Non-Standard SBCs Put Function Over Form

Compact, Low-Power Solutions

A rich set of single board computer products fall into the non-standards-based category. These SBCs offer complete embedded computing solutions suited for applications were reducing size, weight and power are the priorities.

By Jeff Child,  Editor-in-Chief

While standard form factor embedded computers provide a lot of value, many applications demand that form take priority over function. The majority of non-standard boards tend to be extremely compact, and well suited for size-constrained system designs. Although there’s little doubt that standard open-architecture board form factors continue to thrive across numerous embedded system applications, non-standard form factors free designers from the size and cost overheads associated with including a standard bus or interconnect architecture.

In very small systems, often the size and volume of the board takes precedence over the need for standards. Instead the priority is on cramming as much functionality and compute density onto a single board solution. And because they tend to be literately “single board” solutions, there’s often no need to be compatible with multiple companion I/O boards. These non-standard boards seem to be targeting very different applications areas—areas where slot-card backplane or PC/104 stacks wouldn’t be practical.

Non-standard boards come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some follow de facto industry standard sizes like 3.5 inches, while others take a twist on existing standards—such as ATX, ITX or PC/104—to produce a “one off” implementation that takes some of the benefits of a standard form factor. There are also some company-specific “standard” form factors that offer an innovative new approach. The focus in this article is on commercial SBCs for professional applications, not modules for hobbyist projects.

ARM-Based Boards

In terms of sheer numbers of SBC products, Intel processor-based solutions tend to dominate. But in recent years, non-standard SBCs based on ARM embedded processors are increasing mindshare in the industry. In a recent example of an ARM-based solution, Technologic Systems in December starting shipping its newest SBC, the TS-7553-V2 (Photo 1). The board is developed around the NXP i.MX6 UltraLite, a high-performance processor family featuring an advanced implementation of a single ARM Cortex-A7 core, which operates at speeds up to  696 MHz. While able to support a wide range of embedded applications, the TS-7553-V2 was specifically designed to target the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sector.

Photo 1
TS-7553-V2 is developed around the NXP i.MX6 UltraLite, an advanced implementation of a single ARM Cortex-A7 core, which operates at speeds up to 696 MHz. The board specifically targets the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sector.

The TS-7553-V2 was designed with connectivity in mind. An on-board Xbee interface, capable of supporting Xbee or NimbleLink, provides a simple path to adding a variety of wireless interfaces. An Xbee radio can be used to link in with a local
2.4 GHz or sub 1 GHz mesh networks, allowing for gateway or node deployments. Both Digi and NimbleLink offer cellular radios for this socket, providing cellular connectivity for applications such as remote equipment monitoring and control. There is also the option for a cellular modem via a daughter card. This allows transmission of serial data via TCP, UDP or SMS over the cellular network. The TS-7553-V2 also includes an on board WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 option, providing even more connectivity.

Design-To-Order SBCs

As a provider of design-to-order embedded boards, Gumstix comes at non-standard SBCs from a different perspective than traditional off-the-shelf SBC vendors. Gumstix’s latest ARM-related focus was its announcement in October about its adding the NXP Semiconductor SCM-i.MX 6Quad/6Dual Single Chip System Module (SCM) to the Geppetto D2O design library and the Gumstix Cobalt MC (Media Center) development board (Photo 2). The NXP SCM-i.MX 6D/Q [Dual, Quad] Core SCM combines the i.MX 6 quad- or dual-core applications processor, NXP MMPF0100 power management system, integrated flash memory, over 100 passives and up to 2 GB DDR2 Package-on-Package RAM into a single-chip solution.

Photo 2 — The Gumstix Cobalt MC single board computer shows off some of the best multimedia features of the NXP SCM with CSI2 camera, native HDMI, and audio, and connects over Gbit Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Using Gumstix’s services, embedded systems developers can, in minutes, design and order SCM-powered hardware combining their choices of network connection, communication bus, and hardware features. During the design process, users can compare alternatives for features and costs, create multiple projects and receive complete custom BSPs and free automated documentation. Designers can go straight from a design to an order in one session with no engineering required.

Read the full article in the February 331 issue of Circuit Cellar

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Note: We’ve made the October 2017 issue of Circuit Cellar available as a free sample issue. In it, you’ll find a rich variety of the kinds of articles and information that exemplify a typical issue of the current magazine.

Module Pair Designed to Intel’s SDM Spec

Giada will present its newly-launched SDM modules following Intel’s new Intel Smart Display Modules specification and reference design at the upcoming ISE 2018 in Amsterdam. The new modules, using a SoC (System on Chip) processor, can fit into compact, all-in-one designs as new displays get thinner and power-efficient performance becomes more critical.

The larger and more powerful SDM-7300U (shown here), to be shown for the first time globally at ISE 2018, features an Intel Kaby lake Core i5 7300U CPU and supports up to 32 GB DDR4 memory. The module, offering an HDMI port, can display video and images with 4k resolution. This module, incorporating high-speed PCIe connectivity with a custom I/O receptacle board, is compatible with Windows and Linux operation systems.

The smaller module, the entry level SDM Z8350, was announced in Q3 2017. It features an Intel Atom Cherrytrail Z8350 CPU and up to 2 GB onboard memory. It is equipped with a 32 GB eMMC and can support two independent displays with a DP port and an HDMI port. The module, with SDM Standard I/O, can support Windows, Linux and Android 5.1.

Giada is a close partner of Intel in the SDM program and initially will launch two SDM modules. A smaller module (109×60mm) with an entry-level processor and a larger module (110×175mm) with a high performance processor. Both SDM modules come without housing and are optimized for digital signage, public kiosks, professional monitors, point-of-sale, projectors, bedside terminals, hospitality and more applications. They can be applied all around the retail industry, especially on visual retail and transactional and responsive retail.

Giada | www.giadatech.com

 

 

 

 

Details about the two new SDM modules

 

Congatec Gets Long-Term Geode Support

Congatec and AMD have teamed together to provide extended life cycle support for the AMD Geode, one of the world’s longest-serving x86 processors. The result is that AMD Geode processor boards from Congatec will have planned availability until the end of 2021.

According to Congatec, embedded system developers will benefit from massive life cycle and return on investment improvements for their AMD Geode based product lines. Supply until 2021 means 16 years long-term availability for the Geode LX, which was introduced by AMD in 2005. This is unique to the embedded x86 processor markets, where processors in general are available for 7 years.

In order to enable this extension, AMD has qualified a non-halogenated substrate with virtually no changes to processor form, fit or function so that all AMD qualification criteria will be met. Congatec modules with the new Geode processor samples are available now under identical product order numbers.

The following products are supported:

Module Form factor Processor  RAM Power consumption
conga-XLX XTX AMD Geode
LX 800
1 GB DDR3/PC2700 5 W (typical)
conga-ELX ETX AMD Geode
LX 800
1 GB PC2700 5 W (typical)
conga-ELXeco ETX AMD Geode
LX 800
256 MB DRAM 5 W (typical)

Congatech | www.congatec.com

Compact Board Sports Celeron J3455

American Portwell Technology has announced the launch of WUX-3455, a small form factor (SFF) embedded system board featuring the Intel Celeron processor J3455, formerly code-named Apollo Lake. The Intel Celeron processor J3455 integrates the low power Intel Gen9 graphics engine up to 18 execution units, enabling enhanced 3D graphics performance and greater speed for 4K encode and decode operations. The WUX-3455 is well suited as a solution supporting visual communications and real-time computing applications in medical, digital surveillance, industrial automation, office automation, retail and more.

Portwell’s WUX-3455 embedded system board, designed with a compact footprint (101.6 mm x 101.6 mm; 4˝ x 4˝), also features DDR3L SO-DIMM up to 8 GB supporting 1866/1600 MT/s; 6x USB ports; one DisplayPort (DP) and one HDMI with resolution up to 4096 x 2160; one COM port for RS-232 on rear I/O (RJ45 connector); and multiple storage interfaces with 1x SATA III port, 1x microSD 3.0 socket and support for onboard eMMC 5.0 up to 64G. Moreover, it integrates the M.2 interface, which provides wireless connectivity including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, allowing ideal communication and connectivity for IoT edge devices and designs.

The WUX-3455  operates with thermal design power (TDP) under 6W/10W for fanless applications. It also supports a wide voltage of power input from 12 V to 19 V for rugged applications. With its ingenious design and superior performance—up to quad-core processing power via Intel® Celeron processor J3455 and high capability—the Portwell WUX-3455 embedded system board is equipped with the ability to execute an extensive array of applications from digital signage in public spaces through manufacturing robots and machinery transforming industrial automation, to video analytics-based appliances enhancing intelligent digital security and surveillance, to end-to-end solutions for IoT use cases.

American Portwell Technology | www.portwell.com

Mouser Inks Distribution Deal with Onion

Mouser Electronics has signed a global distribution agreement with Onion, a global provider of integrated wireless microprocessor modules and IoT development kits. Through the agreement, Mouser will distribute the Omega2+ device, kits, and accessories, ideal for applications such as home automation, coding education, Wi-Fi media servers, robotics and networking.

The Onion product line, available from Mouser Electronics, revolves around the Omega2+, (shown) an easy-to-use, expandable IoT computer packed with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, a MicroSD card slot, and a powerful 580 MHz MIPS processor. Though just a fraction of the size of other single board computers, the Omega2+ is a full computer with a Linux operating system, 128 MB of DDR2 memory and 32 MB of flash storage. The device also offers 15 general-purpose inputs and outputs (GPIO), two PWM and two UART interfaces.

Mouser also now stocks a variety of docks and expansion boards, which provide additional functionality to the Omega2+ board. The Expansion Dock powers the Omega2+ and breaks out the GPIOs. The dock also allows engineers to expand their Omega2+ with expansion modules like OLED, relay, and servo. Additionally, engineers can use the Arduino Dock R2 and add the Omega2+ to existing Arduino-based projects. The Arduino Dock R2 is a full Arduino Uno that allows the Omega2 to control the Arduino’s ATmega microcontroller through a serial connection.

The Omega2 Starter Kit and Omega2 Maker Kit both include an Omega2+ board, expansion dock, breadboard, and a variety of components to help engineers quickly get started building circuits. The Maker Kit includes the same components as the Starter Kit and adds two servos, a DC motor, H-bridge chip, buzzer and three expansion boards.

Mouser Electronics | www.mouser.com/onion

Skylake-Based SBC Runs on 15 Watts

VersaLogic has released the Condor—a high-performance embedded computer that measures only 95 mm x 95 mm x 37 mm and is built around Intel’s 6th generation “Skylake” Core processor. The Condor provides up to six times the processing power of Intel’s Bay Trail processors, while keeping power consumption as low as 15 Watts.The Condor’s on-board TPM security chip can lock out unauthorized hardware and software access. It provides a secure “Root of Trust.” Additional security is provided through built-in AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) instructions.

PR_EPU-4460_HICondor is the latest addition to VersaLogic’s line of EPU (Embedded Processing Unit) format computers. EPUs are designed around COM Express form factors, but are complete board-level computers. They provide all the future flexibility of separate CPU and I/O modules, and are delivered as complete fully assembled and tested units (including heat plate), ready to bolt into a system.

On-board I/O includes two Gbit Ethernet ports with network boot capability, two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 host ports and two serial ports. One SATA III interface supports high-capacity rotating or solid-state drives. Eight digital I/O lines, I2C and SPI are also available. Two Mini PCIe sockets (one with mSATA capabilities) provide flexible solid-state drive (SSD) options. Systems can be easily enhanced by leveraging the Mini PCIe sockets with plug-in Wi-Fi modems, GPS receivers, MIL-STD-1553, Ethernet, Firewire and other mini cards.

The Condor is designed and tested for industrial temperature (-40° to +85°C) operation and meets MIL-STD-202G specifications to withstand high impact and vibration. For additional reliability, the Condor includes on-board power conditioning which accepts an input of 8 to 30 volts to greatly simplify system power supply design. For additional protection, the conditioner includes Reverse Voltage Protection (RVP) and Over Voltage Protection (OVP) functions.

The Condor, part number VL-EPU-4460, is in stock now. OEM quantity pricing for starts at $1,304 for the Core i3 model with 8 GB RAM.

Versalogic | www.versalogic.com

Qseven Card Sports Renesas RZ/G1M

iWave has announced a System-On-Module (SOM) based on Renesas RZ/G1M embedded processr. RZ/G1M SOM is Qseven R2.0 compatible industrial grade CPU module. Called the iW-RainboW-G20M, this SOM module supports 1 GB DDR3 RAM, 4 GB eMMC Flash and 2 MB SPI NOR Flash. Expandable memory is optional. The module also includes on SOM Gigabit Ethernet PHY, Micro SD slot and USB HUB.

renesas-rz-g1-mpu-embedded-boardRenesas’s RZG1M processor supports dual cortex A15 core operating at 1.5 GHz core and includes 64-bit DDR3 interface at 800 MHz. These features provide higher performance for applications such as image processing of multiple video streams and video sensing. The high-speed on-chip integrated USB 3.0, PCIe, Gbit Ethernet and SATA peripherals allows easy expansion of functionality without the need for external components. The RZ/G1M processor supports full HD hardware encode and decode processing up to 1,080 at 60 frames/s, dual display and three channel video input ports. The built-in PowerVR SGX544MP2 Graphics core at 520 MHz allows the user to develop highly effective user interfaces.

The RZ/G1M SOM is supported Linux 3.10 LTSI with Android BSP support to come. To enable quick prototyping of RZG1M SOM, iWave systems supports RZ/G1M development kit with comprehensive peripheral support. This will help customers to save up to 60% of new product development cycle using the RZ-G1M MPU.

iWave Systems Technologies | www.iwavesystems.com

Fanless SBC Targets Industrial IoT

Technologic Systems is now shipping its newest single board computer, the TS-7553-V2. The board is developed around the NXP i.MX6 UltraLite, a high performance  processor family featuring an advanced implementation of a single ARM Cortex-A7 core, which operates at speeds up to 696 MHz. While able to support a wide range of embedded applications, the TS-7553-V2 was specifically designed to target the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sector.

ts-7553-v2The TS-7553-V2 was designed with connectivity in mind. An on-board Xbee interface, capable of supporting Xbee or NimbleLink, provides a simple path to adding a variety of Wireless interfaces. An Xbee radio can be used to link in with a local 2.4GHz or sub 1 GHz mesh networks, allowing for gateway or node deployments. Either Digi or NimbleLink offer cellular radios for this socket, providing cellular connectivity for applications such as remote equipment monitoring and control. There is also the option for a cellular modem via daughter card. This allows transmission of serial data via TCP, UDP or SMS over the cellular network. The TS-7553-V2 also includes an on board WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 option, providing even more connectivity.

Further radio expansion can be accomplished with the two internal USB interfaces (one on a standard USB Type A connector, and the second on simple pin headers). The USB interfaces enable support for multiple proprietary networks via a dongle or USB connected device. This provides the opportunity to run mesh, LoRa, ZigBee, automotive WiFi or other protocols with the TS-7553-v2 . All of these radio options combined with the on board 10/100Base-T Ethernet create the opportunity to communicate seamlessly with up to 5 different networks simultaneously from a single point.

The TS-75553-V2 supports standard interfaces including:

  •     10/100 Ethernet
  •     TTL UART
  •     4 USB ports (3 host interfaces and, 1 device)
  •     3 RS-232 Serial/COM ports
  •     RS-485 port
  •     CAN bus
  •     Up to 5 GPIO

A Nine-Axis Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS) motion tracking device containing a gyroscope, accelerometer and compass are optional on-board in for asset management, fleet management and other applications which would require sensing motion or vibration in the environment.

A low cost monochrome 128x64px LCD with 4 button keypad is available for Human Machine Interface (HMI) applications.  The keypad offers intuitive operation using 4 tactile function keys and the LCD is ideal for simple visualization tasks, even in harsh environments.  If HMI is not a consideration compact, lightweight, rugged enclosures are available to contain your gateway in a secure fanless enclosure. Both enclosures are DIN mountable.

Technologic Systems has taken the lead in combating read/write errors to memory that can prove fatal to Operating Systems. TS-SILO is an optional feature which will provide up to 30 seconds of reserve power in the event of a power failure. This precious extra time gives the board time to gracefully power down and ensures file system integrity. Additionally, for heavy data logging applications The TS-7553-V2 is the first SBC from Technologic Systems to include Ferroelectric RAM (FeRAM or FRAM). FeRAM advantages over flash include: lower power usage, faster write performance and a much greater maximum read/write endurance, allowing a user to keep running data logs without prematurely wearing out their flash memory. Combined these two features provide you with insurance from abrupt power loss, read/write errors and startup difficulties.

Applications with strict low power requirements will appreciate the work that’s been done to reduce power consumption to less than 2 W in typical conditions and a 9 mW sleep mode. Power over Ethernet (PoE) is supported via a daughter card, if desired.

Development can begin out-of-the-box with pre-installed Linux and utilities for controlling DIO, UARTS, CAN bus, and more. A complete board support package is provided, as well as access to our software repository and online support. Third party application support can be provided via the Technologic Systems’ Partner Network.

Technologic Systems | www.embeddedARM.com

COM-Based SBCs Offer High I/O Density

Diamond Systems has released its ultra-small COM-based ZETA single board computer family. Highlights include interchangeable COM Express COMs for scalability and long product life, ultra- compact size and an rich amount of I/O, including a complete high-quality analog and digital data acquisition subsystem.

Designed in the COM Express Mini Type 10 form factor (84 mm x 55 mm / 3.3 in. x 2.2in.), the Zeta family offers performance scalability due to its use of COM Express CPU modules. Three processor options are currently available: Intel “Bay Trail” E3825 dual-core 1.33 GHz CPU with soldered 2 GB RAM; Intel “Apollo Lake” E3940 quad core 1.60 GHz CPU with soldered 4 GB RAM; and Intel “Apollo Lake” N4200 quad core 1.1 GHz (burstable to 2.5 GHz) CPU with soldered 8 GB RAM.

zeta-enlargedThe use of interchangeable CPU modules in the increasingly popular COM Express Mini Type 10 format enables Zeta to serve applications across a wide spectrum of price and performance needs. It also offers customers the longest possible product lifetime by vastly simplifying migration to a new CPU when the current one reaches its end of life. Zeta is an excellent choice for applications with expected lifetimes of 10 or more years, including military, medical, and transportation.

Zeta’s two-board COM + baseboard construction yields the highest feature density possible in a given footprint. The COM provides the core CPU functions, while the baseboard provides the “final inch” for all the system I/O plus the data acquisition subsystem, power supplies, and expansion sockets. Zeta provides as much as a 60% reduction in size compared to boards in larger form factors offering the same level of I/O.

Zeta’s impressive I/O list includes the following:

  • VGA display and Single-Channel LVDS port
  • Dual Gigabit Ethernet
  • 4 USB 2.0 Ports + 1 USB 3.0 port
  • 4 RS-232/422/485 ports with software-programmable protocol and termination
  • 16 digital IlO lines
  • Optional complete analog and digital data acquisition system
  • Integrated wide-range 6 V to 36 V power input circuit

Zeta is available in two I/O configurations, digital I/O only or digital + analog I/O. The DIO only circuit offers 16 DIO lines with selectable 3.3V/5V logic levels. The full circuit includes 16 channels of 16-bit A/D, 4 channels of 16-bit D/A, 27 digital I/O lines with selectable 3.3V/5V logic levels, and 8 32-bit counter/timers, all supported by Diamond’s free, industry-leading Universal Driver data acquisition programming library. An interactive graphical control panel for Windows and Linux is also provided to control all data acquisition features.

Zeta offers multiple options for system expansion and mass storage. It includes a PCIe Minicard / mSATA socket and a micro-SD socket. A unique expansion connector enables the installation of a daughterboard that contains an M.2 SATA SSD socket, a second PCIe Minicard socket, HD audio and 16 additional GPIO lines.

A built-in heat spreader efficiently removes heat from the SBC to keep the processor and all internal electronics cooler for improved reliability. The bottom-side mounting configuration of the heat spreader provides a secure and convenient mounting system for the board. It also simplifies the installation of I/O expansion modules by eliminating interference or airflow problems that can occur with traditional heat sinks. All three models of Zeta are tested for operation over the full industrial temperature range of -40°C to +85°C, making Zeta well suited for vehicle applications.

Diamond Systems | www.diamondsystems.com

3.5″ SBC Serves up Skylake Processors

COMMELL has announced its LS-37K 3.5-inch embedded mini-board based on Intel 6th/7th generation FCLGA1151 Skylake / Kaby Lake Core processor family and Xeon E3-1200 v5 processor. The Skylake PC is claimed to deliver 30 percent better performance than a PC base on Ivy Bridge architecture, 20 percent better performance than a PC based on Haswell, and 10 percent better performance than a Broadwell PC.

LS-37K-3D8The LS-37K desktop 3.5-inch mini-board platform supports DDR4 memory DIMM 1866/2133 MHz up to 16 GB. The platform is based on Intel HD530 (Skylake) HD630, (Kaby Lake) and HD P530 (Xeon E3-1200v5). For graphics, the Skylake GPU offers 24 execution units (EUs) clocked at up to 1150Mhz (depending on the CPU model). The revised video engine now decodes H.265/HEVC completely in hardware and thereby much more efficiently than before, and HD Graphics 630 GPU is largely identical to the 530 found in Skylake, The only real upgrade here is the HEVC and VP9 support. LS-37K Displays can be connected via 1 VGA, 1 LVDS, 1 DVI, 1 HDMI and one DP port, up to three displays can be controlled simultaneously.

LS-37K offers lots of features including high-speed data transfer interfaces such as 4 x USB3.0 and 2 x SATAIII, equipped with dual Gigabit Ethernet (One of the dual LAN with iAMT 11.0 supported), and comes with PS/2 port, 5 x RS232 and 1 x RS232/422/485, 4 x USB2.0, Intel® High Definition Audio, and 1 Mini PCIe socket (supporting mSATA) and 9 to 30 VDC input.

COMMELL | www.commell.com

Low Power PC/104-Plus SBC has Rich I/O

Winsystems has announced Its new PPM-C412 series for demanding environments and applications. It offers a broad spectrum of I/O features and the ability to expand functionality in a densely populated, standalone SBC solution. The board delivers greater performance and a clear upgrade path for current PPM-LX800 users while providing full ISA-compatible PC/104-Plus expansion.

WinSystems_PPM_C412At the heart of the board is a Vortex DX3 System on Chip (SOC), which offers a 32-bit x86 architecture with a dual-core microprocessor. The PPM-C412 incorporates dual Ethernet ports coupled with four serial ports, four USB channels and an LPT port for myriad communications options. It also includes dual simultaneous display outputs, one LVDS and one VGA, for Human Machine Interface (HMI) displays. Further, It provides 24 GPIO for monitoring and control, resulting in an I/O-rich, rugged SBC occupying minimal space. The PPM-C412 can be used on its own or in combination with the PC/104-Plus bus to expand functionality and capitalize on its full ISA compatibility, averting the need to re-engineer system architectures.

The PPM-C412 is specifically built for rugged industrial environments, with low power requirements, up to 2 GB RAM and an operating temperature range of -40ºC to +85ºC. With a 10-year availability, this new SBC also extends the product life of systems using commercial off the shelf (COTS) and proprietary PC/104 expansion modules.

Winsystems I www.winsystems.com

Fanless EPIC SBC Handles Extreme Temps

AAEON has launched the EPIC-BT07W2 SBC that supports the EPIC form factor and features an industrial-grade thermal range of -40°C to 85°C. The EPIC-BT07W2 is a fanless solution like the rest of AAEON’s EPIC line, and provides high environmental resilience with its wide-temperature design. The CPU is located at the solder side of the board to facilitate further thermal solutions, and comes with a rugged aluminum heat spreader that provides maximum airflow and temperature control. A heatsink is also available as an accessory.

tio_170919_7nks33PCI-104 architecture expansion enables daughter boards to be stacked atop on the main board, minimizing lateral space and facilitating maximum flexibility, as well as supporting legacy IO. The EPIC-BT07W2 can be seamlessly integrated into pre-existing hardware such as panel screens and mini PCs. It is also ideal for IoT uses, and is designed for minimum maintenance and maximum ruggedness.

Features include:

  • Onboard Intel Atom E3845/ Celeron J1900, N2807 Processor SoC
  • DDR3L 1,333 MHz SoDIMM x1, Up to 8 GB
  • LVDS 24-bit Dual Channel
  • Dual Display Configuration: VGA+ LVDS, VGA + HDMI or HDMI + LVDS
  • SATA 3.0 Gb/s x 1, mSATA/ MiniCard x 1, Micro SD Slot x 1 (E3800 Series Only)
  • USB 3.0 x 1, USB2.0 x 5, RS-232 x 4, RS-232/422/485 x 2 (COM2, COM3)
  • MiniCard x 1, SIM x 1, PCI-104 (Optional)
  • 16-bit Digital IO/LPT, SMBus x 1, I2C (Optional)
  • Audio 2 Ch, 2 W Audio Amp., TPM (Optional), Touch Controller (Optional)
  • 9-24V DC Wide Range or 12 VDC Power Input
  • SoC Processor on Solder Side Design

AAEON | www.aaeon.com

Emulating Legacy Interfaces

Do It with Microcontrollers

There’s a number of important legacy interface technologies—like ISA and PCI—that are no longer supported by the mainstream computing industry. In his article Wolfgang examines ways to use inexpensive microcontrollers to emulate the bus signals of legacy interconnect schemes.

By Wolfgang Matthes

Many of today’s PC users have never heard of interfaces like the ISA bus or the PCI bus. But in the realm of industrial and embedded computers, they are still very much alive. Large numbers of add-on cards and peripherals are out there. Many of them are even still being manufactured today—especially PCI cards and PC/104 modules for industrial control and measurement applications. In many cases, bandwidth requirements for those applications are low. As a result, it is possible to emulate the interfaces with inexpensive microcontrollers. That essentially means using a microcontroller instead of an industrial or embedded PC host.

Photo 1 - The PC/104 specifications relate to small modules, which can be stacked one above the other.

Photo 1 – The PC/104 specifications relate to small modules, which can be stacked one above the other.

To develop and bring up such a device is a good exercise in engineering education. But it has its practical uses too. Industrial-grade modules and cards are designed and manufactured for reliability and longevity. That makes them far superior to the kits, boards, shields and so on, that are intended primarily for educational purposes and tinkering. Moreover, a microcontroller platform can be programmed independently—without operating systems and device drivers. These industrial-grade boards can operate in environments that consume considerably less power and are free from the noise typical of the interior of personal computers. The projects depicted here are open source developments. Descriptions, schematics, PCB files and program sources are available for downloading.

Fields of Use

The basic idea is to make good use of peripheral modules and add-in cards. Photo 1 shows examples. Typical applications are based on industrial or embedded personal computers. The center of the system is the host—the PC. Peripheral modules or cards are attached to a standardized expansion interface, that is, in principle, an extended processor bus. That means the processor of the PC can directly address the registers within the devices. The programming interface is the processor’s instruction set. As a result, latencies are low and the peripheral modules can be programmed somewhat like microcontroller ports—without regard to complicated communication protocols. For example, if the peripheral was attached to communication interfaces like USB or Ethernet, that would complicate matters. Common expansion interfaces are the legacy ISA bus, the PCI bus and the PCI Express (PCIe) interface. …

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SBC is Drop-In Replacement for Raspberry Pi 3 Model B

A Kickstarter project by the Libre Computer Project, code name Le Potato, is designed as a drop in hardware replacement for the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B and offers faster performance, more memory, lower power, higher I/O throughput, 4K capabilities, open market components, improved media acceleration, removal of the vendor locked-in interfaces and Android 7.1 support. This platform uses the latest technologies and is built upon proven long term available chips. It is supported by upstream Linux and has a downstream development package based on Linux 4.9 LTS that offers ready-to-go 4K media decoding, 3D acceleration and more. dbedba7f6223adc66b712249125e66cb_original

It can be used to tinker with electronics, teach programming, build media centers, create digital signage solutions, play retro games, establish bi-directional video, and unlock imaginations. It is available in 1 GB and 2 GB configurations.

For connectivity I/O the board provides:

  • HDMI 2.0
  • 4 USB 2.0 Type A
  • RJ45 100Mb Fast Ethernet
  • CVBS
  • Infrared Receiver
  • S/PDIF Header
  • UART Header
  • I2S + ADC Header
  • 40 Pin Header for PWM, I2C, I2S, SPI, GPIO
  • eMMC Daughter Board Connector
  • MicroSD Card Slot with UHS Support

The board features these improvements over Raspberry Pi 3 Model B:

  • 50% Faster CPU and GPU
  • Double RAM Available
  • Lower Power Consumption
  • Better Android 7.1 and Kodi Support
  • Much Better Hardware Accelerated Codec Support
  • 4K UHD with HDR over HDMI 2.0
  • MicroSD Card UHS Support
  • eMMC Daughter Board Support
  • IR Receiver
  • ADC + I2S Headers
  • Non-Shared Bandwidth for LAN and USB

Libre Computer Project | https://libre.computer/

PC/104-Plus SBC Features On-Board TPM Security

Versalogic is now shipping the “Liger”-a new high-performance PC/104-Plus single board computer (SBC). Based on Intel’s Kaby Lake processor, Liger combines high performance processing and high performance video with moderate power consumption (12 to 14 W typical). It features hardware-level security using an on-board Trusted Platform Module (TPM) security chip, and backwards compatibility with systems using PC/104-Plus (ISA or PCI) expansion.

PR_EPM-43_HI

Liger is designed for applications which require extreme CPU and video processing performance in a compact 108 x 96 mm (4.3 x 3.8″) PC/104 footprint.The Liger’s on-board TPM security chip can lock out unauthorized hardware and software access. It provides a secure “Root of Trust” processing environment for defense, medical, and industrial applications that require hardware-level security functions. Additional security is provided through built-in AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) instructions.

Versalogic | www.versalogic.com