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COM Express module can be frozen, baked

Feb 2, 2010 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Kontron announced a single board computer (SBC) using the 95 x 95mm microETXexpress format and an Intel Atom Z520PT processor. The “microETXexpress-XL” features gigabit Ethernet, PCI and PCI Express Graphics, an optional SSD (solid state disk), and an industrial operating range from -40 to 85 deg. C (-40 to 185 deg. F), the company says.

Kontron's microETXexpress-XL employs the company's 95 x 95mm microETXexpress format, first introduced in 2006 and subsequently 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)

Last May, we covered Kontron's microETXexpress-DC, a board that employed Intel's Atom N270 CPU and 945GSE chipset, and was claimed to have a maximum power consumption of 12 Watts. For that device, Kontron touted its "S5 Eco" technology, said to reduce sleep-mode power consumption to only 1mA, or 1/200th that of the normal S5 sleep state.

We couldn't find any mention of S5 Eco on Kontron's materials related to its new microETXexpress-XL (pictured at right). On the other hand, the XL is said to use under eight Watts at all times, and usually under five. In addition, the device operates fanlessly over a rated temperature range extending from a chilly -40 deg. F on up to a hellish 185 deg. F (-40 to 85 deg. C). Kontron says this makes it suitable for "rugged manpack PCs," in-vehicle systems, plus infotainment systems that are located either indoors or outdoors.

The device's relatively low power consumption and its heat resistance are both due to the adoption of Intel's 1.33GHz Atom Z520PT and SCH US15WPT northbridge/southbridge. Intel's P and PT Atoms are architecturally identical to the chipmaker's earlier Z5xx parts, with the same clock speeds, second-level cache, and TDPs. Their larger 22 x 22mm packaging and 1.0mm ball pitch, however, allows them to include integrated heat spreaders, making them more suitable to thermally constrained fanless applications.

Compared to the microETXexpress-DC mentioned above, the microETXexpress-XL also uses soldered-on rather than socketed DDR2 memory, available in capacities up to 2GB. Once again, the SBC is said to be offered with onboard SSD (solid state disk) storage, although available sizes were not specified.

Kontron says the microETXexpress-XL includes 24-bit LVDS graphics plus a PCI Express Graphics pin-out, the latter supporting SDVO, DVI, SDTV, and HDTV displays. Compatible with the COM Express Type 2 pin-out, the SBC serves up one SATA ports, one PATA port, eight USB ports, and a gigabit Ethernet port. The module also supplies a 32-bit PCI expansion and two PCI Express x1 lanes, Kontron says.

Finally, the microETXexpress-XL is said to include an optional integrated TPM (trusted platform module), a watchdog timer, I2C, and three SDIO/MMC ports. Supported operating systems included Linux, Windows XP Embedded, Windows XP, Windows CE, QNX, and VxWorks, Kontron says.

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

  • Processor — 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z520PT
  • Chipset — SCH US15WPT
  • Memory — Up to 2GB of DDR2 RAM (soldered-on)
  • Display — Supports LVDS, SDVO, DVI, SDTV, and HDTV displays
  • Storage — Available with onboard SSD (capacities not specified)
  • Expansion (via COM Express Type 2 pin-out):
    • 1 x 32-bit PCI
    • 2 x PCI Express x1
    • 1 x PCI Express Graphics
    • 3 x SDIO/MMC
    • I2C
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet
  • Other I/O (also via COM Express Type 2):
    • 1 x SATA
    • 1 x PATA
    • 8 x USB 2.0
    • Audio I/O
  • Power:
    • Maximum 8 Watt consumption
    • 4.75 to 18VDC input range
  • Operating temperature — -40 to 185 deg. F (-40 to 85 deg. C)
  • Dimensions — 3.75 x 3.75 inches (95 x 95mm)


Kontron says the microETXexpress-XL is available now, though pricing was not provided. More information on the SBC may be found on the company's website, here.

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