ARM-powered Utilite mini-PC costs $99, runs Android, Ubuntu

$99 doesn’t buy you much in the realm of full-fledged PCs. However, as FanlessTech reports, that happens to be the starting price of the Utilite, an ARM-powered mini-PC that’s coming out next month. The Utilite runs either Android or Ubuntu Linux and is packed to the gills with connectivity.

Inside its 5.3" x 3.9" x 0.8" chassis lurks a Freescale i.MX6 processor with up to four ARM Cortex-A9 cores clocked as high as 1.2GHz. (It looks like the default config is single-core, though.) There’s also room for up to 4GB of DDR3 RAM, up to 512GB of mSATA solid-state storage, and an additional 128GB of capacity via a Micro-SD slot.

On the connectivity front, the Utilite serves up dual HDMI outputs, dual Gigabit Ethernet, dual RS232 mini serial ports, four USB 2.0 ports, a micro USB connector, and dual 3.5" jacks. Want to connect wirelessly? No problem. 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 are also on the menu.

Oh, and power consumption is a microscopic 3-8W, "depending on system configuration and load." That explains the apparent lack of fan exhausts on the machine.

There’s no word on pricing for a maxed-out config with a quad-core processor, but this thing looks like a solid bargain regardless. I can definitely see it as a custom router-and-HTPC combo—especially since the Freescale processor inside is supposed to decode 1080p H.264 and VC1 video in hardware.

Comments closed
    • Kurotetsu
    • 6 years ago

    I’d always wanted to try at making a DIY router, this would make an excellent platform for one.

    • ronch
    • 6 years ago

    I assume that $99 figure on the article title refers to the base config? I hope the quad core version is only slightly more expensive. I mean, those ports are nice but probably don’t cost much. For comparison the $99 Ouya has a quad core Tegra 3. It has fewer ports but hey, it has a semi-customized OS and like I said, those extra ports probably don’t cost much.

    • phileasfogg
    • 6 years ago

    3rd paragraph:
    >>> and dual 3.5″ jacks.
    I’m sure you meant 3.5mm jacks.

      • ronch
      • 6 years ago

      3.5″ is for those EXTREME audiophiles. 😛

    • d0g_p00p
    • 6 years ago

    This would be a great out of the box TOR router to plug into existing network infrastructure. 2 NIC and wireless, very nice.

    • mnecaise
    • 6 years ago

    To many “up to” in that spec. What will it [i<]really[/i<] cost? To explain: Up to 4 processor cores As high as 1.2 GHz Up to 4GB DDR3 Up to 512 GB mSATA EDIT: formatting

    • Bensam123
    • 6 years ago

    As far as a small HTPC goes, this might give a rPI a run for it’s money… rPI maybe $40, but when you throw on the AC adapter, wireless adapter, case, memory card, hub, you’re talking about a extra $50, which puts it almost exactly on top of this. Although you’d still need a microSD card…

    • eitje
    • 6 years ago

    Cyril, do you know which version of Android it will run, and whether or not it will have access to the Google Play store?

    Looks like their OTHER products runs ICS 4.0; I just don’t know if this one will run that as well, or if it’ll be compatible w/ a newer version.

      • stdRaichu
      • 6 years ago

      Not sure of which Android version they’ll put out but it’ll at least be the 4.x series since there’s already hardware with this SoC out in the wild running it. The wandboard uses the same family of SoCs and they default to Jellybean.

      As far as my own dabbling with Android go, isn’t enabling the google app store just a matter of installing the google apps bundle? With cyanogenmod it’s a post-install option.
      [url<]http://wiki.cyanogenmod.org/w/Gapps[/url<]

    • Deanjo
    • 6 years ago

    [quote<]The Utilite runs either Android or Ubuntu Linux and is packed to the gills with connectivity.[/quote<] Several other distros have ARM builds which will also run fine.

    • NeelyCam
    • 6 years ago

    I’m impressed. I would prefer having all the connectors on the back side, though, with a clean, black front with nothing but a power led/button, microsd slot and maybe one USB port. this would make it prettier in a home theater setting..

    Now, put in a Bay Trail (for Windows compatibility), and sell it for $200 – that would be awesome

    • Anonymous Hamster
    • 6 years ago

    Wondering which GPU is in this?

      • stdRaichu
      • 6 years ago

      Since these are ARM SoCs, they could feasibly have had any GPU in them, but the [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I.MX#i.MX6x_series<]wikipedia page[/url<] lists the graphics units as "[url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vivante_Corporation#Application_processors_using_Vivante_GPU_technology<]Vivante GCXXXX[/url<]" with separate 2D and 3D engines. The bad news is there's not a stable open-source driver yet which will limit it's graphics somewhat either by restricting it to certain distros or having a flaky driver.

        • ronch
        • 6 years ago

        I’d rather they used the Tegra 3 instead.

        • sjl
        • 6 years ago

        A pity. Decent graphics performance (meaning: having a driver that at least exposes OpenGL ES and OpenVG APIs to X in Linux) is an absolute must-have for this to have any chance of gaining decent sales. I’d be seriously interested if there’s a reasonable graphics option (hey, even RiscOS would be interesting to play around with at that price.)

        No decent graphics driver means the Linux crowd won’t be interested … and frankly, who else are they going to be able to sell to, if not the Linux crowd?

          • Hattig
          • 6 years ago

          Well I presume there are closed source Android drivers… and support for Android graphics drivers exists in both Wayland and Mir – so if you’re happy with closed source drivers, then you can have your OpenVG, OpenGL, OpenCL drivers for the Vivante graphics in this SoC.

          You will want the dual or quad core version of this product, as it uses the far more powerful GC2000 graphics core rather than the far weaker GC880 core that’s in the single core variant. Even so, it’s very weak – 16 GFLOPS.

          Still, at least the SoC has SATA built in.

            • stdRaichu
            • 6 years ago

            Closed source drivers typically means that, at some point, even your android device can’t be updated any further. Given the pace of android and ARM GPU development it’s not abnormal for support to start disappearing after a year.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 6 years ago

    Can it stream a 1080p 7.1 signal from a full fledged pc over a network? If so I think we are in business!

      • Deanjo
      • 6 years ago

      AFAIK, 7.1 formats are not passed through on the Freescale i.MX6. There are a few devices that do support it but all the ones that I noticed that do are ReallTek RTD1186 DD based systems.

    • faramir
    • 6 years ago

    This computer needs two things changed:

    1: Bigger enclosure so it can accommodate internal power supply, drive bay(s) and normal SATA connectivity and provide better cooling. “Microscopic” 8W is the power consumption of 75 MHz Pentium (which needed heatsink and a fan to keep running at reasonable temperatures).

    2: Faster CPU, something along the lines of Krait 800.

    Everything else is brilliant, I especially like the dual Gbit Ethernet and wouldn’t mind paying 50% more than the abovementioned price – it would still be the cheapest fully functional PC out there and it would compete with Atom/Brazos systems in performance.

      • cygnus1
      • 6 years ago

      Keep in mind, that power consumption number is the whole system, not just the CPU. I assume the 8W power consumption is with wifi and bluetooth running as well as powering something over USB. That complete 75MHz Pentium system still had a lot of other components chewing up power and was no where near 8W.

      • NeelyCam
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<]"Microscopic" 8W is the power consumption of 75 MHz Pentium (which needed heatsink and a fan to keep running at reasonable temperatures).[/quote<] Power equals temperature for a given cooling solution. If a) this passive solution offers equally good cooling as a crappy cheapo heatsink/fan of yore, or b) the chip can handle higher temperatures without crashing, no cooling improvement is needed.

        • NeelyCam
        • 6 years ago

        The thumbdowns mean that the majority of TR readership don’t understand physics. I’m pretty disappointed, to be honest.

          • Saribro
          • 6 years ago

          Or they understand power density.

    • Price0331
    • 6 years ago

    This could be the FIRST fanless computer I actually pick up, can’t argue with the specs or the starting price. Only question is how that price will hike up after adding those nifty upgrades,,,, would be nice in areas of the house where I don’t have an HTPC, like a kitchen computer.

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 6 years ago

      This won’t be your SECONDDDDDDD +1 for being so cool.

      • albundy
      • 6 years ago

      or you could just get a tablet…unless you need a bigger screen.

        • Farting Bob
        • 6 years ago

        That’s like saying if you want to get a cheap bike you should get a car instead. He doesnt want a tablet, and certainly not a $99 tablet (which are generally pretty damn terrible).

      • dpaus
      • 6 years ago

      Keep that up and you won’t be fanless for long – +1!

      • stdRaichu
      • 6 years ago

      At first I saw the specs and also thought it’d make a nice secondary HTPC (assuming it’s got an open bootloader and I can install whatever OS I want on it) but then I saw…

      [quote<]dual Gigabit Ethernet[/quote<] ...which I wasn't expecting, because that means it's got the potential to be a fully fledged router as well with considerably more grunt and flexibility than even as Asus/Buffalo with DDWRT. Chuck in a couple of USB WLAN adapters in host AP and it might even make an excellent WAP as well. I bodged up a Raspberry Pi with an extra USB/ethernet adapter to test the config and whilst the positively stone-aged 700MHz chip is fine for routing/firewall duties, two sets of USB/ethernet bridges utterly wreck throughput. CPU is decent enough and the same family found in the wandboard systems (which only have the one ethernet). Will certainly watch with piqued interest since I've wanted to have a spin at making a router for a while. Nice little box for tinkerers and I hope it makes it to the UK.

        • vargis14
        • 6 years ago

        I wonder if you did use it to be a secure router with the dual Gigabit Ethernet connections, would it increase ping times and reduce internet speed at all?

          • stdRaichu
          • 6 years ago

          Why would it do that? Most of the CPUs in routers are 500Mhz at best, and that’s usually several generations old MIPS or suchlike. Two of the most powerful consumer routers on the market today are the Asus R66U with a 600MHz MIPS proc or the Netgear WNDR3700 with a ~600MHz ARM, both single core. As long as the NICs are up to snuff it’ll be able to cope with a much heavier load than most home/SOHO routers along with plenty of headroom for other services.

            • ermo
            • 6 years ago

            The Netgear WNDR3700 is not ARM — it’s a 680MHz Atheros MIPS (or the awesome v2 was — the newer v3 and v3 versions might be different). I run a v2 w/OpenWRT and it’s a peach.

            The ASUS one uses a Broadcom MIPS SoC, which automatically means that it is guaranteed to pretty much suck when it comes to Open Source drivers. Broadcom are just not happy with Open Source, whereas Qualcomm-Atheros embrace it.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This