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Mini-ITX SBCs tap Intel Core and Atom chips

Apr 11, 2014 — by Eric Brown — 1520 views

Aaeon unveiled three Linux-friendly Mini-ITX SBCs fitted with Intel’s 4th Gen Core and Atom D2550 SoCs and aimed at a range of embedded and industrial apps.

Aaeon’s three new motherboards use the 6.7 x 6.7-inch Mini-ITX standard to cover a variety of industrial and vertical markets. The EMB-QM87A and EMB-CV2 are designed for networked video recording (NVR) surveillance and industrial automation applications, whereas the EMB-Q87A targets all-in-one (AiO) PCs and digital signage applications. The EMB-QM87A and EMB-Q87A each use Intel’s 4th Generation Core (“Haswell”) processors, while the EMB-CV2 instead adopts the dual-core Intel Atom D2550 processor.

Aaeon’s new Mini-ITX trio: EMB-QM87A, EMB-Q87A, EMB-CV2
(click images to enlarge)

The two product pages that list drivers — the EMB-QM87A and EMB-CV2 — mostly list Windows drivers except for offering Linux-ready LAN drivers. However, all three of these motherboards should be fairly easily whipped into shape as embedded Linux platforms.

Aaeon briefly tipped its EMB-QM87A in June of last year, shortly after Intel’s Haswell release. In the intervening 10 months, Aaeon has also developed the low-profile EMB-Q87A, which follows Intel’s Thin Mini-ITX system design. In addition to offering an Intel Q87 Express chipset instead of the Intel QM87 Express chipset, it measures only 17.84mm high, which limits available coastline ports to some degree. There are also a number of other differences, including the addition of wide power range support.

Intel’s QM87 chipset runs at 2.7 Watts compared to 4.1 Watts for the Q87. They both support triple displays, but the QM87 adds support for Intel ClearVideo and Intel Insider technology. The QM87 tops out at four SATA 6Gbps ports while the Q87 can handle six, although they both support six SATA ports total, among other minor differences. Despite this difference, both the EMB-QM87A and EMB-Q87A boards are limited to four SATA 6Gbps connections.


The EMB-QM87A offers onboard 4th Gen Core i7 or i5 processors, and its two SODIMM slots can be loaded with up to 16GB of DDR3L 1333/1600 RAM. It provides four SATA 6Gbps interfaces and two SATA 3Gbps connections, and also provides RAID 0,1,5,10 support. A pair of gigabit Ethernet ports feature wake-on-LAN capability.

Aaeon’s EMB-QM87A Mini-ITX board
(click image to enlarge)

Triple display capability is supported with three HDMI ports, as well as a VGA port. There’s also a 24-bit, dual-channel LVDS interface. You get six USB 3.0 ports, four of them on the coastline, as well as four USB 2.0 interfaces. Five serial interfaces are available, including a COM port on the coastline. These include four RS-232 ports and an RS-232/422/485 port.

EMB-QM87A coastline I/O

Additional I/O includes three audio jacks, a PS/2 port for keyboard and mouse, and 8-bit DIO. Expansion options include one PCI-Express (PCIe) x16 slot, as well as a Mini-PCIe x1 slot. A TPM module is optional. Operating temperatures range from 0 to 60°C, says Aaeon.


Like the EMB-QM87A, the EMB-Q87A supports Intel’s “Haswell” Core CPUs and measures 170 x 170mm. However, it’s only 17.84mm high, and supports any Haswell CPU, including Core i3 models, thanks to its LGA 1150 socket. The EMB-QM87A instead uses soldered onboard processors. As noted, the EMB-Q87A is equipped with the Q87, rather than the QM87 chipset.

Aaeon’s EMB-Q87A Mini-ITX board
(click image to enlarge)

Memory is the same as the EMB-QM87A, with up to 16GB available, but there are no SATA 3Gbps ports to go along with the four SATA 6Gbps ports, and no RAID support. Once again, there’s a pair of gigabit Ethernet ports with wake-on-LAN, and you get PXE boot as well.

EMB-Q87A coastline I/O

The lower height is reflected in the somewhat reduced selection of I/O available as real-world ports. Once again, you get triple display capability but there’s only one HDMI port, as well as a DisplayPort, VGA port, and an LVDS interface. You get 10 USB ports total, but there are only four USB 3.0 coastline ports, instead of six, as well as six internal USB 2.0 interfaces. Gone is the coastline COM port and RS-232/422/485 connection. Instead, you receive dual onboard RS-232 interfaces, with one offering a 5V/12V/RI option, says Aaeon.

Additional I/O includes audio mic-in and line-out jacks, a PS/2 port, and 8-bit DIO. Expansion options include four PCIe x1 slots, as well as a half- or full-size Mini-PCIe slot and a half-size Mini-PCIe slot, each with optional mSATA 6Gbps. A TPM module is also available. Operating temperatures range from 0 to 60°C, says Aaeon. The EMB-Q87A is notable for its wide power range of 12 to 24VDC.


The EMB-CV2 is the lone Atom-board out of Aaeon’s Mini-ITX trio. Instead of the new, 22nm Atom E3800, it makes due with a slightly older, 32nm dual-core Intel Atom D2550 linked with an Intel ICH10R chipset.

Aaeon’s EMB-Q87A Mini-ITX board
(click image to enlarge)

Users can load the board’s dual SODIMM slots with up to 4GB of DDR3 1066 RAM. Storage is handled via six SATA 3Gbps interfaces. A DVI port for up to 1920 x 1200-pixel resolution, as well as a VGA port, are on the coastline, and an LVDS interface is onboard as well.

EMB-CV2 coastline I/O

You get eight USB 2.0 ports total, with four available as coastline ports. RS-232 and RS-232/422/485 COM ports are also found on the coastline along with audio I/O and a pair of gigabit Ethernet ports. There’s also a PS/2 port and 8-bit DIO. Expansion options are limited to four PCIe x1 slots. Operating temperatures range from 0 to 60°C, says Aaeon.

Further information

No pricing or availability information was supplied for Aaeon’s three Mini-ITX boards. However, considering the EMB-QM87A was originally announced last June, we imagine it’s ready to roll by now. More information, including data sheets, may be found at the EMB-QM87A, EMB-Q87A, and EMB-CV2 product pages, respectively.

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