Congatec Rolls Out Ten Modules Based on Coffee Lake H Processors

Congatec has announced 10 new COM Express Type 6 modules featuring the latest Intel embedded processor technology. The four Intel Xeon, three Intel Core, two Intel Celeron and one Intel Pentium processors are all based on the same Intel microarchitecture (codenamed Coffee Lake H). This enables Congatec to provide all 10 new processors on one COM Express module design: the conga-TS370. A total of 14 processor module variants are now available on this single microarchitecture, offering extremely wide scalability.

The spearhead in terms of computing power is the 45 W 6-core module with 2.8 GHz Intel Xeon E-2276ME processor. It provides the highest embedded computing performance with integrated high-performance processor graphics currently available worldwide, while the 2.4 GHz Intel Celeron G4930E processor module with 35 watts sets the new price-performance benchmark.

Particularly noteworthy are the two 6-core Congatec modules with a TDP of 25 W offered on Intel Xeon E-2276ML and Intel Core i7-9850HL processors. They enable developers to create completely passively cooled embedded edge computing systems that can run up to 12 standalone virtual machines in parallel thanks to hyperthreading. This allows operation even in fully sealed systems, under the harshest environmental conditions and with the highest IP protection. The same applies to the two quad-core modules with Intel Xeon E-2254ML or Intel Core i3-9100HL processor as well as the Intel Celeron G4932E processor-based module, all featuring a–partly configurable –TDP of 25 W.

Other applications besides embedded edge computing including classic high-end medical imaging systems and HMIs as well as high-end gaming, infotainment and digital signage systems that require best-in-class computing power and throughput on a single die in tandem with the Intel graphics technology.

Congatec | www.congatec.com

Who killed the Quark?

By Eric Brown

Intel is phasing out its lightweight Quark processors, with final orders wrapping up this summer, and shipments ending in 2022. The Quark suffered from growing competition from high-end MCUs and low-end Cortex-A7 chips and the lack of a clear market focus.

When we read in AnandTech recently that Intel was discontinuing its Quark CPUs, the news was so unsurprising we almost decided to skip it. But perhaps it’s worthwhile to reflect on why this highly promoted crossover processor, which aimed to find a niche between low-end Cortex-A SoCs and high-end microcontroller units (MCUs), failed to catch fire.

According to AnandTech, Intel is phasing out all its Linux-ready Quark X10x SoCs and Quark SE and D1000/D2000 MCUs. Customers can post their final orders on July 19, and shipments on those orders will continue until July 17, 2022.


 
Former Intel CEO Krzanich with Quark chip in 2013 (left) and Curie module
(click images to enlarge)
The fate of the Quark seemed to be sealed in June 2017, when Intel announced it was discontinuing its Intel Joule and Intel Edison COMs and its open-spec Galileo Gen 2 SBC. The Galileo and Galileo II boards ran Linux on a Quark X1000 while the Edison, which was originally announced as a Quark-driven module, eventually shipped with an oddball “Tangier” Atom SoC. The Quark was used only as a co-processor.

Intel then launched the MCU-like Quark D1000, Quark D2000, and Quark SE models designed to run RTOSes like Zephyr instead of Linux. Intel backed the chips with a major marketing push for its tiny Curie wearable module, which uses a Quark SE. The Curie never took off, however, and in July 2017, Intel discontinued the Curie.

In the middle of this decade we saw a number of IoT gateways that ran Yocto Project stacks on the Quark X1000, but the combination appeared on relatively few third-party embedded boards. The last Quark-based embedded computer we saw was Advantech’s UBC-222, which launched a year ago.


Galileo II

When Intel announced the death of the Curie, it also discontinued its Curie-based Arduino 101 SBC. Arduino compatibility was always one of the key draws of the Quark, and several Edison breakout boards supported Arduino shields.

Yet, the Arduino community never embraced the Curie, and as the Linux-driven Raspberry Pi increasingly dominated the low-end hacker-board world, Arduino compatibility became less of a must-have feature. It certainly didn’t mean much to the luxury smartwatch vendors Intel was trying to woo with its Curie.


Arduino 101

The x86 community did not think much of the Quark, either. Its progress was slowed initially by the fact that the Quark was originally announced only with Pentium ISA compatibility. By the time Intel added x86 compatibility it was too late.

The Quark had more serious challenges, however. The smartwatch market was slow to take off, and the low-end wearables market that the Curie targeted was powered primarily by increasing powerful Arm Cortex-M MCUs. The growing support for wireless technology on these chips carved out a big chunk of the Quark’s market.



Aaeon’s Quark-based AIOT-QA, -QG, and -QM IoT gateways from 2016
(click image to enlarge)

(click image to enlarge)
Meanwhile, Arm’s Cortex-A7 design increasingly dominated the low-end Linux IoT market. The budget IoT gateways and other power-sipping IoT gear that used Quarks or MIPS chips in 2014 and 2015 had by 2017 largely switched to Cortex-A7 SoCs like NXP’s i.MX7 i.MX6 UL or the Allwinner A20, just to name a few.

Many of the SBCs in our recent catalog of 122 hacker boards that launched in the previous six months were Cortex-A7 designs. These include the MediaTek MT7623N based Banana Pi BPI-R2, the Rockchip PX2-SE driven Firefly-PX3-SE, the Allwinner V5 V100 powered Lindenis V5, the Allwinner H2+ or H3 based NanoPi Duo and Duo2, and the Rockchip RK3229 based ReSpeaker Core v2.0.


NanoPi Duo2

The Quark X1000 also felt pressure from Intel’s own Atom family of SoCs, which these days are more often tagged with the Celeron and Pentium brands. Atom SoCs have gradually improved power efficiency while also boosting performance, especially in graphics.

This was especially true of quad-core models. In the circa-2013 Bay Trail generation, the quad-core E3845 clocked in at 10W. Fast forward to the latest Gemini Lake generation, and the quad-core Pentium Silver N5000 has a 6.5W TDP. The drop in TDP was not significant enough for many embedded hackers, who continued to migrate to Arm, but it was enough to position some Atom chips closer to the Cortex-A7.

Perhaps Intel’s largest impediment was itself. It could never quite decide what the Quark was for and was never able to capture the developer market. The Curie was especially notorious for spotty public documentation and the requirement for signing NDAs to get the full specs.

The low-end chip market is tough going and marked by low margins. Intel had the market clout to succeed, but it was earning such high profits from its popular Xeon and Core chips, the Quark was quickly neglected. To a lesser degree, its Atom line has suffered from the same dynamics.

With IoT morphing into edge computing, and with the dropping costs for Cortex-A53 SoCs, the embedded market is shifting upward. Edge gateways are increasingly asked to process video and do analytics, which need more powerful chips. Still, there’s room at the bottom for more innovation on power-efficient SoCs that can still run Linux.

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on January 30.

Intel | www.intel.com

3.5-inch SBC Features Intel Coffee Lake Chips

By Eric Brown

In August, Commell launched the LV-67X, one of the first industrial Mini-ITX boards with Intel’s 8th Gen “Coffee Lake” CPUs. Now, it has followed up with a Coffee Lake based 3.5-inch LS-37L board. The SBC has the same FCLGA1151 socket, supporting up to 6-core, 65W TDP Coffee Lake S-series processors such as the 3.1GHz/4.3GHz Core i5-8600.

Commell lists only Windows drivers on the product page, but the user manual notes support for Linux. The company also recently announced a Coffee Lake based, PICMG 1.3 form factor FS-A79 board.

 
LS-37L and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)
The only other 3.5-inch (146 x 101mm) Coffee Lake board we’ve seen is Avalue’s ECM-CFS. Like that board, the LS-37L has a 0 to 60°C range and supports up to 16GB DDR4 (2666MHz). Other features are very close, with the main difference being the LS-37L’s wide-range 9-25V supply in place of a standard 12V input. The LS-37L also offers more USB and serial headers and adds a PS/2 interface, an RTC with battery, an LCD inverter, and a SIM slot. However, it lacks the Avalue board’s ACPI power management and optional TPM.

Like the ECM-CFS, Commell’s board features triple display support, but instead of dual HDMI ports plus LVDS you get a choice of two configurations. The standard LS-37L model supplies an HDMI port, a DisplayPort, and internal DVI, VGA, and LVDS interfaces. The LS-37LT SKU replaces the DisplayPort with a second VGA or LVDS header.


 
LS-37L detail views
(click images to enlarge)
The LS-37L is equipped with 2x GbE, 2x SATA III, 4x USB 3.1, and a single RS-232 COM port. Internal I/O includes 3x RS232/422/485, 2x RS-232, and GPIO. Like the Avalue SBC, Commell’s board provides a mini-PCIe slot with mSATA support. Yet, the slot also supports other mini-PCIe cards, and there’s a SIM slot for wireless.

Specifications listed for the LS-37L include:

  • Processor — Intel 8th Gen “Coffee Lake” Core, Celeron, and Pentium CPUs up to 65W (FCLGA1151 socket); Intel HD Graphics Gen9 and Intel Q370 chipset
  • Memory — Up to 16GB DDR4 (2666MHz) via 1x SODIMM
  • Storage — 2x SATA 3.0; mSATA via mini-PCIe
  • Display/media:
    • HDMI port
    • DisplayPort (LS-37L) or second VGA or LVDS header (LS-37LT)
    • LVDS, VGA, and DVI headers
    • LCD inverter
    • Triple-display support
    • Audio mic-in/line-in and line-out jacks (Realtek ALC262)
  • Networking — 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports (Intel I211AT and 1219LM); LM port supports iAMT 12.0
  • Other I/O:
    • 4x USB 3.1 ports Gen 2
    • 4x USB 2.0 headers
    • 4x RS-232 (includes 1x COM port)
    • 2x RS232/422/485 headers
    • GPIO
    • SMBus, PS/2
  • Expansion — Mini-PCIe slot (mSATA/PCIe); SIM slot
  • Other features — Watchdog; RTC with battery
  • Power — 9-25V DC input
  • Operating temperatures — 0 to 60°C
  • Dimensions — 146 x 101mm (“3.5-inch form factor”)
  • Operating system — Windows 10 drivers; supports Linux

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the LS-37L SBC. More information may be found in Commell’s LS-37L announcement and product page.

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on December 6.

Commell | www.commell.com.tw

Fanless Railway Embedded Computer is EN50155-Certified

Kontron has expanded its TRACe family of operational computers designed specifically for the railway market. The Kontron TRACe-B40x-TR, an EN50155 certified fanless generic platform, features the latest Intel Atom E3900 series processors and 6th Generation Intel Core processors. The first released variant is the Kontron TRACe-B404-TR, based on the Intel Atom x5-E3940 quad-core at 1.6 GHz high performance per watt processor, with 8 GB DDR3L memory and 32 GB SLC eMMC Flash. Other variants will be made available later, based on Intel Atom x7-E3950 quad-core at 1.6 GHz, Intel Core i3-6100U, or Intel Core i7-6600U processors when higher performance is needed.

Kontron TRACe-B40x-TR has two independent networks (2x LAN with M12 connectors). It comes with an ultra-wide range power supply (from 24 VDC to 110 VDC nominal input voltage range, including tolerance range of +/- 40% required according to EN 50155, meaning a voltage range between 144 VDC and 154 VDC) adapted to all types of railway vehicles from light rail vehicles to high speed trains.

The front plate operational connectors are electrically insulated in compliance to EN50155 standard with lockable M12 connectors. The rear plate hosts standard connectors (display port, USB 3.0/2.0, serial line) for maintenance purposes and is protected from dust and water during operations with a cover plate. Thanks to its modularity, the TRACe-B40x-TR product also accommodates several optional wireless interfaces (such as Wi-Fi, 4G/LTE, and GNSS), field busses (RS422/485, CAN, MVB, and others), SATA devices (up to two 2.5’-inch SSD) and/or additional optional I/Os (such as DIOs, Audio, and USB) to match any railway applications such as on-board CCTV, entertainment/infotainment PIS or TCMS. Samples of the Kontron TRACe B404-TR are available now.

Kontron | www.kontron.com

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

 

Quantum Leaps

Input Voltage

–Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

JeffHeadShot

Throughout my career, I’ve always been impressed by Intel’s involvement in a wide spectrum of computing and electronics technologies. These range from the mundane and practical on one hand, to forward-looking and disruptive advances on the other. A lot of these weren’t technologies for which Intel ever intended to take direct advantage of over the long term. I think a lot about how Intel facilitated the creation of and early advances in USB. Intel even sold USB chips in the first couple years of USB’s emergence, but stepped aside from that with the knowledge that their main focus was selling processors.

USB made computers and a myriad of consumer electronic devices better and easier to use, and that, Intel knew, advanced the whole industry in which their microprocessors thrived. Today, look around your home, your office and even your car and count the number of USB connectors there are. It’s pretty obvious that USB’s impact has been truly universal.

Aside from mainstream, practical solutions like USB, Intel also continues to participate in the most forward-looking compute technologies. Exemplifying that, in January at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) show in Las Vegas, Intel announced two major milestones in its efforts to develop future computing technologies. In his keynote address, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced the successful design, fabrication and delivery of a 49-qubit superconducting quantum test chip. The keynote also focused on the promise of neuromorphic computing.

In his speech, Krzanich explained that, just two months after delivery of a 17-qubit superconducting test chip, Intel that day unveiled “Tangle Lake,” a 49-qubit superconducting quantum test chip. The chip is named after a chain of lakes in Alaska, a nod to the extreme cold temperatures and the entangled state that quantum bits (or “qubits”) require to function.

According to Intel, achieving a 49-qubit test chip is an important milestone because it will allow researchers to assess and improve error correction techniques and simulate computational problems.

Krzanich predicts that quantum computing will solve problems that today might take our best supercomputers months or years to resolve, such as drug development, financial modeling and climate forecasting. While quantum computing has the potential to solve problems conventional computers can’t handle, the field is still nascent.

Mike Mayberry, VP and managing director of Intel Labs weighed in on the progress of the efforts. “We expect it will be 5 to 7 years before the industry gets to tackling engineering-scale problems, and it will likely require 1 million or more qubits to achieve commercial relevance,” said Mayberry.

Krzanich said the need to scale to greater numbers of working qubits is why Intel, in addition to investing in superconducting qubits, is also researching another type called spin qubits in silicon. Spin qubits could have a scaling advantage because they are much smaller than superconducting qubits. Spin qubits resemble a single electron transistor, which is similar in many ways to conventional transistors and potentially able to be manufactured with comparable processes. In fact, Intel has already invented a spin qubit fabrication flow on its 300-mm process technology.

At CES, Krzanich also showcased Intel’s research into neuromorphic computing—a new computing paradigm inspired by how the brain works that could unlock exponential gains in performance and power efficiency for the future of artificial intelligence. Intel Labs has developed a neuromorphic research chip, code-named “Loihi,” which includes circuits that mimic the brain’s basic operation.

While the concepts seem futuristic and abstract, Intel is thinking of the technology in terms of real-world uses. Intel says Neuromorphic chips could ultimately be used anywhere real-world data needs to be processed in evolving real-time environments. For example, these chips could enable smarter security cameras and smart-city infrastructure designed for real-time communication with autonomous vehicles. In the first half of this year, Intel plans to share the Loihi test chip with leading university and research institutions while applying it to more complex data sets and problems.

For me to compare quantum and neuromorphic computing to USB is as about as apples and oranges as you can get. But, who knows? When the day comes when quantum or neuromorphic chips are in our everyday devices, maybe my comparison won’t seem far-fetched at all.

This appears in the February (331) issue of Circuit Cellar magazine

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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

Intel & Micron Expand Manufacturing Effort

Intel and Micron have announced the completion of an expansion to Building 60 (B60) at the IM Flash facilities in Lehi, Utah. The expanded fab will produce 3D XPoint memory media, a building block of Intel Optane technology that includes Intel Optane memory for clients, the recently announced Intel Optane SSD 900P Series and new capacities and form factors of the Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series. A ribbon-cutting was held at the facility with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, employees of the facility and representatives from Intel and Micron.

Intel-Optane-SSD-900P-Series

The Intel Optane SSD 900P Series half-height half-length add-in card is available in 480 GB and 280 GB capacities.

The IM Flash joint venture was created in 2006 to manufacture non-volatile memory for both Intel and Micron, starting with NAND for use in SSDs, phones, tablets and more. In 2015, IM Flash began manufacturing 3D XPoint technology, the first entirely new memory media in 25 years. The technology was developed to meet the quickly expanding data needs for all types of customers. 3D XPoint technology uses a crosspoint structure to deliver a cell and array architecture that can switch states significantly faster than NAND.

Intel recently announced the Intel Optane SSD 900P Series for use in desktop and workstation PCs. It delivers incredibly low latency and best-in-class random read and write performance at low queue depths. Additionally, Intel expanded the Intel Optane technology offerings for the data center, introducing 750GB capacity and 2.5-inch U.2 form factor versions of the Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series. For details on these products and all Intel SSDs, visit Intel’s solid state drives website.

Intel | www.intel.com

Micron Technology | www.micron.com

COM Express Solution Serves up NVIDIA GPUs

Connect Tech now offers NVIDIA Quadro and Tesla GPUs on its COM Express + GPU Embedded Platform. The platform combines Intel processors with NVIDIA GPUs into a ruggedized small form factor embedded system. This is an ideal platform to enable deployable multi-Teraflop CUDA solutions in a small rugged solution.

Connect Tech VXG006-AngleThis embedded system exposes all of the latest generation interconnect including: Gbit Ethernet, USB 3.0 and 2.0, DisplayPort++, VGA, LVDS, SATA III, GPIO, I2C, mSATA, miniPCIe, PCIe/104 and SD Card Expansion. The system uses all locking ruggedized positive latching connectors. It eases the challenge of cooling multiple processors with the use of the company’s Unified Thermal Extraction Baseplate that can be mounted directly into an enclosure or chassis for further thermal dissipation.

The COM Express + GPU Embedded System from Connect Tech combines Intel Skylake and Kaby Lake x86 processors with high-end NVIDIA GPUs. Users can choose from highest-end, highest-performance models or from low-powered extended temperature models all ideal for high-end encode/decode video applications or GPGPU CUDA processing applications.

Connect Tech | www.connecttech.com

COM Express Card Features Core i7-7600U Processor

ARBOR Technology has expanded its line of modules with the introduction of a 7th generation Intel Core processor platform (formerly codenamed ”Kaby Lake-U”), the EmETXe-i90U0, a Type 6 compact module. The single-chip processors feature a low power consumption of just 15W TDP. Built on Intel’s new 14nm process technology, the 7th generation Intel Core processor is designed to provide excellent graphics and performance.

Arbor_1__EmETXe-i90U0_photo_17071013_436

The new Intel HD Graphics 620 in 7th generation Intel Core processors provide Ultra HD/4K display and additional codec support. Enhanced security and manageability features help to drive down total cost and risk, protecting data and preventing malware threats. The boards allow the connection of up to three independent display interfaces via HDMI 1.4, LVDS and embedded DisplayPort (eDP). When using DisplayPort 1.2, the individual displays can be daisy chained to take advantage of simple wiring. Native USB 3.0 support provides fast data transmission with low power consumption. The two SODIMM sockets can be equipped with up to 32 GB SO-DIMM DDR4 memory.

A total of twelve USB ports are provided, four of them support USB 3.0 SuperSpeed. Eight PCI Express 2.0 lanes, two SATA ports with 6 Gb/s SATA RAID and Gigabit Ethernet support via the Intel i219-LM GbE LAN controller (with AMT 11 support) which enables fast and flexible system extensions, completes the highly flexible design. Extra features included are TPM, up to 32 GB eMMC 5.0, two UART (RX/TX) ports, 8-bit Digital I/O and 5 V – 20 V wide range power input. The EmETXe-i90U0 board can work in temperatures from -40°C to 85°C.

ARBOR Technology | www.arbor-technology.com

Promoter Group Announces USB 3.2 Spec Update

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group has announced the pending release of the USB 3.2 specification, an incremental update that defines multi-lane operation for new USB 3.2 hosts and devices, effectively doubling the bandwidth to extend existing USB Type-C cable performance. During the upcoming USB Developer Days 2017 event, the promoters will provide detailed technical training covering USB 3.2, fast charging advancements in USB Power Delivery, and other topics.

20170726120126_USB-Type-cFrontWeb

While USB hosts and devices were originally designed as single-lane solutions, USB Type-C cables were designed to support multi-lane operation to ensure a path for scalable performance. New USB 3.2 hosts and devices can now be designed as multi-lane solutions, allowing for up to two lanes of 5 Gbps or two lanes of 10 Gbps operation. This enables platform developers to continue advancing USB products by effectively doubling the performance across existing cables. For example, a USB 3.2 host connected to a USB 3.2 storage device will now be capable of realizing over 2 GB/sec data transfer performance over an existing USB Type-C cable that is certified for SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps.

Key characteristics of the USB 3.2 solution include:

– Two-lane operation using existing USB Type-C cables

– Continued use of existing SuperSpeed USB physical layer data rates and encoding techniques

– Minor update to hub specification to address increased performance and assure seamless transitions between single and two-lane operation

For users to obtain the full benefit of this performance increase, a new USB 3.2 host must be used with a new USB 3.2 device and the appropriate certified USB Type-C cable. This update is part of the USB performance roadmap and is specifically targeted to developers at this time. Branding and marketing guidelines will be established after the final specification is published. The USB 3.2 specification is now in a final draft review phase with a planned formal release in time for the USB Developer Days North America event in September 2017.

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group, comprised of Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Intel Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Renesas Electronics, ST Microelectronics, and Texas Instruments, continues to develop the USB 3.x family of specifications to meet the market needs for increased functionality and performance in SuperSpeed USB solutions. Additionally, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group develops specification addendums (USB Power Delivery, USB Type-C, and others) to extend or adapt its specifications to support more platform types or use cases where adopting USB 3.x technology will be beneficial in delivering a more ubiquitous, richer user experience.

USB 3.0 Promoter Group | www.usb.org

Qseven Module Sports Apollo Lake Processor

Axiomtek has released the Q7M311, a new Qseven module with Intel Apollo Lake processor, dual display interfaces, 32 Gbytes of eMMC memory, and wide operating temperature supported. The Q7M311 has adopted the 14nm Intel Pentium N4200 and Celeron N3350 quad-core/dual-core processors (codename: Apollo Lake). The extremely small embedded module supports 4 Gbytes (or optionally up to 8 Gbytes) of DDR3L memory onboard. With a seismic design and for industrial-grade temperatures, both the CPU and the DDR3L RAM are soldered to deliver reliable and excellent computing performance. With rich features embedded in all the components built in a small form factor, the industrial-grade computer-on-module is aimed for industrial IoT applications, including industrial control, medical imaging, digital signage, gaming machines, military, and networking.

Axiomtek q7m311

Advanced connectivity includes four PCIe x1 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet (built-in Intel Ethernet controller i211AT), two SATA-600 interfaces, and eight inputs/outputs of general purpose for peripheral devices and data transfer. Also, the LPC bus is available for easy connection of legacy I/O interfaces. This powerful Qseven embedded board runs well with Windows 10 and Linux operating system and supports Axiomtek AXView 2.0 intelligent remote management software.

Axiomtek | www.axiomtek.com

New Intel Core X-Series Processors and Thunderbolt 3

During the annual Computex 2017 event, Intel unveiled its new Intel Core X-series processor family with 4 to 18 cores, which now includes the new Intel Core i9 Extreme Edition processor, the first consumer desktop CPU with 18 cores and 36 threads. Intel announced plans to integrate Thunderbolt 3 into all future Intel CPUs and to release the Thunderbolt protocol specification to the industry.Intel i9 Web

With Intel focusing its attention on competing with ARM and now saying that they want to focus on something else than PC’s, the world of computing has been stalling and no significant gains on processor performance have been announced. The result was disastrous for Windows PC makers, which among other things also failed to evolve to newer standards on connectivity, like Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C. Apple was also affected, with almost three years without a single upgrade on its popular Mac Mini, iMac desktop and Mac Pro computers. The news from Intel that a new generation of processors is finally coming will bring some hope to the industry, including to many audio professionals that use computers and workstations, and need all the memory, storage and power they can get.

Intel introduced the new Intel Core X-series processor family, which they say is the most scalable, accessible and powerful desktop platform they have ever created. Good! The new Intel Core X-series processor family spans from 4 to 18 cores with price points to match, including Intel’s first teraflop desktop CPUs. The family also introduces the new Intel Core i9 processors, representing the highest performance for extreme performance and extreme mega-tasking. Good! The new Intel Core i9 Extreme Edition processor is the first consumer desktop CPU with 18 cores and 36 threads. An industry-first, its performance capabilities will finally enable data-intensive tasks like VR content creation and heavy data visualization.

Another announcement was the Intel Compute Card, a modular computing platform with all the elements of a full computer in a size just larger than a credit card. According to Intel, the Compute Card will start shipping in August 2017 and will allow devices outside of PCs to be connected, integrating compute into everything from smart screens to interactive appliances to VR headsets. Intel Partners who have products showing at Computex include Contec, ECS, Foxconn, LG Display, MoBits Electronics, NexDock, Sharp, Seneca, SMART Technologies, Suzhou Lehui Display and TabletKiosk. Other partners currently working on solutions include Dell, HP and Lenovo.

The Intel Compute Card will initially be available in four versions, with 7th Gen Intel Core i5 vPro or i3 processors, as well as Pentium N4200 and Celeron N3450 processors. All will feature 4-GB DDR3 memory, 128 GB of SSD or 64GB of eMMC storage, and all support Wi-Fi.11ac and Bluetooth 4.2. In addition, HTC announced a Compute Card-based VR device also using Intel WiGig technology.

Thunderbolt 3

On what is possibly the most interesting front for computing, outside of pure processing power, Intel announced plans to integrate Thunderbolt 3 into all future Intel CPUs and to release the Thunderbolt protocol specification to the industry.

Intel has a long history of leading the industry in I/O innovation. In the late 1990s, Intel developed USB, which made it easier and faster to connect external devices to computers, consolidating a multitude of existing connectors. Intel continued this effort with Thunderbolt 3, one of the most significant cable I/O updates since the advent of USB.

Intel’s vision for Thunderbolt was not just to make a faster computer port, but a simpler and more versatile port available to everyone, allowing for single-cable docks with 4K video support, unlimited and faster-than-ever storage, and external graphics accelerator engines. A world where one USB-C connector does it all – today, and for many years to come.

With this vision in mind, Intel now announced that it plans to drive large-scale mainstream adoption of Thunderbolt by integrating Thunderbolt 3 into future Intel CPUs and by releasing the Thunderbolt protocol specification to the industry next year, under a nonexclusive, royalty-free license. Releasing the Thunderbolt protocol specification in this manner is expected to greatly increase Thunderbolt adoption by encouraging third-party chip makers to build Thunderbolt-compatible chips.

Microsoft has also enhanced Thunderbolt 3 device plug-and-play support in the now available Windows 10 Creators Update. Intel and Microsoft plan to continue to work together to enhance the experience in future versions of the Windows operating system.

In addition to support from Apple and Microsoft, Thunderbolt 3 has already gained significant adoption with more than 120 PC designs on systems with 7th Generation Intel Core processors, the latest MacBook Pros and dozens of peripherals – expected to ramp to nearly 150 by the end of 2017.

Source: Intel

 

New Cyclone 10 FPGA Family

Intel recently launched the Intel Cyclone 10 family of FPGAs. Well suited for IoT applications, the new FPGAs are designed to deliver fast and power-efficient processing. They can collect and send data, and make real-time decisions based on the input from IoT devices. You can program the FPGAs  to deliver the specific level of computing and functions required by different IoT applications.Cyclone INTEL

Cyclone 10 GX supports 10G transceivers and hard floating point digital signal processing (DSP). Furthermore, it offers 2× the performance of the previous Cyclone generation. The architectural innovation in the implementation of IEEE 754 single-precision hardened floating-point DSP blocks can enable processing rates up to 134 giga floating-point operations per second (GFLOPs) for applications such as motion or motor control systems.

The Intel Cyclone 10 LP is the perfect solution for applications where cost and power are key factors in the design decision. These systems typically use FPGA densities that are sub 75K LE and chip-to-chip bridging functions between electronic components or I/O expansion for micro-processors. Cyclone 10 LP can also be used for automotive video processing used in rear-view cameras and in sensor fusion, where data gathered while the car is on the road is combined from multiple sensors in the car to provide a more complete view of what is happening.

The Cyclone 10 FPGA family will be available in the second half of 2017, along with evaluation kits, boards, and the latest version of Intel’s Quartus FPGA programming software.

Source: Intel

New Embedded Solution for Debugging FPGAs

Exostiv Labs recently announced that its EXOSTIV solution for Intel FPGAs will be available in December 2016. Providing up to 200,000 times more visibility on an FPGA than other solutions, EXOSTIV enables the debugging and verification of FPGA board prototypes at speed of operation. It provides extended visibility on internal nodes over long periods of time with minimal impact on the FPGA resources. Thus, you can discover issues related to complex interactions between numerous IPs when simulation is impracticable.

EXOSTIV for Intel FPGAs will be released in December 2016 with support for Arria 10 devices first. Pricing starts at $5,100.

Source: Exostiv Labs