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In-vehicle PC offers PCIe and PCI/104 expansion

Dec 2, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Kontron announced its first in-vehicle PC with longtime availability, developed by recently acquired Digital-Logic AG and already sold by Advanced Digital Logic. The Microspace MPCX28 Box PC is based on an Intel Atom Z530 and Intel US15W controller hub, and provides CompactFlash, SATA, PCI/104, and PCIe expansion, says the company.

According to Kontron the Microspace MPCX28 Box PC will ship in the first quarter of 2010. However, San Diego-based Advanced Digital Logic (ADL) is already selling an almost identical system from Swiss firm Digital-Logic AG. As it turns out, Germany-based Kontron acquired 78 percent of Digital-Logic AG in September, and apparently picked up the Microspace as part of the deal.

The ADL computer, which is marked as a new product, is identically named except for the lack of the Box PC moniker. The devices appear to be identical except for a few details, such as slight differences on temperature ranges. Also, ADL sells a 28R version of the product that offers even greater temperature ranges and is said to comply with the EN50155 standard.

Kontron Microspace MPCX28 Box PC

Because Kontron offered more description of the product while ADL was the only one to offer a spec list, the following description primarily goes by Kontron, listing additional notes from ADL. The ADL spec list is farther below.

According to Kontron, its Microspace MPCX28 Box PC is designed for use in cars, trucks, and heavy-duty vehicles, with applications including passenger infotainment, video surveillance, intralogistics, and ticketing. Truck applications include CAN-based trailer and goods management, GPS navigation, and fleet management, the company adds.

The Microspace MPCX28 is equipped with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z530 with 533MHz FSB. The accompanying Intel System Controller Hub US15W chipset ("Poulsbo") offers embedded graphics circuitry with 256MB of memory, DirectX 9 3-D, and HDTV support, along with MPEG2 and H.264 decoders to process compressed HD videos and offload CPU usage, says Kontron. A DVI-I interface is said to transmit analog or digital video signals, supporting resolutions up to 2048 x 1536 pixels.

Equipped with 1GB DDR2 RAM, the Microspace offers a CompactFlash slot for memory expansion, as well as a 2.5-inch bay for a SATA hard disk drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD), says Kontron. (ADL lists 80GB HDD and 32GB SSD options.) Both the CompactFlash slot and the drive bay are externally-accessible slots, enabling easy swap-out of storage, Kontron adds.

PCI/104 expansion opens up wireless options

A PCI/104 socket and dual PCIe MiniCard expansion slots are said to enable application-specific extensions including Dual-CAN, GPS, GSM/UMTS, and WLAN. (ADL lists options for all of these communications technologies.) A separate SIM slot is also available for mobile communications.

Frontside interfaces include dual USB 2.0 ports and 3.5mm jacks for stereo I/O. The back of the unit provides dual gigabit Ethernet ports, plus two more USB 2.0 ports. Two DSUB connectors are provided for RS232 COM ports, and a parallel interface for digital I/O is also supplied. The latter can be used to provide CAN-bus connectivity along with an optional PCI/104 expansion card, says Kontron.

ADL's version of the Microspace MPCX28

(Click to enlarge)

The 8-to-58 VDC power supply enables the Microspace MPCX28 Box PC to be directly connected to a vehicle's power supply without additional converters, says the company. According to ADL, the fanless computer has a typical power consumption of only 15 Watts. A plug-in power supply for 110/220 VAC input is also said to be available. In addition, the system is said to support remote power on/off, and can accommodate functions such as wake on ring, event wake up, or wake on LAN.

The fanless, passively cooled system supports a temperature range of -13 to 158 deg. F (-25 to 70 deg. C), says Kontron. ADL lists its model as working over -22 to 140 deg. F with a hard disk drive, and -40 to 158 deg. F with a SSD. ADL also lists the computer as offering IP52-rated ruggedization, and says it weighs 6.6 pounds and measures 6.3 x 7.5 x 2.6 inches.

Specifications listed by Advanced Digital Logic for its version of the Microspace MPCX28 include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom Z530 1.6GHz
  • Chipset — Intel US15W System Controller Hub
  • Memory — 1GB
  • Storage — 1 x 2.5-inch SATA storage bay; optional 80GB HDD or 32GB SSD; CompactFlash slot
  • Display — Up to 2048 x 1536 resolution
  • Expansion — 2 x PCIe Mini Card; 1x PCI/104
  • Networking — 2 x gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Other I/O:
    • 4 x USB 2.0 (incl. 2 x front-facing)
    • 2 x serial (RS232C, RS422/85)
    • 1 x parallel interface with digital I/O
    • DVI-I digital/analog output
    • Optional LPT/Dual-CAN interface (PCI-104)
    • Optional IBIS (PCI-104)
  • Wireless options:
    • SIM slot
    • WLAN Mini Card
    • GSM Mini Card (UMTS/GPRS)
    • GPS AC80
  • Power:
    • 8-58VDC DC input V1248 (not isolated)
    • 24/36/48/72/110 DC input
    • Optional 110/220V AC supply
    • Typical 15 W consumption (with 8-58VDC)
    • Suspend/resume, SoftOff, instant-on, remote power-off,  features
  • Audio — AC'97; line out; line in
  • Ruggedization — IP52; 1/10G vibration/shock (16/150G with SSD)
  • Noise level — <20dB(A)
  • Operating temperature — -22 to 140 deg. F (-30 to 60 deg. C) with HDD; extended temp (SSD only) -40 to 158 deg. F (-40 to 70 deg. C)
  • Dimensions — 6.3 x 7.5 x 2.6 inches (159 x 190 x 66mm)
  • Weight - 6.6 lbs. (3kg)
  • Operating system — Linux, Windows 2000, Windows XP


The Microspace MPCX28 Box PC is scheduled to ship (with CE and E1 certification) in the first quarter of 2010, says Kontron. Supported operating systems on the Kontron system include Linux and Windows XPe/XP/Vista/7.

More information should eventually appear on Kontron's Box PC page, here.

The Advanced Digital Logic page for the Microspace MPCX28 should be here.

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