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Fanless mini-PC runs Linux Mint on Kaby Lake

Jan 19, 2017 — by Eric Brown 5,081 views

Compulab launched a rugged “IPC3” mini-PC that runs Linux on dual-core, 7th Gen Core i7/i5 CPUs, and also debuted three GbE-equipped FACE expansion modules.

Compulab has opened pre-orders starting at $693 for the first mini-PCs we’ve seen to offer the latest, 14nm-fabricated 7th Generation Intel Core “Kaby Lake” processors. The passively cooled, 190 x 160 x 40mm IPC3 (Intense PC 3), which is available in up to industrial temperature ranges, follows two generations of similarly sized IPC2 mini-PCs. There’s the still available, 4th Gen “Haswell” based IPC2 from 2014 and the apparently discontinued 5th Gen “Broadwell” equipped IPC2 from 2015.

IPC3, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Like most Kaby Lake boards we’ve seen, the IPC3 supports Intel’s dual-core, low-power U-Series Core i7 and i5 processors, each with 15W TDPs. This is a barebone device without a pre-loaded OS, but it supports Linux and Windows. Compulab lists Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon as its “Official Linux.” The Israeli company has long collaborated with the Linux Mint community in selling special MintBox versions of its Fitlet mini-PCs with preloaded Linux Mint.

Compulab also announced three more of its homegrown FACE expansion modules that run on the IPC3, as well as other Compulab PCs such as the similarly sized Fitlet-T and larger, Xeon-ready Airtop. These Gigabit Ethernet equipped modules support Fiber LAN, PoE, and bypass switch applications, respectively (see farther below).


Inside the IPC3

New IPC3 features compared to the Haswell-based IPC2 include up to 32GB, rather than 16GB, DDR3L-1600 RAM. (Most Kaby Lake boards we’ve seen offer DDR4.) There’s also a new M.2 B-key slot that replaces the half-size mini-PCIe slot that supports SATA, PCIe, and USB 3.0/2.0 expansion. The IPC3 loses one of its two HDMI ports, but continues to offer a DisplayPort, with both supporting 4K resolution.

IPC3 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

Other features are also almost identical to the IPC2. There’s a 2.5-inch SATA bay, dual mSATA 3.0 slots, a full-size mini-PCIe slot, a micro-SIM, and a FACE expansion connector. The IPC3 offers dual GbE ports, and both WiFi-ac and Bluetooth 4.0 with antennas.

The IPC3 provides 4x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, and 3x mini-RS232 ports, as well as S/PDIF and analog audio interfaces. The IPC3 has a 10-15VDC power input with 6-24 W consumption, and offers commercial, extended, and industrial temperature versions.

Specifications listed for the PC3 include:

  • Processor — Intel Core i7-7500U or i5-7200U (2x Kaby Lake cores @ 2.7GHz/3.5GHz Turbo or 2.5GHz/3.1GHz Turbo, respectively); 15W TDP; Intel Gen 9 HD 620 graphics
  • Memory — up to 32GB DDR3L-1600 dual-channel RAM
  • Storage — 2.5-inch HDD/SSD bay (SATA 3.0/6Gbps); 2x mSATA 3.0 ports
  • Display:
    • HDMI 1.4a at up to 4096 x 2304 @ 60Hz
    • DisplayPort 1.2 at up to 4096 x 2304 @ 60Hz
    • Dual display support
    • Video HDMI to DVI adapter
  • Wireless:
    • 802.11ac dual band
    • Bluetooth 4.0
    • Dual antennas
    • uSIM (micro-SIM) socket for cellular
  • Networking — 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports (Intel I219 and I211)
  • Other I/O:
    • 4x USB 3.0 ports
    • 2x USB 2.0 ports
    • 3x RS232 ports (2x 4-wire, 1x 2-wire) via mini-serial connector w/ adapter cable to DB9-male
    • S/PDIF 7.1 input/output (Realtek ALC888 HD codec)
    • 3.5mm jack for stereo line-out, mic-in with RCA adapter cable
  • Expansion:
    • Mini-PCIe (full-size)
    • M.2 B-key 2230/60 for USB3.0/PCIe, SATA/PCIe, or USB2.0
    • FACE module expansion connector
  • Other features — Wake-on-LAN/timer; watchdog; PXE boot; 2020 availability; passively cooled die-cast aluminum case; 5-yr. warranty
  • Operating temperature:
    • Commercial — 0 to 45°C
    • Extended — -20 to 70°C
    • Industrial — -40 to 70°C
  • Power — 10-15VDC input; 6 to 24W consumption; power supply (100-240VAC 50/60Hz input, 60W 12VDC 5A output); AC cord; DC plug lock; remote power button
  • Dimensions — 19 x 16 x 4cm (7.4 x 6.3 x 1.57 in.)
  • Weight — 1015 g
  • Operating system – Linux, including Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon (64-bit); Windows 10

Compulab adds GbE FACE modules

Compulab’s optional new Function And Connectivity Extension (FACE) modules address advanced networking applications. These GbE-equipped modules are the FM-OPLN (Fiber LAN), FM-POE 1.1 (PoE), and FM-EBP (bypass switch).

FM-OPLN (left) and FM-POE 1.1
(click images to enlarge)

The IPC3 is also compatible with existing Compulab FACE modules like the FM-LAN (4x GbE ports), FM-SER (6x RS232/RS485 ports), and FM-XTDM2 (2x mini-PCIe slots). There’s also a FM-VC module that can connect up to 16 PAL/NTSC analog cameras with audio for advanced DVR applications.

(click image to enlarge)

The three new FACE networking modules, with names linking to product pages, include:

  • FM-OPLN — Dual fiber-optic GbE FPC+ ports for fiber-optic LAN eliminate the need for an external media converter. Compared to copper LANs, fiber-optic offers longer transmission distance, immunity to electromagnetic interference, and better security, says Compulab.
  • FM-POE 1.1 — This compact module provides 4x IEEE802.3af compliant GbE ports with Power-over-Ethernet (PoE). Each port has an Intel i211 controller on a dedicated PCIe lane, and can supply up to 15.4W. The FM-POE eliminates the need for an external PoE injector while providing full GbE bandwidth to each port.
  • FM-EBP — This Gigabit Ethernet bypass switch enables both passive and active switching without the need for heartbeat packets, and can be directed to an in-line backup PC. FM-EBP is useful for ensuring continuous network integrity, even in scenarios such as system crash or hardware malfunction, says Compulab.

Further information

The IPC3 can be pre-ordered now from Compulab starting from $693 for the IPC3 i5, listed as “available soon,” and starting from $829 for the “new” IPC3 i7, which will ship in five weeks. Base prices don’t include RAM, HDD, OS, shipping, duty, or VAT, but you do get WiFi, Bluetooth, and a dual USB 3.0 FACE module. More information may be found on Compulab’s IPC3 and FACE announcement, IPC3 product page and IPC3 shopping page.


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One response to “Fanless mini-PC runs Linux Mint on Kaby Lake”

  1. Graham says:

    Overpriced. Just get an Intel NUC. You’ll barely hear the fan

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