that PandaMilk has.

      1. Why?

        You run it on OpenBSD, Fedora, Ubuntu, OSX you still have to harden or roll-your-own a server and most of it isn’t security it’s hiding information that comes through protocols and error handlers which are in the thousands. This is what TOR dev team doesn’t let you know along with their intentional attack automation in their “API”..

        You’ll notice most hidden services have pretty PHP CMS and forum software running and people who read a dev nook or tutorial one day..

        WAFs and NAT firewalls won’t help here either..

  7. Why would I want to run Windows 10 on this thing? A Windows 10 license would cost more than the device, unless they have it included. Being able to run Linux seems more than enough, which I’m sure can be made cheaper.

  8. I think people being a bit quick to judge Microsoft here, as their IoT ideas are pretty neat imho.
    Aside from (finally) delivering on a promise of a single OS scale-able to all devices, their concept of IoT + Hololens seems pretty awesome to me.
    The idea is to make “Windows universal apps” that can run on pretty much anything, and then to use the Hololens to provide virtual interface for devices that don’t have screens.

    As for privacy concerns – of course disable everything you want and be aware. But their isn’t any evidence of Microsoft “selling your data”, and Apple also takes in similar data to make Siri or their News app “personalize results” and no one bats an eyelid.
    Firewall and customize your PC to your liking.

    1. I think over the long term, ARM are gonna catch up on x86 with performance, and they already wipe the floor with everything else. Then Intel, that horrible, misbegotten 8-bit architecture, stretched and adapted beyond all reason, will finally die.

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