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COM Express Type 2 modules keep the legacy alive

Oct 30, 2014 — by Eric Brown 459 views

Adlink released two Linux-ready COM Express Type 2 modules running on Intel 4th Gen. Core and Intel Atom e3800 SoCs, respectively.

The Express-HL2 was previewed by Adlink with minimal details back in June 2013, shortly after Intel announced its 4th Generation Core (“Haswell”) processors. The cExpress-BT2 was briefly mentioned as part of another multi-vendor roundup of pre-announcements in Oct. 2013, in this case tied to the Intel Atom E3800 (Bay Trail-I) announcement.

Both of these Linux-supported computer-on-modules are designed as drop-in replacements for older COM Express Type 2 modules that are nearing end-of-life status. Customers can count on another seven years of continued technical support from both Adlink and Intel, says Adlink.

Express-HL2 (left) and cExpress-BT2
(click images to enlarge)

“At present, Adlink is the only company in the market that provides Type 2 modules with both 4th generation Intel Core and the latest Intel Atom processors,” stated Henk van Bremen, director of Adlink’s Module Computing Product Segment. “Adlink continues to support COM Express Type 2 so that our customers can upgrade their systems using existing designs without the need to redesign their carrier boards.”


Both modules are each respectively similar to an Adlink Type 6 module. We have not previously covered the Type 6 cExpress-BT module that the Type 2 cExpress-BT2 is based on, so we have detailed and compared both in the section farther below.

Adlink Express-HL2

The Adlink Express-HL2 is very similar to the COM Express Type 6 based Express HL COM released over a year ago, which has an identical 125 x 95mm footprint. It similarly supports a variety of Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 processors from the 4th Generation lineup, along with Intel QM87 chipsets. Two Celeron models are also available, with HM86 chipsets.

Express-HL2 (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The Express-HL2 supports only 16GB of dual-channel DDR3L instead of 32GB for the Express-HL. There are still eight USB ports, but they’re all USB 2.0 instead of split evenly between 2.0 and 3.0 ports.

Once again, you get VGA and LVDS ports, with dual display support, but there’s no DDI for HDMI or DisplayPort connections as there is on the HL. The Express-HL2 does add a legacy a PATA IDE interface.

Otherwise, the modules are almost identical. They both feature a gigabit Ethernet controller, four SATA ports, plus serial, GPIO, and audio interfaces. Expansion is also similar, with a PCI-Express x16 interface, six PCIe x1 connections, as well as LPC, SMBus and I2C buses.

The module is available with standard 0 to 60°C and optional industrial -40 to 85°C temperature support, and offers shock and vibration resistance, according to MIL-STD-202F standards. Linux is available along with Windows Embedded Standard (WES) 7/8, VxWorks, and QNX. (For an Express-HL2 datasheet, check out the link at the end of the story, and for more on the Express-HL, please see our earlier coverage.)

Adlink cExpress-BT2 and cExpress-BT

The cExpress-BT2 COM Express Type 2 module is very similar to a COM Express Type 6 cExpress-BT COM that was also briefly tipped a year ago. Below, we feature a spec table covering both modules.

The cExpress-BT2 and cExpress-BT each measures 95 x 95mm (Compact size) and supports the same Intel Atom E3800 series and related Celeron processors. These range the single-core, 1.46GHz E3815 model with a 5W TDP to the quad-core, 1.91GHz E3845, which runs at 10 Watts. They both support up to 8GB of dual-channel DDR3L, and offer onboard micro-SD slots and optional, soldered eMMC SSDs ranging from 8GB to 32GB.

cExpress-BT2 (left) and cExpress-BT
(click images to enlarge)

Other common features include gigabit Ethernet controllers, Intel HD audio, GPIO, and VGA connections. However, the cExpress-BT2 also adds a dual channel 18/24-bit LVDS interface while the cExpress-BT instead makes the LVDS optional, with the default being a pair of DDI interfaces that support DisplayPort, HDMI, or DVI connections.

Storage interfaces differ in that the cExpress-BT2 defaults to a SATA port and a PATA IDE port, letting you swap out the PATA for a second SATA. The cExpress-BT, on the other hands, offers a pair of SATA connections. They both give you seven USB ports, but only on the cExpress-BT, are one of those a USB 3.0 port. The cExpress-BT also adds a pair of serial UARTs.

Block diagrams: cExpress-BT2 (left) and cExpress-BT
(click images to enlarge)

The new cExpress-BT2 gives you dual PCIe x1 lanes and a legacy PCI bus. The cExpress-BT Type 6 module instead offers three PCIe x1 lanes, and a build option for a PCIe x4, in which case you sacrifice your gigabit port.

Everything else appears to be the same, including the 40-pin debug connectors, ATX power supplies, consumer and industrial temperature ranges, shock and vibration resistance, and optional TPM and Super I/O. Adlink’s SEMA board controller monitors voltage and various components. They both offer support for Linux, Windows, and VxWorks.

Specifications listed for the cExpress-BT2 and cExpress-BT, with differences noted, include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom E3800 (Bay Trail-I) with Intel HD Graphics or Celeron N2920 or J1900:
    • E3845 (4x cores @ 1.91GHz), 10W TDP
    • E3827 (2x cores @ 1.75GHz), 8W TDP
    • E3826 (2x cores @ 1.46GHz), 7W TDP
    • E3825 (2x cores @ 1.33GHz), 6W TDP
    • E3815 (1x cores @ 1.46GHz), 5W TDP
    • Celeron N2920 (4x cores @ 1.86GHz, 7.5W TDP (COMe-cBT6 only)
    • Celeron J1900 (4x cores @ 2.0GHz, 10W TDP (COMe-cBT6 only)
  • Memory/onboard storage:
    • Up to 8GB DDR3L-1066/1333 RAM via 2x SODIMMs
    • Optional 8GB to 32GB eMMC SSD
    • MicroSD slot
  • Display:
    • cExpress-BT2 — VGA at up to 2560 x 1600; dual-channel 18/24-bit LVDS
    • cExpress-BT — VGA at up to 2560 x 1600; 2x DDI for DisplayPort, HDMI, or DVI; optional LVDS in place of one of the DDIs
    • Dual display support
  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet controller (Intel I210LM)
  • Other I/O:
    • 7x USB ports with 3x from hub (6x USB 2.0 on BT2; 6x USB 2.0 on and 1x 3.0 on BT)
    • 2x serial UARTs (BT only)
    • SATA/PATA:
      • cExpress-BT2 — 1x SATA 3Gbps and 1x PATA IDE (master only) or optionally 2x SATA, no PATA
      • cExpress-BT — 2x SATA 3Gbps
    • 8x GPIO
    • LPC, SMBus (system), I2C (user)
    • HD audio
    • 40-pin debug connector
    • Optional Super I/O on carrier if needed (standard support for W83627DHG-P)
  • Expansion:
    • cExpress-BT2 — 2x PCIe x1 2.0; 1x PCI (33MHz)
    • cExpress-BT — 3x PCIe x1 2.0; optional PCIe x4 2.0, sacrificing GbE)
  • Other features — Watchdog; SEMA board controller; optional TPM (Atmel AT97SC3204)
  • Power — 12V/5V ATX standard input; 5V to 20V wide range ATX input; ACPI 4.0; Wake-on and S5 ECO modes
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 60°C (commercial) or optional -40 to 85°C (industrial)
  • Shock and vibration resistance — per IEC 60068-2-64 and IEC-60068-2-27 (MIL-STD-202F); HALT support
  • Dimensions — 95 x 95mm COM Express Compact Type 2 (BL2) or Type 6 (BL)
  • Operating system — Linux; Windows, WEC, and WES (all 7/8; VxWorks

Adlink supports both the cExpress-BT2 and Express-HL2 Type 2 modules with a COM Express Type 2 Starter Kit, “which allows system integrators to accelerate carrier board design and software verification,” says the company. The kit also includes a debug module for POST, BIOS, the Board Management Controller, and the Smart Embedded Management Agent (SEMA) remote monitoring controller.

Further information

No pricing was available for the Adlink Express-HL2, cExpress-BT2, and cExpress-BT COM Express modules, which are all now available. More information may be found at the product pages for the Express-HL2, the cExpress-BT2, and the Type 6 cExpress-BT.

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