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Rugged, Atom-powered handheld runs Linux

Apr 28, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 8 views

Amrel announced the availability of Linux on a ruggedized, military-focused handheld PC that includes a five-inch, 800 x 480 pixel touchscreen. The Rocky DB6 has a 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z530 processor, 32GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of SSD (solid state disk) storage, and a Mini PCI Express expansion slot, the company says.

Amrel's unusual Rocky DB6 (right) was released under the radar several months ago with Windows 7, and was covered at the time by our sister publication WindowsForDevices. Now, Amrel has finally issued a press release and is promoting the handheld as a cross-platform device that can also run Linux.

Designed for the "warfighter" in the field, the device measures 7.9 x 3.7 x 1.3 inches, and weighs 1.9 pounds. As you might expect from a device aimed at the military, the five-inch, 800 x 480 pixel touchscreen is resistive, so it may be operated via gloved hands.

Rather than a standard QWERTY keyboard or numeric keypad, the Rocky DB6 has twelve function keys that adjust various hardware settings and can also involve an onscreen keyboard, says Amrel. Also available is an optional onboard fingerprint scanner, for secure access, the company adds.

According to Amrel, the Rocky DB6 includes a 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z530 processor, with the usual SCH US15W companion chip, and is fitted with the maximum 2GB of DDR2 RAM this chipset can utilize. Storage is via a 1.8-inch SSD (solid state disk), offered in capacities ranging from 32GB to 128GB, says the company.

Amrel says the Rocky DB6 carries MIL-STD 461F and MIL-STD 810G certifications and an IP65 rating (meaning it is dustproof and water-resistant). It is also fully compliant to FIPS 140-2, the encryption standard, says Amrel.

A covered I/O port on one side of the unit (right) provides a USB 2.0 port, a SDHC slot, and a SIM slot, while the other side of the device (below left) has a docking connector. A separately available cradle offers optional I/O including a serial port, three USB hosts and one USB client, and a VGA output, according to Amrel.

The Rocky DB6 has a Mini PCI Express slot internally, according to Amrel, and this is apparently the key to some of its optional capabilities (Bluetooth 2.1 is standard). Wireless networking (802.11a/b/g/n) is provided via a Mini PCI card, for example.

Amrel says the Rocky DB6 may be equipped with a GSM cellular modem, a GPS receiver, and a two megapixel digital camera. The company also touts a "night vision" feature which presumably employs the camera sensor.

According to Amrel, the Rocky DB6 has a 3900mAh hot-swappable battery that provides up to five hours of operation. An AC adapter is supplied, and the device tolerates DC inputs ranging from 12 to 32VDC, the company adds.

Features and specifications listed by Amrel for the Rocky DB6 include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom Z530 clocked at 1.6GHz
  • Chipset — SCH US15W
  • Memory — 2GB of DDR2 RAM
  • Storage — SSD in capacities ranging from 32GB to 128GB
  • Display — 5-inch touchscreen with 800 x 480 pixel resolution; optional VGA port
  • Keys — 12 keys provide hardware adjustments and programmable function keys; optional fingerprint scanner
  • Camera — 2 megapixel (optional)
  • Expansion:
    • SDHC slot
    • SIM slot
    • Mini PCI Express slot
    • docking connector
  • Networking:
    • 1 x Ethernet (optional)
    • PAN — Bluetooth 2.1
    • WLAN — 802.11a/b/g/n (optional)
    • WWAN — GSM modem (optional)
  • Other I/O:
    • GPS receiver (optional)
    • 1 x USB 2.0 host
    • 3 x USB 2.0 host (optional)
    • 1 x USB 2.0 client (optional
    • 1 x serial port (optional)
  • Battery — 3900mAh, hot-swappable; lasts for up to five hours
  • Operating range — n/s
  • Dimensions — 7.9 x 3.7 x 1.4 inches
  • Weight — 1.90 pounds with battery

Stated Ron McMahan, Amrel's Director of Engineered Solutions, "The military is pushing the envelope of connectivity out to the front lines. They want ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) data in the hands of the warfighter. This creates a need for a computer that can transmit large encrypted files in real time, operate in harsh combat conditions, and is small enough to fit into a cargo pants pocket. The DB6 is that computer."

Further information

Amrel did not detail pricing or availability, but the Rocky DB6 appears to be available now. More information may be found on the Rocky DB6 product page.

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