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Android-ready ARM mini-HTPC costs $130, uses just three Watts

Dec 13, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 16 views

Solid-Run is shipping an open source mini-PC platform for developing Android TV and media center apps. Measuring 2.17 x 2.17 x 1.65 inches and consuming less than three Watts, the CuBox runs Android 2.2 or Linux 2.6 on an 800MHz Marvell Armada 510 CPU, has 1GB of DDR3 memory and a microSD slot, and includes eSATA, USB, infrared, S/PDIF, HDMI, and gigabit Ethernet interfaces.

The CuBox is the debut product from Israeli embedded development firm Solid-Run, which started up in 2010. The device is designed as an open source development platform for Android TVs, HD media players, thin clients, digital signage platforms, and network attached storage (NAS) devices, says the company.


(Click to enlarge)

The CuBox measures 2.17 x 2.17 x 1.65 inches (55 x 55 x 42mm) and consumes less than three Watts under typical HD streaming use, claims Solid-Run. In large part this is due to the power-sipping Marvell Armada 510, clocked here at 800MHz. (The system on chip (SoC), which is also known as the Marvell PXA510, has appeared in other embedded mini-PCs, such as Globalscale Technologies' D2Plug.)

The Armada 510 offers a Cortex-A8-equivalent core running ARMv7. It also includes a multi-format decoder that helps deliver 1080p HD video playback, while MTPS (million triangles per second) 3D graphics acceleration provides Open GL ES 2.0 support.

CuBox from both sides

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The Marvell Armada 510 is joined here with 1GHz of DDR3 RAM, as well as a 2GB microSD card in a slot said to support up to 64GB of storage. An eSATA port and dual USB 2.0 host ports are available for further storage and expansion, says Solid-Run.

A micro-USB port supports debug and discovery functions, says the company. The CuBox is further equipped with a gigabit Ethernet port, an optical audio S/PDIF transmitter, and an infrared receiver with LIRC (Linux Infrared Remote Control) support, says Solid-Run.

The included HDMI port is said to support a wide variety of HD formats at 1080p including, H.264, MPEG 2 and 4, WMV, DivX, Xvid, and VC-1 [email protected] An external five Volt power supply is also included.

CuBox block diagram

(Click to enlarge)

The CuBox ships with Android 2.2 and Linux 2.6, and is said to support a variety of Linux distros. In fact, demos are provided for Ubuntu, Debian, and the open source XBMC, which forms the basis for Boxee and other media center distributions.

Designed as an open platform, the CuBox is offered with software development kits that include Gstreamer, as well as the Chrome browser with Flash 10.1 support. Also available are wikis and online community forums, as well as debug and recovery mechanisms. The user can re-flash all elements of the software using a micro-USB debug console, so there's no need for JTAG, says the company.

Features and specifications listed for the CuBox include:

  • Processor — Marvell Armada 510 clocked at 800MHz
  • Memory — 1GB of DDR3 RAM
  • Memory/storage expansion — 2GB microSD card in slot upgradable to 64GB
  • Storage — eSATA I/II port (3Gbps)
  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • 2 x USB 2.0 host ports
    • micro-USB device port for debug/discovery
    • HDMI output
    • optical audio SPDIF transmitter
    • infra-red receiver with LIRC support
  • Power input — 5mm/2.1mm DC jack for included external 5V/2A supply
  • Power consumption — less than 3 Watts with full HD streaming via Ethernet; less if no USB devices attached
  • Dimensions — 2.17 x 2.17 x 1.65 inches (55 x 55 x 42mm)

Rabeeh Khoury, CTO of Solid-Run, "Solid-Run's CuBox is a full computer in a sub 3 Watt power envelope."

Stated Kossay Omary, CEO of Solid-Run, "This is probably the only Android TV box that is shipped in such a small form factor and the only development platform in the market that is packaged in an elegant plastic box and not provided as a barebones system or in a bulky enclosure."


The CuBox, including "all its supporting infrastructure and resources" is now available for 99 Euros ($130), says Solid-Run. The computers are built entirely in Israel in limited runs, so early supplies may not last long, says the company. More information may be found at Solid-Run's website.

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