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Open standard defines tiny expansion modules

Feb 1, 2010 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 57 views

Diamond Systems announced that it has originated a new, mezzanine-style expansion standard for SBCs (single board computers), COMs (computer-on-modules) and other embedded products. Involving a single low-cost connector and expansion modules “three-fifths the size of a credit card,” the standard will be open and support any host form factor and processor, the company says.

Citing supporters so far described only as "a group of companies in the global board-level embedded computing market," Diamond Systems says it originated the new mezzanine-style standard, which involves I/O expansion modules that will be three-fifths the size of a credit card. Modules will employ a "single low-cost connector," and will apparently mount nearly flush to a SBC, baseboard, or wherever else they are employed. Multiple such modules may be present within a single system, the company adds.

Describing the expansion standard as "host form-factor and processor agnostic," Diamond says up to 100 I/O points will be provided per module, while a single connector integrates all I/O interfaces. "Leveraging industry-standard buses such as PCI Express, USB, and I2C," the standard — whose name was not disclosed — will coexist with existing technologies such as COM Express, ETX, PC/104, Qseven, SUMIT, XTX, and others, Diamond added.

According to Diamond, several companies will demonstrate products compatible with the new standard at the upcoming Embedded World 2010 show in Nuremberg, scheduled for early March. These will include both I/O modules and SBCs or baseboards with appropriate sockets, the company adds.

Following this initial public announcement and demonstration, Diamond says, it will transfer ownership of the new embedded I/O expansion standard — including its specifications, trademark, and logo — to a suitable standards organization. Thereafter, it's said, the standard itself will be usable by anyone without charge; however, rights to use of the logo in association with products will be restricted to members of its parent organization.

Rick Lehrbaum, strategic development specialist for Diamond Systems, said the new standard "represents the most significant embedded system expansion innovation since the birth of PC/104 in 1992." (Lehrbaum happens to have created the PC/104 spec while he was CTO of SBC vendor Ampro. In 1999, he went on to found LinuxDevices, and soon after launched its sister publication, WindowsForDevices. Lehrbaum now has no formal connection with either site. For the results of another interesting Lehrbaum prediction, see the link at the end of this story.)

Colin McCracken, Diamond's VP of marketing and co-creator of the SUMIT standard, stated that the new standard "passes along to system OEMs and end users the substantial benefits of size, weight, and power savings resulting from Moore's Law."

Jonathan Miller, Diamond's president and founder, added, "This new I/O expansion standard satisfies the desire of customers to be able to add application-specific capabilities to SBCs and COM baseboards without adding height to the system."


As noted, further information about Diamond's new embedded I/O standard is promised for the Embedded World 2010 show, scheduled for March 2 to 4 in Nuremberg, Germany.

Meanwhile, one enjoyable take on the accuracy of Rick Lehrbaum's predictions can be obtained by visiting his personal blog, In a March 2009 posting, Lehrbaum predicted that Apple would fill the gap between its iPhone and netbooks with a device he termed a "netpad." He concluded the item by musing, "Perhaps they'll call it the iPad."

For more on Lehrbaum's iPad prediction, see, here. For our preliminary take on the Apple device itself, see here.

Diamond Systems itself can be found here, and several stories about recent Diamond products may be found below.

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