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COM Express modules surf Intel's Haswell wave

Jun 14, 2013 — by Eric Brown 1,447 views

Embedded Linux developers looking to tap into Intel’s 4th Generation “Haswell” Core processors can soon turn to seven new COM Express Type 6 computer-on-modules. The new COMs include models from Aaeon, Adlink, Advantech, Congatec, Kontron, Nexcom, and Portwell.

A week after Intel announced its 4th Generation Core (aka “Haswell”) processors, we’ve already seen numerous Mini-ITX boards adopting the processor, and now here come the COM Express modules.

Haswell mobile platform architecture
(click images to enlarge)


The 22nm Haswell generation averages about 15 percent faster than “Ivy Bridge” Core processors, according to Intel, with most of the improvements coming from new GPUs. The big improvement is in power consumption, which is said to be as much as 50 percent lower.


Haswell’s performance enhancements
(click images to enlarge)


The full list of 4th Generation Core processors may be found at Intel 4th Generation product pages for Core i7, as well as Core i5 and Core i3. Three of the i7 and two of the i5 are listed as having embedded support.

Haswell COM Express roundup

The following seven COM Express modules integrate the 4th Generation chips into the COM Express Type 6 form factor, which measures 125 x 95 mm. They all take advantage of new Haswell features like the ability to run three simultaneous displays at once.

All seven COMs use the mobile QM87 chipset, which supports six SATA ports and 14 USB ports, four to six of which can be USB 3.0. The QM87 also adds Intel VPro support. They all offer gigabit Ethernet controllers and support up to 16GB of DDR3 memory via dual 1333/1600 SODIMMs.

  • Aaeon COM-QM87

    Aaeon COM-QM87
    (click to enlarge)

    The COM-QM87 module was announced by Aaeon along with an EMB-QM87A Mini-ITX board, an ATX board, a 3.5-inch board, and a 1U network appliance, all based on 4th Generation Cores. The COM supports 4th Generation Core i7, i5, and i3 chips, and can drive three simultaneous displays via its CRT, LVDS, HDMI, DisplayPort, or DVI (via DDI) interfaces.

    Other I/O on the COM-QM87 includes 12 USB ports (four of them USB 3.0), four SATA 3 ports, and LPC bus and SMBus interfaces. The module supports expansion options including one PCI Express (PCIe) x16 and seven PCIe x1 lanes.

  • Adlink Express-HL

    Adlink Express-HL
    (click to enlarge)

    Adlink’s Core i7- and i5-ready Express-HL delivers triple simultaneous displays via its three DDI interfaces, and there are also VGA and LVDS connections. The eight USB interfaces include four 3.0 ports, and the four SATA interfaces use the 6 Gb/s SATA 3 standard. Expansion options include PCIe x1 and either one PCIe x16 (Gen3) which can also be used in an x8/4/1 configuration. GPIO, ATM 9.0, and TPM 1.2 are also available. The COM also supports industrial temperatures of -40 to 85°C.

    Adlink also announced a Type 2 version called the Express-HL2, but offers fewer details. This legacy product offers 18/24-bit, single/dual channel LVDS, Analog CRT, a 32 bit PCI bus, and a PATA IDE interface. Its eight USB ports are all USB 2.0.

  • Advantech SOM-5894

    Advantech SOM-5894
    (click to enlarge)

    Due to ship in July, the SOM-5894 supports Intel’s latest Core i7/i5/i3 processors, and offers three symmetrical independent displays using a mix of the module’s VGA, LVDS, HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort interfaces. A total of 12 USB ports are available, with four of them USB 3.0, and there are four SATA 3 ports.

    For expansion, Advantech furnishes the COM with PCIe x1 and PCIe x16 (Gen3) interfaces, both of which support flexible configurations. Dual COM Ports, LPC, SMBus, GPIO, I2C Bus, optional TPM, and Industrial temperature support round out the mix. The SOM-5894 also supports Advantech iManager 2.0 and SUSIAccess software.

    Advantech tests performed on a Core i7-4700EQ engineering sample with 8GB of DDR3 RAM showed typical power consumption of +12V @ 0.71A, going up to a maximum of 12V @ 3.51A.

  • Congatec Conga-TS87

    Congatec Conga-TS87
    (click to enlarge)

    The Conga-TS87 stands out from the crowd on a number of counts, starting with its focus on a single processor: the quad-core Intel Core i7-4700EQ. This high-end part offers 6MB of L2 cache. Clocked at 2.4GHz, it can hit 3.4GHz in Turbo Boost mode, and the TDP is said to be 47W.

    Like most of its rivals, the Conga-TS87 supports triple displays, in this case using DVI, LVDS, and VGA. Four of the 12 USB ports use 3.0 technology. Unlike most of its rivals, the Conga-TS87 offers a PEG interface and dual ExpressCard connections. Congatec provides six SATA interfaces, two of which are 6 Gb/s. Seven PCIe 2.0 ports are available, along with LPC and I2C buses. The module is also touted for its “patented cooling pipes.”

  • Kontron COMe-bHL6

    Kontron COMe-bHL6
    (click to enlarge)

    The COMe-bHL6 supports all the 4th Generation Core chips. It provides triple display operation with daisy chaining using a DisplayPort++ interface, which can also output, HDMI, DVI and DisplayPort 1.2. Dual-channel LVDS is also available.

    Seven PCIe x1 Gen. 2 interfaces and a PEG x16 Gen. 3 link are included for expansion, and an eighth PCIe x1 can be added if you’re willing to forego your Ethernet controller. Four SATA 3 ports and dual serial ports are provided, and four of the eight USB ports are 3.0-ready. The product is touted for its wide-range 8.5-20V power supply.

  • Nexcom ICES 670

    Nexcom ICES 670
    (click to enlarge)

    The Nexcom ICES 670 supports the full range of new Core processors, and offers triple displays using VGA, eDP/LVDS, DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort connections. Expansion options include PCIe x16 and seven PCIe x1 interfaces.

    Of the 12 USB ports available, four are USB 3.0, and two of the four SATA ports are SATA 3 connections. Operating temperatures are said to range from -15 to 60° C

  • Portwell PCOM-B630VG

    Portwell PCOM-B630VG
    (click to enlarge)

    The PCOM-B630VG supports Intel’s new Core i7 and i5 processors. Portwell’s module can drive three independent displays, using DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, and VGA interfaces.

    Four USB 3.0 and eight USB 2.0 ports are provided, as well as a serial port, GPIO, and six SATA ports at 6 Gb/s. A PCIe x16 Gen. 3 (8.0GT/s) interface is configurable to 2 x8-lane or 1 x8-lane and 2 x4-lane connections.

Further information on Haswell

For more background on Intel’s 4th Generation Core processors (aka Haswell), read’s detailed Haswell report.

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