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COM Express module sports Intel’s Atom

Apr 11, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 12 views

Congatec has announced a computer-on-module (COM) that features Intel's new Atom processor and uses the COM Express form-factor. The conga-CA comes in 1.1GHz and 1.6GHz versions, has two SD sockets on board, features gigabit Ethernet, and offers automatic flat-panel detection, according to the company.

(Click here for a larger view of Congatech's conga-CA)

In related news, Congatec says it recently incorporated in the U.S. and plans to establish a California-based office with about ten employees.

Since Intel's formal introduction of the Atom processor on Apr. 2, a number of vendors have jumped on the bandwagon. For example, Lippert announced the imminent release of its CoreExpress-ECO COM, using a 2.6 x 2.3-inch CoreExpress processor module format. Earlier this week Applied Data Systems announced the Catalyst, a COM using the company's own 3.9 x 2.8-inch form factor. Although bundled with a Windows-based development environment, the Catalyst is said to support Linux and other real-time operating systems.

Now, Congatec brings the Atom to the 3.75 x 3.75-inch COM Express form-factor. Like the products mentioned above, the conga-CA offers either the 1.1GHz Atom Z510, with a 400MHz frontside bus, or the 1.6GHz Z530, with a 533MHz frontside bus. And, again, it employs Intel's SCH (system controller hub) US15W, which integrates northbridge and southbridge functionality, along with OpenGL 3D graphics, support for DirectX 9L, and hardware-accelerated 720p and 1080i video decode.

Since the US15W — part of the overall “Centrino Atom” offering — is the only companion chip currently available for the Atom, the potential for product differentiation is limited. However, Congatec has added gigabit Ethernet to its board, via a Realtek RTL8111 chip.

Like other COM Express modules, the conga-CA has two surface-mount 220-pin connectors (visible in the bottom of the picture at right), through which it can pass all of its signals to application-specific carrier boards. Also on the bottom of the board are dual SD/MMC card slots.

Interfaces include two PCI Express lanes, eight USB ports, two SATA ports, and high-definition audio. Additionally, the COM offers PCI, I2C, and LPC buses.

The conga-CA offers “up to” 1GB of RAM, apparently soldered-on. It also has a choice of graphics outputs: LVDS, supporting resolutions up to 1366 x 768 pixels, and SDVO (serial digital video out) that supports up to 1280 x 1024. Implementation of the EPI (embedded panel interface) standard allows for automatic recognition of attached flat panels, Congatec says.

While it did not release a block diagram, Congatec said the conga-CA features a board controller that can isolate itself from the main x86 processor. This ensures that embedded features such as system monitoring, the watchdog timer, and the I2C bus can continue to operate even when the system is in standby, according to Congatec.

Features and specifications released by Congatec for the conga-CA include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom Z510 clocked at 1.1GHZ, or Z530 clocked at 1.6GHz
  • Memory — up to 1GB of RAM
  • Display:
    • Intel GMA500 integrated graphics, with up to 256MB of shared memory
    • LVDS up to 1366 x 768 pixels
    • SDVO up to 1280 x 1024 pixels
    • Dual independent display support

  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • 2 x SATA
    • 1 x EIDE

  • Expansion:
    • 2 x SD slots
    • 2 x 1-lane PCI Express
    • PCI

  • Power consumption — 3 Watts average, 5 Watts peak
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 60 deg C
  • Dimensions — 3.75 x 3.75 inches

The conga-CA runs Linux, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows XP Embedded, Windows CE, and QNX.

The company did not say when the conga-CA will be available, but will be showing it at next week's Embedded Systems Conference 2008 in San Jose, booth 1838.

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