The Raspberry Pi has proved itself to be a versatile little computer, and you can get them for pocket change. It’s a bit light on power, though. Now, Gigabyte is preparing to launch a similar device called the GA-SBCAP3350. Yeah, it really needs a better name, but this slightly larger micro-computer offers more power and modularity than the Raspberry Pi.
The GA-SBCAP3350 measures 146 x 102mm, which is nearly twice the size of the Raspberry Pi at 85 x 56mm. Gigabyte’s board looks more like a PC motherboard, and in some ways it works like one. It is still much smaller than even mini-ITX form factor boards, which measure 170 x 170mm. Gigabyte built this board with a Copper PCB design and a large aluminum heat spreader on the underside. This will allegedly allow for better thermal performance and longer life.
This board doesn’t actually come with everything you need built in, which some might consider an advantage. You can add your own RAM to the board thanks to the single DDR3L SO-DIMM slot (it can handle up to 8GB). There’s also a mini PCIe slot for plugging in an mSATA SSD drive. Next to that is a second slot to accommodate a half-length Wi-Fi card. There are two standard SATA connectors as well.
At the heart of Gigabyte’s mini computer is an Intel Celeron N3350 CPU (Apollo Lake family), which is a dual-core chip clocked to 1.1GHz with turbo boost up to 2.4GHz. This is not exactly a blazing fast GPU by mainstream computer standards, but the Raspberry Pi 3 is much more modest with its Broadcom quad-core ARM chip. The x86 architecture on the GA-SBCAP3350 allows you to run more powerful software and operating systems. The CPU is soldered to the board, so it’s the one thing you can’t upgrade.
The GA-SBCAP3350 comes with a ton of I/O ports as well. You’ve got two USB 3.0 plugs on the back, plus four more USB 2.0 connections available via pin headers on the board. There are dual gigabit Ethernet ports. For video, you get both VGA and HDMI, and the HDMI can do 4K resolution at 30Hz.
So, the GA-SBCAP3350 is sort of in between the Raspberry Pi and a “full” PC motherboard. Gigabyte seems poised to market this board to businesses, but anyone interested in building a tiny PC might be interested. We don’t yet know the price or launch date, the latter of which will probably determine how popular this device is with hobbyist tinkerers.
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