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COM Express module accepts 4GB RAM

Feb 6, 2009 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 16 views

Congatec announced its fourth COM (computer on module) using an Intel Atom processor, targeting “mobile and fanless” applications. The conga-BA945 has a COM Express form factor, accepts a whopping 4GB of RAM, has eight USB ports and two serial ports, and includes PCIe expansion, says Congatec.

(Click here for a larger view of Congatec's conga-BA945)

Intel's Atom product range was only introduced at the beginning of last April, but has been a runaway success, at least judging by the number of embedded boards developed around the processor. As just one example of the CPU's popularity, here we now have the fourth Atom-based COM to be released by Congatec under the “conga” brand.

Moving up to Intel's 945GME chipset

As you'll read below, Congatec has already released two COM Express modules with Atom processors. These both used a 95 x 95mm (3.75 x 3.75 inch) form factor, whereas the new conga-BA945 occupies 125mm x 95mm (4.92 x 3.75 inches). But in return for taking up more space, the conga-BA945 accepts up to 4GB of memory, and it has enhanced graphics capabilities, according to the company.

To explain the difference between the conga-BA945 and its earlier conga-CA945 (see below), Congatec provides us with a (welcome) mini-dissertation on Intel chipsets. As the company points out, Intel's 1.6GHz N270 launched in April with a 945GSE chipset comprised of separate northbridge and southbridge chips.

Like the N270 itself, the 945GSE has since been employed in innumerable netbooks. But, Congatec notes, the N270 can also be matched up with a different chipset, Intel's 945GME. The 945GME supports dual-channel memory, doubling possible memory expansion to 4GB, and its graphics rendering clock goes from 166MHz to 200MHz. As a result, the conga-BA945 gives 50 percent better graphics performance than the conga-CA945, the company claims.

Via its COM Express connectors, the conga-BA945 offers two independent graphics channels, supporting LVDS, SDVO, TV, or analog VGA outputs, the company says. The device also includes gigabit Ethernet, 5 PCI Express lanes, a PCI Express Graphic (PEG x16) interface, and eight USB ports.

According to Congatec, the conga-BA945 includes both an IDE interface and two SATA ports, and is available with an optional trusted platform module (TPM). Not shown in the above picture, because they're on the reverse of the board, are two SODIMM sockets, allowing a total 4GB of DDR2 RAM.

Features and specifications listed by Congatec for the conga-BA945 include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom N270 clocked at 1.6Ghz
  • Memory — Up to 4GB of DDR2 RAM via two SODIMM slots
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • 8 x USB 2.0
    • 2 x SATA
    • 1 x EIDA (UDMA 66/100MHz)
    • HD Audio
    • 2 x SDVO
    • 2 x LDVS
    • TV out
    • I2C
    • LPC bus
  • Expansion:
    • 5 x PCI Express
    • 2 x Express Card (uses 2 x USB and 2 x PCI Express)
    • PCI bus (33MHz)
    • SDIO

  • Power consumption — Under 10 Watts
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 60 deg. C
  • Dimensions — 4.92 x 3.75 inches (125 x 955mm)

Congatec says the conga-BA845 is compatible with Linux, Windows XP Embedded, Windows CE, Windows XP, Windows 2000, and QNX.


The conga-CA
(Click image for further information)

Congatec's first Atomic COM was the conga-CA (right), launched with the then-new 1.1GHz Z510 and Z530 Atoms. The conga-CA uses a 95 x 95mm (3.75 x 3.75 inch) COM Express form factor, has two SD sockets on board, and has two SATA ports. Congatec later launched an IVI (in-vehicle infotainment) Starterkit based on the Conga-CA, and the platform was included in the Intel-sponsored Moblin project's In-Vehicle Infotainment Hardware program.

The conga-QA
(Click image for further information)

Congatec then released a smaller COM, the conga-QA, which employs the same Z510/Z530 duo, but shrinks down to the 70 x 70mm Qseven form factor. Little bigger than a credit card, the conga-QA has 1GB of DDR2 memory, gigabit Ethernet, eight USB ports, and an optional onboard SSD (solid state drive).

The conga-CA945
(Click image to enlarge)

For its third Atom-based COM, Congatec turned to the 1.6GHz Atom N270 — larger and faster than the Z5xx parts — and teamed it with Intel's 945GSE (discussed above). The resulting conga-CA945 is a 95 x 95mm (3.75 x 3.75 inch) COM Express module that accepts up to 2GB of RAM, has gigabit Ethernet and three PCI Express Lanes, has eight USB 2.0 ports, and has two SATA ports.

Further information

For more information on the differences between Intel's 945GSE and 945GME chipsets, see the chipmaker's website, here [PDF link].

According to Congatec, the conga-BA945 is available now. More information on the conga-BA945 may be found on the Congatec website, here.

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