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IP STB teams dual-core Atom and Ion

Nov 9, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

Myka announced a more robust version of its media-center IP set-top box (STB). The Myka Ion runs Ubuntu Linux, combines a dual-core Atom 330 CPU with a Nvidia Ion chipset, supports 1080p HD video, and can run Boxee, Hulu, and other Internet video services, says Myka.

Like the earlier "Myka" appliance, the Myka Ion lets users browse websites and play video directly on a connected TV, without requiring a separate PC. While the first-gen Myka is still available for $200 with a 250GB hard disk drive (HDD), the new Myka Ion starts at $380 with a 160GB HDD, with storage options ranging up to a 1TB drive (for an additional $125).

Myka Ion goes vertical

Unlike the original Myka, which began shipping in volume this summer, the Myka Ion makes no claims about running the BitTorrent decentralized distribution protocol. The original Myka was so focused on Torrent that when it was announced in April 2008, it was called TorrentTV. By the time it first started shipping earlier this year, however, it was simply called the Myka box.

Myka Ion interface, which can be discarded in favor of working directly with Ubuntu 9.10
(Click to enlarge)

Since then, the IPTV market has become oriented to sreaming video sites such as Hulu, which recently released the beta Linux version of its Hulu Desktop that's running on the Myka Ion. Meanwhile, the cross-platform, Linux-ready Boxee distribution, also available on the new system, is growing in popularity as a one-stop media center aggregator platform for viewing video over the Internet (see farther below for software details).

Whereas the original Myka box runs Linux on a MIPS32-based Broadcom BCM7403 system-on-chip (SoC), the Myka Ion moves up to the Intel Atom 330, a dual-processor CPU which, like the single-core Atom 230, is aimed at small desktop systems called "nettops." The Atom 330 clocks both of its CPUs to 1.6GHz, provides 1MB of second-level cache, and offers a claimed eight-Watt TDP. 

Myka Ion in white in desktop configuration
(Click to enlarge)

Like several recent nettops, including ZaReason's Atom-230-based Ion Breeze 3770, the Myka Ion mates one of Intel's nettop-focused Atoms with Nvidia's Ion companion northbridge/southbridge graphics processor, the GeForce 9400M GPU. The Ion supports DirectX 10 graphics and 1080p HD video with 7.1 audio, says Myka. The GPU also provides Nvidia's "Cuda" technology for accelerating applications that make use of visual content such as video encoding/decoding, says the company.

While the original Myka offers 256MB of DDR RAM and 6MB of flash, the Myka Ion offers up to 4GB of RAM and employs hard disk storage, the company says. Storage options starting at 160GB are augmented with a SATA port and additional onboard SATA connectors, and there's an option for a Blu-ray player. A PCI-e slot is available for peripheral expansion, while HDTVs and other display devices are supported with VGA, DVI-I, and HDMI ports, adds Myka.

The Myka Ion is equipped with a gigabit Ethernet port, as well as six USB ports, dual S/PDIF-out ports, a PS2 port, and three audio ports. An 802.11n WiFi card is said to be optional. Onboard connectors, meanwhile, include four additional USB connections, and a serial pin header. The fanless, Mini-ITX-based system design can be mounted horizontally or vertically, says the company.

Specifications listed for the Myka Ion include:

  • Processor — 1.6 GHz Intel Atom 330 (533MHz FSB)
  • Chipset — Nvidia MCP7A-Ion
  • Memory — Up to 4GB of dual-channel DDR2 via 2 x 667MHz DIMM slots
  • Expansion — PCI Express mini-card slot
  • Storage — 160GB HDD, upgradable to 1TB, plus SATA connectors (see below)
  • Display — supports up to 1920 x 1440 (VGA); offers VGA, DVI-I, and HDMI ports (see below)
  • Networking — 1 x 10/100/1000 Ethernet port (Realtek RTL8211C)
  • WiFi — optional 802.11n ($40)
  • Other real-world I/O:
    • 6 x USB ports (two front-facing)
    • 1 x VGA port
    • 1 x DVI-I port
    • 1 x HDMI port
    • 1 x eSATA port
    • 1 x PS2 port
    • 2 x S/PDIF-out ports (coaxial/optical)
    • 3 x audio jacks (line-out, line-in, mic-in)
  • Onboard I/O connectors:
    • 3 x SATA (3Gb/sec.) connectors, supporting RAID 0, 1, 0+1
    • 4 x USB 2.0 via dual pin headers
    • 1 RS-232 COM pin header
    • 1 x front-panel audio pin header
    • 1 x front-panel pin header
    • 2 x fan pin headers
    • 4-pin Molex connector (for peripheral power)
  • Audio — Realtek ALC662 5.1 channel HD codec
  • Other features:
    • System power management
    • RTC timer
    • Optional Blu-ray player ($225)
    • SATA and power cables
  • Power — DC 19 V @ 4.74 A
  • Dimensions — 6.7 x 6.7 inches (17 x 17cm); Mini-ITX format
  • Operating system — Ubuntu Linux 9.10; optional dual-boot Windows 7 version

The Myka Ion ships with a full installation of the latest Ubuntu 9.10 Linux distribution, enabling expert users to work directly with Ubuntu as an alternative to using the Myka UI that sit atop Ubuntu (pictured farther above). A Windows 7 dual-boot option is also available, enabling access to sites such as NetFlix and CinemaNow, says Myka.

Boxee on Myka Ion
(Click to enlarge)

In addition to running the new Hulu Desktop for Linux, the appliance supports Adobe Flash, as well as media software like Boxee (pictured above) and the XBMC open source media management system (pictured below). The Myka Ion supports full applications and browsers, as opposed to the "scaled down versions usually found in media players," says the company. Both Boxee and XBMC are said to specifically exploit the capabilities of the Nvidia Ion GPU.

XBMC on Myka Ion
(Click to enlarge)

Myka supports an open-source developer community for developing applications on the Myka platforms. The company is also said to be "pursuing partnerships with high-quality video content providers."

Stated Myka President Dan Lovy, "Technology has finally caught up with what consumers want out of Internet video services, They want to be freed from their computers and watch the growing variety of Web video content on their large-screen, high-definition living room TVs. And they want to do it without a lot of hassle and without video quality suffering."


Myka is available for pre-order now, and will ship the first week of December, starting at $380 for a system with a 160GB HDD, but without the Blu-Ray ($225) or wireless networking ($40) options. More information may be found here.

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