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Atom E6xx PC is claimed to be world’s smallest

Feb 25, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 113 views

Toradex announced a Linux-based single board computer (SBC) with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom E6xx, and also debuted a PC based on it that's claimed to be “the world's smallest.” The “Topaz” SBC underlies the fanless, aluminum-housed “Xiilun,” which measures 3.50 x 2.36 x 0.63 inches, features up to 2GB of DDR2 RAM, and offers a bootable microSD slot, DVI-D, and four USB 2.0 ports.

Claims for the world's smallest computer and world's smallest SBC pop up every year or two in the embedded Linux world, it seems. The claims are usually true, for awhile, until the next, even smaller device comes along.

But what's amazing about recent entries, including the ARM-based Marvell Plug Computer, is just how powerful they're getting. The Xiilun, for example, crams a lot of horsepower into its 3.50 x 2.36 x 0.63 inches (89 x 60 x 16mm) frame, thanks to the Atom E6xx-based Topaz single board computer (SBC).

Toradex's Xiilun PC

(Click to enlarge)

The E6xx, matched here with an Intel EG20T controller and clocked at up to 1.6GHz, is heir to the original, low-power Z5xx line of embedded-oriented Atoms. The processor integrates an Intel GMA600 graphics controller, thereby reducing footprint.

Power consumption for both the Topaz and Xiilun is claimed to be "extremely low," although this wasn't quantified. According to Intel, the TDP of the E6xx processors ranges from 2.7 Watts for the 600MHz versions to 3.9 Watts for the 1.6GHz E680 and E680T.

The E6xx supplies the Topaz and Xiilun with full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution, dual independent display capability, and support for OpenGL ES 2.0, OpenVG, and DirectX 9.0, says Toradex. In addition, the processor's Intel hyper-threading and virtualization technology is supported. Video support for the SBC and PC is said to include MPEG4 and H.264 encoding and decoding, as well as MPEG2, VC1, and WMV9 decoding.

Topaz SBC

(Click to enlarge)

The Xiilun and Topaz each ship with 1GB or 2GB of DDR2 RAM. The Xiilun's ports are the same as the real-world interfaces on the Topaz: a bootable, internal microSD slot, a DVI-D port on an HDMI connector, as well as four high-speed USB 2.0 host ports, says the company.

The USB ports can be expanded through third-party USB peripherals for Wi-Fi, Ethernet, cellular, Bluetooth, and audio, says the company. This, of course, could make your world's tiniest computer not quite so tiny anymore, but it does offer some flexibility advantages.

The Xiilun's "robust aluminum die-cast housing" dissipates heat, allowing fanless operation, says Toradex. Operating temperature ranges were not supplied.

The underlying Topaz SBC, which is also available separately from the Xiilun, is not the world's smallest — it's hard to compete with those tiny ARM9-based SBCs. However, the device appears to be one of the smallest Atom-based SBCs on the market, measuring just 3.3 x 2.16 x 0.5 inches (84 x 55 x 12.7mm).

While the Topaz's real-world ports qualify it as an SBC, not just a COM (computer on module), the device may be used as a module thanks to its two 50-pin expansion connectors. These allow attachment of customized I/O boards, offering features such as SATA storage,  PCIe expansion, or I2C and CAN interfaces, according to Toradex.

The Xiilun and Topaz run on 5VDC power and are available with long-time availability, says Toradex. The Topaz can be powered either over the EIAJ-02 coaxial power connector or over the expansion connector. The Topaz also supports suspend mode and hibernation, and can be configured to boot without power button interaction when a 5V power supply is attached, says the company.

Both products are said to ship with Linux pre-installed.

Features and specifications listed for the Topaz SBC include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom E6xx at up to 1.6GHz; Intel IOH EG20T controller
  • Memory — 1-2GB DDR2 (32-bit)
  • Flash expansion — internal microSD slot
  • Display — 1 x DVI-D port on HDMI connector; supports HD (1920 x 1080) resolution, dual display
  • USB — 4 x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Expansion connector I/O:
    • 1 x LVDS (single channel)
    • 2 x PCIe (PCI Express)
    • 2 x high-speed USB 2.0
    • 2 x SATA
    • 1 x Intel HD audio
    • 1 x SDIO (4bit)
    • 1 x LPC
    • 1 x SMB
    • 1 x I2C
    • 4 x GPIO
    • 2 x UART (RS232)
    • 1 x CAN
  • Power — 5VDC; power management features
  • Dimensions — 3.3 x 2.16 x 0.5 inches (84 x 55 x 12.7mm)
  • Operating system — Linux pre-installed

Topaz demo on YouTube
Source: Toradex
(Click to play)


No pricing or availability information was offered for the Xiilun PC and Topaz SBC. More information on the devices, along with more on other products Toradex will be showing at Embedded World, may be found in this Toradex show announcement.

Another product featured in that announcement is the Nvidia Tegra 2-based Colibri Tegra T20 module, first announced in July. Now called the Colibri Tegra 2 Computer Module, it shipped last month, according to Toradex.

Toradex will be at Embedded World on Mar. 1-3 in Nuremberg, Germany, at Hall 9-130, Hall 10-452, and Hall 12-203.

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