The Mac mini as an Embedded Development Platform

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Date: Monday, March 28th, 2005, 11:22
Category: Hardware, Mac mini

An article on IBM.com takes a close look at the Mac Mini as an embedded development platform. Read More…


The Mac Mini is a small but powerful machine that comes with a high-end embedded development board. It has a broader array of connectors, a faster processor, and support for a very large amount of memory. The development kit is fairly complete, with support for AppleScript, C, C++, Objective-C, Java, Perl, Python, and Ruby programming out of the box or you can choose to use some third party Java tools such as Eclipse or Netbeans. This article on IBM.com takes a close look at the Mac Mini as an embedded development platform.

The Mini has a G4 processor, one of the later models sometimes referred to as a G4+; the most visible differences are the performance of AltiVec and the size of the L2 cache. It has a single 2.5 inch IDE hard drive and a DVD/CD-RW drive (or, if you paid US$100 extra, a DVD burning “SuperDrive”). It uses PC2700 memory, although many people report that the memory in their Mini was actually PC3200 when they got it (see Resources). It has only a single DIMM slot, supporting up to 1GB of memory.
The machine is 2 inches tall, which makes it just a notch larger than a 1U rack space; it’s hard not to suspect that this is intentional. On the other hand, you could stack them three high and three across in 4U of rack space, and have a little space left over. While they probably aren’t serious competition for Xserve, it’s a tempting thought (it would be more tempting with support for error-correcting memory). The size really is impressive. I haven’t been able to find a keyboard that doesn’t look bulky and awkward next to the Mini, although the Happy Hacker (see Resources) is at least close.

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