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COMe and COM-HPC Boards

Written by Jeff Child

Modular Compute Muscle

The COM Express architecture has become entrenched as a leading choice for embedded system designs. Meanwhile, its younger cousin COM-HPC is emerging as alternative for higher performance applications.

  • What’s happening in COM Express boards?

  • COM-HPC emerging

  • NANOCOM-TGU from Aaeon

  • Adlink’s COM-HPC-cADP COM-HPC

  • Advantech’s SOM-5883

  • PCOM-B657VGL from American Portwell

  • Congatec’s conga-HPC/cALP

  • ET977 from Ibase Technology

  • Kontron’s COM Express COMe bTL6-H

  • TQMx110EB from TQ-Systems

  • WinSystems’ COMeT10-3900

It’s a fact that computing technology always races ahead of most other parts of an embedded system—such as the application specific I/O. COM Express addresses that issue allowing for a two-board solution—a COM Express module and an I/O baseboard. COM Express is blessed with a large ecosystem of vendors that make COM Express boards and an active and innovative standards organization in the form of PICMG (PCI Industrial Manufacturer’s Group). COM Express is designed to accommodate the latest chip sets and serial signaling protocols, including PCI Express Gen 3, 10GbE, SATA, USB 3.0 and high-resolution video interfaces.

Meanwhile, PICMG has developed another spec called COM-HPC. COM-HPC defines five module sizes to deliver edge server performance for small, rugged data centers. COM-HPC is an open Computer-On-Module (COM) form factor standard for High-Performance Computing (HPC) that combines high-end I/O bandwidth with edge computing performance levels. In September PICMG announced the release of the COM-HPC Platform Management Interface (PMI) specification. It provides a framework of remote and out-of-band platform management features for COM-HPC Computer-on-Module based edge computing designs and is freely available on the PICMG website: www.picmg.org.

In an example of COM Express in action, Ectron, a manufacturer of rugged systems for industrial, automotive and defense markets, in 2017 expanded its portfolio to include SmartEYE, an end-to-end Industrial IoT capability for a variety of applications including power plants (Figure 1). This included a range of ruggedized edge industrial computers. For its industrial computer range, Ectron chose Kontron’s COM Express boards. The AI/ML capable Ectron ECT-ECI edge computer, for example, uses Kontron’s COMe-bKL6 module (125mm × 95mm) running Intel 7th Generation Core / Xeon E3 v6 Family processors.

FIGURE 1

Ectron choose COM Express technology for its industrial IoT computing effort called SmartEYE. The solution is targeted for industrial IoT systems in a variety of applications including power plants.
FIGURE 1
Ectron choose COM Express technology for its industrial IoT computing effort called SmartEYE. The solution is targeted for industrial IoT systems in a variety of applications including power plants.

PUBLISHED IN CIRCUIT CELLAR MAGAZINE •FEBRUARY 2021 #379 – Get a PDF of the issue


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Former Editor-in-Chief at Circuit Cellar | Website | + posts

Jeff served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxGizmos.com and its sister publication, Circuit Cellar magazine 6/2017—3/2022. In nearly three decades of covering the embedded electronics and computing industry, Jeff has also held senior editorial positions at EE Times, Computer Design, Electronic Design, Embedded Systems Development, and COTS Journal. His knowledge spans a broad range of electronics and computing topics, including CPUs, MCUs, memory, storage, graphics, power supplies, software development, and real-time OSes.

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COMe and COM-HPC Boards

by Jeff Child time to read: 2 min