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VIA Unveils $79 Rock and $99 Paper ARM PCs

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the what-no-scissors? dept.

Hardware 158

Don't yet have one of those million Raspberry Pis, but you're in the market for a tiny, cheap ARM computer? An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from geek.com: "VIA has decided it's time to update the APC (ARM PC) board with new components and the choice of two configurations. The new systems are called APC Rock and APC Paper. The hardware spec for both boards is exactly the same except for the fact the Rock ships with a VGA port whereas the Paper doesn't. The Rock also costs $20 less at $79, whereas the Paper is $99. The reason for the price difference is the fact that the Paper ships with a rather novel case whereas the Rock is a bare board. The Paper's case is made from recycled cardboard attached to an aluminum chassis to help with strength, meaning it will keep the dust off the components and make it easier to carry while keeping weight to a minimum."

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What about (5, Funny)

Dishwasha (125561) | about 2 years ago | (#42621521)

scissors?

Re:What about (1)

siddesu (698447) | about 2 years ago | (#42621553)

They are available separately for $50, or in the "liberate your chips" kit, which sells for $120.

Re:What about (3, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | about 2 years ago | (#42622525)

How about Lizard and Spock?

Re:What about (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42621603)

The APC Scissors will have superior specs and and be priced above the APC Paper's cost of $99, although it will also be inferior to and priced below Rock's cost of $79.

Re:What about (4, Funny)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 2 years ago | (#42622067)

The APC Scissors will have superior specs and and be priced above the APC Paper's cost of $99, although it will also be inferior to and priced below Rock's cost of $79.

How is this possible? The answer is that they'll push it out at $119 dollars and then have to cut the price to $49 due to the Rock crushing it in sales.

I think that about wraps it up.

Re:What about (-1, Offtopic)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#42622503)

Woosh.

Re:What about (5, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | about 2 years ago | (#42622533)

Double whoosh

Re:What about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42622487)

*picks up brains off floor*

Re:What about (-1, Redundant)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 2 years ago | (#42623083)

So what will be the prices of Lizard and Spock?

Re:What about (4, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#42623259)

I don't care about the price, as long as it is cutting edge.

Re:What about (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 2 years ago | (#42621633)

Yes. Scissors, $119.

Re:What about (4, Funny)

Billy the Mountain (225541) | about 2 years ago | (#42621657)

...yeah an' an' don't forget about Spock and lizard!

Re:What about (2)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about 2 years ago | (#42621667)

That would be the Raspberry Pi, which underCUTs them by half. Or you might wait for Dell's hopefully not vaporware $50 PC (http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/13/01/16/2317205/meet-ophelia-dells-plan-to-reinvent-itself)

Re:What about (5, Informative)

KiloByte (825081) | about 2 years ago | (#42621745)

RasPi has very close specs, this one adds just a tiny 4GB flash card, which is obviously not worth the $44 price difference.

You'd want this one [hardkernel.com] instead: more than 10x the performance, 2GB memory, $89 w/o disk.

Re:What about (1)

cjameshuff (624879) | about 2 years ago | (#42622101)

Actually, it has a significantly better CPU. The Raspberry Pi CPU is an ARM11 (like the original APC) that, among other lacks, doesn't have hardware division. The Cortex A9 used in this thing is rather more sophisticated: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARM_Cortex-A9_MPCore#Features [wikipedia.org]

Re:What about (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42623183)

Irrelevant, you won be putting windows there. And we all know how much balls sucking does VIA do with Linux drivers.
NO WAY IN HELL anyone will buy this shit for this matter. Good Job VIA, your ignorance will fuck you up!

Re:What about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42622463)

That hardkernel has the Exynos4412 Prime which has a vulnerability.

http://www.xda-developers.com/android/no-odin-root-exploit-found-for-exynos-4412-and-4210/

Re:What about (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about 2 years ago | (#42622663)

Afaict that is a dumb design flaw in a kernel-userspace interface not a flaw in the hardware itself.

Re:What about (3, Interesting)

wmac1 (2478314) | about 2 years ago | (#42623087)

Why not Buy one of those Chinese A9 tablets for less than $60? They come with LCD, battery, USB and SD card extension. You can remove the case if you like.

Re:What about (3, Insightful)

Above (100351) | about 2 years ago | (#42621857)

The biggest problem with the Pi is the packaging. It was clearly designed to be cheap and thus use the smallest board area possible, but that makes it strange to put into cases and use in practical ways.

Part of what VIA brings to the table here is packaging experience. Yes, the board is a bit bigger, but it was designed to go in a proper case. Depending on the application that may be important and worth the extra bucks.

Re:What about (1)

WrecklessSandwich (1000139) | about 2 years ago | (#42622675)

Part of the reason that the Pi board is so small is that it's a 6-layer design. Lots of internal space to route traces.

Re:What about (3, Insightful)

petermgreen (876956) | about 2 years ago | (#42622681)

To me the biggest question is the software support, andriod is ok for phones/tablets but for desktop and embedded uses I want decent support for regular linux and I want complete kernel source so that there is a chance of support in the long term.

The Pi has that, last I checked the APC did not.

Re:What about (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#42623105)

Which strikes me as sort of an odd omission on VIA's part: competing on pure price with the seething morass of anonymous and ill-supported(I'm not talking about 'slow to update', I'm talking about things like "the firmware flashed on the unit when you got it is the only known firmware for the unit" and "The amount of RAM quoted on the package is a total fiction" stuff) is a sucker's game. That morass is risky, and a certain amount of willingness to shop around is needed; but damn is it cheap...

VIA, by contrast, isn't exactly god's gift to OEM support; but they do at least know how to do it, and that's the only aspect of their offering that could make them a more interesting comparison to the hordes of chinese cheapies.

Re:What about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42621755)

That will cost $119.95... :-)

Re:What about (0)

slick7 (1703596) | about 2 years ago | (#42621767)

scissors?

Spock? Lizard??

Re:What about (3, Funny)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 2 years ago | (#42621809)

The problem is, you can't run with Scissors.

Re:What about (0)

Mabhatter (126906) | about 2 years ago | (#42622229)

I'm holding out for Lizard or Spock.

Re:What about (0)

AJWM (19027) | about 2 years ago | (#42622507)

No, because you shouldn't run [anything] with scissors.

Re:What about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42622823)

I'm more going for shotguns [rockpapershotgun.com]

Rock, Paper... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42621531)

When does Scissors come out?

Re:Rock, Paper... (2)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 2 years ago | (#42621995)

Shortly before the malpractice lawsuit.

But Scissors Beat Paper?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42621535)

think about it...

what about.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42621559)

scissors??

Overpriced (2)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about 2 years ago | (#42621561)

this [tabletrepublic.com] seems a far better product.

Re:Overpriced (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#42621711)

That thread didn't mention the price anywhere. Any idea what it goes for approx? Amazon didn't have any idea and some online sites seemed to suggest around $75 but that's not for sure.

Re:Overpriced (1)

theManInTheYellowHat (451261) | about 2 years ago | (#42622939)

Yep that is one cool tiny gizmo. I know that it is an over used meme but what if you did have a Beowulf cluster of these? Strip away the packaging and fill a rack with these tiny machines and set up a cluster. Or for that matter a room full of them, how would these scale?

What's up with that giant capacitor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42621573)

There is a big ceramic capacitor hanging off the end of a pair of twisted wires on that bare board. That's weird.

Kind of nice if it ever leaks and you need to replace it, i guess...

Re:What's up with that giant capacitor? (2)

radiumsoup (741987) | about 2 years ago | (#42621591)

you mean the CMOS battery?

Re:What's up with that giant capacitor? (1)

cheater512 (783349) | about 2 years ago | (#42622527)

Looks like a vibration motor actually?

Re:What's up with that giant capacitor? (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about 2 years ago | (#42621823)

If its a capacitor from Japan, it might come with enough free MOX to give you a lab quality flux capacitor.
With the right code you could be sending particles back and forth in time from your basement.

Next model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42621577)

And the Scissors model comes out WHEN???

Scissors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42621581)

I'm holding out for APC Scissors, which will be priced above the APC Paper's cost of $99 because it is superior, but below Rock's cost of $79 because it is inferior.

Raspberry Pi (1)

ACluk90 (2618091) | about 2 years ago | (#42621635)

So this is better Raspberry Pi at three times the price? They just added a twice-as-powerful CPU and 4 GB of flash. Or am I missing something?

Re:Raspberry Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42621825)

Also sensible placement of external connections onto one side. That and no oops we screw up the power, USB type of production release that is of alpha quality.

Re:Raspberry Pi (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#42621843)

well its 3x as much as the stripped down pi, not quite as big of a difference for the 512 meg pi

Remember Netbooks? (-1, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | about 2 years ago | (#42621661)

Does anyone remember netbooks? I don't. Because they were trash and pointless.

In 6-8 months, these cheapo mini PCs will also be trash and pointless, and people will regret having bought them. There's no actual demand for these types of devices. People are just buying them because they're the "new thing" (even though they aren't actually new). They will soon be forgotten except for a handful of devices that a handful of nerds convince themselves they need for various pointless projects that no one gives a shit about.

If you want to do something useful, get a real computer and get on with it.
If you want to diddle about like a 14 year old taking a suspiciously long shower, there's about 93572385 Arduino things and 385269 Android things out there that will do just as well as a these new mini PCs. These things are only good if you want undercapable components for use in your sloppy implementation of a stupid and pointless project you copied from the internet.

MOD ME DOWN AND MOD DOWN THE TRUTH

Re:Remember Netbooks? (2)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 2 years ago | (#42621709)

Oh hai. I'm posting this from an EEE PC netbook, about 4 years old, running Mint... something. I dunno, it Just Works. I ruse it regularly for intardtubes, watching things and also stuff, and even some casual programmorzing. Pew, pew.

Small, cheap general purpose devices - especially with real keyboards - do have a point, and that point is to make it easy to debunk your "spunked from my iPad" chucklehead rant, kthnxbye.

Re:Remember Netbooks? (-1, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | about 2 years ago | (#42621733)

Oh hai. I'm posting this from an EEE PC netbook, about 4 years old, running Mint... something. I dunno, it Just Works. I ruse it regularly for intardtubes, watching things and also stuff, and even some casual programmorzing. Pew, pew.

Small, cheap general purpose devices - especially with real keyboards - do have a point, and that point is to make it easy to debunk your "spunked from my iPad" chucklehead rant, kthnxbye.

Everyone knows your lying because netbooks can't handle the mountain of shitty javascript required to read and post on Slashdot.
Furthermore, my computer weighs over 50 pounds, 46 of which are RAW PERFORMANCE, thank you very fucking much.

Re:Remember Netbooks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42621801)

Oh hai. I'm posting this from an EEE PC netbook...

Whatever, you're also getting trolled... easily.
6-digit types should know better.

Re:Remember Netbooks? (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 2 years ago | (#42621757)

Gee...I guess my RaspberryPi in my kitchen linked up to an old touchscreen and custom recipe software is trash and pointless. Or the RaspberryPi in my truck hooked up to a bumper-cam and 1TB hard drive is something my safety conscious family doesn't care about. Just because you lack the creativity and imagination to put these amazing contraptions to good use doesn't mean that there aren't people out there who don't. Idiot.

Re:Remember Netbooks? (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#42621865)

"Or the RaspberryPi in my truck hooked up to a bumper-cam and 1TB hard drive is something my safety conscious family doesn't care about."

yikes, a safety system cobbled together by a hobbyist running on a platform that was designed by people who seemed to learn a EDA during the pi's development all running open source software?

sign me up

Re:Remember Netbooks? (2)

flimflammer (956759) | about 2 years ago | (#42622589)

You're kidding, right? Are you actually trying to imply a mere bumper-cam can't be cobbled together by a hobbyist?

I guess you're the reason we need to warn everyone that pencils are sharp, coffee is hot, and every building contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer.

Re:Remember Netbooks? (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#42622705)

Thats not it at all, its a combination of poor everything that honestly can be accomplished with a composite video signal and a monitor, but knock yourself out, just hope grandpa or whatever mistakes a frozen image for live and backs over the dog

Re:Remember Netbooks? (1)

MattR83 (839641) | about 2 years ago | (#42622809)

Considering the 1TB hard drive, I'm pretty sure he's talking about the equivalent of a dash cam (only mounted to the bumper instead of dash) not a back up camera.

Re:Remember Netbooks? (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 2 years ago | (#42623073)

"Or the RaspberryPi in my truck hooked up to a bumper-cam and 1TB hard drive is something my safety conscious family doesn't care about."

yikes, a safety system cobbled together by a hobbyist running on a platform that was designed by people who seemed to learn a EDA during the pi's development all running open source software?

sign me up

Would be more reliable than most of the commercial dash cams and even if you paid someone to build it, cheaper than buying a Blackvue.

Re:Remember Netbooks? (0)

sexconker (1179573) | about 2 years ago | (#42621989)

Custom recipe software? Puhlease.
Look up recipe online.
Read recipe.
Cook recipe.

If you want a gadget to hold your hand through that process get a DS / 3DS and the Americas Test Kitchen software. Infinitely superior to whatever you've cobbled together.

I see Osgeld has already covered your camera system. Your solution is bulkier, more of a hassle than, and less reliable than dozens of different off-the-shelf products. But I guess if your time is worth nothing and you don't care how your truck looks it could be worth it since you maybe saved tens of dollars.

Re:Remember Netbooks? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#42622535)

Custom recipe software? Puhlease.
Look up recipe online.
Read recipe.
Cook recipe.

If you want a gadget to hold your hand through that process get a DS / 3DS and the Americas Test Kitchen software. Infinitely superior to whatever you've cobbled together.

I see Osgeld has already covered your camera system. Your solution is bulkier, more of a hassle than, and less reliable than dozens of different off-the-shelf products. But I guess if your time is worth nothing and you don't care how your truck looks it could be worth it since you maybe saved tens of dollars.

Many of the cheap off-the-shelf products that are in the price range of a Pi + cheap camera have a habit of temporarily freezing or losing video while they switch files and/or when they lose power. So it's entirely possible that his solution works better than others in the price range. And given that he's added a 1TB drive to it, his solution probably meets his needs better than other solutions out there since few have the ability to add a hard drive.

Re:Remember Netbooks? (1)

flimflammer (956759) | about 2 years ago | (#42622599)

By all means, fellow consumerist. Don't ever bother doing anything yourself even if it may happen to be a hobby of yours. It's always better to buy everything premade. Otherwise you might not have the very best products in every category of your life! We wouldn't want that now would we?

Re:Remember Netbooks? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#42622515)

Gee...I guess my RaspberryPi in my kitchen linked up to an old touchscreen and custom recipe software is trash and pointless. Or the RaspberryPi in my truck hooked up to a bumper-cam and 1TB hard drive is something my safety conscious family doesn't care about. Just because you lack the creativity and imagination to put these amazing contraptions to good use doesn't mean that there aren't people out there who don't. Idiot.

How do you handle gracefully shutting down when you turn your truck off? How do you interface your camera to the Pi?

I've been thinking about building a Pi based "dash cam" since I haven't been impressed with the existing dash cams. Though I'd probably write my video to an SD card or USB Memory stick rather than hard drive. I'm just not sure how to get a graceful shutdown after I turn off the car - maybe a supercapacitor with enough stored power to let it shut down when it senses loss of 12V power?

Re:Remember Netbooks? (1)

LiENUS (207736) | about 2 years ago | (#42623025)

Why shut it down? it draws ~1amp surely your car battery can supply that for several days without issue

Re:Remember Netbooks? (4, Funny)

am 2k (217885) | about 2 years ago | (#42621847)

Wow, I haven't read so much focused hate in a single post in a while on Slashdot. Did a netbook run over your kitten or something?

Re:Remember Netbooks? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 2 years ago | (#42621915)

Your forgetting the over 30 something PhD's from a top US universities who recall their 16-32 bit games from the mid 1990's.
With skill, many years of coding and open source software they will get that old game up on a 1080p TV in all its 2.5D shader and fader glory.
Irc is has a few tiny groups of people with the code, skill and cult like leader who will get their pointless project up on that big TV.
ppc, arm, intel - no real gpu - just makes them code more for boasting rights after their day jobs at telcos, engineering companies, or US gov crypto work.
What amazed me about a handful of nerds on irc was the time spent with their inner game group every night, weekends - while married :)

Re:Remember Netbooks? (1)

anagama (611277) | about 2 years ago | (#42622117)

Well, I don't know if I'd go that far. This is a bit roundabout but ... I have a white macbook connected to my TV for watching netflix or iTunes movies/TV. It's getting pretty tired, stutters with high def content etc. Last time I wanted to watch a movie netflix didn't have, I rented it through iTunes and downloaded it to my macbook pro because I wanted to watch the hidef version. But it refused to play on my TV because I'm connecting via DVI -- it would only play on the laptop's built in monitor. Then, because it was a rental, I couldn't move it to my old stuttering macbook, or at least by a straightforward method. I was pissed. So I "pirated" it, guilt free mind you as I did pay my $4 to see it, and watched it full screen with VLC.

Anyway, if you could rent movies/vids through google play, and it would play them in hidef over the VGA output, I could definitely see a use for this as a basic TV "tuner" (i.e., great for streaming content -- basically the only way I get TV except for the occasional DVD).

Re:Remember Netbooks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42622751)

I have complied with your request.

Re:Remember Netbooks? (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 2 years ago | (#42623347)

I had a 25MHz, x486 netbook with about 100MBytes of HDD, built by compaq in the mid 90s. I upgraded it to 20MBytes of RAM and a big fast hard drive in the early 2000s, and added a PCMCIA WiFi card along-side my 100BaseTx card.

It ran quite nicely with Linux or FreeBSD. Of course I would put the HDD in a modern computer to install the OS, mainly because I had nothing else to boot from in there. I didn't keep it as a paperweight, either... It had serial ports, which made it perfect for console connections to Cisco routers, switches, Unix servers, and whatnot. SSH was cpu-hungry, but plenty fast enough, which was how the netBook got most of its use. Links was pretty good for web browsing, before the world switched to CSS and nobody told Links how to render it (like Dillo as well). It could run X, even old Gnome from Slackware 3.3, but that was painful. X was to low-res to be particularly useful to me, and screen was a fine substitute.

It was a great system because of its size, alone. So easy to carry around, a perfectly good keyboard, and so worthless I never feared dropping it, or leaving it out where it might be stolen. And in some ways better than anything you can buy today, at any price... Namely, it had a trackball for the pointer, which is vastly superior to the pointing devices found on any laptop today. Not to mention built-in RS-232 port that worked with devices that won't talk to USB converters.

In the mid 00's I bought a real laptop from Sotec/Averatec. It was heavy, hot, un-ergonomic, trackpads are a nightmare, and had no end of trouble with it. Not worth jack, yet set me back a grand. I actually threw the nice new laptop in a drawer, and went back to using the 486!

Around the same time I was experimenting with PDAs. Psion's 5MX with full keyboard had an amazing form-factor, and let me write-up entire documents with full formatting and embedded graphs, and print directly with IRDA to a nearby laserjet. I so wanted it to be a workable replacement, but the screen resolution was a bit too low, the terminal emulators weren't good enough, the CPU was on the slow side even for text, no good SSH clients existed for the platform, and they never sold ethernet or wifi adapters for the device, so it was a non-starter. Still, the month of life on 2xAAs, servicable keyboard, and pocket-size were very compelling.

My 486 netbook didn't stop being used until Asus repeated history, and gave me something cheap, with a decent keyboard, ethernet, wifi, light weight and compact size. I have two of them, so I'm set for quite a while.

Tablets aren't going to cut it, nor are smartphones. They don't have the basic expansion ports I've needed for the past two decades, and getting the basic utils going is more effort than it should be.

However, I'd really like to see ARM netBooks... Longer battery life, lower weight, cost, etc., so long as they have basic expansion options. Since Linux/BSD is open source, compiling for different CPUs is pretty easy... I just have to wait for a worthwhile device to come along.

Netbooks aren't a fad... they just outgrew their target market, and then crashed on the glut of supply with minimal demand. I'll keep buying, as will many others, if any company out there keeps making them, with reasonable specs.

That said... BRING BACK THE TRACKBALL ON NETBOOKS!!!

What does it say (1, Troll)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#42621663)

when 60% or more of the posts so far attempt to make an extremely obvious joke about scissors? This article even says its from the what-no-scissors? department, so the joke isn't even that inventive.

For crying out loud... you guys call yourselves nerds?

What I want to know is what about the lizard and spock PC's.

Re:What does it say (-1, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | about 2 years ago | (#42621685)

when 60% or more of the posts so far attempt to make an extremely obvious joke about scissors? This article even says its from the what-no-scissors? department, so the joke isn't even that inventive.

For crying out loud... you guys call yourselves nerds?

What I want to know is what about the lizard and spock PC's.

Fuck off, nerd.
Or, in your native language, "Bazinga!".

Re:What does it say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42621765)

Lizard Computer here [360lizard.com]

Spock Computer here [transduction.com]

Re:What does it say (1)

TechnoLuddite (854235) | about 2 years ago | (#42621787)

Spock finds your suggestion that scissors are too predictable, but that he and the lizard are not, highly illogical.

Besides, I thought that everybody wanted a Rock to wind a multi-threaded string around.

Re:What does it say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42621933)

why would a nerd have a sense of humour?

Re:What does it say (1)

Dishwasha (125561) | about 2 years ago | (#42622549)

My post's font was larger. Do you really expect people to be able to read that tiny print in the title?

The VIA story- a day late and a dollar short (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42621731)

In the computer business, VIA is the ultimate living humiliation. As a company, it always seeks to give the punter as little as possible (for the money), and always miscalculates, ensuring that one is better off buying from someone else.

512MB of RAM and a single grotty core. This time last year, and these specs would have been adequate (the reign of the Allwinner A10 SoC). A year later, and desirable bottom of the barrel is Rockchip's RK3066- 2 core (1.2+ GHZ) with quad MALI graphics.

VIA's graphics and x86 CPUs suffered from exactly the same issue- rubbishy specs and relatively high prices.

For less than VIA wants for this rubbish, you could buy AMD's micro motherboard with attached Brazos x86 APU, a proper x86 dual core system with modern ATI graphics built-in. Sure, you need to add the RAM, but that's cheap enough these days.

It is lucky for VIA's employees that this dreadful company is a pimple on a very much larger industrial group, so VIA's market failures (and financial losses) never seem to matter.

PS potential purchasers, with an interest in video playback, may well want to ensure that the 'theoretical' support of 1080P is matched by available drivers that prove this ability. Video playback on ARM SoC parts tends to be through 'binary blobs', so you either have proper support from the company making the MB, or you are stuffed UNLESS the CPU has enough grunt for software decoding, and one A9 core won't (for HD).

Whjch OS? (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about 2 years ago | (#42621969)

Which OS are they running on it? Chromium? Any other Linux? Windows 8? PC-BSD? Minix? Which one? Unless they can put together a box that has at least a proper Office suite on top of the usual browser & e-mail, I doubt this will go far.

Re:The VIA story- a day late and a dollar short (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#42622077)

PS potential purchasers, with an interest in video playback, may well want to ensure that the 'theoretical' support of 1080P is matched by available drivers that prove this ability. Video playback on ARM SoC parts tends to be through 'binary blobs', so you either have proper support from the company making the MB, or you are stuffed UNLESS the CPU has enough grunt for software decoding, and one A9 core won't (for HD).

Not to worry: anybody who has had the...pleasure... of VIA's totally bitchin' and definitely not unstable at all "Unichrome" graphics on the x86 side won't come in to this expecting much more than a serial console...

Re:The VIA story- a day late and a dollar short (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#42622979)

Not to worry: anybody who has had the...pleasure... of VIA's totally bitchin' and definitely not unstable at all "Unichrome" graphics on the x86 side won't come in to this expecting much more than a serial console...

And do you walk around the VA going, "boom!" too? I thought I'd put Unichrome behind me.

Have they fixed the memory controller yet? (4, Insightful)

tlambert (566799) | about 2 years ago | (#42621771)

Have they fixed the memory controller yet?

The biggest performance bottleneck for graphics on ARM systems has not been the GPU; I've used Mali-400 systems (like this one is supposed to be), and I've used the nVidia system. Graphics performance sucked on both.

Part of this has to do with the fact that the graphics architecture in standard Linux penalizes you for not GPL'ing your drivers, but the Android graphics stack gets around this by duplicating some kernel interfaces with slightly non-GPL'ed versions - yet the performance is still terrible.

The blame rests squarely on the memory copy speeds, which comes down to the memory controller. Apple has completely addressed this in their ARM chips (but are not sharing), and Samsung has partially addressed this in their ARM chips (and are also not sharing). Has VIA addressed the memory controller bandwidth issues in the WonderMedia, or does "WonderMedia" actually mean "I wonder when they will get media support in their ARM chips"?

Re:Have they fixed the memory controller yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42621965)

Part of this has to do with the fact that the graphics architecture in standard Linux penalizes you for not GPL'ing your drivers

What the hell are you talking about?

Re:Have they fixed the memory controller yet? (3, Informative)

Microlith (54737) | about 2 years ago | (#42622959)

He's referring to a point made recently to some kernel-internal DMA interfaces that are marked as GPL only and Nvidia wanted them to be something else so they could use them with their proprietary module.

Alan Cox resisted, and as a result a small performance boost can't be had by proprietary graphics drivers.

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTA0ODE [phoronix.com]

Re:Have they fixed the memory controller yet? (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 2 years ago | (#42622987)

This.

Tho elaborate: It's a small boost on Intel architecture systems to avoid the hoops, but somewhat more substantial on ARM systems, where avoiding the hoops requires using a particularly poor part of the hardware implementation, which amplifies the costs.

Re:Have they fixed the memory controller yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42623039)

He is bitching because the kernel doesn't have a stable ABI which makes it difficult for proprietary software developers. This is actually a good thing if you understand the technical benefits of free software. As much as people bitch and moan about Richard Stallman the open source proponents (Linus) and the free software proponents (Richard Stallman) have a lot in common. Both favor access to code. ThinkPenguin's probably the only company that really gets this and is taking advantage of it. They've got a thriving operation and will probably exceed Redhat financially some day. If you ship only free software friendly hardware your support costs drop, your customers get better and longer support, things get easier to install, and the stability makes your customers REALLY happy. Distributions could do a better job at back-porting critical pieces (like hplip) although the one up-side to not doing that is it pushes people toward buying hardware from companies who are funding free software development and improving the hardware support situation. In an ideal world everybody would buy free software user would buy free software friendly hardware rather than purchasing random hardware in order to help further development.

MK802? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42621803)

I wouldn't bother mentioning this when you have the MK802 for $40. Twice the ram, mind you.

Who needs RaspPI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42621967)

I bought a CGCOLORMAX (a mostly-built version of Geoff Graham's excellent Color Maximite from one of the electronics magazines I frequent) for $49US (I actually bought two just in case).

Had to solder on the power connector (no big deal) and source an Aussie power supply, VGA monitor, and PS/2 keyboard (all of which I (and no doubt many others) have lying around in the man-cave). Also bought a 4G SD card for minimal dollars for storage and I have a full blown machine running BASIC (with boot times around about ... literally no time at all) just like the ones I grew up with (TRS80/Apple/etc).

The 8yo son has already started programming (12-times table) and understands the basics (sequence, selection, iteration, variables and so on), so well worth the money in terms of educating the kids.

And the CGCOLORMAX also has a breadboard for playing around, interfacing with other devices, so look soon for my guided missiles streaking across your airspace :-)

Why is this good? (3, Insightful)

countach (534280) | about 2 years ago | (#42622045)

I keep seeing on eBay these days you can get an Android tablet for about $40. And it has a screen, a touch screen at that. Presumably internally it is some kind of ARM PC with storage and everything. So why is a bare bones ARM PC, especially at these prices good? And what can you realistically do with the damned thing anyway?

Re:Why is this good? (4, Interesting)

dido (9125) | about 2 years ago | (#42622291)

Interfaces. Flexibility. You can plug it into a 1080p TV and get video output that way. If you need more storage, a multi-terabyte USB hard drive is easy to plug in. Software is also your responsibility, and that means you can make it run just about anything with more or less effort depending on that. You'd be lucky if the $40 Android tablet even has an HDMI port, much less a USB port, and good luck getting it to run anything but the version of Android it came with. I managed to build a working HTPC with a Raspberry Pi within a few hours of it getting to me in the mail, and the only reason why I haven't yet turned it into a file server/torrent box as well is that I'm reorganising the several external drives I have, so I can repurpose one of them.

Re:Why is this good? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42622461)

You didn't click though, did you? It's running a keyboard and mouse optimized version of Android 4.0 and ships with a basic suite of apps - browser, mail, file system, etc. by using standard peripherals, you can recycle an old monitor, mouse and keyboard. Out of the box, it's enough computer for 80% of the population. As for the $40 Android tablets on ebay - they absolutely suck.

usability (2)

stenvar (2789879) | about 2 years ago | (#42622543)

Sometimes less is more. I have a tablet hooked up to a monitor, but Android constantly gets confused about the two screens and their resolutions. That means you keep having to fiddle with the touch screen. A dedicated device like this always uses the connected monitor for its output, and the mouse and keyboard for its input. Also, this has better specs than low-end tablets; in different words, at the same price, you get better performance for not paying for a screen.

Re:Why is this good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42623309)

It will also break in about 2,5 seconds. Or that's my experience with cheap ARM crap anyway. Once they get proper reliability though, they might become an unstoppable force.

Paper=Trabant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42622251)

The VIA Paper is the computer world's Trabant!

If it blows a constant cloud of blue smoke doing mobile computing, I will have to have one.

Why all the fuss? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42622387)

Do companies really have to design these project platforms when there are android cell phones that can be had for under $50? They come built in with a small touchscreen, wifi, a low res camera, battery, accelerometer, vibrator, mic, a weak speaker, and possibly a small physical keyboard. Virgin Mobile almost always has a no contract phone for $30-$50.

There is also an overabundance of bad ESN phones on ebay for $15-$30. While there are issues with supporting thievery, not all bad ESN phones have been stolen, some are really just lost and found by others. Either way, the phones have been branded bad and unless re-purposed, represent a waste on society. Do companies really need to design/build these platforms when there are so many used phones that already litter the world?

Re:Why all the fuss? (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#42622575)

Do companies really have to design these project platforms when there are android cell phones that can be had for under $50? They come built in with a small touchscreen, wifi, a low res camera, battery, accelerometer, vibrator, mic, a weak speaker, and possibly a small physical keyboard. Virgin Mobile almost always has a no contract phone for $30-$50.

There is also an overabundance of bad ESN phones on ebay for $15-$30. While there are issues with supporting thievery, not all bad ESN phones have been stolen, some are really just lost and found by others. Either way, the phones have been branded bad and unless re-purposed, represent a waste on society. Do companies really need to design/build these platforms when there are so many used phones that already litter the world?

Most of what I'd use the Pi for doesn't need a screen, but does need I/O ports, so I'd choose the PI just for the GPIO ports (and I2C, SPI, CSI, etc). Plus there's already a large developer community around the platform and they are all using the exact same hardware, while if I buy a random phone off eBay, it would be harder to find help.

What about RFI? (4, Interesting)

steveha (103154) | about 2 years ago | (#42622467)

These boards don't seem to be worried about emitting radio frequency interference (RFI). That "paper" system case is slick but I don't think it effectively shields RFI.

Is RFI somehow not a problem with these? Is it because they are very low-power, or is it because they are somehow not regulated by the FCC for RFI, or what?

Would operating one of these make the amateur radio enthusiasts down the block from you curse you?

Re:What about RFI? (3, Insightful)

petermgreen (876956) | about 2 years ago | (#42622799)

Some of those that are purely development boards may not worry about it but anything that is going to be sold as an end user product and where the company cares about the possibilty of lawsuits in the west* will need to pass FCC and CE RFI requirements (note: the requirements have two levels, one for "domestic" and one for "commercial", afaict manufacturers only have to comply with the "commercial" requirements provided they put a couple of lines of warnings about possible interference in a domestic environment in the manual).

AIUI the RFI is kept down through a combination of careful PCB design, slew rate/drive strength control and avoiding having too much high speed stuff on the board at all. Still it can be a close shave sometimes, the rpf were put in a tight spot after their distributors decided that given the volume and demographics of the preorders it was too risky to try and claim it was not an end user product. Fortunately they got the board to pass with only minor firmware tweaks.

* Some chinese vendors simply don't give a fuck :(

Re:What about RFI? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42623035)

not to mention a electronic device partially made of kindling; what could go wrong?

Re:What about RFI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42623153)

Would operating one of these make the amateur radio enthusiasts down the block from you curse you?

That would be good to know. They've pissed me off before (Ham Radio bleeding into my antenna feed). I would love nothing more than to turn the tables on them.

Less is more? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42622691)

The Rock and Paper offer a nice spec bump over the original APC, which shipped with Android 2.3, an ARM 11 processor, only 2GB RAM, and was only 720p capable in the graphics department.

*looks at Rock/Paper specs*
"512MB DDR3 RAM"

Huh?

Why is this on /.?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42623139)

Is the editor feeling nostalgic about a time when VIA mattered?

It's another ARM board with closed source drivers (ie useless). Neo-ITX and a cardboard box are all that's interesting here.

VGA not HDMI out? (1)

jjsimp (2245386) | about 2 years ago | (#42623171)

What is it still the 90's. I haven't used a VGA cable, for personal uses, for a few years now. Not even sure if my TV even has a VGA port. Do people use these device for Media PC's? I can't imagine they can run 720p content let alone 1080p. My apologies for sounding like I am a troll, but I just don't see any use for these devices.

Re:VGA not HDMI out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42623301)

It has both, and yes you can run 1080p over VGA, albeit poorly.

One thing though (1)

kilodelta (843627) | about 2 years ago | (#42623257)

My RasPi cost me a total of $35. Has HDMI and Composite. It's designed to work with a television set.
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