Last year Microsoft unveiled Azure Sphere — an end-to-end solution for securing micro-controller based smart things. Alongside the announcement was hardware support. With that announcement was the first official Azure development board built around the Mediatek MT3620 released by Seeed Studio, it cost $84.95.
That price point was way out of line in a market that is highly price sensitive, and people are willing to make do with computing that is “good enough.” So it’s perhaps unsurprising that a year on we’re seeing the release of a relatively much cheaper version, the new MT3620 Mini Dev Board priced at a rather more reasonable $34.90.
Like its predecessor, the new Mini Dev Board is based on the Mediatek MT3620 processor. The MT3620 has single-core Arm Cortex-A7 processor running at 500 MHz with 4MB RAM, as well as a dual-core Arm Cortex-M4F real-time core running at 200 MHz with 64KB RAM.
However unlike its older brother, the new board makes use of the AI-Link MT3620 module. The module, which measures 30 x 22 mm, offers dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi support with an integral PCB antenna, along with 8 × PWM, 4 × ADC, and 14 × GPIO pins broken via castellated edge connectors.
The board, measuring 60 x 34 x 19 mm, has a single micro USB connector for both programming and power, with flanking 2 × 12-pin header blocks to break out I/O, including 3 × 12-bit ADC, I2C, SPI, and UART. It also has a real-time clock, and a CR1220 battery holder (on the flip side).
But be warned, a year on and Azure Sphere still does not support all the features of the MT3620 processor. There is no current support for the dual-core Arm Cortex-M4, ADC, I2S, or PWN peripheral interfaces. So while the Azure Sphere operating system is pre-installed on the new MT3620 Mini Dev Board, you’re not going to be able to make use of all the features offered by the board.
The new MT3620 Mini Dev Board is priced $34.90 plus shipping, and it is now available for pre-order from Seeed Studio. However orders placed today aren’t expected to ship until the middle of May.
Also released alongside the new Mini Dev Board board is an Ethernet Shield for the original Azure Sphere Development Board, which is priced at $18.90 plus shipping and is available today.