AAEON PICO-WHU4 Maker Board Is Like Raspberry Pi On Steroids With 8th Gen Intel Core i5

What can you do if you need something more powerful than a Raspberry Pi (or one of its contemporaries), but still want to stay in the miniaturized maker board space? If you have the requisite loot, AAEON's new PICO-WHU4 packs an 8th generation Intel Core i5-8356UE SoC processor into a small package.

Based on Intel's Whiskey Lake-U architecture, the embedded CPU rocks 4 cores and 8 threads with a 1.6GHz base clock and 4.1GHz max Turbo frequency. It also features 6MB of L3 cache and has a default 15-watt thermal design power (TDP) rating, though it is configurable down to 12.5W and up to 25W.

The advantage here over something like the Raspberry Pi is two-fold. First, it's more powerful than the ARM-based chips that are typically found on most maker boards. And secondly, the Core i5 CPU affords the user the ability to run x86 applications. According to AAEON, the compact board is intended to power AI and edge computing workloads, with support for a range of frameworks.

Here is a look at the system's vitals...
  • 8th generation Intel Core i5-8356UE SoC
  • Single non-ECC DDR4 SODIMM slot supporting up 16GB
  • Dual HDMI 1.4b ports
  • Dual GbE LAN ports
  • SATA 6Gbps
  • GPIO x 4
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2 (rear) x 2, USB 2.0 x 2 pin header, RS-232/422/485 x 2
  • Full size mSATA/mPCIe (selectable via BIOS) x 1, M.2 2230 (E key) x 1
  • 12V only (terminal block)

It is an interesting board for sure. To help keep thermals in check, the CPU sits on the underbelly of the board. That is also where the sole SODIMM slot is located, which supports DDR4 RAM in capacities up to 16GB.

AAEON, which is an associate company of ASUS (meaning it is partly owned by ASUS, rather than existing as a subsidiary), offers a couple of heatsink options. One is a passive aluminum slab that squishes onto the bottom of PICO-WHU4, whereas the other is a bigger option with a cooling fan attached.

While neat, the caveat to harnessing this level of power in the tiny maker board is the price. AAEON sells the PICO-WHU4 for $783. That is quite the hefty price, especially compared to systems like the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, which can be purchased for as little as $35.
Tags:  Mini PC, aaeon, pico-whu4