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Intel Bay Trail-I SoC heads for embedded systems

Oct 9, 2013  |  Eric Brown
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[Updated Oct 10] — Intel unveiled a family of embedded-specific Atom E3800 (Bay Trail-I) system-on-chips based on its 22nm Silvermont architecture, featuring TDPs ranging from 5 to 10 Watts, and offering interoperability with its Quark SoCs. The Intel Atom E3800 SoCs have already been tapped by a handful of companies for new computer-on-modules (COMs) and single-board computers (SBCs) of various shapes and sizes.

In September, shortly after Intel announced its Intel Atom Z3000 (Bay Trail-T) family of system-on-chips (SoCs), which debuted its 22nm “Silvermont” architecture, it tipped an embedded-oriented E3800 version of the SoC, code-named Bay Trail-I. This week, Intel has released full details on the E3800.

At least eight vendors have announced computer-on-modules (COMs) and/or single board computers (SBCs) based on the E3800 SoC, and Intel has also tipped an upcoming intelligent gateway product that uses the new chips (see farther below).

Like the tablet-focused Atom Z3000, the E3800 is built on Intel’s Silvermont architecture, which is said to achieve up to 3x the peak performance and up to 5x the power efficiency of today’s CloverLeaf+ Atoms. The improvements are due in large part to its 22nm process and Tri-Gate 3D non-planar transistor technology.

The E3800 encompasses five SoC models ranging in TDP (thermal design power) from 5 to 10 Watts, plus two related Celeron models (see table). Intel’s power consumption figures for these parts are based on the more traditional TDP ratings, rather than its Scenario Design Power (SDP) metric, which it has applied to its 4th Generation Core (“Haswell”) processors.

Intel Atom E3800 and Celeron SoCs
(click SoC names for details at Intel’s website)

SoC model Cores Core speed L2 cache DDR3L
speed
Graphics freq TDP Temp range ECC?
Atom E3845 4 1.91 GHz 2MB 1333 542/792 MHz 10W -40 to 110°C yes
Atom E3827 2 1.75 GHz 1MB 1333 542/792 MHz 8W -40 to 110°C yes
Atom E3826 2 1.46 GHz 1MB 1066 542/792 MHz 7W -40 to 110°C yes
Atom E3825 2 1.33 GHz 1MB 1066 533 MHz
(no turbo)
6W -40 to 110°C yes
Atom E3815 1 1.46 GHz 512KB 1066 400 MHz
(no turbo)
5W -40 to 110°C yes
Celeron J1900 4 2.00 GHz 2MB 1333 688/854 MHz 10W 0 to 105°C no
Celeron N2920 4 1.86 GHz 2MB 1066 311/844 MHz 7.5W 0 to 105°C no

 

The E3800 family is led by the quad-core Atom E3845, which features 1.91GHz clock speed, 10-Watt power consumption, and a 2MB L2 cache. There are also three dual-core models that offer 1MB cache.

Like the quad-core E3845, the dual-core E3827 (1.75GHz/8W) features 542/792MHz (base/turbo) graphics and supports 1333MHz DDR3L memory. The dual-core E3826 (1.46GHz/7W) and E3825 (1.33GHz/6W) offer 1066MHz DDR3L RAM and 533MHz graphics, although the E3826 can also take advantage of a turbo mode to boost graphics frequency to 667MHz.

Intel also provides a single-core E3815 model with 1.46GHz speed, 5W TDP, and just 512KB cache. The E3815 is limited to 400MHz graphics.

All five of the E3800 models support extended temperatures of -40 to 110°C, as well as optional ECC memory. They also provide Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT-x), Intel AES-NI and Secure Boot security features.

Intel touts the E3800 SoCs for improved visual processing capabilities compared to earlier Atoms. These are said to enable faster media conversions, stereoscopic 3D, immersive web browsing, and enhanced HD video transcoding with Gen 7 graphics. I/O support includes USB 3.0, PCI Express Gen 2.0, SATA 2, and Intel HD audio (see block diagram).



Intel Atom E3800 (“Bay Trail-I”) SoC block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

 

Intel says the E3800 SoCs are designed for applications including efficient imaging workflows, digital signage with secure content delivery and interactive kiosks, intelligent vending, ATM, and point-of-sale (POS) terminals. Other target scenarios will likely include portable medical devices, industrial control systems, and in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems.

Confusing matters somewhat, Intel is also deploying two related quad-core Celeron processors, which are based on the same architecture, but are not technically part of the E3900 family, or even the Atom family. The Celeron J1900 (2.0GHz/10W) and Celeron N2920 (1.86GHz, 7.5W) lack industrial temperature range or ECC support. However, they will “provide many of the same features and performance-per-watt benefits, making them ideal for PC-like designs, such as thin clients, retail transactional clients, and digital signs,” says Intel. Depending on price deltas relative to the similar E3800 parts, they can be expected to find homes on numerous SBC and COM boards targeting the general embedded market, which often embraces board-level products rated for 0 to 70°C operation.

Although Intel offers TDP specifics on the E3800 processors, it has still yet to release power figures for the tablet-focused Atom Z3000, other than to say they enable tablets with up to 10 hours of battery life. An ExtremeTech report last month guestimated the Z3000′s consumption to be at roughly 6-7 Watts, with the graphic load factored in. This would be surprising, however, considering the embedded E3800 models offer 5-10W TDPs. As for performance, Engadget this week released benchmarks on the top-of-the-line quad-core Z3770 SoC, showing it to roughly match the speed of the Cortex-A15-based Nvidia Tegra 4 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 800.
 

Eight vendors tip E3800 COMs and SBCs

As usual with major Intel embedded processor launches, a group of vendors were prepared with announcements of computer-on-modules (COMs) and single-board computers (SBCs) that incorporate the E3800 SoC. Most of these announcements provide fairly limited details, but the Congatec, Nexcom, and Portwell products are fully disclosed. In addition to the following eight vendor announcements, Intel says that E3800-related hardware and software products are coming from Advantech, Avalue, Axiomtek, Evoc Group, IEI, Insyde, Norco, and QNX, probably the only one without Linux support.

Here are some highlights from Adlink, Congatec, DFI, Kontron, MSC Embedded, Nexcom, and Portwell…

  • Aaeon — Four SBCs, one COM, and three systems are among Aaeon’s suite of E3800 products. The EMB-BT1, EMB-BT2, and EMB-BTA Mini-ITX SBCs combine E3845, E3815, and J1900 SoCs with up to 8GB of DDR3 memory, along with USB 2.0/3.0 ports, SATA 2.0/3.0 interfaces, LCDS/VGA/HDMI video outputs, and both PCIe and Mini-PCIe expansion. Other E3800-based boards in development are said to include a 3.5-inch SBC (“GENE-BT05″) and a COM Express Type 6 Basic format module (“COM-BT”). The company also says it has three E3800-powered systems in the oven: the AEC-6614 fanless box-PC for transportation, digital signage, and industrial automation environments; the ACP-5214 panel-PC running the E3827 SoC and equipped with a “full HD” 21.5-inch multi-touch screen, targeting interactive signage applications; and an FWS-2250 “network appliance” based on the E3815 SoC.
  • Adlink — Intel Atom E3800 and related Celeron-based SBCs and COMs are coming from Adlink in SMARC (LEC-BT), Qseven (Q7-BT), and COM Express form factors. The COM Express boards include the cExpress-BT2, cExpress-BT, and nanoX-B, which will be offered in PICMG COM.0 Rev.2.1 Type 2, Type 6, and Type 10 form factors, respectively. Adlink SBCs based on the platform include three PC/104-Plus boards (CM2-BT2, CM3-BT1, and CM3-BT4-8G) and a Mini-ITX mobo (IMB-T11). In addition, Adlink will use the E3800 for a CPCI blade (cPCI-3620), a “rugged I/O platform” (Matrix MXC-2300), and an “industrial smart touch computer” (STC series).
  • Congatec — Two COM base models, based on both the Atom E3800 and related Celeron-based SoCs and implemented in Qseven and COM Express form factors, have been announced by Congatec. The Qseven-style Conga-QA3, available now, is offered in all five E3800 varieties, including the quad-core E3845. Depending on the version, the modules ship with 2GB to 8GB of DDR3L RAM and up to 16 GB eMMC 4.5 flash memory. DisplayPort (2560 x 1600 pixels) and HDMI (1920 x 1200) interfaces are supplied, and dual displays are available via dual 24-bit LVDS interfaces. Other features include five USB ports, including one USB 3.0 port, as well as three PCI Express lanes, and dual SATA interfaces. Ethernet, MIPI, I2C, and LPC interfaces are also available.



    Conga-QA3 and Conga-TCA3
    (click images to enlarge)

     

    Congatec’s Conga-TCA3 module, meanwhile, meets COM Express Compact Type 6 specs and is offered in seven versions, representing all five E3800 SoCs and both Celeron-based parts. The module supports up to 8GB in a pair of SODIMM sockets, and offers the same video capabilites as the Conga-QA3. Other features include eight USB ports, including one USB 3.0 port, five PCI Express 2.0 lanes, two SATA interfaces, Ethernet, I2C, LPC, and HD audio.

  • DFI — A total of nine DFI boards are coming with E3800 support, including three COMs and five SBCs. The BT968 and BT9A3 support the COM Express Compact and Mini form factors, respectively, while the BT700 is a Qseven module. The BT551 is a 3.5-inch SBC, while the other five SBCs sport a Mini-ITX form-factor with an optional DFI proprietary extension bus. These include the BT100, BT101, and BT103 Mini-ITX boards, with the latter the only one that supports 12-24V DC input. The BT160 and BT161 models, meanwhile, add a DFI ECX interface in addition to the optional extension bus. Availability is said to range from Q4 2013 to Q1 2014.
  • Kontron — Few details were available on the six Atom E3800 products on the way from Kontron. The COMs include SMARC, COM Express Mini, and COM Express Compact modules, and the SBCs are available in Pico-ITX, Mini-ITX, and 3U CPCI form factors. Specific SoC support is said to range from the quad-core E3845 to the single-core E3815. Interestingly, Kontron says the latter can run on as little as 3.5 Watts, as compared to Intel’s stated 5W TDP.
  • MSC Embedded — Qseven and COM Express modules based on the E3800 will be available in the fourth quarter, says MSC. The Qseven COM will incorporate the quad-core E3845. “Our new Atom processor E3800-based computer-on-modules close the gap between our high-end COM Express modules with Intel Core processors and the existing Intel Atom based boards at the entry level,” stated Wolfgang Eisenbarth, Director Marketing Embedded Computer Technology, MSC Vertriebs GmbH.
  • Nexcom — Nexcom has already furnished detailed datasheets for both a 3.5-inch EBC 355 SBC and NISE105 box-PC and a fanless NISE105 industrial computer based on the E3800 SoC family. The EBC 355 supports up to 8GB of RAM, and provides dual Mini-PCIe slots, dual gigabit Ethernet interfaces, dual SATA ports, and four USB 3.0 ports. HDMI and VGA ports, as well as four serial ports are also provided, among other I/O. The NISE105 computer can “field data, control industrial robot arms, and drive two full HD displays,” says Nexcom. Interfaces include a USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, dual gigabit Ethernet ports, four COM ports, and a mini-PCIe slot.



Nexcom EBC 355 SBC
(click images to enlarge)

 

  • Portwell — Portwell already offers considerable details on its three E3800 products, supplying separate press releases for its PCOM-B632VG, a Type 6 COM Express Compact module, its NANO-6060 Nano-ITX SBC, and its WADE-8078 Mini-ITX board.



Portwell PCOM-B632VG, NANO-6060, and WADE-8078
(click images to enlarge)

 

We plan to provide more extensive coverage of the Congatec, Nexcom, and Portwell E3800-based boards in the near future.
 

Quark interoperability and intelligent gateways

The E3800 family is said to be complementary to — and interoperable with — Intel’s Quark X1000, the first SoC based on Intel’s low-power Quark architecture, which is debuting in Intel’s new Linux-based, Arduino compatible Galileo SBC.

Together, the Linux-ready E3800 and Quark represent the high and low ends of Intel’s strategy for the embedded and Internet of Things (IoT) market. Not only can the two processors be integrated in the same designs, each will be featured in an upcoming intelligent gateway product due in 1Q 2014 that will connect sensor-driven devices with cloud services. The gateways will integrate software from Intel’s McAfee and Wind River subsidiaries, including McAfee Embedded Control and the Linux-compatible Wind River Intelligent Device Platform designed for developing, prototyping and deploying application services for M2M and IoT applications.

Intel says the intelligent gateways are designed to aggregate, filter, and share data “from the edge to the cloud,” in areas such as monitoring industrial assets, facilitating manufacturing automation, energy grid automation, and commercial fleet monitoring. The chipmaker says it’s working with power and gas distribution grid operator Westfalen Weser Energie to develop gateways in its secondary energy substations. HVAC vendor Daikin Applied, meanwhile, is said to be testing a gateway for deploying services such as real-time HVAC unit performance, remote diagnostics, monitoring and control, advanced energy management, and third party content integration services.
 

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