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First Tiger Lake SBCs emerge

Aug 7, 2020 — by Eric Brown — 1296 views


Aaeon and Kontron are prepping 3.5-inch SBCs — and Advantech will offer a 2.5-incher — that debut Intel’s 11th Gen, 10nm Tiger Lake CPUs. The 15-28W TDP Tiger Lake offers better graphics than Ice Lake, including support for up to 4x 4K displays.

Intel’s recent announcement of an additional six months delay in delivering 7nm CPUs, pushing back its original roadmap by a year to late 2022 or 2023 has led to further questions about the company’s future dominance. The 7nm defects are severe enough that Intel says it will expand its outsourcing of manufacturing to TSMC. Yet, Intel’s strong quarterly earnings and news that its 10nm fabricated, 11th Gen Tiger Lake processors will meet their revised Q4 2020 deadline are helping to salve the wound.

Now, as reported by Tom’s Hardware, Aaeon, Advantech, and Kontron have posted preliminary specs for the first SBCs based on Tiger Lake.



Kontron 3.5”-SBC-TGL and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Since the report, Aaeon has removed the product page for its 3.5-inch Aaeon GENE-TGU6 and Advantech offers only a holding page with limited specs for its 2.5-inch MIO-2375 SBC. Kontron, however, has posted full specs for its Linux-ready, 3.5”-SBC-TGL SBC, so we’ll cover it farther below along with a few comparisons with the Aaeon and Advantech SBCs cribbed partially from the Tom’s Hardware post.

Intel’s Tiger Lake

Intel announced Tiger Lake in January. Like the 10th Gen Ice Lake, the 11th Gen Tiger Lake is a 10nm fabricated Core CPU, although Intel refers to Tiger Lake’s process as 10nm++. Like Ice Lake, the initial line of Tiger Lake UP3 Series are limited to up to quad-core U-series designs with lower TDPs. Tiger Lake-U offers 15-28W TDPs compared to 9-15W for Ice Lake.

Tiger Lake switches to Intel’s Willow Cove microarchitecture, which offers a redesigned cache, new security features, and transistor optimization compared to Ice Lake’s Sunny Cove. Tiger lake has 50 percent higher L3 cache per core, with the Core i7-1165G7 providing 12MB of L3. It also provides support for Thunderbolt 4 (USB 4), with up to 4x the throughput of USB 3.x.

Most significantly, Tiger Lake advances to Intel Gen12 Iris Xe graphics, which offers 96 EUs compared to 64 on Ice Lake’s Intel Gen11. Like AMD’s Vega GPU found on the Ryzen and Ryzen Embedded V1000 processors, it supports up to 4x independent displays running at 4K @ 60fps.

As reported in a recent Tom’s Hardware story that analyzed a leaked benchmark comparison chart published by SiSoftware, Tiger Lake offers a massive increase in media performance over Ice Lake. The quad-core, 2.8GHz/4.7GHz Core i7-1165G7 from the Tiger Lake family scored 564.87 Mpix/s on a processor multimedia test compared to 378.63 Mpix/s for a similar Ice Lake Core i7-1065G7.

The third processor in the benchmark comparison is AMD’s Ryzen 7 4800U with Vega graphics, which delivered up to 744.54 Mpix/s. Yet, because the octa-core Ryzen 7 4800U has double the number of cores and threads than the Intel chips, multimedia performance differences are likely much closer.

Intel is also prepping an Ice Lake-SP server chip due by the end of the year plus a recently revealed Alder Lake CPU — Intel’s first 10nm desktop processor. Alder Lake is due in the second half of 2021.

The 10nm Ice, Tiger, and Alder Lake line of succession runs somewhat in parallel with other Intel 10th and 11th Gen product lines based initially on 14nm processes and offering more cores and higher TDPs. These include the recently released 10 Gen Gen Comet Lake and an 11th Gen Rocket Lake design that could appear by the end of the year. These two unofficial lines of descent share various features, creating an increasingly complex Intel roadmap. For example, it has been rumored that the 14nm Rocket Lake will feature a backport of the Willow Cove architecture and offer 10nm graphics.

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We should find out more about Tiger Lake in an Intel press event on September 2 that will also unveil a discrete graphics card based on Intel Gen12 Iris Xe graphics. We may even see if the rumor is true that Tiger Lake offers PCIe 4.0 support. There is no support listed for it in these first SBCs, however.

Kontron 3.5”-SBC-TGL and its rivals

Kontron’s 3.5”-SBC-TGL, which follows its 8th Gen Whiskey Lake 3.5”-SBC-WLU, supports 11th Gen Intel Tiger Lake UP3 Series Core processors up to 4x cores and 28W TDP plus a Celeron 6000 at up to 15W TDP. We are assuming that one of the Core CPUs is the benchmarked, quad-core, 2.8GHz/4.7GHz Core i7-1165G7. Kontron touts Tiger Lake for its improved graphics and AI performance, quad 4K display support, and BIOS-configurable TDP.


Advantech
MIO-2375

Like the Aaeon GENE-TGU6, the 3.5”-SBC-TGL offers dual sockets for up to 64GB DDR4. Advantech’s MIO-2375 instead offers up to 32GB LPDDR4X-4266.

The 3.5”-SBC-TGL is equipped with a SATA III interface plus an M.2 B-key socket with SATA III support along with PCIe x1 and USB 3.1. The B-key is accompanied by a SIM card slot. There are also M.2 M-key (PCIe x4) and M.2 E-key (PCIe x1, USB 2.0, Intel CNVi) slots.

By comparison, the Aaeon board has SATA III, M-key, E-key, and miniPCIe/mSATA. The MIO-2375 is limited to M.2 M- and E-key slots, although unlike Kontron, Advantech mentions NVMe support.

Kontron also supplies a “PCIe 3.0 x4/4x PCIe 3.0 x1” interface via a B2B connector. Aside from the processor, this is one of only a few major advantages over the similar, 9th Gen 3.5”-SBC-WLU. Another one is support 4x 4K displays via 3x DP and eDP. Aaeon has a similar display lineup, but swaps out two of the DPs for HDMI 2.0, and the MIO-2375 is limited to DP and eDP/DSI.

Kontron’s offering provides 2x USB 3.1 and 2x USB 2.0 ports. We imagine the USB 3.1 ports are the faster Gen2, which Tom’s Hardware says is available on the other two boards (4x on the GENE-TGU6 and unspecified on the MIO-2375).

Other features include a pair of GbE ports and headers including 2x serial and DIO. Unlike Kontron’s Whiskey Lake board, an RTC is on board.

Preliminary specifications listed for the 3.5″-SBC-TGL include:

  • Processor — Intel 11th Gen “Tiger Lake UP3” U-series Core and Celeron (up to 4x core); Intel Gen12 Iris Xe Graphics; 15W (Celeron) or 28W (Core) configurable TDP
  • Memory — Up to 64GB DDR4-3200 via 2x sockets
  • Storage — SATA III; SATA support on M.2 B-Key (see expansion below)
  • Networking — 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports (Intel I219LM and I210-AT)’ wireless available via M.2 (see expansion)
  • Display/media:
    • 3x DisplayPort++ (2x ports, 1x B2B connector) at up to 4K @ 60fps
    • eDP (via B2B) at up to 4K @ 60fps
    • 24-bit, dual-channel LVDS at up to 1920 x 1200 @ 60Hz
    • Quadruple independent 4K display support via DP and eDP
    • Audio line-in, line-out, mic headers and 2x 3W speaker (Cirrus CS4207 codec)
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 3.1 host ports
    • 2x USB 2.0 ports
    • 2x USB 2.0 headers
    • 2x RS232/422/485 headers
    • 8-bit DIO and smart fan interface
    • Reset, HDD LED, and ext. speaker header
    • Power (button and LED) and SMBus header
    • M.2 B- and E-key LED headers
  • Expansion:
    • M.2 M-key slot with PCIe x4
    • M.2 E-key slot with CNVi, PCIe x1, USB 2.0
    • M.2 B-key slot with PCIe x1, USB 3.1, SATA 3.0
    • SIM card slot linked to M.2 B-key
    • PCIe 3.0 x4/4x PCIe 3.0 x1 via B2B connector
  • Other features — Watchdog; HW monitoring; RTC; optional TPM 2.0
  • Power — 12V DC input and wafer connector
  • Operating temperatures — 0 to 60°C; 0-95% humidity tolerance
  • Dimensions — 146 x 105mm (“3.5-inch form factor”)
  • Operating system — Linux; Windows 10

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for Kontron’s 3.5”-SBC-TGL, as well as the Aaeon GENE-TGU6 and Advantech MIO-2375. More information may be found on Kontron’s preliminary 3.5”-SBC-TGL product page and datasheet.

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