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COM Express module runs Linux on quad-core Haswell

Aug 1, 2013 — by Eric Brown 764 views

MSC launched a COM Express Type 6 module based on 4th Generation “Haswell” Intel Core processors. The MSC C6B-8S runs the 2.4GHz, quad-core Core i7-4700EQ processor, accepts up to 16GB SODIMM SDRAM, offers interfaces including SATA, USB 2.0 and 3.0, and three DisplayPort/HDMI/DVI ports with triple-display support, expands with PCI Express, and has a ready-to-go Linux BSP.

The MSC C6B-8S didn’t arrive in time for the first wave of Haswell COM Express Type 6 computer-on-modules (COMs) announced in early June, which directly followed Intel’s announcement of the 4th Generation “Haswell” Intel Core processors. The quad-core COM will be followed by similar dual-core Haswell Type 6 modules from MSC in the coming months, says the company.

MSC’s Haswell-based C6B-8S COM Express Type 6 module
(click image to enlarge)


The 22nm 4th Generation Core processors average about 15 percent faster than “Ivy Bridge” Core processors, according to Intel, with most of the improvements coming from new, more powerful GPUs. Power consumption is said to be as much as 50 percent lower.


Like the Conga-TS87, one of the seven initial Haswell-based COM Express Type 6 products we covered in June, the MSC C6B-7S module focuses on a single processor: the quad-core Intel Core i7-4700EQ. The Core i7-4700EQ features 6MB L3 cache, and is clocked with 2.4GHz, or in turbo boost mode, 3.4GHz.

As in all seven of the other models we covered, the MSC C6B-7S’s Core i7-4700EQ incorporates the mobile QM87 chipset, which adds features including support for USB 3.0 and Intel VPro support. Other Intel processor features are said to include Intel AMT 9.0, Intel 64, IntelR Virtualization Technology (VT), VT-d Virtualized I/O, Intel Trusted Execution Technology, and Intel Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) 2.0. The integrated 4600 (GT2) Intel HD graphics supports DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 3.2, and OpenCL 1.2.

The MSC C6B-8S can be equipped with up to 16GB of dual-channel DDR3L (1333/1600) SDRAM. A gigabit Ethernet controller is also supplied. The COM Express Type 6 pinouts express I/O signals including seven PCI Express (PCIe) x1 channels, a PCIe graphics (PEG) x16 interface, and LPC bus.

The MSC C6B-8S taps the 4th Generation Core’s display prowess, including the ability to control three simultaneous displays. The module offers three HDMI or DisplayPort 1.2 with daisy-chaining interfaces, offering resolutions of up to 3800 x 2400 pixels. It supplies two embedded DisplayPort interfaces, as well as LVDS and CRT interfaces.

Eight USB ports are provided, including four USB 3.0 ports. HD audio and four SATA interfaces at up to 6 Gb/s are also said to be available. Power consumption on the 125 x 99mm module ranges from 35W to 65W, says MSC. Cooling options include passive and active heatsinks.

The module is available with Linux and Windows 7/8 support, and a starter kit and carrier boards are also said to be available. The COM Express Type 6 Starter Kit includes the MSC C6B-8S module, two DDR3 SODIMM modules, a baseboard, and an active heatsink with fan.

COM Express Type 6 evaluation boards
(click images to enlarge)


Carrier board options, shown above, include a COM Express Type 6 Small Test and Evaluation Board with one PCIe socket, USB 3.0, GbE, SATA, DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA, and HD audio ports. There’s also an ATX form-factor COM Express Type 6 Evaluation Board with PCIe interfaces, SATA and mSATA, USB 2.0/3.0, DisplayPort and eDP, HDMI/DVI, HD audio, and POST code display, says MSC.

Specifications listed for the MSC C6B-8S include:

  • Processor — Intel Core i7-4700EQ (4x “Haswell” cores @ 2.4GHz, or 3.4GHz in turbo boost mode) with Intel HD Graphics 4600; Intel 8-Series Platform Controller Hub QM87
  • Memory — up to 16GB DDR3L (1333/1600) via 2x 204-pin, dual-channel SODIMM, available in 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, or 8GB
  • Expansion:
    • 7x PCIe x1
    • 1x PCIe Graphics (PEG) x16
    • LPC bus
  • Display:
    • 3x DisplayPort/HDMI, up to 3800 x 2400 pixels
    • 2x Embedded DisplayPort
    • Analog CRT
    • LVDS (18/24 bit, dual channel)
  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • 4 x USB 2.0
    • 4 x USB 3.0
    • 4x SATA (up to 6Gb/s)
    • HD audio
  • Other features — TPM 1.2; watchdog; RTC battery; system monitoring; 4-pin fan header (12V) with PWM speed control
  • Power — +12V+/-10% (5V standby optional); 35W to 65W typical consumption
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 60°C
  • Cooling options — passive heat sink, active heat sink with fan, heat spreader with threaded or non-threaded standoffs
  • Dimensions — 125 x 99mm; COM Express Type 6
  • Operating system — supports Windows 8 or Windows 7 (embedded) standard; Linux BSP available on request; EAPI (hardware programming interface)

The MSC C6B-8S appears to be available now, at an unstated price. More information may be found at MSC’s MSC C6B-8S product page.

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