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Credit-card-sized module allows choice of I/O controller

Oct 19, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 6 views

Advantech announced a COM Express Ultra module that employs Intel Atom E6xx processors and is able to work with third-party I/O controllers. The SOM-7564 has 1GB of soldered on memory, is offered with clock speeds ranging from 600MHz to 1.6GHz, supports dual displays, and has three PCI Express x1 expansion interfaces, according to the company.

Advantech's little SOM-7564 uses the 3.3 x 2.2-inch form factor that was originally introduced by Kontron as nanoETXexpress, and was subsequently submitted to the PICMG (PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group) under the proposed neutral name, COM Express Ultra. (Extensive background on this format and the Type 10 pinout employed here can be found in our earlier coverage).

Advantech's SOM-7564
(Click to enlarge)

Like other such modules — including Advantech's SOM-7562 B1, released earlier this year — the SOM-7564 (above) needs a separately available baseboard to relay its signals to and from the outside world. But here, as we'll explain, there's a special twist, courtesy of the Atom E6xx processors that are being employed.

Intel's E6xx can work with third-party I/O controllers

When Intel released the E6xx ("Queens Bay") platform in September 2010 (block diagram here), it announced that the processor would be able to communicate with an I/O controller using an industry-standard PCI Express bus instead of a proprietary interconnect. As a result, third-party vendors could add custom functionality by creating their own controllers for the E6xx: Two of which we're aware are the STMicroelectronics ConneXT IOH and the Harman IVI Compute Module, both targeting automotive applications.

Advantech, therefore, has designed its SOM-7564 without an onboard I/O controller. Those who'd like to use Intel's own EG20T ("Top Cliff") — which is typically paired with the E6xx, offering interfaces such as SATA, USB client, SD/SDIO/MMC, and gigabit Ethernet — will find it on the separately available SOM-AB5500 baseboard (see later in this story).

The SOM-7564 is offered with the 600MHz Atom E620, the 1.0GHz Atom E640, the 1.3GHz Atom E660, or the 1.8GHz Atom E680. Maximum TDPs for the chips themselves are listed by Intel as 2.7 Watts, 3.3 Watts, 3.3Watts, and 3.9 Watts, respectively.

According to Advantech, the SOM-7564 also includes 1GB of soldered-on memory, plus support for both LDVS and SDVO displays. It also includes two serial ports, while expansion via the Type 10 pinout includes three PCI Express x1 lanes, PC, SPI, LPC,and I2C, the company adds.

Specifications listed by Advantech for the SOM-7564 include:

  • Processor — 600MHz Atom E620, 1.0GHz Atom E640, 1.3GHz Atom E660, or 1.8GHz Atom E680
  • Chipset — Intel EG20T when SOM-AB5500 baseboard is connected
  • Memory — 1GB of DDR RAM
  • Storage — n/a
  • Expansion (via COM Express Type 10 pinout):
    • 3 x PCI Express x1
    • LPC
    • SPI
    • SMBus
    • I2C
  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • 2 x UART
    • 8-bit GPIO
    • high-definition audio
  • Power — 12V or 5V; consumption "tbd"
  • Operating range — 32 to 140 deg. F
  • Dimensions — 3.3 x 2.17 inches

The SOM-AB5500 baseboard

As we mentioned earlier, Advantech offers its own baseboard for the SOM-7564, providing Intel's EG20T I/O controller as well as a variety of "real world" ports. Pictured below, the SOM-AB5500 uses the "3.5-inch" form factor that actually measures 5.7 by 4 inches.

Advantech's SOM-AB5500
(Click to enlarge)

The baseboard's coastline includes two USB 2.0 ports, an RJ45 Ethernet connector, a serial port (DB9 connector), and a VGA port. It also offers an SD slot and a diverse collection of headers, as follows:

  • 1 x LVDS
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • 3 x RS232
  • 4 x SATA
  • 8-bit DIO
  • SPI
  • I2C
  • CAN Bus

Further information

Advantech did not cite pricing or operating system support for the SOM-7564 or its accompanying baseboard, but said the module will be available this month. More information may be found on the SOM-7564 product page and the SOM-AB5500 product page.

Jonathan Angel can be reached at [email protected] and followed at

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