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Atom SBC boasts special low-power mode

May 26, 2009 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Kontron is sampling a single board computer (SBC) using the 95 x 95mm microETXexpress format and an Intel Atom N270 processor. The “microETXexpress-DC” features a special “S5 Eco” power-off state, gigabit Ethernet, PCI and PCI Express expansion, plus optional SSD (solid state disk) storage, says Kontron.

(Click here for a larger view of Kontron's microETXexpress-DC)

Kontron's microETXexpress-DC employs the company's 3.75 x 3.75-inch microETXexpress format, first introduced in 2006 and now proposed for standardization under the “COM Express Compact” moniker. As the diagram below shows, microETXexpress uses the same pinout and baseboard interface connector design as Kontron's ETXexpress, itself now the basis of the PICMG COM Express standard.

Comparison of COM form-factors
(Click to enlarge)

The above, of course, falls under the category of “business as usual.” So, too, does the microETXexpress-DC's use of the virtually inevitable Intel Atom N270 CPU, clocked at 1.6GHz and supported by the equally ubiquitous 945GSE chipset. But Kontron claims its new SBC does offer something truly different, with its adoption of a “new, highly-efficient” power-off state. In this “S5 Eco” mode, the module's power consumption is only 1mA, equaling a reduction by a factor of at least 200 compared to the normal S5 sleep state, the company says.

Kontron says the microETXexpress-DC's power consumption, which reaches a high of only about 12 Watts, qualifies the device for use in solar-operated and in-vehicle designs, as well as classic stationary embedded systems. The company adds that the module's wide voltage input range of 8.5 to 18VDC makes expensive DC-to-DC converters on carrier boards superfluous.

According to Kontron, the microETXexpress-DC supports up to 2GB of 533MHz DDR2 RAM via a single SODIMM slot, and is available with an unspecified amount of onboard SSD storage. Featuring dual independent display support and TV output, the module includes 18-bit LVDS graphics, and transmits SDVO signals for VGA and DVI over its PCI Express Graphics (PEG) pin-out.

Compatible with the COM Express Type 2 pin-out, the microETXexpress-DC serves up two SATA ports, one PATA port, eight USB ports, and a gigabit Ethernet port. The module also supplies a 32-bit PCI expansion interface and three PCI Express x1, Kontron says.

Finally, the microETXexpress-DC is said to include an integrated TPM (trusted platform module), a two-stage watchdog timer, and WakeOnLAN functionality. It also includes fast I2C, LPC, and SMBus interfaces, Kontron says.

Features and specifications listed by Kontron for the microETXexpress-DC include the following:

  • Processor — 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270
  • Memory — Up to 2GB of DDR2 RAM via single SODIMM slot
  • Display — Supports VGA, DVI, and LVDS displays
  • Storage — Available with onboard SSD (capacities not specified)
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet
  • Other I/O (apparently all via COM Express Type 2 pinouts):
    • 2 x SATA
    • 1 x PATA
    • 8 x USB 2.0
    • Audio I/O

  • Expansion (again, via COM Express):
    • 1 x 32-bit PCI
    • 3 x PCI Express x1
    • LPC
    • I2C
    • SMbus

  • Power:
    • Maximum 12 Watt consumption
    • 8.5 to 18VDC input range
    • S5 Eco mode uses only 1mA

  • Operating temperature — 32 to 140 deg. F (0 to 60 deg. C)
  • Dimensions — 3.75 x 3.75 inches (95 x 95mm)
According to Kontron, the microETXexpress-DC is compatible with Linux, Windows XP Embedded, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows CE, VxWorks, and other operating systems.


Kontron says the microETXexpress-DC is now sampling, and series production is planned for September 2009. More information on the SBC may be found on the company's website, here.

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