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Kontron to launch new ARM-based embedded products

Sep 8, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

Kontron announced it will release its first computer on modules (COMs) based on single- and multicore ARM processors later this year. Featuring support for operating systems including Linux and Windows 8, the COMs will be followed up in 2012 by ARM-based single board computers, plus tablet, box, and HMI (human machine interface) PCs, says the company.

German embedded device manufacturer Kontron has delivered some ARM-based products in the past, such as its ARM9-based Pico Client HMI panel PC. It also recently introduced some products based on the Power Architecture Freescale QorIQ processors, including its AM4120 AMC module.

However, the vast majority of the company's vertically oriented products, especially at the module and SBC level, have been x86-based. These include the popular, Intel Core processor-based ETXexpress-PC PP module (pictured), released earlier this year.

Now, Kontron says it is embarking on a major "strategic entry into ARM architecture," prompted by more powerful ARM processors, and their more widespread software support. In particular, the company noted the upcoming support of Microsoft's Windows 8.

A Windows 8 focus — and no mention of Android

Kontron's new line of COMs will support a migration from single-core devices to dual-core and future quad-core ARM processors, says Kontron. This suggests that the company will be focusing primarily on more advanced ARM Cortex platforms rather than ARM9 processors. 

The ARM-based products will target vertical markets and support Linux, QNX, Green Hill Integrity, and VxWorks, as well as Windows CE 6.x and Windows Embedded Compact 7 operating systems. In addition, they "will be ready for Windows 8 at the time of introduction," says the company.

While Windows CE has long been ARM-compatible, Windows 8 will be the first desktop/server version of Windows to support ARM when it ships later this year.

Dirk Finstel, CTO of Kontron, stated, "Due to the increase in software support beyond the boundaries of x86 technology by companies such as Microsoft, many of our customers also want to branch out on the processor technology they use. Porting existing and new solutions between RISC and CISC architectures can be carried out with increased ease."

Somewhat surprisingly, Android was not mentioned by Kontron. However, as ARM-based Android products continue their push into the company's embedded and industrial turf, Kontron may be persuaded to adapt its Linux BSPs accordingly.

In fact, Finstel's comments about a mobile focus for the products would seem to suggest future Android-based products. "Along with the extremely energy-efficient, stationary solutions we will be placing a special focus on mobile solutions with excellent battery power-saving characteristics, which will be an ideal extension to our x86 portfolio," stated Finstel.

New COM design with golden finger connector

The new COMs, which will lead Kontron's ARM charge later this year,  will use a rugged card-edge/golden finger connector. It's said the design will reflect the nature of ARM-based products, which tend to provide multiple UART, I2C, and SDIO ports, along with fewer of the PCI Express and USB interfaces typical of x86 designs.

Kontron will support its ARM-based products with software support and additional services such as customization, driver adoption, and application porting, says the company.


The first Kontron ARM-based COM early field testing platforms will be available before the end of 2011, with SBCs, tablet computers, box PCs and HMI devices following in 2012, says the company. More information should eventually appear on Kontron's website.

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