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Intel Compute Card standard to turbocharge CE devices

Jan 5, 2017 — by Eric Brown — 1,259 views
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Intel’s Linux-friendly “Intel Compute Card” COM standard aims to easily integrate upgradable Intel CPU, memory, and wireless into CE devices via USB-C.

Intel’s CES announcements included an embedded 95 x 55 x 5mm computer-on-module form factor for upgradable consumer electronics. The Intel Compute Card will ship with Intel processors including 7th Generation “Kaby Lake” Intel Core CPUs, and will target products such as digital signage, kiosks, All-in-Ones, smart TVs, smart appliances, security cameras, and IoT gateways. The device falls somewhere in between external COM standards like COM Express and external computing devices like the Intel Compute Stick.

Intel Compute Card
(click image to enlarge)

Starting in mid-2017, vendors including Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Sharp will ship different Intel Compute Card models. The devices will run in consumer electronics products from vendors such as Seneca Data, InFocus, DTx, TabletKiosk, and Pasuntech.

The form factor is intended to simplify the design, ease of serviceability and user upgradeability of CE devices with installation, maintenance, and upgrades that are independent of the partner certified device, says Intel. The solution is particularly suited for companies that want to streamline inventory management of a large number of similar devices, says Intel.

Each Intel Compute Card will include an Intel processor, RAM, storage, WiFi, Bluetooth, and a “standardized I/O interface.” Whereas standard x86 COM standards such as the 95 x 95mm and up COM Express formats can only be mounted internally, the Intel Compute Card can also be mounted externally for easy swap-out. It offers a secure docking capability with built in cooling functionality.

Intel’s skimpy announcement leaves plenty of questions, only a few of which were answered by third-party press accounts. Ars Technica says the cards will support Intel processors with TDPs up to 6W, including Intel Atoms and low-end Y-series Intel Core CPUs.

According to an Intel fact sheet [PDF] the form factor connects to devices with a variant of the USB-C port called “USB-C plus extension.” This USB-C variant’s interface connector carries “USB, PCIe, HDMI, DP, and additional signals between the card and the device.”

Intel Compute Stick

Intel sees the Linux- and Windows-ready form factor as a follow-on to the Intel Compute Stick, which will probably be discontinued in 2018, says the story. Like other stick computers, the Intel Compute Stick connects via HDMI to commandeer a TV or monitor.

Pricing for the Intel Compute Card has not been revealed, but the Intel Compute Stick starts at $89.

Further information

Intel will reveal more information about the Intel Compute Card in June, and products will ship mid year. More information may be found in the Intel Compute Card announcement.

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