Vehicle PC's claimed to boot in five seconds  

Posted by Daniela Mehler

Portwell announced a fanless vehicle computer that is claimed to boot in less than five seconds, thanks to Coreboot technology. The PCS-8277 has a AMD G-Series processor, two 2.5-inch bays for SATA devices, two gigabit Ethernet ports, and support for wireless networking plus a GPS receiver, according to the company.

Portwell's PCS-8277 joins other vehicle computers from the company, such as the PARD-S071TW announced in July, the PCS-8270 announced in April, and the PCS-8230 from July 2008. Like these earlier products, it's fanless, but unlike them, it switches from an Intel Atom CPU to AMD's dual-core, G-Series T56N (with on-chip Radeon HD6320 graphics and an 18-Watt TDP).

Vehicle PC's claimed to boot in five seconds

Portwell's PCS-8277 (front panel)

The PCS-8277 also leverages AMD's recent decision to make the G-Series processor compatible with Coreboot , the software previously known as LinuxBIOS. Thanks to Coreboot , the system can boot in less than five seconds, making it "function just like an appliance," Portwell claims. (Whether this includes the time needed to load a functioning Linux or Windows desktop wasn't made clear, however.)

According to Portwell, the PCS-8277 has a "well-protected" enclosure that allows it to comply with MIL-STD-810F (method 514.5) requirements, and the system tolerates input voltages from 9 to 32VDC. Integrated surge protection and a delayed boot/shutdown mechanism help the device cope with the vagaries of vehicular power, the company adds.

The PCS-8277 accepts up to 8GB of 1066MHz DDR3 RAM in two SO-DIMM slots, and has two 2.5-inch bays for SATA storage devices, Portwell says. As for other internal expansion, the company's rather skimpy data sheet cites only a SIM slot, but a press release adds that there are three Mini PCI slots -- apparently intended for the communications options (WLAN, WAN, GPS, and Bluetooth) that are mentioned by both sources.

The front panel of the PCS-8277, pictured earlier in this story, has two gigabit Ethernet ports and four USB 2.0 ports. The rear panel provides access to a VGA output (up to 2045 x 1560 pixels), three serial ports (one RS232 and two RS232/422/485), and digital I/O (four in, two out), Portwell says.

Vehicle PC's claimed to boot in five seconds

Portwell's PCS-8277 (rear panel)

The above image of the PCS-8277's rear panel also appears to show a DVI port, though such was not listed in any of the company's written materials. Also cited by Portwell is an IrDA port, a rarity these days, but no indication of where the PC's infrared receiver is located was provided.

Specifications listed by Portwell for the PCS-8277 include:

Processor -- AMD T56N (dual-core, 1.6GHz, 18-Watt TDP) Chipset -- AMD A55E Memory -- up to 8GB of 1066MHz DDR3 RAM via two SO-DIMM slots Storage -- 2 x 2.5-inch bays for SATA drives (1 externally accessible, according to press release) Expansion: 3 x Mini PCI SIM slot Networking -- 2 x gigabit Ethernet Other I/O: VGA DVI (pictured but not documented) 4 x USB 2.0 3 x serial (1 x RS232 and 2 x RS232/422/485) digital I/O (4 in, 2 out) IrDA port Power -- 9~32VDC input; consumption n/s Dimensions -- 9.8 x 6 x 2.2 inches (250 x 150 x 55mmm) Weight without drives -- 3.3 pounds (1.5kg) Further information

Portwell gave no indication of pricing, availability, or operating system support for the PCS-8277. More information may be found on the PCS-8277 product page .

Jonathan Angel can be reached at and followed at .

This entry was posted on 3:26 PM .