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ETX module targets military apps

Oct 6, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 11 views

Ampro announced a device combining the ETX COM (computer on module) form-factor with an AMD Geode LX800 processor. Targeting “mission-critical military, avionics, and industrial applications,” the “ETX 620” runs Linux, supports 1GB of RAM, and has PCI and ISA interfaces, says Ampro.

(Click here for a slightly larger view of Ampro's ETX 620)

Part of the company's “Extreme Rugged” product range, the ETX 620 is Ampro's first new product since its acquisition earlier this year by Taiwanese industrial PC vendor Adlink (pronounced “A D Link”). As such, it will no doubt reassure anyone who thought 25-year-old Ampro was going to stray from its roots. The ETX 620 operates over temperature extremes from 40 to 85 deg. C, tolerating vibrations up to 15Grms, and shock up to 60Grms, says Ampro.

According to the company, the ETX 620 “fills the price/performance void” beneath its existing ETX 802 module, said to have “exceeded expectations under battlefield conditions in Iraq.” Where the ETX 802 uses a 1.4GHz Pentium M ULV processor, the ETX 620 turns to AMD's 500GHz AMD Geode LX800. In this respect, it resembles two earlier Ampro products, the PC/104 form-factor CoreModule 620, and the EPIC 2.0 form-factor ReadyBoard 620. It also resembles the Adlink ETX-GLX, an LX800-based ETX module launched about a year ago.

A block diagram of Ampro's ETX 620
(Click to enlarge)

As the “620” in all their product names hints, Ampro's three LX800 modules have more in common than just a processor. All are also designed to “fully support” a 16-bit legacy ISA bus, by using ITE's IT8888G-L PCI-to-ISA bus bridge IC, rather than using a more common LPC-to-ISA bridge.

According to Ampro, the ETX 620 supports up to 1GB of DDR33 RAM, via a single SODIMM slot. It uses AMD's CS5536 chipset, which supplies integrated northbridge/southbridge functionality, plus Nuvoton's W83627HG, the company says. Together, these chips provide two serial ports, a floppy and EPP/ECP parallel ports, four USB 2.0 ports, and PS/2 keyboard and mouse interfaces. The device also is said to have an Ultra/DMA 33/66 IDE controller supporting one IDE drive and one CompactFlash socket, plus a graphics controller that provides CRT or LVDS flat planel interfaces.

Ampro also cites the use of Realtek's ALC203 controller, which provides an AC'97 audio codec on the board, and Via's VIA VT6421L, which provides ports for optional SATA connectors. Finally, the device has an Intel 82551QM 10/100 Ethernet interface, the company says.

Among the many embedded-PC enhancements touted for the ETX 620 are a watchdog timer, serial console support, “battery-free boot,” and OEM splash screen logo customization. Like other ETX modules, the device measures 4.5 x 3.7 inches, and is designed to be paired with an application-specific carrier board that relays signals to and from the outside world.

Features and specifications listed by Ampro for the ETX 620 include:

  • Processor — AMD Geode LX800 clocked at 500MHz
  • Memory — Up to 1GB of DDR3 RAM via single SODIMM slot
  • Display — Supports CRT or LVDS flat panel displays, with resolutions to 1600 x 1200 pixels
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • 2 x serial
    • Parallel — supports EPP/ECP, for printer or floppy disk
    • 4 x USB 2.0
    • PS/2 keyboard/mouse
    • Audio — AC'97 interface for speaker, mic, and headphones
    • EIDE Ultra DMA 66/100 interface supports up to two hard drives or CompactFlash

  • Expansion:
    • CompactFlash
    • PCI
    • 16-bit ISA

  • Power requirements — 5VDC, 2.7Amps
  • Operating temperature:
    • Standard — -20 to 70 deg. C
    • Optional — -40 to 85 deg. C

  • Dimensions — 4.5 x 3.7 inches (114 x 95mm)

Further information

Ampro says the RoHS-compliant ETX 620 is supported with BSPs (board support packages) for Windows XP Embedded, Windows CE 5.0 and 6.0, VxWorks 5.5 and 6.4, and QNX 6.3, plus a complete Linux 2.6 distribution based on Ubuntu. Available “QuickStart” kits include a reference design for a carrier board, with schematics and a complete bill of materials, the company adds.

The ETX 620 is sampling now, and will be available in production quantities in approximately 60 days. Prices for the device, whose production is said to be guaranteed until at least 2012, are said to start “in the $200s.”

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