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3.5-inch Apollo Lake SBC goes all out on USB and serial links

Apr 19, 2018 — by Eric Brown 1,096 views

Aaeon’s 3.5-inch “GENE-APL7” SBC provides an Intel Apollo Lake SoC, SATA III, mini-PCIe, VGA, up to 2x LVDS, 2x GbE, 8x USB, and up to 12x serial interfaces.

Back in Nov. 2016, Aaeon announced one of the first 3.5-inch SBCs based on Intel’s Apollo Lake SoCs with its GENE-APL5. Now, as we await the first embedded products built around the next-generation “Gemini Lake” follow-on to Apollo Lake, Aaeon has revised the design to create a GENE-APL7 model that offers more COM and USB interfaces, but loses the HDMI port and second mini-PCIe slot.

GENE-APL7, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Unlike the GENE-APL5, the GENE-APL7 limits you to the quad-core Pentium N4200 and dual-core Celeron N3350 instead of the full lineup of Atom models. No OS support is listed except for listing Windows drivers, but the manual mentions the ability to install Linux.

Once again, you get up to 8GB DDR3L, dual GbE ports with Wake-on-LAN, and a SATA 3.0 port, although the latter no longer appears to offer a power connection. The full-size mini-PCIe supports mSATA, but the optional micro-SIM slot suggests you can also use it for wireless.

(click image to enlarge)

As before there’s a VGA port, which also has an internal connector, as well as a choice of one or two LVDS connections. You can replace one of these with eDP. The backlight inverter supply is still available, but there’s no longer a touchscreen controller option.


In addition to the 2x USB 3.0 coastline ports, you now get 8x USB 2.0 interfaces instead of four. There are two coastline serial ports — RS-232/422/485 and RS-232 — as well as four more onboard RS-232 connections. These can be expanded to 10 internal RS-232 links for 12 serial ports overall.

GENE-APL7 detail views (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

A watchdog, 8-bit DIO, and HD Audio are available, and there are options for an I2S interface and a 2W speaker. Gone are the TPM, Parallel port, and wide-range power supply options. The 0 to 60°C tolerant SBC is equipped with a 12V input and an optional battery.

Note that there’s a separate A10-0002 SKU that adds the second LVDS, 6x additional RS-232, and micro-SIM options. However, the spec sheet suggests the options may be a la carte.

Specifications for the GENE-APL7 include:

  • Processor — Intel “Apollo Lake” Celeron N3350 (2x cores @ 2.3GHz, 6W TDP) or Pentium N4200 (4x cores @ 1.1GHz/2.5GHz, 6W TDP)
  • Memory — Up to 8GB DDR3L-1866 via 1x SODIMM
  • Storage — SATA III (6Gbps); mSATA (via mini-PCIe)
  • Display:
    • VGA port (plus internal connector)
    • 18/24-bit single/dual-channel LVDS
    • Optional second LVDS
    • Optional eDP (in place of 1x LVDS)
    • Backlight inverter supply (max 12V, 2A)
  • Networking — 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports with WoL (Realtek RTL-8111E)
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 3.0 ports
    • 8x USB 2.0 interfaces
    • RS-232/422/485 port
    • RS-232 port
    • 4x RS-232 interfaces (optional 10x) with COM2-5 supporting 5V/12V/RI
    • HD audio interface
    • Optional 2W speaker/amplifier
    • Optional I2S
    • DIO (8-channel)
  • Expansion — Full-size mini-PCIe slot (supports mSATA); optional micro-SIM slot
  • Other features — Watchdog; HW monitoring; optional heatsink and cables
  • Power — 12V (AT/ATX modes; [email protected] +12V consumption with N4200 and 8GB DDR3L-1600; optional 3V, 210mAh Li-Ion battery
  • Operating temperatures — 0 to 60°C
  • Dimensions — 146 x 101.7mm (“3.5-inch form factor”)

Other 3.5-inch Apollo Lake SBCs include Axiomtek’s CAPA312 Kontron’s 3.5″-SBC-APL, Portwell’s PEB-2773, Advantech’s MIO-5350 and PCM-9366, Litemax’s AECX-APL0, and Avalue’s ECM-APL and ECM-APL2.

Further information

The GENE-APL7 appears to be available now at an undisclosed price. More information may be found on Aaeon’s GENE-APL7 product page.

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