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Vehicle PC’s claimed to boot in five seconds

Aug 23, 2011 — by Jonathan Angel — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Portwell announced a fanless vehicle computer that is claimed to boot in less than five seconds, thanks to Coreboot technology. The PCS-8277 has a AMD G-Series processor, two 2.5-inch bays for SATA devices, two gigabit Ethernet ports, and support for wireless networking plus a GPS receiver, according to the company.

Portwell's PCS-8277 joins other vehicle computers from the company, such as the PARD-S071TW announced in July, the PCS-8270 announced in April, and the PCS-8230 from July 2008. Like these earlier products, it's fanless, but unlike them, it switches from an Intel Atom CPU to AMD's dual-core, G-Series T56N (with on-chip Radeon HD6320 graphics and an 18-Watt TDP).

Portwell's PCS-8277 (front panel)

The PCS-8277 also leverages AMD's recent decision to make the G-Series processor compatible with Coreboot, the software previously known as LinuxBIOS. Thanks to Coreboot, the system can boot in less than five seconds, making it "function just like an appliance," Portwell claims. (Whether this includes the time needed to load a functioning Linux or Windows desktop wasn't made clear, however.)

According to Portwell, the PCS-8277 has a "well-protected" enclosure that allows it to comply with MIL-STD-810F (method 514.5) requirements, and the system tolerates input voltages from 9 to 32VDC. Integrated surge protection and a delayed boot/shutdown mechanism help the device cope with the vagaries of vehicular power, the company adds.

The PCS-8277 accepts up to 8GB of 1066MHz DDR3 RAM in two SO-DIMM slots, and has two 2.5-inch bays for SATA storage devices, Portwell says. As for other internal expansion, the company's rather skimpy data sheet cites only a SIM slot, but a press release adds that there are three Mini PCI slots — apparently intended for the communications options (WLAN, WAN, GPS, and Bluetooth) that are mentioned by both sources.

The front panel of the PCS-8277, pictured earlier in this story, has two gigabit Ethernet ports and four USB 2.0 ports. The rear panel provides access to a VGA output (up to 2045 x 1560 pixels), three serial ports (one RS232 and two RS232/422/485), and digital I/O (four in, two out), Portwell says.

Portwell's PCS-8277 (rear panel)

The above image of the PCS-8277's rear panel also appears to show a DVI port, though such was not listed in any of the company's written materials. Also cited by Portwell is an IrDA port, a rarity these days, but no indication of where the PC's infrared receiver is located was provided.

Specifications listed by Portwell for the PCS-8277 include:

  • Processor — AMD T56N (dual-core, 1.6GHz, 18-Watt TDP)
  • Chipset — AMD A55E
  • Memory — up to 8GB of 1066MHz DDR3 RAM via two SO-DIMM slots
  • Storage — 2 x 2.5-inch bays for SATA drives (1 externally accessible, according to press release)
  • Expansion:
    • 3 x Mini PCI
    • SIM slot
  • Networking — 2 x gigabit Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • VGA
    • DVI (pictured but not documented)
    • 4 x USB 2.0
    • 3 x serial (1 x RS232 and 2 x RS232/422/485)
    • digital I/O (4 in, 2 out)
    • IrDA port
  • Power — 9~32VDC input; consumption n/s
  • Dimensions — 9.8 x 6 x 2.2 inches (250 x 150 x 55mmm)
  • Weight without drives — 3.3 pounds (1.5kg)

Further information

Portwell gave no indication of pricing, availability, or operating system support for the PCS-8277. More information may be found on the PCS-8277 product page.

Jonathan Angel can be reached at [email protected] and followed at

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