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Compact module runs Linux on Atom X5-E8000 and Braswell

Mar 10, 2016 — by Eric Brown 1,864 views

Advantech’s “SOM6868” is a Linux-friendly COM Express Compact Type 6 module supporting Intel’s Atom X5-E8000 and related Pentium and Celeron Braswell chips.

The embedded-oriented, 14nm fabricated Intel Atom X5-E8000 system-on-chip debuted last month in a variety of Congatec boards. The Qseven based computer-on-module (Conga-QA4), COM Express Compact Type 6 module (Conga-TCA4), COM Express Type 10 Mini (Conga-MA4) module, and Mini-ITX board (Conga-IA4), had previously shipped with Intel’s 14nm “Braswell” Celeron and Pentium processors, but last month added support for the X5-E8000.

Now Advantech has stepped in with its own X5-E8000 and Braswell compatible COM Express Compact Type 6 entry. The SOM-6868 module is said to be especially suitable for “low-power, yet graphic intense” applications including medical, digital signage, and portable instruments.

SOM-6868, from both sides
(click images to enlarge)

The SOM-6868 is the next-gen follow-on to Advantech’s Type 6 SOM-6867, which supports Bay Trail Atom E3845 and Celeron N2920 chips. Yet, it’s an entirely different feature set, with more PCIe and USB interfaces, as well as triple display support. It follows a number of other Braswell COM Express modules from other vendors, but is only the second after the Conga-TCA4 to support the Atom x5-E8000.


With its 5-Watt TDP, the quad-core Atom x5-E8000 has half the TDP of the similarly targeted and quad-core Atom E3845. Additionally, the Atom x5-E8000 is notably cheaper than the E3845, priced at $39 instead of $52, and it’s much more affordable than the faster Braswell processors, which start at $107.

The 64-bit, quad-core Atom x5-E8000 has an unusually wide gap between its base clock rate of 1.04GHz and its high burst frequency of 2GHz. The SoC is further equipped with 2MB L2 cache and 320MHz Intel Gen 8-LP graphics, which Advantech says is twice as powerful as “previous platforms,” presumably referring to the Atom E3845.

The list of supported processors for the SOM-6868, which is identical to that of the Conga-TCA4, is as follows, showing base frequencies:

  • Intel Pentium N3710 (4x 1.60GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 6W TDP)
  • Intel Celeron N3160 (4x 1.60GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 6W)
  • Intel Celeron N3060 (2x 1.60GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 6W)
  • Intel Celeron N3010 (2x 1.04GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 4W)
  • Intel Atom x5-E8000 (4x 1.04GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 5W)

The SOM-6868 supports up to 8GB of DDR3L-1600 RAM via two sockets. The 95 x 95mm module can drive up to 3840 x 2160 graphics resolution, as well as triple simultaneous displays via its VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort, LVDS, and optional eDP interfaces. The module supports 4Kx2K video and H.265/HEVC hardware decoding.

SOM-6868 (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The SOM-6868 is equipped with a Gigabit Ethernet controller, and supports dual SATA 3.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, and eight USB 2.0 ports. Five PCIe links support x4 and x2 configuration. Other interfaces include HD audio, SDIO, 2x COM, 2x Express Card, 2x Smart Fan, and 8-bit GPIO, plus SPI, I2C, LPC, and SMBus. A watchdog is included, and TPM is optional.

The SOM-6868 is rated for 0 to 60°C temperatures, and offers 3.5 Grms vibration resistance. The module runs on a wide-range, 4.75 to 20V power supply, supporting everything from battery packs to fixed power adapters.

Linux and Windows Embedded are supported, and iManagerSUSIAccess, WISE-Pass/RMM, and Embedded Software APIs such as hardware monitoring are also available. There’s also an optional SOM-DB5800-00A2E carrier board.

Further information

The SOM-6868 will be available in the second quarter at an unstated price. More information may be found in Advantech’s SOM-6868 product page.

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