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HMI PCs move to the Atom

Nov 30, 2009 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

Kontron has enhanced its family of thin-client HMI (human-machine interface) devices. The fanless “Micro Client IIA” devices feature touchscreen displays from seven to 15 inches, CompactFlash storage, and 1.6GHz Intel Atom processors, the company says.

Kontron's range of fanless Micro Client HMI devices, intended for applications such as building management, machine and system manufacturing, and transportation, first made its debut in December 2004, supporting Linux and Windows CE via a Marvell PXA255 processor.

In 2005, x86 compatibility was first added to the Micro Clients via a 200MHz STMicroelectronics STPC Vega. Since then, the devices have targeted x86 exclusively, stepping up to 600Mhz Celeron M processing power in, for example, the 7-inch [email protected] and the 15-inch [email protected].

Kontron's larger Micro Client IIA devices have front-mounted USB ports (left), and all appear to have VGA output (right)
(Click to enlarge)

Last December, Kontron unveiled its "second generation" Micro Client II, featuring processors ranging from the 500GHz AMD LX 800 processor with 500MHz up to the 1GHz Intel Celeron M. As the company noted at the time, the devices make use of Kontron's ETX processor modules, allowing processors to be swapped and changed in the field.

Now, Kontron has announced the Micro Client IIA, again with a range of touchscreen sizes, and with recycled product names. The [email protected] has a seven-inch display with 800 x 480 resolution; the [email protected] and [email protected] have 10.4 and 12.1 inch screens, respectively, with 800 x 600 pixels; and the [email protected] has a 15-inch screen with 1024 x 768 pixels.

Evolution, not revolution, as Intel's Atom moves into existing products

The essential difference between these products and previous Micro Clients appears to be the across-the-board inclusion of 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPUs. Kontron doesn't say which specific Atom has been employed, but we suspect it's the N270, which Kontron employs in its ETX-DC module, and which is most likely at the heart of the Micro Client IIA.

Processors aside, the Micro Client IIAs are all said to offer up to 2GB of RAM, plus CompactFlash storage and — in every model except the [email protected] — room for a 2.5-inch hard disk drive. The [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected] include three USB ports (two on the rear, one on the front), an RS232 serial port, an optional second RS232/422/485 port, and two 10/100 Ethernet ports. The [email protected] omits the front-mounted USB port, but is otherwise the same.

Although Kontron does not list video output on its Micro Client IIA spec sheet, the devices apparently also include a VGA port for an external display, as shown in the photo above. Also pictured is a power connector, said to be capable of accepting 11.4 to 28.8VDC input.

Features and specifications listed or pictured by Kontron for its Micro Client IIA devices include:


According to Kontron, the Micro Client IIA products run Linux, Windows XP Embedded, and Windows CE. Pricing was not provided, but the devices appear to be available now.

More information may be available at Kontron's website, here.

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