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Pico-ITX SBC aims ARM Linux at in-vehicle and mobile apps

May 2, 2013 — by Rick Lehrbaum — 1,803 views

Via Technologies announced a tiny, low-power Pico-ITX SBC with optional 3G connectivity and battery power support, aimed at in-vehicle and mobile applications. The VAB-600 is based on an 800MHz ARM Cortex-A9 system-on-chip (SOC) with on-chip graphics acceleration, offers Ethernet, WiFi, and 3G connectivity, operates from 0 to 60° C, and runs either embedded Linux or Android 4.x.

The VAB-600 packs a heap of functionality within its 720 x 100mm Pico-ITX single-board computer (SBC) form-factor. Its embedded computing core consists of a WM8950 SOC, made by Via’s WonderMedia ARM SOC subsidiary. The WM8950 integrates a single ARM Cortex-A9 CPU core along with a 2D/3D graphics engine that supports OpenGL ES 2.0 compatible along with video formats up to 1080p. The SOC clocks up to 1GHz, according to its data sheet, but Via have throttled it down in order to satisfy the SBC’s extended temperature range.

Via VAB-600 Pico-ITX SBC

The diagrams below provide more details on the VAB-600’s onboard functions and options, and on the functionality provided by the Wondermedia WM8950 SOC.

Block diagrams: VAB-600 ITX SBC (left) and VM8950 SOC
(click each image to enlarge)

Key specifications of the VAB-600 Pico-ITX SBC, as listed on its data sheet, include:

  • Processor — WM8950 system-on-chip, which contains…
    • Single-core Cortex-A9 CPU, clocked up to 800MHz

    • 2D/3D graphics engine, supporting OpenGL ES 2.0
    • Multi-standard video decoder, supporting MPEG2 [email protected], MPEG4, H.264 [email protected], VC-1 SP/MP/AP, VP8 and JPEG/MJPEG
  • Memory:
    • RAM — 1GB DDR3 1066 1GB DRAM
    • 512KB SPI flash for bootloader
    • 4GB eMMC flash for storage
  • Ethernet — 10/100 Mbit (uses VT6113 PHY); onboard RJ-45 connector
  • USB — 4x USB 2.0 ports, with some dedicated to onboard functions or options
  • Analog audio I/O — I2S audio codec (uses VT1603A)
  • HDMI video output (Mini-HDMI connector)
  • Optional add-on modules:
    • WiFi wireless (uses a USB port)
    • 3G cellular — via “Mini Card” slot (uses a USB port)
    • TTL or LVDS display controllers
  • Other on-board I/O:
    • Misc interfaces — 2x serial (Tx/Rx only), 8x GPIO, I2C, SPI, keypad
    • MicroSD card reader connector
    • On-board SIM card slot for 3G modules without built-in SIM card slots
    • Keypad connector
    • CIR connector
    • 4-wire resistive touchscreen interface (uses VT1603A)
  • Power — 12-24 VDC input connector
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 60° C
  • Size — 100 x 720 mm (3.9 x 2.8 in.); Pico-ITX form-factor

Via supports the VAB-600 with BSPs (board-support packages) for both Android 4.0x and embedded Linux (currently the 3.0.8 kernel). Also available, are various hardware “starter kits” for the VAB-600 SBC, including the VAB-600-A I/O card, VAB-600-C TTL converter card, 7-inch touch-screen TTL panel, cables, and an 18W AC power adaptor.

Sample units of the VAB-600 SBC are available now, although pricing was not listed at the time of this posting. Further details regarding the SBC and its starter kits me be found at Via’s VAB-600 web page.

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