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STX module upgrades to Atom

Jan 22, 2010 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 27 views

Axiomtek announced a STX (Smarter Technology eXtension) module that includes a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor and supports up to 2GB of DDR2 memory. The STX88831 includes four USB 2.0 ports, PCI and ISA bus expansion, plus onboard LVDS and SATA connectors, according to the company.

STX made its debut in 2003 as one of many COM (computer on module) formats vying to become a successor to the PC/104 standard. It uses the same 3.8 x 3.6-inch form factor as PC/104 and the same four mounting holes, but interfaces to baseboards via two 200-pin AMP connectors, according to the STX Consortium.

Touted advantages of STX, among others, were its easy adaptation to PC/104 (ISA) and PCI/104 (PCI) interfaces, good shock resistance, and simple baseboard design. As far as we can trace, however, the format has been adopted by few vendors.

Axiomtek supported STX in 2003 with the release of two modules and four different baseboards, detailed in a STX Consortium press release, here. No longer featured on the company's own website, the STX88600 was said to have featured a Via C3 processor, while the STX88601 reportedly supported either Celeron or Pentium III processors.

Now, Axiomtek is providing STX customers with a replacement product that offers more processing power. The STX88831 includes an Intel Atom N270 clocked at 1.6GHz (with the usual 945GSE northbridge and ICH7M southbridge), and supports up to 2GB of DDR2 RAM via a single SODIMM slot, according to the company.

Axiomtek's STX88831 (the left-hand image shows the device's added LVDS and SATA-150 connectors)

The STX88831 still incorporates the two 200-pin AMP connectors (above right), but Axiomtek has chosen to add two more connectors (above left) to provide functionality that was not anticipated when STX was designed. Namely, there's an LVDS connector for an LCD display, plus an SATA-150 connector for adding a hard disk drive.

According to Axiomtek, CRT output is channeled through the STX interface connectors. Therefore, with a suitable baseboard, a STX88831-based device can provide dual display support, with VGA resolutions up to 2048 x 1536 pixels and LVDS resolutions up to 1600 x 1200 pixels, the company says.

The STX88831's other interfaces also reach the real world through the module's STX connectors and thence to a baseboard. They're said to include 32-bit PCI and 16-bit ISA expansion busses, 10/100 Ethernet, four USB ports, IDE, two PS/2 ports, parallel ports for a floppy disk drive and printer, and two serial ports.

Specifications listed by Axiomtek for the STX88831 include the following:

  • Processor — Intel Atom N270 clocked at 1.6GHz
  • Chipset — Intel 945GSE and ICH7M
  • Memory — up to 2GB of DDR2 RAM via 200-pin expansion slot
  • Storage — includes SATA-150 port
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet
  • Other I/O (all via STX connectors except LVDS:
    • 1 x VGA
    • 1 x TTL
    • 1 x IDE
    • 1 x FDD (floppy disk drive)
    • 1 x LPT (parallel)
    • 4 x USB 2.0
    • 2 x PS/2
    • 2 x serial
    • 1 x IrDA (optional)
  • Operating temperature — 32 to 140 deg. F (0 to 60 deg. C)
  • Dimensions — 3.8 x 3.6 inches (96 x 90mm)


According to Axiomtek, the STX88831 is available now, though pricing was not released. No word was given on operating system support, but the module should run the same range of x86 OSes as any other Intel Atom-based product.

More information on the STX88831 may be found on the Axiomtek website, here. Information on a compatible, ATX-format baseboard may be found here, while a PC/104-format baseboard is listed here.

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