VIA Shows Off Tiny, Affordable Android PCs
Over at VIA's booth at COMPUTEX this week, we saw how VIA is innovating with their range of low-cost, low-power x86 processors which have dominated the ITX computing market for a while. Although their processors have never been up to challenge the performance and technological innovation of Intel and AMD's processors, VIA has diligently (although slowly) improved their processors for low-power applications especially when used in confined or air-flow constrained spaces.
One of the more talked about devices shown at VIA this week was their US$49 Android PC. Based on the WonderMedia ARM 11 SoC processor (an ARM Cortex-A8 core), the board comes with 512MB of DDR3 memory, a 2GB NAND Flash, four USB 2.0 ports, one microSD port, a Fast Ethernet port, a VGA port and an HDMI port. The board is based on the new neo-ITX form factor which measures only 17cm x 8.5cm. What's great about this board is its low power consumption which is rated only 13.5W under full load. Although it may not be much of a workhorse, it may be a rather good companion for playback of media as its hardware is tweaked to accelerate media. Although it comes with Android OS 2.3 (Gingerbread), it's still a good deal considering the price you have to pay. VIA is planning to ship them in July 2012 and you can check for pre-order status at the independent apc.io site.
On the x86 front, VIA displayed the world's smallest dual-core single board computer (the VIA EPIA-P900) which was recently launched in the middle of last month. The board comes in the pico-ITX form factor and features a VIA Eden X2 1GHz processor and the VIA VX900H MSP chipset. The board can operate fanless and measures only 10cm x 7.2cm. It's not really something built for some of today's demanding applications or used for complex computing purposes, so it is only suitable for very specific applications such as embedded systems.