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Toughened up embedded PC can run 8th or 9th Gen Coffee Lake CPUs

Jul 31, 2019 — by Eric Brown — 1536 views

Avalue’s rugged “EPS-CFS” computer runs Linux or Win 10 on Intel 8th or 9th Gen Coffee Lake CPUs up to an octa-core Core i7-9700TE, and supplies up to 32GB GB DDR4, 2x SATA bays, 2x GbE, 2x HDMI, and 4x USB 3.2 ports.

Avalue announced an embedded computer with Intel’s 8th Gen Coffee Lake T-series or the new, but similarly 14nm-fabricated, 9th Gen Coffee Lake Refresh TE-series chips. The EPS-CFS computer, which is built around Avalue’s 3.5-inch ECM-CFS SBC, joins other 9th Gen-ready products including Kontron’s COMe-cWL6 (E2S) and Congatec’s Conga-TS370 COM Express modules.



EPS-CFS (left) and the ECM-CFS SBC inside
(click images to enlarge)

The EPS-CFS computer uses an entirely different sub-family of 8th or 9th Gen chips than the Kontron and Congatec modules, which offer M- and H-series processors. The EPS-CFS similarly supports Linux and Windows 10.

The first five processors listed below are 8th Gen Coffee Lake models, led by a 6x core/12x thread Core i7-8700T clocked at up to 4GHz with a 35W TDP. There’s also a hexa-core i5-8500T and quad-core i3-8100T, both of which are single threaded. Other options include the 2x core/4x thread Pentium Gold G5400T and 2x core/2x thread Celeron Gold G4900T.



EPS-CFS (and now ECM-CFS SBC) CPU choices
(click image to enlarge)

The three 9th Gen chips at the end of the list are all single-threaded with 35W TDPs. They include the octa-core Core i7-9700TE, the hexa-core Core i5-9500TE, and the quad-core Core i3-9100TE. Although the underlying ECM-CFS SBC was announced with support for only 8th Gen chips, it now supports all the 8th and 9th Gen CPUs that run on the EPS-CFS computer.

The three 8th Gen Core models offer Intel UHD Graphics 630 while the Pentium and Celeron models support Graphics 610. Avalue did not offer details on the 9th Gen graphics, but Intel says the three chips support Graphics 630.

 
A brief tangent on USB 3.2 confusion

The EPS-CFS gives you a choice of Intel Q370 or Intel H310 Express Chipsets. With the Q370, the mini-PCIe interface adds PCIe support to the standard SATA and USB 2.0 support, which is also supported by the H310 chipset. The second factory option mini-PCIe is USB-only in either case.

The Q370 chipset also bumps up the USB 3.2 to Gen 2 instead of Gen 1 with the H310. This is the first product we’ve covered that uses the USB 3.2 nomenclature. In the confusing and widely panned naming scheme of the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the names of older interface levels change when a new level is announced. In short, neither of the options listed above is the real USB 3.2, which is referred to as USB 3.2 2×2.

The USB 3.2 2×2 standard, which is the last stop before next year’s USB 4, boosts speed up to max speed of 20Gbps via dual 10Gbps lanes (i.e., 2×2). Meanwhile, the 10Gbps USB 3.1 is now called USB 3.2 Gen 2 and the 5Gbps USB 3.0 is USB 3.2 Gen 1. The same confusing scheme applies to USB 3.1, which explains how some products that were originally announced with USB 3.0 suddenly evolved into USB 3.1 Gen 1.

One difference between USB 3.2 2×2 and the Gen 1 and Gen 2 versions is that it requires a Type-C port rather than offering a choice. Meanwhile, the reversible Type-C standard, which will also be required for USB 4, is suffering from fragmentation issues.

The Type-C problems emerged recently with the Raspberry Pi 4’s USB Type-C port, which turned out to be incompatible with “e-marked” charging cables. Yet the problems are not limited to the RPi 4, as detailed in a recent Hackaday report. In short, Type-C incompatibilities have emerged not only due to the various USB 2.x/3.x variants, but also whether and how a port supports charging (USB PD) and alternate modes for DisplayPort and audio.

 
Back to the EPS-CFS

The standard EPS-CFS system ships with 16GB DDR4 2400/2666MHz via a single socket that can load up to 32GB. There are dual 2.5-inch SATA bays with RAID 0/1 plus an mSATA slot. As noted above, the default mini-PCIe slot supports SATA, regardless of the I/O chipset. Dual antenna mounting holes are available if you’d rather load a wireless card on the slot or the optional second mini-PCIe.

Dual simultaneous displays are supported via 2x HDMI ports at up to 4096 x 2304 @ 30Hz. You also get a Realtek ALC892 audio codec with mic-in and line-out jacks.

In addition to the 4x USB 3.2 Gen 2 or Gen 1 ports (or rather 3.1 or 3.0 in the real world), there are 2x USB 2.0 ports, 2x RS-2323 COM ports, and 8-bit GPIO. You also get 2x GbE ports, as well as a watchdog, hardware monitoring, 2x LEDs, a wall-mount kit, and a TPM 2.0 security chip.

The 240 x 212 x 85mm aluminum and metal system has a 12V AT/ATX power supply with ACPI 5.0 support and a power button. Assuming your peripherals are up for extremes, the EPS-CFS supports -10 to 60°C temperatures with 0.5m/s air flow or -10 to 50°C with 0.2m/s. Vibration resistance complies with IEC 60068-2-64 (5Grms, Random, 5 ~ 500Hz, 1hr/axis) and shock resistance complies with IEC 60068-2-27 (50Grms, Half Sine, 11ms). Drop resistance meets ISTA 2A and IEC-60068-2-32 standards, and humidity resistance is listed as 40°C @ 95% Relative Humidity, Non-condensing.

 
Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the EPS-CFS. More information may be found in Avalue’s announcement and product page.

 

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