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$100 netbook has ten-inch screen

Apr 9, 2010 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

Shenzen-based Science and Technology Co. Ltd. has released a $100 netbook that runs Android, Linux, or Windows CE 6.0 on a Via-manufactured ARM SoC (system on chip). The 1.87-pound device includes a 10-inch screen with 1024 x 600 pixel resolution, from 1GB to 4GB of flash storage, and two hours of battery life, according to the website.

The report by did not provide a model number or name for the new Science and Technology product, though several blogs have subsequently referred to it as the Wabook. By whatever name, the device is one of many ultra-cheap netbooks with ARM9 or MIPS CPUs that have come out of Shenzen.

Apart from their relatively low-powered CPUs, these budget devices have all kept costs down by employing 7-inch screens with a resolution of just 800 x 600 pixels, as far as we're aware. The new Science and Technology offering features a 10-inch screen with claimed 1024 x 600 resolution, bringing it into line with the majority of more expensive, Intel Atom-based netbooks. As pictured below, the device appears less toy-like than other $100 netbooks.

Science and Technology's 10-inch netbook

The Wabook is said to use a 300MHz Via VT8505 CPU. These CPUs appear to be versions of the ARM9-based Prizm 8510, announced last year by Via subsidiary WonderMedia Technologies (see later for details).

Offered in black, pink, or white, the 1.87-pound Wabook includes three USB ports, a microphone input and headphone jack, an SD slot, and support for an 802.11b/g wireless card, according to It's said the device includes 128MB of RAM and from 1GB to 4GB of flash storage. A 1800mAh battery provides up to two hours of operation, the website adds.

Via's ARM-based SoCs

Via subsidiary WonderMedia Technologies used last year's Computex show in Taiwan to launch a ARM9-based system-on-chip (SoC) aimed at "smartbooks," digital picture frames, media players, and other devices. The Prizm 8510 (right) includes an ARM926EJ-S core, a programmable digital signal processor (DSP), gigabit Ethernet, and a wide variety of interfaces, according to the company.

As seen in the diagram below, the SoC is built around an ARM926EJ-S or ARM1176JZF core, and an MMX-enhanced, programmable "uDSP 2.0" digital signal processor (DSP). The Prizm also offers video decoders for MPEG 1/2/4, H.264, and JPEG, a video co-processor, and engines for 2D graphics and security acceleration, WonderMedia says.

Prizm 8510 architecture
(Click to enlarge)

The Prizm is equipped with a gigabit Ethernet MAC, as well as interfaces for WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth, camera input, PATA/SATA, USB 2.0, Smart Card, and a DVB-ready MPEG-TS interface. For display output, it supports 656/DVO and TV/VGA/LVDS/LCD displays. Other I/O, including I2C, SPI, UART, and GPIO, can be seen in the diagram above.

The SoC appears to support a wide variety of memory types, and WonderMedia touts the Prizm 8510's "low power consumption," though further details haven't been offered. Meanwhile, the SoC's "broad operating system compatibility" is said to include Linux, Android, and Windows CE 6.0. "Strong BSP, SDK, and RDK support" is offered for both Windows CE 5.0/6.0 and MontaVista Linux Professional Edition 4.0/5.0, the company adds.

Subsequently other WonderMedia ARM CPUs — the VT8430, VT8500, and VT8505 — have cropped up in various products. WonderMedia has not provided any information on these processors, but according to NorhTec, which used the VT8500 in its MicroClient TC, they're similar to the Prizm 8510 but omit certain multimedia extras.

WonderMedia Technologies bills itself as a fully owned subsidiary of Via Technologies that is headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan, with teams in Shenzhen and Beijing, China, and Silicon Valley, Calif. The parent company is primarily known for its x86-based processors and chipsets for the mobile and embedded markets, including the Eden and Eden ULV, the C7-M ULV, and the 64-bit Via Nano, a 65nm design with an out-of-order execution unit.

In 2006, Via announced that it had expanded its licensing agreement with ARM to include the ARM926EJ-S and ARM968E-S processors, after previously having licensed ARM7 cores. At the time, Via said the processors were licensed to help Via and its subsidiaries improve products aimed at mobile phones, set-top boxes, telematics, and personal media players.

WonderMedia provided an informal look at Prizm-based reference designs at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show
Source: Via Technologies
(click to play)


As noted, did not provide a product name or model number for the new Science and Technology Co. Ltd. netbook, though it says the device will sell for 680 Chinese Yuan (about $100). More information may be found on the publication's website, here.

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