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MID dev kit sports Centrino Atom chipset
Apr. 04, 2008

Sophia Systems has announced a MID (mobile internet device) development platform using Intel's new Centrino Atom chipset. The "Peartree" features a five-inch touchscreen display, TV, camera, 4GB of solid-state storage, 802.11b/g and Bluetooth, plus an extension unit with GPS and a 40GB hard drive, Sophia says.

(Click here for a larger view of the Sophia Peartree)

Sophia's platform becomes one of the earlier products to use Intel's new Atom processor (previously code-named Silverthorne) and SCH (system controller hub, previously code-named Poulsbo), collectively known as the Centrino Atom chipset. Formally introduced earlier this week at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in Shanghai, the Atom processors combine x86 compatibility with claimed TDPs (thermal design power, or sometimes "total dissipated power") from 0.65W to 2.4W.

A block diagram of Sophia's Peartree
(click to enlarge)

The Peartree is designed to allow software and hardware development for both MIDs and UMPCs (ultra-mobile PCs), according to Sophia. To that end, it comes in two parts. The main unit, pictured above, measures 6 x 3.7 x 1.2 inches, and includes a five-inch touchscreen display, 1GB of RAM, and 4GB of solid-state storage. An extension unit docks onto the back of the unit, providing a 40GB hard drive and a GPS receiver.

Functionality of the main unit includes a variety of wireless interfaces, including 802.11b/g wireless networking, Bluetooth, and a receiver for Japan's ISDB-T (integrated services digital broadcasting terrestrial) television. The Peartree has a MiniCard interface that is said to support an optional 3G/GMS cellular module, and it also incorporates a W-SIM card, designed to provide access to the "Personal Handyphone" system operated by Japan's Wilcom, among other Asian carriers.

The main unit additionally includes an extending whip antenna, camera module, plus headphone and microphone jacks for "HD" audio. A 12VDC power input is provided, and the device also includes a 3,000 mAh lithium-ion battery.

An extension unit (seen from the left, back, and right) hangs from the rear of the Peartree's main unit

The dimensions of the extension unit are not specified, though it appears to more than double the Peartree's overall thickness. On the other hand, its narrower width and height will help prototype products resemble the final result, at least when viewed from the front. The extension unit includes an unnamed GPS chipset, 10/100 Ethernet connector, and a nine-pin serial port. It also includes an additional USB port.

Features and specifications listed by Sophia Systems for the Peartree include:
  • Processor -- Intel Atom, clock speed not stated
  • Memory -- 1GB of RAM, 4GB of solid-state storage
  • Display -- 5-inch touchscreen display, resolution not stated
  • Storage -- 40GB hard disk drive, via extension unit
  • Wireless:
    • WAN:
      • 3G/GMS via optional MiniCard
      • W-SIM card
    • WLAN -- 802.11b/g
    • PAN -- Bluetooth
    • GPS (via extension unit)
    • ISDB-T TV receiver
  • Other I/O:
    • 2 x USB (main unit)
    • 1 x USB (extension unit)
    • 1 x RS232 (extension unit)
    • debug port (extension unit)
    • headphone jack and microphone input
  • Power supply -- 12VDC input or 3000 mAh lithium-ion battery
  • Dimensions -- 6 x 3.7 x 1.2 inches
The Peartree is compatible with both Linux and Windows Vista, and will be available with optional board support packages, according to the company. Sophia appears to offer a Linux stack for the kit, as depicted below.

Sophia's Peartree Linux stack

According to Sophia's European distributor, Direct Insight, the Peartree will be available in May. More information is available from the company's website, here.

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