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3.5-inch SBC accepts expansion modules

May 7, 2010 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 15 views

Avalue announced an Intel Atom-powered 3.5-inch SBC (single board computer) with six optional expansion modules. The ECM945GSE Plus has 1GB of onboard DDR2 RAM, six USB 2.0 ports, two SATA ports, and two Mini PCI Express slots, the company says.

Avalue's ECM94GSE Plus employs the "3.5-inch" form factor, which actually measures 5.7 x 4 inches, and was designed to match the dimensions of components such as 3.5-inch floppy disk drives. Some of the company's other boards using this format include the recently announced, Atom D510-equipped ECM-PNV, plus an earlier ECM945GSE sans the "Plus."

Avalue's ECM945GSE Plus
(Click to enlarge)

Like the latter board, the ECM945GSE Plus (above) uses Intel's 1.6GHz Atom N270 processor, along with the usual 945GSE northbridge and ICH7M southbridge. These components are starting to seem venerable, though to be fair, they're not really much slower than their "Pineview" replacements.

One reason to select the ECM945GSE Plus despite its older chipset is the SBC's expansion capabilities. Avalue says that in addition to two Mini PCI Express Card slots, the device has pin headers designed to accept one of five different expansion modules. The illustration at right suggests that the modules — listed later in this story — are stackable, though the company provides no clarification on that point.

The ECM945GSE otherwise includes 1GB of soldered-on DDR2 RAM, two SATA ports, and six USB 2.0 ports (two with edge connectors, four via headers). Both VGA and LVDS video outputs are present, and CRT resolutions can be up to 2048 x 1536 pixels, Avalue says. The device also has an Ethernet port and what, while not cited on the company's product page, appears to be a PS/2 port.

Avalue says its optional AUX-301 Sound Effect I/O Module, shown installed on the board in the larger picture above, provides a "CFast" storage slot (presumably CompactFlash), a microphone input, and 5:1 audio output. The AUX-302 POS/POI Application I/O module has a serial port, USB 2.0 interface, 8-bit I/O, HD audio, a touchscreen interface, and an ambiguously described "RJ11 cable modem slot," the company adds.

The AUX-303 Information Security Application I/O Module is said to include the RJ11 slot, a serial port, a USB port, 8-bit I/O, and a "hard disk secure erase" function. The AUX-304 Automobile I/O Module provides the RJ11 slot, two serial ports (1 RS232 and 1 RS485), CANbus, and a PC/104 connector, says Avalue.

Finally, there's the AUX-305 Mobile Device I/O Module, said to include both the Cfast storage slot and a "high integration" battery charger. While these descriptions are all a little skimpy, Avalue does allow that the I/O modules measure 4 x 2.33 inches (101.6 x 59.35mm) apiece.

Features and specifications listed by Avalue for the ECM-945GSE Plus itself include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom N270 clocked at 1.6GHz
  • Chipset — 945GSE northbridge and ICH7M southbridge
  • Memory — 1GB of DDR2 RAM (soldered-on)
  • Expansion — 2 x Mini PCI Express slots, plus connector for optional I/O modules
  • Networking — 1 x gigabit Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • VGA
    • LVDS
    • 2 x SATA
    • 6 x USB 2.0 (2 edge connectors; 4 headers)
    • PS/2 (apparent)
  • Power — 12VDC input from AT/ATX power supply or 15~28VDC via aux board
  • Operating temperature — 32 to 122 deg. F (0 to 60 deg. C)
  • Dimensions — 5.7 x 4.5 inches
  • Weight — 0.57 pounds (260g)


Avalue did not cite pricing, availability, or operating system support for the ECM-945GSE Plus. Regarding the latter point, however, the SBC's use of a ubiquitous chipset should make it compatible with any x86 operating system.

More information on the ECM-945GSE Plus may be found on the manufacturer's website, here.

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