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Astec A3x00: Hardware 


 


 

 



Astec A3500 Thin Client

The examples I have of this thin client are badged as a "thinspace". In fact they are manufactured in Taiwan by Astec. Google found me examples of companies that have stuck their own name on this product, and so I decided that the best thing to do was to list the A3300/A3500/A3700 here under Astec's name rather than any of the badged names.

I first got hold of an A3500 in May 2014. In October 2017 I got hold of some brand new 3702s.

The motherboard in the A3500 does carries the legend ASTEC A3300 VER 1.3.1 whilst that in the A3702 carries the legend ASTEC A3300 VER 1.35.

This datasheet describes the A3C range which comprise the A3300, A3500 and A3700.

Specifications

The basic specs are:

ModelA3300A3500A3700
ProcessorVIA Eden ULV
   Speed500MHz1GHz1.6GHz
Memory
   Flash (16GB max)
   RAM (2GB max)
256MB (CE) 512MB (LX & XP)
256MB (CE) 512MB (LX & XP)
Video
   Chip
   Max resolution
VIA CN896
1920 x 1200 32-bit colour
   ConnectorsVGAVGA & DVI
Ports
   Network
   USB
   Serial
   Parallel
   PS/2
10/100/1000
4 x USB2.0
1
0
Kybd & Mouse
10/100/1000
4 x USB2.0
0
0
Kybd & Mouse
10/100/1000
4 x USB2.0
0
0
Kybd & Mouse
Power
   Plug
   Input
   Off
   Running
Coax: 5.5mm/2.1mm
12V 3A (from label)
1W
~16W
Dimensions
W x H x D40cm x 150cm x 209cm

The ones I have came with Linux installed.

Power Supply

The A3300 requires an external 12V power supply. Whilst the label on the side of the A3300 says "12V 3A" the unit only consumes around 16W when running. This obviously will increase slightly if you fit an extras such as a wireless interface or plug in a power consuming device to the USB ports.

Processor

For the A3500 Linux cpuinfo reports:

CPU family:6
model:13
model name:VIA Eden Processor 1000MHz
Stepping:0
flags: fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge cmov pat clflush acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 tm nx pni est tm2 xtpr rng rng_en ace ace_en ace2 ace2_en phe phe_en pmm pmm_en

The A3702 is identical other than the CPU being a 1600MHz device.

lspci

The output from Linux's lspci command:

00:00.0 Host bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. CN896/VN896/P4M900 Host Bridge
00:00.1 Host bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. CN896/VN896/P4M900 Host Bridge
00:00.2 Host bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. CN896/VN896/P4M900 Host Bridge
00:00.3 Host bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. CN896/VN896/P4M900 Host Bridge
00:00.4 Host bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. CN896/VN896/P4M900 Host Bridge
00:00.5 PIC: VIA Technologies, Inc. CN896/VN896/P4M900 I/O APIC Interrupt Controller
00:00.6 Host bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. CN896/VN896/P4M900 Security Device
00:00.7 Host bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. CN896/VN896/P4M900 Host Bridge
00:01.0 PCI bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8237/VX700 PCI Bridge
00:02.0 PCI bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. CN896/VN896/P4M900 PCI to PCI Bridge Controller (rev 80)
00:03.0 PCI bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. CN896/VN896/P4M900 PCI to PCI Bridge Controller (rev 80)
00:0f.0 IDE interface: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8237/8251 Serial ATA Controller
00:0f.1 IDE interface: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82C586A/B/VT82C686/A/B/VT823x/A/C PIPC Bus Master IDE (rev 07)
00:10.0 USB Controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82xxxxx UHCI USB 1.1 Controller (rev b0)
00:10.1 USB Controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82xxxxx UHCI USB 1.1 Controller (rev b0)
00:10.2 USB Controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82xxxxx UHCI USB 1.1 Controller (rev b0)
00:10.3 USB Controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82xxxxx UHCI USB 1.1 Controller (rev b0)
00:10.4 USB Controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. USB 2.0 (rev 90)
00:11.0 ISA bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8237S PCI to ISA Bridge
00:11.7 Host bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8237/8251 Ultra VLINK Controller
00:13.0 Host bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8237A Host Bridge
00:13.1 PCI bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8237A PCI to PCI Bridge
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. CN896/VN896/P4M900 [Chrome 9 HC] (rev 01)
04:04.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL-8110SC/8169SC Gigabit Ethernet (rev 10)
80:01.0 Audio device: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8237A/VT8251 HDA Controller (rev 10)

Expansion

click for larger image

As you would expect with something this small there is very little room inside to add any extra hardware. However there are a surprising number of additional connectors on the motherboard.

Removing a panel on the side of the thin client reveals a compact flash socket, a SODIMM socket, and a mini PCI-e interface. These are mounted on the bottom of the motherboard. The thin client needs to be disassembled further to gain access to the top of the motherboard.

Flash: The Flash memory in is a Compact Flash card plugged into a standard Compact Flash socket. Behind the socket the board is laid out for a standard 44-pin IDE connector, but none was fitted in my examples. The A3500 had a 512MB card fitted, the A3702 had a 1GB card fitted.

RAM:The RAM is a DDR2 667MHz SODIMM. In the A3500 this was a 512MB part and in the A3702 it was a 1GB part. The data sheet says it does support "up to 2GB". I have had 2GB part (Kingston KT833W39035) working in both the A3500 and A3702.

Mini PCI-e: The datasheet identifies this for an optional 801.11n wireless module.

click for larger image

SATA: The board is tracked for two SATA sockets. In my case only one SATA socket is fitted. The South Bridge chip is a VT8237S which, according to VIA's datasheet, supports SATA II (3Gbit/s). However, when booting Tiny Core, I find it working as SATA I (1.5Gbits/s). Here's an excerpt from the dmesg output:

DMI: VIA Technologies Ltd. CN896-8237S/CN896-8237S, BIOS 6.00 PG 02/05/2009
....
ata1: SATA link up 1.5 Gbps (SStatus 123 SControl 300)
....
ata1.00: ATA-8: Hitachi HDP725050GLA360, GM4OA52A, max UDMA/133
....
ata2: SATA link down 1.5 Gbps (SStatus 0 SControl 300)

This shows the BIOS version is for the CN896/8237S combination, we can see that the chip on the board is clearly marked as a 8237S, but the SATA links come up at 1.5Gbits/s. (The Hitachi drive I connected is a SATA II drive).

Serial Port: The bottom of the range A3300 has a serial port fitted in place of the DVI socket. My guess is that this is connected to J1 on the motherboard. J2 may be for a second serial port. NB: I have NOT verified this.

TPM: The 20-pin plug labelled JTPM1 adjacent to the buzzer is likely to be for a Trusted Platform Module. (Thanks to Jeffrey Langerak for pointing this out). Details on what a TPM is can be found in this wikipedia article.

Additional USB ports: The sockets adjacent to J2 are labelled USB2 thru USB5. For some reason USB2 has a narrower pin spacing than the other three. This may be the one that used for an optional card reader?

It looks like the later motherboard may carry a link to make the unit to be set to automatically reboot after a power failure.

Click on the photos for a larger image.

 


Any comments? email me. Added May 2014    Last update October 2017