Dart-4460 module is basically a PC that’s smaller than a stick of gum

Decades ago a computer needed to be about the size of a room in order to get anything done. These days we carry little computers called smartphones in our pockets. But if you look under the hood, the bits that actually do the hard work are actually smaller than that — the screen, battery, and other components take up more space than the processor, memory, and storage.

Now Variscite is shrinking things even further with what it says is the smallest system-on-module with an ARM Cortex-A9 processor. It’s called the DART-4460, and it measures just 52mm x 17mm x 4.7mm, or about 2″ x 0.67″ x 0.18″.

That makes it even smaller than the tiny Gumstix Overo Cortex-A8 system.


The DART-4460 features a 1.5 GHz TI OMAP 4460 dual-core processor, PowerVR SGX 540 graphics, up to 1GB of RAM, and up to 8GB of storage. It supports Android 4.1 and can run Linux-based software using the Linux 3.4 kernel.

It’s a complete system-on-a-module, sporting 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and support for HDMI, SD cards, USB, cameras, and more. You’ll need to hook up your own I/O ports if you actually want to use some of those features though.

Unfortunately the DART-4460 isn’t really aimed at end users. Instead it’s a platform that system builders can use to create thin and light tablets, media players, or other devices.

Still, it’s pretty remarkable to see just how small the guts of a computer have gotten. This module isn’t exactly going to power a high-end Windows gaming system (it could theoretically support Windows RT, but not Windows 8). But with the same processor used in the Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablet, the DART-4460 should have enough power for watching videos, playing games, or surfing the web on an Android-powered device.

via Linux Gizmos


    How does this thing dissipate heat?

    • BrianS

      By not generating enough to be something you need to worry about.
      (You must be from the Intel world?)

      • Henrik Nilsson

        And you dear sir, must be from a completely different world. Just about all tv-sticks today (quads anyway) suffer from overheating problems. That is one reason that they run only in 720p instead of 1080p another is that they are locked down in frequency compared to what they are actually capable of. Check out the heatsinks for the odroid-u2 and compare it with a tv-stick and you’ll get the idea.

      • BrianS

        The processor above is a dual core. As to tv-sticks overheating. I have several, none of them overheat, though only one is a quad core.
        In the case of this particular chip, this is the same thing that is used in a Kindle FIre HD and doesn’t need cooling.

      • Henrik Nilsson

        Indeed it is. Are your dual and quad core sticks running at or below spec? I bet they are running below spec and perhaps not even capable of running at spec because they’ve been locked down software wise.

        A tablet has quite some extra area to dissipate heat, so not really comparable to a tv-stick. I am following a few forums, and there are, lets just put like this, more than one report of overheating tv-sticks as I’m sure you are aware.

    • John

      The same for any other SOM. These are meant for manufacturers or people integrating everything themsevles (ie. custom case and maybe custom board for this to plug into in order to provide necesary IO ports). It’ll depend on where this is going into.

      If it’s an extremely tight case in a hot industrial environment then custom active or passive cooling can be used. For example, smartphones dissipate heat through the case itself through passive cooling.

  • Michael Thompson

    It seems like a good match for one of the Motorola Lapdocks if you’re into some good old fashioned hardware hacking and want to mount it internally somewhere.
    You’d end up with an interesting Android Laptop.

  • David

    Isn’t TI killing-off OMAP?

  • Conception

    This would be wonderful using the live Linux distributions of Project Byzantium http://project-byzantium.org/ when we have to make our own networks to communicate. They should flood countries like Syria, Iran and Egypt with these devices so people can communicate in the face of oppression. Encrypt the heck out of them too and I’d be interested in this.

  • ulkas

    what’s the price? can i buy just 1 piece or do i have to go through the bulk order form on their site?