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Congatec’s first Apollo Lake COMs include SMARC 2.0 model

Oct 26, 2016 — by Eric Brown 1,269 views

[Updated: 10:00PM] — Congatec announced three Linux-friendly COMs based on Intel’s new Atom E3900 SoC: a Qseven, a COM Express Compact, and one of the first SMARC 2.0 modules.

Congatec is one of the first vendors to announce a major product lineup based on Intel’s newly announced, 14nm-fabricated Atom E3900 “Apollo Lake” SoCs. In addition to the Qseven form-factor Conga-QA5 and the COM Express Compact Type 6 CongaTCA5 modules, the company unveiled the Conga-SA5, which is billed as Congatec’s first SMARC 2.0 module. In fact, the Conga-SA5 appears to be the company’s first SMARC COM ever, and one of the first SMARC 2.0 models to be fully announced. (See more on SMARC 2.0 below.)

Conga-SA5, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

All three modules run Linux or Microsoft Windows 10 on one of the first three 14nm-fabricated Atom E3900 SoCs. They also support related Celeron and Pentium SoCs that have been rumored but not officially announced.

The five Apollo Lake options offered on all three Congatec modules include:


  • Intel Atom x7-E3950 — 4x cores @ 1.6GHz/2.0GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 12W TDP
  • Intel Atom x5-E3940 — 4x cores @ 1.6GHz/1.8GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 9W TDP
  • Intel Atom x5-E3930 — 2x cores @ 1.3GHz/1.8GHz, 1MB L2 cache, 6.5W TDP
  • Intel Celeron N3350 — 2x cores @ 1.1GHz/2.4GHz, 1MB L2 cache, 6W TDP
  • Intel Pentium N4200 — 4x cores @ 1.1GHz/2.5GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 6W TDP

The Atom E3900 is a general purpose embedded SoC touted for offering 1.7 times more computing power and 2.9 times the graphics performance compared to the previous Atom generation. The chips have the same Gen9 graphics with triple 4K display support found in the related, 14nm “Broxton-M” Atom T5700 and T5500 found on the Linux-based Intel Joule COM.

Atom E3900

The Atom E3900 offers four vector image processing units, helping the SoC support up to 15 simultaneous 1080p@30 decode streams. It also offers Intel’s Time Coordinated Computing (TCC) Technology, which is said to coordinate and synchronize peripherals and networks of connected devices. Other new features include a Trusted Execution Engine 3.0 dedicated security co-processor.

Congatec lists the Intel Gen 9 HD Graphics as supporting DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.3, OpenCL 2.0, and OpenGL ES 3.0. There’s also MPEG2 full hardware acceleration with H.265/HEVC decoding and encoding, as well as MVC and 2x independent display support in 4K. Other features include VP9, PAVP 2.0, HDCP 1.4 (wired), and HDCP 2.0 (wireless).


Congatec was not involved with the development of the Kontron ULP-Com based SMARC (Smart Mobility ARChitecture) form factor, which was ratified in 2013 by the Standardization Group for Embedded Technologies (SGET), a group that also includes Adlink, Advantech, and MSC. However, the company has been actively involved with SMARC 2.0 as the “editor” of SMARC 2.0, which was ratified in June of this year, and it has now produced what appears to be the first announced SMARC 2.0 COM.

While SMARC was conceived originally as an ARM-oriented form factor, the 2.0 spec is intended to better support the interfaces typically found on x86 while continuing to support ARM. This reflects the fact that there are almost as many x86 SMARC COMs as there are ARM-based SMARCs. Bay Trail Atom E3800 based SMARC COMs include Adlink’s LEC-BT and Kontron’s SMARC-sXBTi.

SMARC HW Specification Changes V.1 to V2.0
(click image to enlarge)

SMARC 2.0, which is available for free download here, also supports more multimedia interfaces, including up to three simultaneous displays. New features include support for DisplayPort++ and a second LVDS interface, in addition to the earlier HDMI, 4-channel eDP, and 4-channel MIPI DSI. There’s also support for a second Ethernet port, a 4th PCI Express Lane, and more USB ports — up to 6x USB 2.0 and 2x USB 3.0. Other supported technologies include eSPI, IEEE1588 trigger signals, and x86 power management signals.

Technologies that were removed from the standard include Parallel camera and display interfaces, PCI Express Presence and Clock Request signals, SPDIF, Alternate Function Block, and one of the three I2S signals. Interestingly, the spec is said to dispense with eMMC, which is more common on ARM modules than on x86.

The 2.0 spec was said to keep compatibility with the V1.1 pinout “to the extent possible,” while repurposing selected, underused V1.1 pins. Dimensions have stayed the same. The Conga-SA5 module adopts the same “short” 80 x 50mm SMARC spec used by Aaeon’s Bay Trail μCOM-BT.


The SMARC 2.0 based Conga-SA5 supports its five available Apollo Lake processors with up to 8GB of LPDDR4 (2400MT/s) RAM. In addition to supporting Linux and Windows 10 like the other modules, the Conga-SA5 also supports Android, Windows IoT Core, and VxWorks 7.

Despite the supposed lack of eMMC compatibility in SMARC 2.0, the module supports up to 64GB of eMMC 5.0, or according to the PR, 128GB. There’s also an option for a soldered down M.2 1216 based WiFi module.

Conga-SA5 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The Conga-SA5 offers dual GbE controllers with Real Time Trigger, which may be a reference to Intel’s new TCC time sync technology. Multimedia features include dual-channel LVDS (up to 1920 x 1200 @60Hz), which can be swapped out for eDP or 2x MIPI-DSI. You also get DisplayPort 1.2 (up to 4096 x 2160 pixels) or HDMI 1.4b (up to 3840 x 2160), as well as MIPI-CSI x4 and MIPI-CSI x2 camera interfaces.

The Conga-SA5 is further equipped with 2x USB 3.0, 4x USB 2.0, SDIO, SATA 3, and up to 4x PCIe Gen2 lanes. Also onboard are 2x I2C, 2x SPI, 4x UART, and HD audio featuring an “Integrated Audio DSP with Intel Smart Sound Technology.” The module includes Congatec’s Board Controller and ACPI 5.0 power management, and can handle industrial -40 to 85°C temperatures.


The Conga-QA5 module extends the Atom E3900 and related Pentium and Celeron models with the 70 x 70mm Qseven 2.0 form factor, one of the chief competitors with SMARC among ARM/x86 hybrid form factors.

Like the Conga-SA5, the module offers 8GB of RAM, but it’s DDR3L (1867MT/s) instead of DDR4. Once again, the data sheet, but not the product page, mentions the availability of up to 64GB of eMMC 5.0. The Conga-QA5 provides a single GbE controller, with no mention of triggers, and there’s no WiFi or M.2 option.

Conga-QA5, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The module includes a DisplayPort 1.2 or HDMI 1.4b DDI interface, as well as a 18/24-bit single/dual channel LVDS interface, which can be swapped out for optional eDP. Resolutions are the same as with the Conga-SA5.

The Conga-QA5 is further equipped with a USB 3.0 interface, plus 5x USB 2.0 links. You get 2x SATA 3 channels and 3x PCIe Gen2 lanes, plus HD audio, SD, LPC, SMBus, and UART interfaces. Camera interfaces include MIPI-CSI x4 and MIPI-CSI x2.

The 0 to 60°C ready module has typical power consumption ranging from 6W to 12W, which is the same as the SoCs themselves. Once again, Congatec’s Board Controller and ACPI 5.0 power management are available.


The Conga-TCA5 provides a COM Express Compact Type 6 interpretation of Apollo Lake. The 95 x 95mm module offers dual SODIMM sockets for up to 8GB DDR3L (1867 MT/s), and supports up to 64GB of eMMC 5.0 storage.

(click image to enlarge)

Once again, there’s dual-channel LVDS, but this is the only module among the three that offers two DDI ports for DisplayPort 1.2a or 2x HDMI 1.4b. Additionally, eDP 1.3 is listed as an option, and you also get 2x MIPI-CSI and HD audio.

The Conga-TCA5 provides a GbE controller, as well as I/O including 4x USB 3.0, 8x USB 2.0, 2x SATA 3, 2x UARTs, and 5x PCIe lanes. Other interfaces include LPC, SPI, SDIO, and I2C with fast mode and multi-master. Congatec’s Board Controller and ACPI 5.0 are onboard, along with CMOS battery backup and optional TPM. Both commercial 0 to 60°C and industrial -40 to 85°C models are available.

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for Congatec’s new Apollo Lake computer-on-modules. More details may be found on the Conga-SA5, Conga-QA5, and Conga-TCA5 product pages.

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