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Tiny Atom-powered COM aims Linux at harsh apps

Apr 12, 2013 — by Eric Brown 1,676 views

VersaLogic announced a rugged, credit card-sized COM Express Mini module based on a 1.6GHz Intel Atom E6x0T processor. The Linux-ready VL-COMm-26 is also available as part of a “Falcon” subsystem that sandwiches the module with an I/O board of the same size.

In August 2012, VersaLogic announced a Falcon “Embedded Processing Unit” (EPU), a tiny two-board subsystem that blurs the line between COMs (computer-on-modules) and SBCs (single-board computers).

Versalogic Falcon EPU

Now, the company has followed up with the VL-COMm-26 COM (shown below), which removes the I/O half of the rugged Falcon sandwich, leaving a compute module that expresses I/O through a standard COM Express Type 10 pin-out interface. Until it was ratified by PICMG as the smallest of the COM Express standards in June 2012, the 84 x 55mm (3.3 x 2.17-inch) COM Express Mini was known as Kontron’s nanoETXexpress.


Versalogic VL-COMm-26 COM

Like the thicker, I/O-enriched Falcon EPU stack, the VL-COMm-26 is primarily aimed at military applications, as well as rugged medical devices, and adheres to MIL-STD-202G specifications for shock and vibration.

The module’s 1.6GHz Intel Atom E6x0T is an extended temperature version of the Atom E600 (“Tunnel Creek”) line. As a result, the VL-COMm-26 supports industrial temperatures of -40 to 85° C. The module also ships with up to 2GB of soldered DDR2 RAM.

Intel Atom E600 series chipset block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

Like other E600 models, the E6x0T is a full-fledged system on chip (SoC), complete with memory and graphics controllers, enabling the VL-COMm-26 to support MPEG-4/H.264 and MPEG-2 encoding and decoding. A TPM security chip is optional.

Interfaces on the module’s COM Express Type 10 pinout connector include gigabit Ethernet with remote boot; seven USB ports; three x1 Mini PCIe lanes; and two serial ports. An auxiliary board-to-board connector provides two more serial ports and a CANbus interface. Storage includes dual SATA 3 connections, plus microSD and SDIO interfaces.

According to VersaLogic, the module is designed for fanless operation and is available in heatsink or heat plate versions. The module typically consumes about 7-8 Watts, and a wide input range (8 to 17 volts) is said to make it compatible with 12V automotive power systems.

Key features for the VL-COMm-26 module include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom E6x0T (1.0GHz or 1.6GHz)
  • Chipset — Intel Platform Controller Hub EG20T; optional TPM
  • Memory — 1-2GB DDR2 RAM (soldered)
  • Flash — microSD socket; SDIO interface
  • I/O on Type 10 board-to-board connector:
    • gigabit Ethernet
    • 2x SATA 3
    • 6x USB Host
    • USB Client
    • 3x PCIe
    • 2x serial
    • CANbus
    • Intel HDA audio
    • LPC; SMBus
    • LVDS, SDVO
  • Dimensions — 55 x 84 mm (2.2 x 3.3 in.); COM Express mini
  • Temp., ruggedization, and OS support –same as Falcon (see below)

The block diagrams of both the VL-COMm-26 COM and its companion baseboard appear below.

Block diagrams: VL-COMm-26 COM (left) and Falcon baseboard (right)
(click images to enlarge)

The Falcon EPU’s baseboard builds on the VL-COMm-26 core, adding real-world ports for almost all the module’s I/O except the CANbus interface. Key features of the Falcon include:

  • Processor module — VL-COMm-26 (see above) with Atom E6x0T, 1-2GB soldered DDR2 RAM
  • Storage — 2x microSD slots, up to 32GB each; SATA 3 port
  • Expansion — Mini-PCIe slot with mSATA support
  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet port with network boot option
  • Other I/O:
    • 4 x USB 2.0 Host
    • 4x RS-232/422/485 (selectable)
    • 4x GPIO
  • Operating temperature — -40 to 85° C
  • Ruggedization — MIL-STD-202G certified for vibration, shock; IPC-A-610 Class 2 standard manufacturing
  • Dimensions
    • Heat plate model — 55 x 84 x 22 mm (2.2 x 3.3 x 0.9 in.)
    • Heatsink model — 55 x 84 x 38.5 mm (2.2 x 3.3 x 1.5 in.)
  • Power — 8V–17V (nominal 12V) @ 7-8W typical
  • Operating system support — Linux, Windows, Windows Embedded, VxWorks

The Falcon EPU is roughly the size of a credit card

VersaLogic’s VL-COMm-26 module is available starting for $526 for 1GB RAM models in OEM quantities. The Falcon subsystem, which integrates the VL-COMm-26 plus a matching-sized baseboard, is available for $853 (with 1GB RAM) in OEM quantities.

(advertise here)

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