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Rugged mini-PC runs Android on Via’s Cortex-A9 SoC

Sep 18, 2014 — by Eric Brown — 2,814 views

Via debuted a rugged fanless low-power Android mini-PC based on Via’s dual-core Cortex-A9 Elite E1000 SoC, and offering mini-PCIe, mSATA, HDMI, and GbE I/O.

Via designed the “Artigo A900” mini-PC for use in Android-based interactive kiosks, home automation devices, signage, and other HMI solutions. The 125 x 125 x 30mm mini-PC can be configured to “blend locally-captured real-time video streams with cloud-delivered content to create visually-compelling interactive displays for retail, banking, museums, and other environments,” says Via Technologies. The device can integrate peripherals including sensors, cameras, ticket printers, and barcode and fingerprint scanners, adds the company.

Via Artigo A900
(click image to enlarge)

A case of “eating your own dog food”

Unlike most of Via’s Artigo mini-PCs, including the recent Artigo A1300, the Artigo A900 runs on an ARM- rather than an x86-based processor. What’s more, the system is built around Via’s VAB-1000 Pico-ITX board (shown below), which in turn is based on Via’s home-grown Elite E1000 ARM system-on-chip. The Elite E1000 integrates dual Cortex-A9 cores clocked at 1GHz with support for Open GL ES 3.0/2.0, OpenVG 1.1, and OpenCL 1.1, as well as dual-decode video resolutions up to 1920 x 1080.

VAB-1000 pico-ITX board (left) and Elite E1000 SoC

The Artigo A900 is equipped with 2GB DDR3 RAM, 4GB eMMC flash, and for expansion, a microSD slot an mSATA socket, and a mini-PCIe slot. You get a gigabit Ethernet port with wake-on LAN, and while there’s no built-in WiFi, there are USB- and mini-PCIe WiFi options. There’s also an optional mini-PCIe 3.75G HSPA/UMT module.

Via Artigo A900 front and rear panel details
(click image to enlarge)

In addition to a standard mini-HDMI 1.4 output port, a mini-HDMI 1.4 input port is available as a “project-based option,” says Via. Front-facing ports include three USB 3.0 interfaces, as well as mic-in and line-out jacks. On the back are found the Ethernet port, HDMI ports, microSD slot, and an 8-pin serial COM port. A 7-pin DIO connector is also accessible on the rear, along with the system’s DC-input power jack.

The Artigo A900 supports -5 to 50°C temperature operation, and offers vibration and shock resistance. The system is claimed to run on a low 5 Watts, compared to 25W for the aforementioned x86-based Artigo A1300.

Via supports the system with an Android 4.3 BSP (board support package). Also available is Via’s “Smart ETK” API suite, which provides watchdog timer, GPIO and COM access, and RTC for auto-power-on APIs along with a sample app. Via also offers software customization services.

Summary of Artigo A900 specs

Specifications listed for the Via Artigo A900 include:

  • Processor — Via Elite E1000 (2x Cortex-A9 cores @ 1.0GHz)
  • Memory/storage:
    • 2GB DDR3 SDRAM
    • 4GB eMMC flash
    • MicroSD slot
    • mSATA socket
  • Display — Mini-HDMI 1.4 out; project-based option for Mini-HDMI 1.4 in
  • Wireless:
    • Manufacturing option for antenna holes
    • Optional VNT9271 IEEE 802.11b/g/n USB WiFi module with assembly kit
    • Optional VNT9485 IEEE 802.11b/g/n mini-PCIe Wi-Fi module with assembly kit
    • Optional Ublox 3.75G HSPA/UMTS full size mini-PCIe module with SIM slot
  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet port with wake-on-LAN (Realtek RTL8111G) via PCI
  • Other I/O:
    • 3x USB 3.0 ports
    • Mini-USB 2.0 port
    • RS-232/422/485 COM port
    • DIO port (4-bit GPIO)
    • Audio mic-in and line-out jacks (Wolfson WM8960)
  • Expansion — Mini-PCIe slot
  • Other features — watchdog; RTC; LEDs; optional VESA mounting; metal chassis, aluminum top
  • Power — 12V DC-in; 5W consumption (typical)
  • Operating temperature — -5 to 50°C
  • Vibration resistance — 5Grms, random, 5 to 500Hz, 1 Oct./min, 1hr/axis (IEC 60068-2-64)
  • Shock resistance — 50G, half size, 11ms duration (IEC 60068-2-27) with mSATA SSD
  • Weight — 0.525 k (1.15 lbs)
  • Dimensions — 125 x 125 x 30mm
  • Operating system — Android 4.3 with BSP including Via Smart ETK

“The Via Artigo A900 takes the headache out of creating innovative embedded Android solutions for a wide variety of fast-emerging IoT and M2M scenarios that require advanced multimedia performance and versatile connectivity options,” stated Epan Wu, Head of the Via Embedded Platform Division, Via Technologies, Inc.

Further information

The Via Artigo A900 is available now. Samples can be purchased at the Via Embedded Store for $350 plus shipping. More information may be found at the Artigo A900 product page.

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