Delving inside an A9homeBy Chris Williams. Published: 25th Jun 2005, 20:43:01 | Permalink | Printable
First look at how Ad6 crammed so much into such little space [Updated]Photographs of the inside of an A9home have this evening arrived in drobe.co.uk's inbox. A RISC OS software programmer who wished to remain anonymous managed to dismantle the hardened case of the ARM9 powered computer and document its internals. The machine, developed by AdvantageSix and Simtec, is available only to paying developers and is currently in the beta stage of development.
The packed motherboard, designed by the same engineers who crammed the electronics onto the Unipod, has in the top right corner an Asix Ethernet chip, as used by the Unipod, and a Silicon Motion SM501 graphics processor in the centre. The various unused header pins on the PCB provide access to the sound system, an LCD interface, serial ports and other input/output iterfaces provided by the system's chipset. There also appears to be a connector to what is possibly some NAND based Flash memory.
|The A9home motherboard with glue logic, the chipset and various connectors. The computer including case measures 168 x 103 x 53 mm (about 6.6" x 4.1" x 2.1") and weighs around 550 grams.|
|The hard disc on the reverse side of the motherboard. There appears to be no need for cooling in the device.|
|S3C2440 400Mhz CPU module card with 128M of 133MHz Mobile SDRAM RAM, NAND Flash memory, and a lot of I/O.|
The A9home owner said he tried to swap the amount of memory fitted to 256M although the machine then allegedly failed to boot. The photos have been censored slightly to ensure that no distinguishing marks can be used to identify our source. AdvantageSix have previously turned down requests for photographs of the A9home internals.
Update at 16:13 26/6/2005
We've been advised that the A9home motherboard and daughterboard are both static sensitive, so do take care if you take it apart - which is entirely at your own risk. We've also learnt that the Samsung ARM9 CPU is actually on the custom memory module that plugs into the white SODIMM socket located in the centre of the motherboard. This card carries the processor, surrounding glue logic, and the SDRAM and NAND memory - which explains why swapping out the module for a normal 256M RAM stick resulted in a dead machine.
Funnily enough, you can find such an integrated module on Simtec's website, which we understand will shortly be available with Linux 2.6 kernel support and Simtec's custom bootloader for embedded applications. The thumbnails above now include a link to official photographs of the processor module.
S3C2440 module card photos sourced from the Simtec website.
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News and media:
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Liquid Silicon •
Chris Why's Acorn/RISC OS collection •
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