A US company is working on the smallest Pentium PC in the world, which will be the size of a credit card, though rather thicker.
Cell Computing will add a PCI version of its CardPC ultra-compact PC motherboard to its mini-PC range in August, even smaller than the current model which Cell claims is the world's smallest Pentium PC.
The CardPC line is aimed at embedded applications such as industrial controllers, network appliances, test and measurement equipment, portable computers and medical instrumentation devices, where Pentium power and large memory support are required in the smallest possible space.
The fastest current model offered by Cell is a P166 MMX board, which includes the CPU, an Intel chipset, a PCI graphics controller with 1Mb VRAM, an I/O chip, two serial ports, one parallel port, up to 128Mb of DRAM, industry-standard Phoenix PicoBIOS, and interfaces for LCD and CRT.
A P200 MMX board is expected to ship in quantity in the third quarter.
Howard Green, marketing manager at Cell, said that the CardPCs are based on the PC-104 industry standard, which is a 3in form factor that allows for stackable expansion. He added that a PCI version would be available by mid to late August in the US and over the Internet, and a smaller 2.5in unit is expected to be released around the same time.
Currently, the CardPC form factor is ideal for attaching the unit to a standard 3.5in hard disk, and the new unit would be designed to attach to the smaller 2.5in hard disk standard.
Green said that interest in the CardPC range so far has been mostly from industries using traditional embedded applications such as robotics, factory automation, healthcare and the military.
"By the end of this year, we could be seeing speciality or customisable units appearing," said Green. He also envisaged the CardPC being used in a wearable "very high-end personal gaming unit", but added that as far as wearables were concerned, "the breakout hasn't happened yet".
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