In the fourth comment he explains some of his design choices:
One of those factors I mentioned above was making sure the
board was "replicable". This adds a number of constraints,
* The price cannot include any subsidies (otherwise people
could not recreate the board at close to the same cost)
* The parts must have a long product life cycle (this
eliminates some of the other chips that we might have
considered) and be readily available (otherwise there would be
shortages in supply and people wouldn't be able to source the
parts to make their own)
* Maker and hacker friendly meant including access to a number
of buses and other interfaces, which also limited our part
selection as well as impacting cost.
There is a fairly lengthy story here, which I'm happy to share
with anyone interested. All in all, I think we managed to come
up with a very capable board that will allow people to tweak
it and hack it and expand it while providing strong
performance (especially in terms of I/O) and a decent price
point. More on that as information becomes available...
To the best of my knowledge Intel has never focused on releasing designs that an individual can build/modify on their own. To me this represents a very exciting change in Intel's attitude toward "the little guy." Further, to anyone looking to build their own hardware similar to the Raspbery Pi, good luck trying to get Broadcom to talk to you, let alone give you a BSP or sell you chips. Their NDA process/requirements is/are obscene...
"You can download, without NDA, the datasheets for all the components, and key peripheral options are available so it’s possible to build a complete firmware from source with no opaque blobs." 
I wonder how many of the Minnow's components require NDA/signup/etc for datasheets, or to access (proprietary) firmware.
I'm just not sure if Intel's process is really better for small customers (but you probably end up in the "small" tier faster than with Broadcom)
It depends on what you're buying, but for SoC processors and especially chipsets, it's not so great. And re: "who's small" - yeah, I think ~1M units annually is still "small" to Intel.
However, some of their memory products (NOR and EEPROM come to mind) are very attainable for smaller customers.
Creating an open platform around Atom makes Intel much, much more approachable.
With regard to price, I'm not discouraged at all. $200 is well within my personal budget, and I've got a vision-heavy robotics project in mind that I'd love to use this for.
Why not use an Raspberry Pi or a more powerful ARMv7 SBC? ARM software support is getting better every day, but the vast, vast majority of software is still written for x86. As examples, libBLAS, LAPACK, libav, OpenCV - all of these were written and optimized for x86 MMX, then SSE*, first. Their performance on ARMv7 has come a long way very quickly, but ARM performance is a secondary goal for a lot of these types of projects.
Shit, how well does Matlab or Octave run on ARM? I know more than a few people who'd salivate at the chance to write sensing/control code in Octave and run it on a $200 SBC...
Let's see if an Intel group manages to coerce the chipset group to release those "precious" (but in reality, very boring) details on memory initialization to the world.
So far I'm doubtful, even if it's "just" for Atom.
[edit: In fact, their website (http://www.minnowboard.org/technical-features/) states "All software will be provided in image and Open Source form (with binary elements per IP restrictions)". That exception _will_ cover Platform Initialization code...]
I have a feeling were it up to the people leading the project, the init code would be made available. However Intel as a company is only going to take so much risk in support of this experiment. I have a feeling that init code and firmware for softloaded peripherals will be "business as usual" for quite a while.
That said, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If this is successful and if customers are very vocal about not wanting "half-assed" open systems, it might eventually get there.
1: Actually, in terms of resources I'm sure it's tiny. In terms of culture on the other hand...
Since Intel wants everyone to use their code (preferably in binary form), I'm not sure how useful the BIOS Writer's Guide still is. Probably just a guide on how to integrate their code into whatever you're doing yourself.
Interesting that Intel is dipping its toe in here, At one level it validates the ARM SoC market that is percolating around the embedded space but its also typical in that this doesn't put any of the 'good stuff' Intel could put out there into the market.
Perhaps most interesting has been the continued fraying around the windows/intel empire, what with Microsoft offering an ARM version of Windows on the RT and Intel building clearly not PC compatible motherboards.
Who is this really aimed at, anyway?
> However, the MinnowBoard is still cheaper than most PCs and could appeal to developers looking to write and test commercial applications before they're deployed in servers, embedded devices and other computers.
I'm baffled as to why anyone would purchase this board. Raspberry Pi destroys it on price/value so _will_ Parallella. Why not wait a couple months and get a super computer!
 Why do I think anyone here needs these links?
Is it worth 6x the price? Certainly not for all uses (and I'll admit I'm disappointed to see this thing launch at $200 too). But there are tasks for which this board would work where the RPi wouldn't. And there it competes most directly with things like the Pandaboard, against which it appears to compete pretty well.
Relying on having spare computers for testing is also kind of a thing of the past in the age of cheap PC resources and virtual machines. I gave up keeping old computers around for software testing 5-6 years ago when I bought my first 4 core CPU. Also keeps my work area from getting really really hot in the summer.
Because it's small enough to be useful but a hell of a lot less work to get started on. I would much rather use this for a personal project (not a product) than spend a year learning a new architecture.
In contrast, the ARM ecosystem has flexibility to mix and match the design, manufacturing and marketing amongst a group of companies. This is why a lot of people are confident about ARM's fortunes in coming years; the business model favors them in a "cheaper is better" computing market.
This does it ... but as others have said, the price is not really attractive compared to a used pc. I don't fault the design team for this. It looks like a great little board ... but probably for strategic reasons Intel would rather have us continue with those old pcs, rather than risk cannibalization of low-end pcs.
Update: I think I was slow to see the embedded focus of this board and it's IO. So of course it is priced against that world, and not the world of low-end or used PCs.
Cubieboard and Wandboard Quad both have SATA.
FWIW also, comparing that $200 pricepoint, Newegg recently had a Lenovo server Intel Core i3-3220 3.3GH Dual-Core; 4GB RAM; DVD ROM, no-disk, no-os, for $250. (reputed backdoor at no extra cost!)
Update: I just went to techbargains and searched "server", that one was recently expired. When I'm in shopping mode I just keep an eye on a couple such shopping sites to see what comes by.
I'm actually thinking of building a hadoop cluster at home so something cheap would be nice.
Foxconn has cheapo machines on newegg as well.
A while ago I bought a Fujitsu P180 and it was a lot of machine for the price but the prices went way up.
This would have been interesting a decade ago.
Would someone be able to confirm this, because if it's the case then there might not be as much Linux support, especially for 3D acceleration, for this board.
Who exactly is the intended audience for this board?
NUC with haswell processors (less wattage) coming this fall - price TBD.
I find the comparisons of MinnowBoard with ultra low-cost embedded boards like RasberryPi to be pretty silly. The MinnowBoard is not Intel's version of a RasberyPi. The media may play this up just to generate conflict and to set up a straw man comparison, but I hope people are capable of seeing through that.
You and me both, but sadly I don't think it's going to go that way in the general tech-enthusiast media without a pretty significant "nudge" from you folks and maybe a few others. Unless you've got some experience with performance-demanding applications in embedded systems, you have no idea why RPi/Minnow is an Apples/Oranges comparison.
But everyone understands price! All they're seeing is two tiny boards, one produced by David that sells like hotcakes, the other produced by Goliath. Goliath's is late enough to be called a reaction to David's move, and it's nearly six times the price...
I'll very happily pay $200 for this.
However for low-volume and/or personal projects, dev cost/time often trumps hardware cost and heterogeneous systems have a whole host of secondary challenges. Specific to your recommendation, it's a more complicated power architecture, more components to enclose, more tooling to worry about (software and hardware), and I have to worry about how to synchronize and communicate between the SBC and the micro/arduino.
It's worth an extra $100+ to be able to focus my limited free time on solving the problem I want to solve rather than on "shaving yaks."
Software folks, myself included, tend to drastically underestimate the complexity of power design...
it's a 1GHz single core CPU from 2010. While Atom might have some IPC advantage over ARM, I doubt that as a whole it would be competitive against high-perf ARM boards, like the ODROIDs (up to 1.7GHz quad-core, beginning at 89 dollars).
It depends on the problem you're solving, how much time/effort you're willing to dedicate to your solution, and what type of solution you choose.
If you have an embarrassingly parallel problem that optimizes well for ARMv7, you're 100% correct. If you're working on a more serial solution utilizing libraries optimized for SSE, Intel cache heuristics, Intel pipelining techniques, or similar (many of which don't exist or have equivalent siblings on ARM), I'm betting on the single-core 1GHz Atom pony.
An internet connected microwave on the other hand... http://madebynathan.com/2013/07/10/raspberry-pi-powered-micr...
"Ferrari S.p.A. is 90% owned by the Fiat Group."
I don't know what this means.
Otherwise, this seems relatively spot on.