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VPX board steps up to Penryn processors

Jul 24, 2009 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

GE Fanuc has announced a Linux-compatible SBC (single-board computer) using the military-friendly VPX format. The VPXcel3 SBC341, “available in five ruggedization levels,” includes an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, DDR3 memory, and 1GB of flash storage, according to the company.

The VPX specification, also known as "VITA 46," is maintained by VITA (VME Industry Trade Association), an incorporated, non-profit organization comprised of companies involved with real-time, modular, embedded computing systems. VPX is said to offer improved connector technology compared to VMEbus, including support for serial fabrics and other modern bus technologies, while maintaining backward compatibility.

GE Fanuc says the new VPXcel3 SBC341 (below) offers higher performance than its previous VPX boards — which have included the SBC340, SBC320, and SBC620 — because of its adoption of Intel's "Penryn" processors and related chipsets. Compared to the SBC340, for example, the SBC341 has a 13-percent-higher clock speed and a 20-percent-lower TDP, plus a faster frontside bus, the company says.

GE Fanuc's VPXcel3 SBC341

Core 2 Duo processor choices on the SBC641 include either the 2.26GHz SP9300 or the 1.86GHz SL9400, backed up by Intel's GS45 and ICH9M chipset. Featuring a 6MB second-level cache, the SBC has a 1066MHz frontside bus and accepts up to 8GB of DDR3 m3mory, according to GE Fanuc.

A block diagram of the VPXcel3 SBC341
(Click to enlarge)

Like all VPX SBCs, the SBC641 uses a backplane for all its interfaces, as pictured above. According to GE Fanuc, the 3U device includes multiple PCI Express ports, including an x16 port which may be used to communicate with a graphics coprocessing unit. Meanwhile, x4 and x1 PCIe ports allow high-speed communication with other SBCs and I/O cards, the company adds.

In addition to PCIe, other signals served up to the backplane include two serial ports, two SATA ports, high definition audio, four USB ports, PS/2 keyboard and mouse, and VGA output. The SBC641 also includes 1GB of onboard flash storage, says GE Fanuc.

Finally, it's said that the SBC641 is available in five different levels of ruggedization, with different cooling methods and optional "conformal coating." Operating ranges vary from 32 to 131 deg. F (0 to 55 deg. C) for Level 1 to -40 to 185 deg. F(-40 to 85 deg. C) for Level 5, the company says.

Features and specifications listed by GE Fanuc for the VPXcel3 SBC341 include the following:

  • Processor — 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo SP9300 or 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo SL9400
  • Memory — Up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM, plus 1GB of flash storage
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet
  • Other I/O (all via backplane:
    • 4 x USB 2.0 ports
    • 2 x PS/2
    • 2 x serial
    • Audio line in/out
    • 2 x SATA
    • 1 x VGA
  • Expansion:
    • 1 x x16 PCIe
    • 1 x x1 PCIe
    • 1 x x4 PCIe (may also be configured as 4 x x1)
  • Power requirements — "TBD"
  • Operating temperature — Depending on ruggedization level, ranges from 2 to 131 deg. F (0 to 55 deg. C) to -40 to 185 deg. F(-40 to 85 deg. C)
  • Shock resistance — Depending on ruggedization level, ranges from 20G to 40G (11ms duration)
  • Dimensions — 3U VPX form factor, 6.3 x 3.93 inches (160 x 100mm)

Other VPX boards on the market include the Extreme Engineering Solutions (X-ES) XPedite7170, announced last September. Designed for military data-processing applications, the SBC is equipped with a 45nm Intel Penryn processor clocked up to 1.86GHz, and offers USB, gigabit Ethernet, serial, and SATA interfaces.

Peter Cavill, general manager for military and aerospace at GE Fanuc, sdtated, "The 3U VPX form factor is an ideal fit for applications that demand leading edge throughput but that are size-, weight- and power-constrained — and the announcement of the SBC341 further extends the range of 3U VPX solutions we can offer."


According to GE Fanuc, the SBC341 supports Linux, Windows XP Embedded, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and VxWorks. While pricing and availability were not cited, the device appears to be available now.

More information may be found on the GE Fanuc website, here.

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