Tiny ‘Cotton Candy’ USB stick holds an entire dual-core PC


18 Nov 2011

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FXITech, a Norwegian technology company, has created a USB device that contains an entire dual-core computer that can plug into any screen, including TVs and smartphones.

The USB device which has the endearing name Cotton Candy, weighs just 21 grams and contains a 1.2GHz Samsung Exynos ARM CPU, has its own 802.11n Wi-Fi radio, Bluetooth, a microSD slot and HDMI-out.

The device can be plugged into a PC, for example, and will launch a standalone Android 2.3 Gingerbread window on a Mac, PC or virtually any screen it is plugged into. The device is expected to go on the market in a year’s time for less than US$200.

FXITech is a spin-off from 3D graphics company Falanx Microsystems and is based in Trondheim, Norway, and has operations in South Korea and California.

Into a world of screens comes Cotton Candy

Its founder Borgar Ljosland was motivated by the realisation that people wanted PlayStation 3 quality graphics on their handsets, but getting graphics processors through the standard mobile phone value chains simply took too long. Since then, the concept has evolved into putting complete application processors onto memory devices, such as the Cotton Candy.

“Today there are as many screens as there are people on the planet, however, while population growth is declining the number of screens are increasing,” Ljosland wrote on his blog.

“With this growth of screens the complexity of the various systems driving them, semi-conductors, cables, eco-systems, operating systems, service channels, payment models, etc, also increase.

“At the same time, we see that we want to use these screens the same way. We want to check our Facebook, post our tweets, read our e-mail, find the closest restaurant, watch movies, play games and check stock quotes. There is certainly an app for everything and we want these apps to be everywhere.

“But for an app developer to be able to support all these ‘screens’, one need to port to iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux, bunch of proprietary Smart TV and Set-Top-Box OSs and what not. And all of these have different APIs, graphics accelerators, memory configurations, CPU performance, media accelerators, etc, which makes it impossible to create an app with the same experience on every screen.

“This fragmentation has plagued developers and consumers alike for as long as there has been computing, and now that computing is going into absolutely everything, so does the fragmentation,” Ljosland said.

John Kennedy