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Tiny Android SBC taps quad-core Allwinner A31s SoC

Oct 23, 2014 — by Eric Brown — 3,381 views

Boardcon launched a 92 x 65mm “Compact A31S” SBC that runs Android 4.2.2 on a quad-core Allwinner A31s SoC backed up with 2GB of soldered RAM and 4GB flash.

Boardcon Embedded Design offers a wide variety of Android-based single board computers and COMs that incorporate Samsung system-on-chips, and now the Shenzhen-based OEM manufacturer is spreading out to the quad-core Allwinner A31s. The Compact 31S SBC is touted for its tiny dimensions, and indeed it’s pretty small considering all you’re getting here. It’s only 92 x 65mm, compared to 148 x 108mm for Boardcon’s Samsung Exynos4412 based EM4412 SBC.

Compact 31S, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Allwinner A31s design, which integrates four ARM Cortex-A7 cores and an Imagination Technologies SGX-544 MP2 GPU, is found on a number of affordable Android tablets and phablets. Boardcon notes the SoC’s presence on the Ramos K1, HP Compaq 7, MSI Primo81, and Onda V819mini.

Compact 31S port detail
(click image to enlarge)

The A31s has the same quad-core foundation and GPU as the mainstream A31 SoC, but it lacks the A31’s MIPI-CSI and MIPI-DSI connections. The SoC tops out at 2160p decode instead of the A31’s 4K×2K, and delivers [email protected] instead of 60fps. The A31s supports only a 5-megapixel camera instead of the A31’s 12 megapixels, and lacks the A31’s external audio interface. On the plus side, however, it integrates connectivity options including EDGE, 3G, LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth, FM, GPS, AGPS, and NFC. No clock rate was listed for the A31s, but the A31 typically runs at 1GHz, and we imagine that’s the case here.

Compact 31S

On the Compact 31S, the A31s SoC is accompanied by 2GB of soldered DDR3 RAM, 4GB of eMMC flash, and a rear-mounted microSD slot. The board is further equipped with HDMI 1.4 and VGA ports, as well as a capacitive touch-enabled LCD interface. The SBC provides HD resolution up to 1280 x 800 pixels, decode video up to 2160p, and encode video up to 1080p, says Boardcon.

The Compact 31S offers a USB 2.0 host and a micro-USB 2.0 OTG port, as well as a gigabit Ethernet port. WiFi is optional via a module located on the back of the board, and a 3G dongle can be added via USB. A CMOS camera interface is also listed as an option.

The SBC provides an IrDA remote interface, as well as audio I/O and volume and menu buttons. Other features include a 20-pin GPIO connector, a Real Time Clock, and a reset button. A PMIC has been added to improve power efficiency on the 5V/2A board, which supports an optional battery.

Compact 31S coastline ports
(click image to enlarge)

Specifications listed for the Compact 31S include:
  • Processor — Allwinner A31s (4x Cortex-A7 cores @ 1GHz); PowerVR SGX-544 MP2 GPU
  • Memory — 2GB soldered DDR3-1866 RAM; 4GB eMMC flash
  • Storage expansion — MicroSD slot
  • Display:
    • HDMI 1.4 port at up to 1080p, 30fps
    • LCD (40-pin FPC interface) with capacitive touch support
    • VGA port at up to 1280 x 800 pixels
  • Wireless — Optional WiFi and USB-based 3G
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 2.0 host port
    • Micro-USB 2.0 OTG port
    • Audio I/O
    • 20-pin GPIO connector
  • Other features:
    • Optional CMOS camera interface
    • RTC (ext. battery)
    • 3x user buttons (volume +/-, menu)
    • Reset button
    • IR remote control
  • Power — 5V 2A input; PMIC; battery connector
  • Dimensions — 92 x 65mm
  • Operating system — Android 4.2.2 preinstalled (based on Linux 3.3)

Further information

No pricing was supplied for the Compact 31S, which appears to be available now. More information may be found at Boardcon’s Compact 31S product page.

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