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Tiny mini-PC boasts quad-core Cortex-A15 SoC

Dec 2, 2014 — by Eric Brown — 3,347 views

CompuLab unveiled a second-gen Ubuntu and Android ready Utilite2 mini-PC based on a quad-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600, that shrinks to 3.4 x 3.4 x 1.1 inches.

With its Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064 system-on-chip, also known as the S4 Pro, the Utilite2 is twice as fast as last year’s Freescale i.MX6 based Utilite mini-PC, claims Israel-based CompuLab. Both SoCs are quad-core ARM processors, but while the i.MX6 tops out at 1.2GHz and is based on Cortex-A9 architecture, the Snapdragon 600 uses 28nm-fabricated, 1.7GHz Krait 300 cores equivalent to Cortex-A15 cores.

Original Utilite
(click to enlarge)

CompuLab does not plan to announce the Utilite2’s pricing until later this month, when the device becomes available for orders. However, the company says the new model will offer a better price-performance ratio than the original Utilite (shown at the right), which currently sells for $99 (single-core i.MX6), $159 (dual core), or $219 (quad-core) with 2GB RAM and a 32GB SSD.

Utilite2 and peripheral friend. (Soon, your mouse will be able to beat up your computer.)
(click image to enlarge)

The Utilite2’s Snapdragon 600 SoC further integrates 2MB of cache and a 500MHz Hexagon QDSP6V4 DSP. It also features more advanced Adreno 320 graphics, although the GPU is not nearly at the level of the Adreno 420 found on the Snapdragon 805, or the Adreno 430 inside the Snapdragon 810.

  Freescale i.MX6 Qualcomm Snapdragon 600
CPU core Cortex-A9 Krait 300
Max. cores 4 4
CPU clock rate 1.2GHz 1.7GHz
Integer performance (MIPS) 9600 23000
Video acceleration up to 1080p up to 1080p
GPU 2D/3D GPU Adreno 320
DSP n/a Hexagon QDSP6

Freescale i.MX6 compared to Qualcomm Snapdragon 600
(source: CompuLab)

Despite the greater firepower compared to the slower, more energy efficient i.MX6, CompuLab lists the same 3-8W consumption for the Utilite2 as was promised for the Utilite. This may be in part due to the fact that the device is 30 percent smaller (3.4 x 3.4 x 1.1 inches), with fewer interfaces and expansion options.

While the Utilite2 has the same list of intended applications as the more expandable Utilite, it seems to be focused less on the “small-footprint desktop replacement” or “thin client” than it is on more autonomous “media players, IPTV boxes, infotainment systems, and digital signage computers.” The system is available with five-year availability, and for the first time there’s soldered RAM and an extended memory option. CompuLab touts the device’s reliability, 24/7 operation, and suitability for industrial and outdoor installations, and offers it with an optional -20 to 60°C operating temperature range.

Utilite2, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Utilite2 ships with 2GB of soldered DDR3 RAM instead of offering a socket supporting up to 4GB. The computer adds 4GB of eMMC, along with the previous microSD slot. The mSATA socket continues to support up to 512GB SSDs, and a separate Utilite2 SSD model ships with a 32GB SSD.

The Utilite2 has the same allotment of four USB 2.0 host ports and a micro-USB OTG port, but it has just one gigabit Ethernet port instead of two. The mini-PC now relies solely on the HDMI port for display, having jettisoned the DVI-D interface. CompuLab has replaced the pair of RS232 connectors with a serial debug console, and there’s no longer any mention of S/PDIF in connection with the audio in and out jacks.

On the other hand, wireless features have been improved here. You now get dual-band WiFi instead of single-band, and the Bluetooth connection has advanced to Bluetooth 4.0 LE. In addition, there’s a new USB cellular option implemented via mini-PCIe and uSIM sockets.

The passively cooled, die-cast aluminum device has the same 10-16V input, and the fanless system now offers an extended temperature option in addition to the standard commercial range. The mSATA and cellular sockets can be reached through a removable bottom cover.

Inside the Utilite2

CompuLab confirmed in an email to LinuxGizmos that the Utilite2 is built around the company’s Snapdragon 600-based CM-QS600 Qseven form factor computer-on-module, plugged into a carrier board that’s a minor variant of the company’s SBC-QS600 SBC baseboard.

Block diagrams: Utilite2 and its internal CM-QS600 COM
(click images to enlarge)

As with the original Utilite, the Utilite2 is supported with Android (now up to 4.4.3) and Ubuntu Linux, which is based on a Linaro build for the Snapdragon 600, says CompuLab.

Utilite2’s internal COM (CM-QS600) and mainboard (SBC-QS600)
(click images to enlarge)

The Utilite2 is “designed as an open platform, developer-friendly commercial grade product,” and will be supported in the main-line Linux kernel, says the company. CompuLab also says it “intends to collaborate closely with the open-source community to expand the software eco-system around the platform.”

Summary of Utilite2 specs

Specifications listed for the Utilite2 include:

  • Processor:
    • Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 (S4 Pro) APQ8064
    • Quad-core ARM “Krait” clocked at 1.7GHz; 2MB L2 cache
    • Adreno 320 GPU
    • QDSP6V4 DSP
  • Memory/storage:
    • 2GB soldered DDR3-1066 RAM
    • 4GB eMMC flash
    • Micro-SD slot
    • mSATA socket (mini-PCIe) supporting up to 512GB SSD
    • Optional 32GB mSATA SSD (Utilite2 SSD model only)
  • Display — HDMI 1.4 up to 1920 x 1200 @ 60Hz
  • Wireless:
    • 802.11b/g/n WiFi (dual antenna)
    • Bluetooth 4.0 LE
    • USB cellular add-on support via mini-PCIe and uSIM sockets
  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • 4x USB 2.0 host (2x front-facing)
    • micro-USB OTG (front facing)
    • Serial debug console muxed with USB OTG
    • Stereo line-out, line-in
  • Power — unregulated 10-16 VDC input; 3-8W consumption
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 45° C; optional -20 to 60° C
  • Dimensions — 85 x 85 x 27mm
  • Operating system — Ubuntu Linux with Linaro support; Android 4.4.3

Further information

CompuLab will open orders for the Utilite2 later this month. More information may be found at the Utilite2 product page, and signup for availability notification may be found at the Utilite2 shopping page.

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