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Cobot controller board runs Linux on safety-enabled Intel Elkhart Lake

Jun 1, 2021 — by Eric Brown 496 views

[Updated: Jun. 2] —NexCobot’s “SCB 100” Mini-ITX controller board for collaborative robots runs Linux on an Intel Elkhart Lake CPU with SIL2 compliant functional safety support and supplies 4x GbE and 2x EtherCAT ports with FSoE.

Nexcom’s NexCobot unit has announced a Mini-ITX controller board for cobots (collaborative robots) that runs a Yocto derived Linux stack on Intel’s functional safety enabled Atom x6427FE from its 10nm fabricated Elkhart Lake family. The SIL2 and IEC-61508 compliant SCB 100 features 4x Gigabit Ethernet, 2x EtherCAT ports certified with FSoE (FailSafe over EtherCAT) technology, and safety-enabled 12-in/4-out DIO.

SCB 100
(click image to enlarge)

Cobots are robots that designed to safely work alongside humans for more sophisticated robotics tasks requiring skilled manipulation capabilities. The SCB 100 is designed to support cobot applications such as robotic control and motion control systems.

On the high end, cobots can be implemented with cameras and AI algorithms that help the human factory worker teach the cobot (and perhaps eventually, vice-versa). On the low end, you can explore cobot applications with Elephant Robotics’ $699 MyCobot Pi robotics arm based on the Raspberry Pi 4B.


EtherCAT with FSoE, also known as Safety over EtherCAT, delivers both control data and safety data over the EtherCAT Slave connection and provides diagnostic capabilities for safety functions. By providing an integrated safety-critical control data conduit, FSoE eases development costs via a unified development environment that “makes modifying and expanding the safety architecture simpler and more flexible,” says NexCobot.

The SCB 100 board is equipped with a quad-core, 1.5GHz/1.9GHz Atom x6427FE with 12W TDP, which was tapped by Eurotech for its CPU-161-20 Compact Type 6 module. Like the headless, dual-core Atom x6200FE, the processor provides Intel Safety Island technology, which offers functional safety (FuSa) features compliant with IEC 61508 and ISO 13849. Intel Safety Island orchestrates Intel-on-chip diagnostics and reports errors while monitoring customer-safety applications.

(Update: Today, Intel announced that the two Elkhart Lake FE SoCs have obtained IEC61508 SIL2 and ISO13849 certification from the TÜV SÜD certification agency.)

The SCB 100 also provides Intel’s Slim Bootloader with Pre-OS checker to offer double failure preventions. NexCobot adds additional robotics safety code, which it refers to a ROBASafe. that extends “protections from motion control to auxiliaries, covering safety devices, I/O devices, safety sensors as well as safety teach pendants.” Also available is safety utility software, which integrates status checkup mechanisms and customized motion controls.

The board is equipped with up to 32GB DDR4 via dual channels, with support for IBECC RAM. There is also 16GB to 64GB eMMC and optional 16GB to 64GB UFS storage. Other features include 4x GbE, 2x EtherCAT slave (in/out), and SIL2 compliant, 12-in/4-out, dual channel DIO at 24V/0.2A.

The SCB 100 is further equipped with 2x USB 3.0, 4x USB 2.0, 2x RS232/422/485, and an HDMI port. A mini-PCIe slot is provided for expansion.

Although the image shows a standard, 170 x 170mm Mini-ITX board, dimensions are listed as 312.5 X 286.1 X 75.8mm or 354.2 x 286.1 x 83.8mm with mounting brackets, suggesting the board comes in an enclosure. There is a 24V/5A input with AT/ATX support and a -20 to 60°C operating range with 10% to 90% non-condensing relative humidity tolerance. In addition to SIL2 and IEC-61508, the product is compliant with CE/FCC (EN61000-6-4/EN61000-6-2).

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the SCB 100. More information may be found in NexCobot’s announcement and product page.

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