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VME-based SBC boasts fast transfer rate

Dec 10, 2007 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 7 views

MEN Micro Inc. announced a VMEbus-compliant single-board computer (SBC) that it says offers 320MB/s transfer rates. Equipped with a PowerQUICC-III MPC8548 networking/telecom processor, the A17 comes with Sysgo eLinOS Linux drivers and is designed for industrial control, medical equipment, and mobile… communications, including harsh-environment applications.

(Click for larger view of the A17)

The A17 is said to be is a 2eSST, 6U VME board compatible with the circa-1982 VME (Versa Module Eurocard) standard. The 2eSST designation refers to the decade-old, synchronous-data, VME320 protocol, which operates at up to 320MB/s, compared to the VME-standard 40- to 80MB/s bandwidth. Germany-based MEN Micro says the SBC is also compatible with basic VME, as well as VME64X. Still holding its own in military, government and industrial embedded applications, VME is a processor-agnostic 32- and 64-bit backplane bus standard maintained by VITA (VME Industry Trade Association), which published a VME roadmap in 2004.

The single-slot A17 can act as either master or slave in legacy VME environments, says MEN Micro. The board's Freescale PowerQUICC-III PowerPC MPC8548 or MPC8543 processor consists of an integrated e500 core with an FPU (floating point unit) and MMU (memory management unit), as well as L2 cache support. The A17 runs at clock frequencies of up to 1.5GHz, says MEN Micro.

A17 block diagram
(Click to enlarge)

The A17 ships with 2GB of ECC-controlled DDR2 SDRAM, as well as a Flash disk soldered firmly to the board to withstand shock and vibration for mobile applications. The A17 also includes fast, non-volatile FRAM, which the company says helps reduce power consumption.

To achieve the touted 320MB/s transfer rates, the A17 is equipped a Tundra TSI148 bridge controller. The A17 is said to offer two front-accessible Gigabit Ethernet channels, and two COM interfaces accessible via an RJ45 connection. Two more Gigabit Ethernet connections are available via an optional P0 rear connector.

The SBC is equipped with two PCI mezzanine card (PMC) slots that operate at up to 64-bit/66MHz, says MEN Micro, enabling the addition of graphics capability, mass storage, additional Ethernet, or field bus interfaces, as well as industrial I/Os such as binary and analog channels. One slot supports rear I/O and can be used for XMC modules with a PCI Express x1, x2, x4, or x8 link, and the second is PMC-only and is connected to the onboard FPGA.

Touted features of the A17 include:

  • Processor — Freescale PowerPC MPC8548 1.33GHz (running at up to 1.5GHz); MENMON BIOS for PowerPC cards
  • Memory — Up to 2 GB (ECC) DDR2 RAM; up to 2GB soldered Flash disk (FPGA-controlled); 128KB non-volatile FRAM
  • Bus - VME- and 2eSST-compatible 6U board via included Tundra TSI148 bridge controller; also local PCI 64-bit/66-MHz
  • Expansion — 2 x PMC slots (1 slot also supports XMC); FPGA for individual I/O functions
  • Networking — 2 x Gigabit Ethernet (additional 2 x Gigabit Ethernet via optional P0)
  • Other I/O — 2 x COMs at front
  • Dimensions — Double Eurocard NU; 9.2 x 6.3 inches (233.3mm x 160mm)
  • Temperature range — -40 to +85°C screened (- 40AF to +185AF)
  • Power consumption — +5V / +12V / -12V


A17 pricing starts at $2,397, said MEN Micro, and it appears to be shipping now, with a six-week turnaround time. The A17 is said to come with comprehensive board support packages (BSPs) for Sysgo eLinOS Linux, VxWorks, and QNX, based on MEN's own BIOS for PowerPC processors (MENMON). More detailed information is available here.

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