VIA outs $49 Raspberry Pi-alike
'Bicycle for your mind', apparently
El Reg hasn't written about VIA for yonks, but it's one of the original x86 CPU makers, thanks to its purchase of processor design firm Centaur in 1999. VIA has long pitched low-cost, low-power CPUs, and now it's trying to do so again, this time with ARM technology, in a bid to take a bite out of Raspberry Pi.
Banana Pi, anyone?
Enter the VIA APC, a $49 (£30) ultra-compact board - VIA's calling the form-factor "Neo ITX" - intended to run Android.
But the scheme's the same: to encourage hobbyists and enthusiasts, VIA said it has "designed APC to be a bicycle for your mind".
The 170 x 85mm APC sports an 800MHz ARM 11 CPU - VIA's own WonderMedia 8750 - 512MB of DDR 3 and 2GB of Flash. It can do 720p video through HDMI, but it has VGA too, plus 10/100 Ethernet, 3.5mm audio I/O and four USB ports. It has a Micro SD slot for storage expansion.
The gadget goes on sale early in July, VIA said, but it's promising to start taking orders soon. Presumably, it's hoping to win over folks who are still waiting for a real Pi. ®
Re: Compared to Raspberry Pi
Also, it appears to be pre-flashed with Android 2.3 (a phone OS), with no indication of other options. Its still an ARM11 (ARMv6) device.
Given the clock speed is only 800MHz compared to the Pi's 700MHz and they are running the same cores, the only real benefit in this over the Pi is the extra RAM.
On balance, I'd say the Pi's GPIO ports, 1080p hdmi, multiple OS options and brick-proofing make it the better bet.
Compared to Raspberry Pi
Things to like:
* Extra CPU cycles
* Extra RAM
Things not to like:
* Soldered-on flash - makes it brickable
* No 1080 graphics / OpenGL ES 2
* No GPIO - at least none mentioned
Who really needs a VGA connector these days?
If this trend of producing a barebones device with just a *little* more umph at just a *little* more cost than the competitors' continues I predict the invention of the desktop PC within the next 12 months.
"quote "1708 x 85mm"
Is this thing really nearly 2m long?"
That's a big banana.
I for one welcome the new era of cheap ARM development boards!