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Pico-ITX PC takes to the road and the skies

Jul 9, 2009 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Axiomtek has announced a fanless embedded system that uses Intel's 1.1GHz Atom Z510 or 1.6GHz Z530 CPUs, and measures just 5.2 x 3.8 x 1.5 inches. The “eBOX510-820-FL” includes gigabit Ethernet, CompactFlash storage, and four USB ports, and it runs off 5VDC power, the company says.

The eBOX510-820-FL — said to be aimed at automotive, medical, and in-flight applications — is the latest in Axiomtek's long-running series of "eBOX" systems, which typically combine a previously released motherboard with a heat-sink-equipped case. Just last month, the company released the eBOX620-831FL, for example, which measures 7.9 x 4.7 x 2.2 inches and includes a 1.6GHz Atom N270 CPU.

The new eBOX510-820-FL is smaller, at just 5.2 x 3.8 x 1.5 inches, and somewhat lower-powered, thanks to its use of Intel's 1.1GHz Z510 or 1.6GHz Z530 CPUs. Measuring just 14 x 13mm, with two-Watt TDPs, the processors are paired with the chipmaker's comparatively huge SCH US15W companion chip, as usual.

eBOX510-820-FL (front view)

The eBOX510-820-FL derives its small size from its use of a pico-ITX format motherboard, Axiomtek's PICO820. When it was first released last September, the PICO820 — about which we provide further details later in this story — was claimed to be the world's first pico-ITX SBC (single-board computer) packing an Atom CPU.

According to Axiomtek, the eBOX510-820-FL accepts up to 2GB of memory via a single SODIMM slot, and has an internal CompactFlash slot for mass storage. The front of the device, as pictured above, has four USB ports, a serial port, a line-out audio jack, and a PS/2 connector for a keyboard and/or mouse. The rear, as shown below, has a power switch, an input for an external 5VDC power supply, a VGA output, and a gigabit Ethernet port.

Axiomtek's eBOX510-820-FL

Features and specifications listed for the eBOX510-820FL by Axiomtek include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom Z510 (1.1GHz) or Z530 (1.6GHz)
  • Memory — Up to 2GB of DDR2 RAM, via single SODIMM slot
  • Storage — CompactFlash slot (the PICO820 itself also has an SATA port, which may or may not be accessible)
  • Display — Supports CRT displays via VGA port (the PICO820 also has a pin header for LVDS displays, which may or may not be accessible)
  • Networking — 1 x gigabit Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • 1 x VGA port
    • 1 x RS232
    • 4 x USB
    • PS/2 keyboard/mouse)
    • 5VDC power input connector
    • Audio line out
  • Operating temperature — 32 to 122 deg. F(0 to 50 deg. C)
  • Dimensions — 5.19 x 3.75 x 1.47 inches (132 x 95.4 x 37.5mm)
  • Weight — 1.1 pounds (0.5kg)

Axiomtek's PICO820

As noted, Axiomtek's PICO820 was claimed to be the first pico-ITX SBC with an Atom processor when it was released. Prior to that, all pico-ITX boards had featured Via CPUs — not too surprising since Via originated the form factor. However, Via transferred ownership of the spec to the Small Form Factor SIG (special interest group), which now maintains it as an open, vendor-neutral standard.

Via's incredible shrinking motherboard

(Click for details)

Measuring 3.9 x 2.8 inches (10 x 7.2cm), pico-ITX — which first broke cover at the beginning of January 2007 — has approximately half the surface area of Via's already small 4.7 x 4.7-inch (12 x 12cm) Nano-ITX standard, and is considerably smaller than the original 6.7-inch square (17 x 17cm) mini-ITX standard.

As the photo below shows, the PICO820 squeezes in a RJ45 connector for gigabit Ethernet, a 5VDC power input, and an SATA port. Additional interfaces, supplied via pin headers, include four USB ports, SDIO, PS/2 style keyboard/mouse, audio I/O, and two serial ports.

Axiomtek's PICO820 has real-world RJ45, VGA, and SATA connectors

The PICO820 includes both an actual VGA connector, for CRT displays, and a pin header for LVDS-interfaced LCDs. The reverse of the board, shown below, provides room for memory in the form of a single 200-pin SODIMM socket and a Type II CompactFlash slot.
The reverse of the PICO820 has SO-DIMM and CompactFlash connectors


Axiomtek did not release pricing, but said the RoHS-compliant eBOX510-820-FL is available now. Operating system support was also not discussed; however, with its standard chipsets and cited Phoenix-Award BIOS, the PICO820 is likely to be compatible with embedded operating systems such as Linux, Windows XP Embedded, and Windows CE. More information on the eBOX510-820-FL may be found on the Axiomtek website, here.

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