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Compact module takes AMD Merlin Falcon to extreme temps

Mar 22, 2016 — by Eric Brown 1,727 views

Seco’s Linux-friendly COM Express Type 6 Compact module runs Linux on a 3rd Gen AMD R-Series SoC, and offers -40 to 85°C operation and a Mini-ITX carrier.

Seco’s COMe-A98-CT6 module follows Congatec’s Conga-TR3 as the second Linux-ready COM Express Type 6 computer-on-module we’ve seen that runs AMD’s dual- and quad-core Embedded R-Series SoC, code-named “Merlin Falcon.” The COMe-A98-CT6 has a smaller 95 x 95mm “Compact” footprint, compared to the Conga-TR3’s 125 x 95mm “Basic” format, and while Congatec’s module was announced with a 0 to 60°C operating temperature range, Seco’s entry adds a -40 to 85°C option.

(click image to enlarge)

The 3rd Generation Merlin Falcon is AMD’s first system-on-chip version of the R-Series processor, featuring an integrated I/O controller. Compared to the previous generation Bald Eagle R-Series APU, the 3rd gen Embedded R-Series offers 25 percent faster “Excavator” CPU cores, 22 percent faster Radeon graphics, and a 35 percent smaller footprint (37 x 29mm), according to AMD. The Radeon GPU, based on AMD’s 3rd Gen GCN graphics with up to 512 stream processors, supports OpenGL 4.0 and DirectX 12, and can drive three 4K displays simultaneously.

The R-Series SoC offers configurable TDPs that top out at 35W for the two quad-core models and 15W for the dual-core part. Congatec said all three of the Conga-TR3’s Merlin Falcon chips can scale down to 12W on its module, but Seco says 15W is the lower limit on all three. Last month, AMD announced a 3rd Generation G-Series SoC that adds pin compatibility with the higher end R-Series SoC.

Block diagrams: COMe-A98-CT6 COM (left) and AMD “Merlin Falcon” SoC
(click images to enlarge)

Like the Conga-TR3, the COMe-A98-CT6 offers dual DDR4 slots. Seco doesn’t mention a top capacity, but on the Conga-TR3, a similar setup supports up to 32GB RAM.


Otherwise, the I/O is fairly similar, with the COMe-A98-CT6 adding four more USB 2.0 interfaces, as well as a VGA option. The three DDI ports can provide triple simultaneous displays, and on their own each supports up to 3840 x 2160 pixels. The COMe-A98-CT6 is further equipped with a GbE controller, dual SATA interfaces, three PCIe x1 interfaces, GPIO, and more. There’s no TPM option as there is with the Congatec module.

Specifications for the COMe-A98-CT6 module include:

  • Processor — AMD Embedded R-Series SoC with 800MHz 3rd Gen GCN/Radeon graphics
    • RX421BD — 4x Excavator cores @ 2.1GHz to 3.4GHz; 2MB cache; 15-35W TDP; Radeon HD R7 Graphics
    • RX418GD — 4x Excavator cores @ 1.8GHz to 3.2GHz; 2MB cache; 15-35W TDP; Radeon HD R6 Graphics
    • RX216GD — 2x Excavator cores @ 1.6GHz to 3.0GHz; 1MB cache; 15-15W TDP; Radeon HD R5 Graphics
  • Memory — 2x DDR4-2400 ECC SODIMM sockets
  • Display:
    • Up to 3x DDI (DisplayPort 1.2/HDMI 2.0/DVI up to 3840 x 2160)
    • Optional VGA in place of 1x DDI (up to 1920 x 1200)
    • Optional eDP or 18/24-bit single/dual-channel 18/24-bit LVDS in place of 1x DDI (up to 1920 x 1200)
    • PEG x8
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet controller (Intel I210)
  • Other I/O (via COM Express Type 6 interface):
    • 2x SATA-III (6Gbps)
    • 4x USB 3.0
    • 8x USB 2.0
    • 2x UART
    • 8x GPIO multiplexed with SD
    • HD Audio
    • 2x Express Card
    • LPC bus, I2C bus SMBus, SPI, fan, watchdog, etc.
  • Expansion — 3x PCIe x1 3.0
  • Other features — optional CCOMe-965 carrier board, dev kit
  • Power — +12VDC; optional 5V
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 60°C or -40 to 85°C
  • Dimensions — 95 x 95mm (4.92 x 3.74 in.); COM Express Compact Type 6
  • Operating system — Linux; Windows 10, 10 IoT, 8.1, 7; WES7/8

CCOMe-965 Mini-ITX format carrier and Type 6 Cross Platform Dev Kit

Seco’s CCOMe-965 Mini-ITX form factor carrier board can extend the COMe-A98-CT6 and other COM Express Type 6 modules for prototyping. The 0 to 60°C ready SBC is said to be available with open source schematics, design guides, BOM, and debug tools. It’s also part of a COM Express Type 6 Cross Platform Development Kit, said to support both x86 and ARM Type 6 COMs. The kit includes the CCOMe-965, along with HDMI and DisplayPort cables.

CCOMe-965 (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

As a 170 x 170mm Mini-ITX style board, the CCOMe-965 offers more real-world ports and headers than typical carrier boards. It’s equipped with dual GbE ports, dual SATA connectors, and an mSATA slot. Four USB 3.0 ports are on the coastline, with two USB 2.0 headers available internally.

Ports and connectors are available for the entire gamut of CCOMe-965 display interfaces. There’s also a PCIe x4 slot, dual mini-PCIe slots, and a SIM Card slot for expansion.

The CCOMe-965 is further equipped with an analog audio jack and digital SPDIF audio connector. Several headers, as well as a 28-pin connector, handle additional I/O. The board features an ATX power connector, and provides a coin cell battery holder for CMOS and RTC.

Further information

No pricing is available for the “coming soon” COMe-A98-CT6 COM Express module. The CCOMe-965 Mini-ITX board appears to be available now. More information may be found at Seco’s COMe-A98-CT6 and CCOMe-965 product pages.

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