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Tiny DIY PC gets smaller, more powerful

Apr 20, 2010 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 30 views

Via announced a tiny PC for do-it-yourselfers, available in a barebones configuration with room for a 2.5-inch hard disk drive. The Linux-ready Artigo A1100 has a 1.3GHz Via Nano processor, accepts 2GB of RAM, sports HDMI and VGA video outputs, and has five USB ports, the company says.

Via's first Artigo kit, based on a pico-ITX motherboard, shipped in 2007. That device measured 5.9 x 4.3 x 1.8 inches, had a 1GHz Via C7 processor, and was priced at $300 in a barebones configuration.

Via's Artigo A1100
(Click to enlarge)

The company's latest Artigo (above) is even smaller, measuring 5.7 x 3.9 x 2.0 inches. What's more, it's faster, with 64-bit processing, and costs even less: Via says that without RAM or storage onboard, the Artigo A1100 costs just $243.

Understandably touted as "the smallest full-featured PC kit available today," the Artigo A1100 again uses one of Via's pico-ITX main boards, which measure just 3.9 x 2.8 inches. The company doesn't say which board has been employed, but from the system specs, we're pretty sure it's the Epia-P820 that was announced in January.

Via's Epia-P820
(Click to enlarge)

The Epia-P820, pictured above, sports Via's 1.2GHz Nano U2500. As a consequence, the board is compatible with the 64-bit architectures used by Intel and AMD, with SSE3 media processing instructions, and with Intel's VTX architecture for VMs (virtual machines), according to Via.

The Epia-P820 also employs Via's VX855 core-logic chip, which combines northbridge and southbridge functionality, uses just 2.3 Watts, and measures only 27 x 27mm. According to Via, the DirectX 9.0-compatible chip permits decoding of H.264, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV9, and VC-1 video, while using only 40 percent of a host CPU's resources.

Via VX-855 block diagram
(Click to enlarge)

Thanks to the above components, the Artigo A1100 supports up to 2GB of DDR2 memory, and provides a 44-pin IDE connector and a SATA port that respectively support an optional flash DOM (disk on module) or 2.5-inch hard disk drive. As the images below show, the device has HDMI and VGA video outputs, four USB 2.0 host ports and one USB 2.0 device port, a gigabit Ethernet port, and audio I/O.

According to Via, the Artigo A1100 is powered via 12VDC from an external AC adapter. An SD card reader and a 802.11b/g wireless networking module are optional at extra cost, the company adds.

Via's Artigo A1100
(Click either image to enlarge)

Features and specifications released by Via for the Artigo A1100 include:

  • Processor — Via Nano U2500 clocked at 1.2GHz
  • Chipset — Via VX855 northbridge/southbridge
  • Memory — Up to 2GB of DDR2 RAM
  • Storage — IDE and SATA interfaces support 2.5-inch hard disk drive or flash DOM
  • Expansion — SD slot (optional)
  • Networking:
    • LAN — gigabit Ethernet
    • WLAN — 802.11b/g (optional
  • Other I/O:
    • 4 x USB 2.0 host
    • 1 x USB 2.0 client
    • 1 x HDMI
    • 1 x VGA
    • Audio — mic in, line in, line out
  • Power — 12VDC via 100~240VAC adapter
  • Dimensions — 5.7 x 3.9 x 2.0 inches (146 x 99 x 52mm)
  • Weight, without hard disk drive — 1.32 pounds (0.6kg)

A video of the Artigo A1100
Source: Via Technologies
(click to play)

Further information

According to Via Technologies, the Artigo A1100 is available now for $243, and the device is said to support Linux along with all the usual flavors of Windows. More information may be found on the company's website, here.

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