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Pico-ITX SBC debuts Via Cortex-A9 SoC

Feb 26, 2014 — by Eric Brown 2,358 views

Via unveiled a Pico-ITX SBC for Android-based signage and HMI apps, featuring a new 1GHz, dual-core “Via Elite E1000” Cortex-A9 SoC and HDMI input/output.

The VAB-1000 Pico-ITX single board computer debuts the Via Elite E1000, which appears to be the first ARM-based Via Technologies system-on-chip developed in-house instead of designed by its Wondermedia subsidiary. It’s not, however, the company’s first ARM-based VAB Pico-ITX SBC. In October, Via announced a Springboard VAB-600 kit running on a single-core, 800MHz Cortex-A9 Wondermedia WM8950 SoC, and based on an earlier VAB-600 board. Also in October, Via announced the VAB-820, which taps the quad-core Freescale i.MX6.

Via VAB-1000
(click images to enlarge)

Via Elite E1000 SoC

Via, which has long sold x86-based SoCs under its C7, Eden, Nano, and new QuadCore E-Series brands, has yet to post a product page or block diagram on the Via Elite E1000, but it did provide a feature list. Like the Wondermedia WM8980, it’s a dual-core Cortex-A9 SoC, but it’s clocked only to 1GHz instead of 1.2GHz. The Elite E1000 features 512KB cache and a Unified Shader Architecture with 64 stream processors that provides support for dual independent displays.


Via Elite E1000

The Elite E1000 also provides “the smoothest 3D/2D graphics acceleration and full HD playback support for the most demanding video formats in resolutions up to 1080p,” says Via. The SoC and VAB-100 board both support standards like Open GL ES 3.0/2.0, OpenVG 1.1, and OpenCL 1.1, as well as dual-decode video resolutions up to 1920 x 1080.

Features listed for the Via Elite E1000 include:

  • Processor:
    • 2x Cortex-A9 cores @ 1.0GHz
    • 512KB cache
    • 64x stream processors
  • Graphics:
    • Open GL ES 3.0/2.0
    • OpenVG 1.1
    • OpenCL 1.1 embedded
    • DX11_Level_9.3
    • Fix function 2D with HW rotation and overlay
  • Video decoding (HW):
  • Video encoding (HW):
    • H.264 [email protected], WebM(VP8), MPEG2, VC1
    • Audio DSP for decode/encode
    • MP3, WMA, AAC, AAC+, DTS, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, ARM N.B.+W.B.

Via VAB-1000

Like the other Via VAB boards, the VAB-1000 adopts Via’s popular 10 cm x 7.2cm Pico-ITX form-factor. The SBC is designed to support a variety of kiosk, digital signage, and HMI (Human Machine Interface) applications, says Via.

The VAB-1000 is loaded with 2GB of DDR3 SDRAM and 4GB eMMC flash. It ships with a rear-panel microSD slot that supports up to 32GB, and also features an internal SATA 2.0 port. A Mini-PCI-Express slot is available for expansion, and there’s a separate connector that supports an optional WiFi module.

VAB-1000 rear I/O port detail
(click image to enlarge)

The VAB-1000 is notable for offering both HDMI input and output ports, which are some of the few real-world ports on the device. Rear-panel I/O also includes a gigabit Ethernet port and a mini-USB port.

Front panel I/O is available via pin headers and connectors. Pin headers are available for two more USB 2.0 ports, audio I/O, SPI, GPIO, I2C, and COM interfaces. Video interfaces include dual channel LVDS connector, VGA, and an S-video pin header.

The pair of USB interfaces and audio I/O can be extended to real-world ports via an optional I/O extender card that also features other pin headers and connectors. The I/O is available as part of a Starter Kit that also includes a video cable and development packages.

VAB-1000 Starter Kit and front panel I/O extender card
(click images to enlarge)

The VAB-1000 ships with an Android “Smart ETK” kit, which features Android 4.1, apparently on way to an Android 4.3 update. There’s also a sample app, and APIs for a watchdog timer, GPIO and COM access, and RTC. In addition, Via furnishes a Linux BSP with a pre-built image, including kernel and bootloader source codes, as well as tool chain. Software customization services for both Android and Linux are also said to be available.

Specifications listed for the VAB-1000 include:

  • Processor — Via Elite E1000 (2x Cortex-A9 cores @ 1.0GHz)
  • Memory:
    • 2GB DDR3-1333MHz SDRAM
    • 4GB eMMC flash
    • MicroSD slot
  • Storage — SATA 2.0 connector with power input (12V/5V)
  • Display:
    • HDMI in Type-C port
    • HDMI out Type-C port
    • VGA pin header
    • S-video pin header
    • LVDS (dual-channel) right-angle connector
    • Chrontel CH7305A single/dual LVDS transmitter (DVP to LVDS)
    • Dual display support
    • Backlight power pin header
  • Wireless — WiFi connector for optional VNT9271 module
  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet port (Realtek RTL8111G PCIe)
  • Other I/O:
    • Mini-USB 2.0 port (AB-type)
    • 2x USB 2.0 (via pin header)
    • RS232 console x1 interface (TX/RX only)
    • SPI and 8x GPIO pin header
    • 3x I2C and COM 2 (TX/RX only) pin header
    • Audio line-out, line-in, mic-in pin header (Wolfson WM8960)
    • JTAG connector
    • Pin headers for function, boot source, RTC, PMU EEPROM, boot leader EEPROM update
  • Expansion — Mini-PCIe connector
  • Optional I/O extender card with audio in/out/mic, 2x USB ports, COM port pin header, suspend power LED, power on/off
  • Power — 12VDC input
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 60 C
  • Dimensions — 100 x 72mm; Pico-ITX form factor
  • Operating system — Android 4.1/4.3 Smart ETK; Linux BSP with pre-built OS image

Further information

Sample units of the Via VAB-1000 board are now available at an unstated price. More information may be found at the Via Technologies VAB-1000 product page, as well as at Embedded World 2014, Feb. 25-27 in Nuremberg, Germany at Via booth 5-330, Hall 5.

(advertise here)

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One response to “Pico-ITX SBC debuts Via Cortex-A9 SoC”

  1. bryan says:

    Looks similar to the VAB 600 which didn’t ever seem to materialize over here in the UK.

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