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Embedded controller’s manageable even without OS installed

Aug 24, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

IEI announced a fanless embedded controller that's remotely manageable even without an operating system installed, thanks to ASF (Alert Standard Format) 2.0 compliance. The TANK-101B uses CompactFlash or hard disk storage, comes with Intel Atom N455 or D5235 processors, offers four serial ports (one isolated), sports two CAN ports, and includes a Mini PCI Express slot, according to the company.

The TANK-101B is one of many products from IEI that employ Intel's single-core Atom N455 (1.66GHz and 5.5-Watt TDP) or dual-core D525 (1.8GHz clock speed and 10-Watt TDP). Like IEI's Mova-PV-D4251/D5251 single-board computer or KINO-PV/D4252/D5252 Mini-ITX board, among others, it also uses the chipmaker's ICH-8M I/O controller.

(Click to enlarge)

But while its processors and chipset are standard fare, the TANK-101B does have attributes that move it further toward true "embedded controller" status. For starters, there are two isolated CAN ports, plus an RS232/422/485 port that's also isolated (there are three additional regular RS232 ports), according to IEI.

IEI says the TANK-101B also supports the ASF 2.0 specification, which provides for alerts and remote control of power management even when no operating system is running. ASF functions through hardware on a computer's network card or system board, a software agent, and relevant management software on a remote server, according to its creator, the DMTF (Distributed Management Task Force).

According to IEI, the TANK-101B can be operated from -3 to 140 deg. F, when solid-state storage is being used and the Atom D525 is being employed. When the device is equipped with solid-state storage and the N455 instead, it's rated for operation up to 158 deg. F, the company adds.

The TANK-101B has an externally accessible CompactFlash slot, plus an internal 2.5-inch bay for SATA devices, says IEI. A Mini PCI Express slot may be used for installing either a DOM (disk on module) or a wireless networking adapter, the company adds.

Ports on IEI'S TANK-101B
(Click to enlarge)

Apart from the ports we've already detailed, the TANK-101B has two USB 2.0 ports and audio jacks (mic in and speakers out) on its front panel, as shown above. The rear panel includes two more USB 2.0 ports, a VGA output, and two gigabit Ethernet ports, says IEI.

IEI says the TANK-101B can accept power ranging from 9 to 38VDC through rear panel terminals. Alternatively, it accepts 12VDC or 24VDC power via an AC adapter connected to a barrel jack, according to the company.

Specifications listed by IEI for the TANK-101B include:

  • Processor — Intel N455 clocked at 1.6GHz or D525 clocked at 1.8GHz
  • Chipset — ICH-8M
  • Memory — 1GB on board; up to 1GB of additional DDR2 RAM accepted in 204-pin slot
  • Storage — 2.5-inch bay for SATA device
  • Expansion:
    • Mini PCI Express slot
    • CompactFlash slot (externally accessible)
  • Networking — 2 x gigabit Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • VGA
    • audio (mic in, speakers out)
    • 4 x USB 2.0 (2 front, 2 rear)
    • 2 x CAN
    • 3 x RS232
    • 1 x isolated RS232/422/485
  • Power — 9~36VDC via terminals, or 12/24VDC via barrel connector
  • Operating range:
    • -3 to 140 deg. F, with Atom D525 and solid-state storage
    • -3 to 158 deg. F, with Atom N455 and solid-state storage
  • Dimensions (width measured between holes on mounting brackets) — 10.6 x 6 x 2 inches (269 x 153 x 51.5mm)
  • Weight — 4.6 pounds (2.1kg)

Further information

According to IEI, the TANK-101B can be supplied with a 1GB CompactFlash card containing a Windows XP Embedded image; we'd expect the device is also compatible with Linux and other x86 operating systems. Pricing and availability were not detailed, but more information may be found at the TANK-101B product page.

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

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