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3.5-inch Apollo Lake SBC offers eMMC and dual mini-PCIe slots

May 3, 2018 — by Eric Brown 1,200 views

Aaeon’s 3.5-inch “GENE-APL6” SBC ships with an Intel Apollo Lake SoC, SATA storage, a pair each of GbE, USB 3.0, and mini-PCIe, and up to 128GB eMMC.

The GENE-APL6 lives in a parallel universe to the similar, recently released GENE-APL7. Once again, you get a standard-temp, 3.5-inch SBC built around Intel Apollo Lake Celeron or Pentium SoCs with up to 8GB DDR3L-1866 and many common features. Aaeon does not list Linux support, but Linux and Windows should run just fine.

GENE-APL6, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The main improvements over the GENE-APL7 include the addition of a second mini-PCIe slot, as well 9-36V wide-range input, which can be swapped out for a standard 12V input. The previous battery option has been removed.

The GENE-APL6 also adds an option for onboard eMMC in addition to the GENE-APL7’s SATA port and mini-PCIe-based mSATA. In some references, Aaeon says you can load up to 64GB eMMC, while elsewhere it says 128GB. Aaeon touts the board’s anti-vibration measures, including the eMMC storage, but there are no compliance specs to back that up.


The GENE-APL6 similarly ships standard with a VGA port and dual LVDS interfaces, but the second LVDS can now be swapped out for an optional HDMI port instead of the previously optional eDP interface. The HDMI port adds considerably to the height of the board, as it squeezes in under the COM port. The SBC also adds a new option for resistive 4/5/8-wire touch support.

GENE-APL6 portside detail views with default features (left) and optional HDMI port
(click images to enlarge)

Like the GENE-APL7 the GENE-APL6 has dual coastline USB 3.0 ports, but its allotment of internal USB 2.0 interfaces has shrunk from 8x to 2x. The previous 6x serial interfaces, with an option for up to 10x, have been reduced to 2x RS-232 and 2x RS-232/422/485 connections, one of which is available via the coastline DB9 port. The dual GbE ports have switched from Realtek to Intel controllers.

You now get optional TPM 2.0 and an optional Parallel port, but the latter replaces the default 8-bit DIO. The previously optional micro-SIM slot is now standard, but the optional 2W speaker and I2S connections appear to have been eliminated.

GENE-APL6 with HDMI option (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

In addition to the standard feature set and options, Aaeon sells two featured SKUs, both with the dual-core Celeron N3350. The more advanced version offers 32GB eMMC in place of mSATA, and adds the touch, SIM, and TPM options.

Specifications for the GENE-APL6 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:
    • Optional eMMC — 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB
    • SATA III (6Gbps) with power connector
    • mSATA (via mini-PCIe
  • Display:
    • VGA port with LCD controller
    • 2x 18/24-bit single/dual-channel LVDS
    • Optional HDMI port in place of second LVDS
    • Backlight inverter
    • Optional resistive 4/5/8-wire touch support
  • Networking — 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports with WoL (Intel i210/I211)
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 3.0 ports
    • 2x USB 2.0
    • 2x RS-232/422/485 (1x coastline port)
    • 2x RS-232
    • Dual-channel HD audio
    • DIO (8-channel)
    • Optional Parallel port (SPP/EPP/ECP) in place of DIO
  • Expansion — Full- and half mini-PCIe slots (half-size supports mSATA); micro-SIM slot
  • Other features — Watchdog; optional TPM 2.0; optional heatsink and cables
  • Power — 9-36V DC input (optional 12V) with AT/ATX modes; [email protected] +12V consumption with N4200 and 8GB DDR3L-1600
  • Operating temperatures — 0 to 60°C
  • Dimensions — 146 x 101.7mm (“3.5-inch form factor”)

Further information

The GENE-APL6 SBC is “coming soon” at an undisclosed price. More information may be found at Aaeon’s GENE-APL6 product page.

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