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Rugged PC/104-style SBC runs Linux on Haswell

Oct 7, 2013 — by Rick Lehrbaum — 2400 views

ADL Embedded Solutions is shipping one of the industry’s first PC/104-style single board computers to use Intel’s 4th Generation Core i7 (“Haswell”) processors. The Linux-friendly ADLQM87PC SBC provides numerous interfaces for storage, networking, display, and USB, offers PCI Express expansion via a mini-PCIe socket and a self-stacking PCIe/104 bus, and can support -40 to +85°C operation.

While we’ve seen Intel’s Haswell CPUs show up on numerous COM Express modules and several Mini-ITX SBCs, the PC/104 form-factor has been slower to adopt the new Intel engine. This is likely due to PC/104’s constraints, which include the form-factor’s small size; its need for on-board I/O connectors; and its iconic self-stacking expansion bus.

(click image to enlarge)

ADL’s ADLQM87PC pushes the performance and density envelopes for PC/104-style SBCs, providing leading-edge multimedia, networking, storage, and expansion capabilities. High-density topside connectors offer display interfaces compatible with HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI-D, embedded-DP specs, and an additional PEG (PCI Express Graphics) channel is included on the board’s bottom-side PCIe/104 expansion bus.

Other I/O interfaces offered by the SBC include four 6Gb/s SATA channels, a pair of gigabit Ethernet ports, eight USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports, and 16 GPIO lines. There’s also an onboard socket for a mini-PCIe or mSATA card, which enables the addition of functions such as a WiFi module or a bootable mSATA flash, says ADL.

Like all PC/104-style CPU modules, the board provides a self-stacking expansion bus. In the case of the ADLQM87PC, the stackable bus is said to meet the PC/104 Consortium’s “PCIe/104 Type 1 down-stacking” specs.

As is suggested by its model name, the ADLQM87PC SBC incorporates the Intel QM87 chipset, which implements the functions illustrated below.

Intel Haswell QM87 platform architecture
(click image to enlarge)



Targeted applications for the ADLQM87PC SBC include “unmanned autonomous systems, image processing, secure communications, and countless others,” says Peter Engels, CEO of ADL Embedded Solutions.

Summary of specifications

Key specifications of the ADLQM87PC SBC are listed below.

  • Processor — 4th Generation Intel Core (Haswell):
    • Dual-core i7-4402E (25W TDP)
    • Quad-core i7-4700EQ (47W TDP)
  • Chipset — Intel QM87
  • RAM — up to 8GB DDR3L-1333/1600 in SODIMM socket
  • Storage — 4x SATA; 6Gb/s with RAID 0/1/5/10
  • LAN — 2x 10/100/1000Mbit Ethernet
  • Serial — 2x RS232 ports
  • USB — 11x USB 2.0 and 2x USB 3.0
  • Display:
    • Outputs — VGA; DisplayPort; LVDS; HDMI; DVI; eDP
    • Supports three independent displays
  • 7.1 HD audio with S/PDIF I/O
  • Other features — 16-bit GPIO; Trusted Platform Module (TPM V1.2 Atmel AT97SC3205)
  • Expansion:
    • PCIe/104 type 1 down-stacking; includes Gen2 PCIe x1 and Gen3 PEG x16
    • PCI Express Mini Card 1.2 socket — supports mini-PCIe or mSATA cards
  • Dimensions — 4.5 x 3.8 inches (115 x 96mm); PCI/104-Express form-factor
  • Operating temperature (with appropriate heatsink) — -20 to +70°C (standard); -40 to +85°C (extended)
  • Power — +5V and +12V DC
  • Operating system support — Linux and Windows

According to an ADL support tech, the ADLQM87PC boots and runs 64-bit Ubuntu. The SBC uses standard Linux-supported chipsets with the exception of its 16-bit GPIO port, for which the company “intends to develop both Windows and Linux drivers.”

The ADLQM87PC appears to be shipping now. Further details are available at the company’s ADLQM87PC product page.

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