Intel’s mini-ITX Cedar Trail Atom motherboards are here
By now we've gotten to Intel's only real consumer focused model, the D2700DC or Dry Creek. This is apparently Intel's solution for those interested in building an affordable HTPC. It's pretty much the D2500N, but without all the legacy connectors. Intel did add a couple of ports though, so in addition to a single DVI port, four USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port and 5.1-channel audio, you also get an HDMI port and an optical S/PDIF out. Internally things haven't changed, as you still get two SATA ports, a PCI slot, a mini PCI Express slot and the special USB connector for the Z-130 USB drive. If Intel has managed to deliver on all of its HD video playback claims with Cedar Trail, then this could actually be a good enough board for an HTCP and the passive cooling is of course a nice bonus here too.
The fifth and final board is a completely different kettle of fish though, as the DN2800MT or Marshalltown is a low-profile board intended for all-in-one PCs and for some reason features the mobile Atom N2800 processor. Intel will still sell it in retail which is interesting, but we can see a fair few HTPC builders going down this route over the D2700DC. The layout of the PCB is quite different as you can see with a half size mini PCI Express slot as well as a full size mini PCI Express slot which can be switched to operate in mSATA mode. The board also has two SATA ports, of which one would be defaulted if the mSATA slot is used. This is oddly enough also the only model with a PCI Express x1 slot which seems strange considering Intel's target market for the board.
Around the back we have four USB 2.0 ports, of which two can deliver extra power for device charging, a D-sub and HDMI port, Gigabit Ethernet, a pair of audio jacks and a power connector. The DN2800MT has an on-board DC-DC converter and if you look closely on the board you'll notice a couple of power connector, one which allows the board to be powered from a DC-DC converter inside the chassis and one SATA style power connector for powering the SATA drives. The board also has headers for both serial and parallel ports, just in case, as well as a USB header for the Z-130 USB drive and more importantly for all-in-one PCs, LVDS and interestingly eDP connectors. If you disregard from all of the all-in-one PC specific features, this is still an interesting board for an HTPC, at least as long as you connect it up via HDMI to your TV and/or amplifier.
In terms of pricing, considering Intel is charging $11 (€9/S$14) less for the D2700 compared to the D525, with the D2500 costing the same as the single core D425, we expected to see these boards retailing for a fair bit less than Intel's previous generation of Atom boards. Sadly that doesn't appear to be the case with the pricing we've managed to dig up putting the D2500HN at €63 ($80/S$103), that's €3 more than the D425KT from the same European retailer. The D2700MUD comes in at €74.95 ($95/S$123), €5 more than the D525MW and according to Intel's transition guide; these are straight replacements for each other.
The D2500CC comes in at €76.95 ($98/S$126), with the D2700DC at €79.95 ($101/S$131) and finally the DN2800MT at €94.95 ($120/S$156). We did find some US pricing as well which is marginally lower, but that doesn't include tax and once you deduct that the European prices are actually lower. Not exactly bargain products, but if the CPUs live up to Intel's claims, these are at least the first decent Atom processors that would be good enough for most consumer applications. Even so, we'd much rather spend our money on AMD Brazos mini-ITX board, as in general you get more features for your money in this market space.