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Atom-based COM uses nanoETXexpress form-factor

Apr 25, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 17 views

Kontron has introduced the first COM (computer-on-module) using the company's nanoETXexpress form factor. Targeting demanding handheld applications, the nanoETXexpress-SP uses Intel's Atom processor, has up to 1GB of RAM and 4GB of flash on board, supports HD video, and offers eight USB ports, says Kontron.

(Click here for a larger view of Kontron's nanoETXexpress-SP)

With a footprint just 3.3 x 2.2 inches, the nanoETXexpress form factor derives from 2003's ETXexpress, created by Kontron and later adopted as the PICMG COM Express standard. In 2006, Kontron introduced a cut-down version of COM Express known as microETXexpress.

Comparison of COM form-factors
(Click to enlarge)

All three COMs share the same baseboard interface connector design and pinout, and have overlapping mechanical assemblies, as illustrated above. Footprints vary, as follows:
  • COM Express (ETXexpress):

    • basic form-factor — 125 mm x 95 mm (4.9 x 3.7 inches)
    • extended form-factor — 155 mm x 110 mm (6.1 x 4.3 inches)

  • microETXexpress — 95 x 95 mm (3.7 x 3.7 inches)
  • nanoETXexpress — 55 x 84 mm (2.2 x 3.3 inches)
When Kontron announced nanoETXexpress last year and proposed it as a standard, it touted the form factor as being ideal for housing future processors based on 45nm technology. Featuring Intel's Atom, the new nanoETXexpress-SP typifies what the company had in mind.

The 45nm Atom is used here in either its 1.1GHz Z510 or 1.6GHz Z530 guises. The nanoETXexpress-SP's frontside bus adjusts to corresponding speeds of either 400MHz or 533MHz, as required. Meanwhile, the SCH (system controller hub) companion chip integrates northbridge and southbridge funtionality, giving the COM OpenGL 3D graphics, support for DirectX 9L, and hardware-accelerated 720p and 1080i video decoding.

The nanoETXexpress-SP provides 512MB or 1GB of soldered-on RAM, plus onboard 512MB, 2GB, or 4GB flash drives. It also includes a SATA port, eight USB ports, gigabit Ethernet, LVDS, high-definition audio, and an SDIO port. Expansion potential is provided by a one-lane PCI Express interface.

Features and specifications listed by Kontron for the nanoETXexpress-SP include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom Z510 (1.1GHz) or Z530 (1.6GHz)
  • Memory — 512MB of 1GB of soldered-on RAM
  • Storage — 512MB, 2GB, or 4GB flash
  • Display — single-channel LIDS interface, up to 256MB of shared video memory
  • Networking — 10/100/1000 Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • 8 x USB
    • SATA

  • Expansion:
    • SDIO port
    • 1 x 1-lane PCI Express (2 x 1-lane PCI Express if Ethernet is not used)

  • Operating range — 0 to 60 deg. C
  • Power requirements and consumption — 12VDC, ~7W
  • Dimensions — 3.3 x 2.2 inches

Kontron did not provide information as to what baseboards the nanoETXexpress-SP might be compatible with, but reiterated that the device is 100 percent compatible with COM Express Type 1, with respect to both connector location and pin definitions.

Since Intel's introduction of the Atom, the processor has made it onto COMs using a variety of form-factors. These include:

  • Applied Data Systems's Catalyst, using the company's own 3.9 x 2.8 inch form-factor
  • Congatec's conga-CA, using the 3.75 x 3.75-inch COM Express form-factor
  • Lippert's CoreExpress-ECO COM, using a 2.6 x 2.3-inch CoreExpress format

Further information

The nanoETXexpress-SP is compatible with Windows XP Embedded, Windows CE, Windows XP, Linux, and VxWorks. Pricing and availability information was not cited.

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