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DAQ board supports multiple CPU modules

May 2, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 6 views

Diamond Systems has announced an SBC that represents a novel variation on the four-year-old EPIC form-factor. Intended for data acquisition (DAQ) applications, the Neptune offers a choice of three ETX-format CPU modules, along with PC/104-Plus expansion and 32 analog inputs with automatic calibration, says Diamond.

(Click here for a larger view of Diamond's Neptune)

Kontron's ETX-LX module
(Click image for further information)

The Neptune is the first fruit of an alliance between Diamond and Kontron that was announced in February. The 6.5 x 4.5 SBC is designed to accept Kontron-manufactured computer-on-modules (COMs) using the ETX format (shown at right). The 4.5 x 3.7 inch COMs plug onto the bottom of the Neptune — not visible in the photo above — to supply core CPU, memory, display, and networking subsystems.

The Neptune is available with three different ETX modules on board:

  • The ETX-LX features a 500MHz AMD Geode LX 800 processor
  • The ETX-PM offers 1.0GHz Celetron M or 1.4GHz Pentium M processors
  • The ETX-CD has a 1.5GHz Core 2 Duo

Depending on the module, installed memory ranges from 512MB of 333MHz DDR RAM to 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 RAM. All configurations run fanlessly at up to 85 deg. C, says Diamond, thanks to an integrated heat spreader on the SBC that makes contact with the module.

Diamond cites a wide range of data acquisition capabilities for the Neptune, as follows:

  • 32 analog inputs, 16-bit A/D, 250KHz sample rate
  • 4 analog outputs, 12-bit D/A
  • 24 digital I/O, 3.3V/5V compatible
  • 8 opto-isolated digital inputs, 3-24V range
  • 8 opto-isolated digital outputs, 3-24V range
  • 2 counter/timers for A/D sample rate control, event counting/timing, and programmable interrupts

The Neptune's autocalibration circuitry permits calibrating the analog circuits under software control at any time, maintaining the best possible accuracy, says Diamond.

The Neptune's optional panel I/O board provides real-world ports

In addition to a PC/104-Plus expansion interface, the Neptune has six serial ports, four USB ports, two Ethernet ports, IDE, and a CompactFlash slot. Graphics capabilities vary according to the installed ETX module, but encompass both CRT and LCD displays. An optional panel I/O board (shown above) plugs onto the SBC's front row of pin headers to provide “real world” access to many of its interfaces.

Features and specifications listed by Diamond for the Neptune include:

  • Processor — module-dependent, but ranges from 500MHz AMD Geode LX 800 to 1.5GHz Core 2 Duo
  • Memory — from 512MB to 2GB, depending on module
  • Networking — 1 10/100 Ethernet from ETX module, 1 gigabit Ethernet via Intel 82541 controller
  • Other I/O:
    • Data acquisition, as cited earlier
    • 2 x RS232
    • 4 x RS232/422/485
    • Parallel/floppy
    • Audio mic in, line in, line out
    • 2 x IDE (1 44-pin connector for HDD, 1 44-pin connector for SSD)
    • 1 x SATA (on Core 2 Duo model)
    • CRT or LCD output (module dependent)

  • Expansion:
    • PC-104/Plus expansion interface
    • CompactFlash socket
  • Operating temperature range — -30 to 85 deg. C (except for Core 2 Duo version, which has -10 to 85 deg. C range)
  • Power requirements — 5VDC to 28VDC
  • Dimensions — 6.5 x 4.5 inches (overall SBC), 4.5 x 3.7 inches (COM)

Diamond says its driver software for the Neptune “complements and greatly extends the basic CPU support software from Kontron.” The SBC is compatible with Linux, Windows XP Embedded, Windows XP, Windows CE, QNX, and VXWorks.

The Neptune is shipping now, with prices starting under $900.

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