VIA's VAB-800 includes plenty of connectivity and impressive specs, but its industrial focus may price it out of the hobbyist market.
It looks like low-power specialist VIA is serious about using parts from British chip giant ARM: as well as the recently-announced APC 8750 neo-ITX ARM-powered board
, the company has just announced the VAB-800 pico-ITX board.
Using the standard 10cm x 7.2cm pico-ITX footprint, the VAB-800 packs a Freescale ARM Cortex-A8 chip - running at either 800MHz or 1GHz, depending on model chosen - with dual-core GPU, and supports dual independent displays through mini-HDMI and VGA outputs on the rear or a pair of LVDS display ports on the board surface itself. 1GB of RAM is included as standard and the board supports up to 64GB of eMMC on-board storage, in a total thermal design profile (TDP) of just 5W.
As well as its dual-display capabilities, the VAB-800 includes two USB 2.0 ports on the rear alongside a 10/100 Ethernet port. Internal connections include headers for an additional two USB 2.0 ports, SDIO connectivity, a single SATA port, two RS232 connections, CAN bus support, line-in, line-out and microphone headers, and eight general-purpose input-output (GPIO) pins.
It's tempting to compare the VAB-800 to the popular Raspberry Pi: where the Pi has a 700MHz ARMv6 chip, the VAB-800's ARMv7 running at up to 1GHz and backed by 1GB of ram to the Pi's 256MB gives it a lot more grunt for modern operating systems; the extra USB ports and support for two full RS232 serial connections and CAN bus connectivity also help tip the VAB-800 above its cut-price competitor.
The VAB-800 is in a very different market to the Pi, however: where the Pi costs just $35 and VIA's own APC 8750 costs $49, VIA's latest ARM-powered creation is likely to cost significantly more than either. Although the company has yet to confirm official pricing, its mention of rugged circuitry good for industrial applications at temperatures of between -20 to 70 degrees Celsius and a seven-year support promise suggest this is to be an industrial computing product with a sky-high price-tag to match. Board support packages for Android, Ubuntu, and Windows Embedded Compact 7 are also said to be available.
More details of the VAB-800, excluding pricing and shipping information, are available on the official product page