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10GbE Mini-STX carrier board supports Linux-driven Type 7 modules

Mar 7, 2018 — by Eric Brown — 900 views

Congatec announced a 5×5-inch Mini-STX form factor micro-server carrier board with 4x 10GbE ports, 2x GbE ports, and a COM Express Type 7 interface for its Atom C3000-based Conga-B7AC module.

High-end edge servers were a hot topic last week at Embedded World. Joining the conversation was Congatec, which announced a “deployment ready design study” for an unnamed “10GbE micro server carrier board.” The design’s COM Express Type 7 slot enables customers to maintain the equipment while upgrading only the COM Express module. In addition, its “5×5-inch” (147 x 140mm) Mini-STX form factor enables a compact, embedded friendly footprint.



Congatec’s 10GbE micro server carrier board prototype

The carrier board is optimized for Congatec’s 125 x 95mm Conga-B7AC Type 7 module, which features up to 2.2GHz Intel Atom C3000 “Denverton” SoCs with four to 16 cores and 11.5W to 31W TDPs. The Linux-driven Conga-B7AC supports up to 48GB of 2400MHz DDR4 with ECC, as well as 4x 10GbE, 32x PCIe, 6x SATA 3.0, and 4x USB 3.0 interfaces. Available in commercial or -40 to 85°C temperatures, the module supports Intel’s VT-d hardware virtualization and Quick Assist compression and encryption technology.


Conga-B7AC

The 10GbE micro server carrier board also supports other Congatec Type 7 modules, including future models with more powerful processors. At this point the only other choice is the older Conga-B7XD, which is probably not an option for most, as the module supports only 2x 10GbE ports — half the number of ports on the carrier board. The Linux-ready Conga-B7XD is equipped with an Intel 5th Gen “Broadwell” Xeon-D or Pentium CPUs.

The Congatec carrier board’s 4x 10GbE interfaces are implemented via SFP+ cages, enabling network connection via both fiber optic and copper cables. There are also 2x GbE ports, one of which “is connected to the integrated board management controller and can therefore be used for server-typical remote management tasks,” says Congatec.



Conga-B7AC module block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The carrier is further equipped with 2x USB 3.0 ports, a VGA output, and a serial interface “for local administration.” Two M.2 slots support Key-M 2280 cards with SATA and 4x PCIe support. A third M.2 slot accepts M.2 Key-A 3042 cards with 2x PCIe, USB 3.0, and I2C.

Additional interfaces include GPIOs, I2C, SMBus, and LPC bus. Some of the higher-end CPU options require active cooling via optional CPU and system fans.

 
Mini-STX background

The 147 x 140mm 5×5 Mini-STX form factor was first floated by Intel in 2015, billed as a stackable option in between the NUC and Mini-ITX form factors. It emerged the following year with a new name — Mini-STX — and appeared in boards such as ASRock’s Intel Skylake based H110M-STX. At the time, Intel claimed Mini-STX was the world’s “smallest socketed board standard,” supporting LGA-socketed processors and M.2 SSDs.


ASRock
H110M-STX

The small footprint enabled by Mini-ITX combined with the power of today’s Type 7 modules provide the server-class performance of a “fully-featured 19-inch rackmount server,” but in a form factor that “can be mounted anywhere,” says Congatec. The design can even be integrated into autonomous vehicles, says the company.

“Building a 10GbE infrastructure with IIoT, edge, fog or Industry 4.0 servers and 5G small cells for decentralized decision making in real time is only the first step,” stated Martin Danzer, Director of Product Management at Congatec. “Once this infrastructure is established, the performance of these nodes will have to constantly increase as we are only at the beginning of designing such decentralized 10GbE node technologies and the demand for transcoding, security, data capture and analytics capabilities as well as artificial intelligence and real-time communication will continue to grow dramatically.”

 
Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the 10GbE micro server carrier board. More information may be found in the Congatec 10GbE carrier announcement.
 

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