VIA announces APC Rock, Paper

January 17, 2013 | 11:57

Tags: #apc #apc-8750 #cortex-a9 #microcomputer #via-apc #wm8750

Companies: #arm #raspberry-pi #via #wondermedia

VIA's APC division, creator of the ARM-based Raspberry Pi competitor APC 8750, has announced a new pair of computers with a more memorable naming convention: APC Rock and APC Paper.

The first system, Rock, is described as a complete ground-up redesign of the original APC 8750. Replacing the disappointingly weedy Prism 8750 system-on-chip processor from the VIA subsidiary WonderMedia is a more meaty WonderMedia Prism 8950 Cortex-A9 chip running at the same 800MHz speed, which should address some of the performance issues of the original design. The board retains the same neo-ITX form factor as its predecessor, meaning it can be installed in almost any PC case, and includes the same option of external DC power or a 12V connector compatible with a PC power supply.

To better compete with the Raspberry Pi, the APC Rock has been given some general-purpose input/output capabilities including Serial Peripheral Interconnect (SPI) and Inter-Integrated Circuit (I2C) support, along with a 20-pin JTAG header for debugging. Better still, the 2GB of on-board NAND flash storage has been upgraded to 4GB and comes with an optimised version of Android 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich' - doing away with the terrible buggy port of Android 2.3 'Gingerbread' shipped with the original APC 8750.

The remainder of the specifications will be familiar to anyone who saw the APC 8750: HDMI and VGA video outputs are included - this time supporting a 1080p display - along with two USB 2.0 ports and a single micro-USB On The Go (OTG) port. Analogue audio is supported over a pair of 3.5mm jacks, while network connectivity is provided by a 10/100Mb Ethernet port and extra storage available via a micro-SD card slot.

Rock is joined by Paper, which is an APC Rock board installed into a recycled paper case - the bulk of which, disingenuously, is constructed from metal - designed to look like a tall and thin book. Some hardware, however, has been sacrificed in the process - notably the VGA output, which is nowhere to be seen.

Both new models are expected to launch in March, with VIA taking pre-orders for Rock at $79 and Paper at $99, both significantly higher than the original APC 8750's $49 recommended retail price. UK pricing and availability have yet to be confirmed.
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