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Signage PC offers optional HD video accelerator

Apr 7, 2010 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 8 views

Advantech announced a compact PC that's aimed at digital signage applications and, with an optional Broadcom video accelerator card, can play 1080p HD video. The ARK-DS303 features HDMI and VGA outputs, has 1GB of DDR2 RAM and a 160GB hard disk drive, and uses a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU, the company says.

Advantech's ARK-DS303 uses Intel's venerable, 1.6GHz Atom N270, along with the typical 945GSE northbridge and ICH7M southbridge. These components are noted for low power consumption — the ARK-DS303 is said to use just seven Watts — but not powerful video performance.

Advantech's ARK-DS303

According to Advantech, the ARK-DS303 supports single or dual displays of up to 2048 x 1526 pixels, via its HDMI and VGA video outputs, and is capable of delivering 720p video. Unlike with many Atom-based devices, 1080p playback is also said to be possible, thanks to an optional Broadcom BCM70012 video accelerator installed into the system's Mini PCI Express slot.

Utilizing 1080p video and WiFi both is apparently not possible, since the ARK-DS303's optional wireless networking card is also designed to occupy the Mini PCI Express slot. The system has a gigabit Ethernet connector, however, while other I/O is said to include four USB 2.0 ports (two front, two rear), an RS232 port, and a 15-pin connector for GPIO.

Advantech says the ARK-DS303 accepts up to 2GB of DDR2 memory via a single SODIMM slot (1GB is standard), includes a 2.5-inch, 160GB hard disk drive, and also offers a Type I/II CompactFlash slot. The system includes jacks for a microphone input and line output, plus an internal pin header for line input, the company says.

According to Advantech, the ARK-DS303 is also available with an optional TV tuner that adds to the system's width just slightly. No information was provided on what standards this receiver supports, however.

Contrasting the ARK-DS303 to off-the-shelf PCs, Advantech adds that the system comes with specific BIOS settings for digital signage applications, such as wake-on-LAN, power-on-after-power-failure, and scheduled bootup. The device also includes a watchdog timer, the company says.

According to Advantech, the ARK-DS303 supports Linux (Fedora 9.0), Windows XP Embedded, Windows XP, and Windows 7. The system weighs just 2.64 pounds and may be mounted on the rear of a VESA-compatible display, the company adds.

Features and specifications provided by Advantech for the ARK-DS303 include:

  • Processor — 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270
  • Chipset — 945GSE northbridge and ICH7M southbridge; optional Broadcom BCM70012 video accelerator
  • Memory — up to 2GB of DDR2 RAM via single SODIMM slot (1GB standard)
  • Storage — 160GB hard disk drive
  • Expansion — Type I/II CompactFlash slot
  • Networking:
    • LAN — Gigabit Ethernet
    • WLAN — optional via Mini PCI slot (not available when Broadcom video accelerator is installed)
  • Other I/O:
    • 4 x USB 2.0 (2 front, 2 rear)
    • 1 x RS232
    • 1 x VGA
    • 1 x HDMI
    • 1 x GPIO
    • Audio — mic in, line out, line in (internal pin header)
  • Power — 12VDC input; 7 Watts
  • Operating temperature — 32 to 104 deg. F (0 to 40 deg. C)
  • Dimensions — 6.5 x 5.11 x 1.6 inches (165 x 130 x 41mm)
  • Weight — 2.64 pounds (1.2kg)


Advantech did not release pricing or availability information for the ARK-DS303, but more information on the device may be found on the company's website, here. A nicely illustrated review of the device may be found on the Rugged PC Review website, here.

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