Blue Chip Technology announced a Ubuntu-ready “digital signage player” based on a 1GHz AMD G-Series processor with AMD Radeon HD graphics. The Vario-A2 is packaged in a polished stainless steel enclosure, runs from 0 to 40° C, accommodates internal SATA HDDs and SSDs, and has a mini-PCI Express card socket for functions such as WiFi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, GPS, and 2G/3G modems.
Blue Chip Technology, which built its first Vario signage controller 13 years ago, touts the Vario-A2 as an entry-level digital signage controller and says the device is designed to run 24/7 reliably. The Vario-A2 is built inhouse in Chester, U.K., says the company.
Vario-A2 signage controller
The Vario-A2 runs on AMD’s 1GHz, G-Series T40E APU (application processor unit), which features a dual-core 64-bit x86 CPU along with an integrated AMD Radeon HD 6250G GPU, supplemented by an external AMD Fusion I/O controller hub chip. The Radeon GPU enables 2D/3D acceleration, with support for DirectX 11, Open GL 4.0, OpenCL 1.1, and HD video acceleration.
The Vario-A2 can drive either a DVI-I or VGA display. The latter is obtained via an adapter that plugs into the DVI port. A composite TV out port is also available as an option, says Blue Chip.
Customers can choose between 2GB or 4GB of DDR3 RAM. A SATA bay supports hard drives of up to 2TB in capacity, and solid state storage can be supplied via either 2.5-inch SSD or CompactFlash devices. A Mini-PCI Express slot supports optional wireless options including WiFi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, GPS, or a 2G/3G cellular modem. Additionally, the company offers customization services.
Vario-A2 controls and connections
(click image to enlarge)
The box’s I/O includes dual gigabit Ethernet ports, four USB 2.0 ports, audio ports, and an optional RS232 serial port. While the T40E APU has a relatively low, 6.4 Watt TDP, the entire Vario-A2 system consumes between 14 and 20 Watts, says Blue Chip.
Specifications listed for the Vario-A2 include:
- Processor core — AMD G-Series T40E SoC:
- Dual 64-bit x86 CPU cores @ 1GHz
- Radeon HD 6250G graphics
- AMD Fusion I/O controller
- Memory — 2GB to 4GB DDR3 (800-1966MHz)
- Storage — SATA bay for 250GB and 2TB HDD or optional 2.5-inch or Compact Flash SSD module
- Expansion — Mini-PCIe slot for optional WiFi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, GPS, or 2G/3G cellular modem
- Networking — 2x gigabit Ethernet
- Other I/O:
- DVI-I with adapter cable for VGA
- Composite TV-out (optional)
- 4x USB 2.0 host
- RS232 (optional)
- Audio line-out
- Audio line-in (optional)
- Other features — watchdog timer; polished stainless steel enclosure with a black brushed aluminum front panel
- Power — 12 Volt DC input; 14-20W consumption
- Operating temperature — 0 to 45° C
- Dimensions — 200 x 113 x 52mm (7.9 x 4.5 x 2.0 inches)
- Operating system — Ubuntu Linux; Windows 7, XP Embedded, XP Pro
No pricing or availability information was listed for the Vario-A2, but Blue Chip says it will be “lower cost.” More information may be found at the Vario-A2 product page.