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Half the price of a Trim-Slice: CompuLab unveils the Utilite miniature computer

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July 15, 2013

CompuLab has unveiled the next generation of its Trim-Slice miniature computer, which is n...

CompuLab has unveiled the next generation of its Trim-Slice miniature computer, which is now called the Utilite

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Mini-PC maker CompuLab has unveiled the next generation of its teeny, Tegra 2-powered Trim-Slice computer. Now called the Utilite, Nvidia's processing heart has been swapped for a Freescale i.MX6 system-on-chip that's available with single, dual or quad cores. The system can run either a desktop-grade Ubuntu or a fully-featured Android operating system, but probably the best news is a starting price of just US$99.

Cheap entry doesn't mean that the Israeli company has sacrificed performance for cost. Buyers of the new Utilite can look forward to up to twice the performance offered by its full-size-PC-in-a-small-package Trim-Slice ancestor for less than half the starting price.

Dotted around its simple 5.3 x 3.9 x 0.8-in (135 x 100 x 21-mm) "no-screws" housing, you'll find two Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, five USB ports (including one micro USB On-The-Go connector), two RS232 Serial ports, HDMI 1.4 and DVI-D display ports that each support up to 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution, and both S/PDIF 5.1 and analog audio.

Under the hood, its ARM-based Cortex-A9 processor runs up to a 1.2 GHz quad-core configuration, and sits alongside a video processing unit capable of supporting multi-stream 1080p H.264 video, with graphics API support in the shape of OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0, OpenVG 1.1 and OpenCL EP.

Systems are available with up to 4 GB of DDR 3 RAM and up to 512 GB of mSATA solid state storage (with expansion possible via an included micro-SDXC card slot). The Utilite also gets 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi via a single antenna, and Bluetooth 3.0 wireless technology.

The small computer is pitched as a good fit for applications like IPTV or infotainment systems, as a media player, and for use in digital signage or as a thin-client desktop replacement. Its high performance, open platform design may also be of interest to software developers. CompuLab expects to start shipping in August.

Product page: Utilite mini computer

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
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9 Comments

Just curious why nobody has considered taking a garden variety Radeon HD7950 (Base: 850MHz, Boost: 925MHz), 3GB GDDR5 (5000MHz), PCI-E 3.0, Dual DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort

OR

GeForce GTX760 (Base:1072MHz,Boost:1137MHz), 2048MB (6200MHz) GDDR5, PCI-E 3.0, Dual DVI, HDMI, Displayport

add a psu and package it in a box.

Then run a Linux distro with a nice GUI using the videocard to handle everything. Essentially a system on chip job, but one that can also run games a bit better, and take advantage of the massive parallelism available natively to videocards.

..Yes, or just reverse engineer a PS4. I can expect that reply.

Was just hoping for a cheaper option. :)

Nairda
15th July, 2013 @ 06:24 pm PDT

@Nardia

Well if you did that you'd have a full blown pc probably with the full price tag as well. Oh and then you'd also need a big heatsink fan and space to hold it all. I think the point of this setup is to be low end and low cost.

Last time I heard it was rumored that the ps4 would have 8GB of DDR5 ram onboard. As long as the firmware allows booting/installing a linux distro that should work. By the sound of things the firmware wont support other OS's:

http://community.eu.playstation.com/t5/PlayStation-4-General-Discussion/Will-PS4-feature-Other-OS/td-p/18712724

asdf
15th July, 2013 @ 09:00 pm PDT

A fantastic package. It kind of makes the Xios redundant for media center purposes.

Australian
15th July, 2013 @ 11:30 pm PDT

@asdf

PS4 uses GDDR5, that is just tweaked DDR3, specialized for graphical processing

in terms of DDR, version 4 is planned to be released at the end of this year

MG127
15th July, 2013 @ 11:58 pm PDT

I have a 10 inch Win 8 pro tablet that cost me just 260 dollars and I connect it to any monitor I like. It weighs just 350 grams, has all the ports I need, gorgeous touch screen, 8 hour battery life plus WIFI.

What else do I need to call it a miniature computer ?

Atul Malhotra
16th July, 2013 @ 10:43 am PDT

It reminds me of a more powerful Ouya. But I can control the OS. I can plug in my own XBox Controller for my games.

Ervin Kosch
16th July, 2013 @ 11:10 am PDT

@Atul Malhotra - question is, where do you get a Win 8 Pro tablet for $260?

mados123
16th July, 2013 @ 12:18 pm PDT

@mados

Actually I ported Win 8 pro to My Ramos W32 ....

Atul Malhotra
17th July, 2013 @ 01:16 pm PDT

@asdf

Don't believe you would be up for a completely new computer in terms of price and components.

A video card off the shelf is adequately cooled, and designed to be housed in a poorly circulated enclosure. For the purposes off this, I would leave it open air. The video card just needs to be powered, for which you would need at peak around 300W. A low profile PSU can cater for that.

As far as I/O, modern video cards have multiple outputs, including display ports, HDMIs, and DVI-D.

If any of these outputs could be re-allocated to naively support peripherals such as USB storage or mouse/keyboard, then all you would need is an adapter plug.

Otherwise, make these extensions available via PCI-X data pins through an adapter board. The Linux OS would hang off a USB.

To program the video card to support this mode of operation I'd imagine the best way would be to plug it into an existing PC, and update the firmware of the card, which would continue to function as a basic 2D card while plugged in.

You would then power off your PC, unplug the card and place it into its own enclosure with PSU and USB adapter, to be used as a standalone machine that POSTs off the USB thumb drive.

You could use this method with two cards, each sharing the the effective load of what might normally be the task of the CPU. In games the CPU is not that critical, so I suspect between them they would do just fine.

Programming may not have to be a nightmare, because from a game development point of view instructions normally forwarded to the CPU would be catered for by registers on the video cards through some kind of simple abstraction.

Besides, can't be anywhere near as horrible as coding for the PlayStation 3/4 the uses Cell processors .

Nairda
17th July, 2013 @ 10:15 pm PDT
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