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Linux-ready COM packs 2.7GHz quad-core Haswell

Aug 30, 2013 — by Rick Lehrbaum 4,848 views

[Updated Mar 6, 2014] — Adlink announced a Linux-ready computer-on-module based on Intel’s quad- and dual-core 4th Generation “Haswell” processors clocked as high as 2.7GHz and equipped with high-end graphics and networking ports. The Express-HL meets COM Express Type 6 basic specs, can be equipped with up to 32GB RAM, and offers ruggedization features such as extra-wide operating temperature.

Adlink was among seven COM Express module vendors that pre-announced Haswell-based products on the heels of Intel’s June unveiling of its lower-power, higher-performance 4th Generation Core processors. Its traveling companions on the Haswell-powered COM Express bandwagon included Aaeon, Advantech, Congatec, Kontron, Nexcom, and Portwell.

Adlink Express-HL COM Express module
(click image to enlarge)


Adlink touts its Express-HL COM Express module as offering “enhanced graphics performance, massive storage with high-speed data transfer interfaces, and multiple display support.” These make it “ideal” for medical imaging and weather radar, while also being suitable for applications such as retail POS, gaming, transportation, defense, communications, and industrial automation, says the company.


Express-HL block diagram
(click image to enlarge)


The module’s Haswell processor is supported by Intel’s mobile-oriented QM87 Express Chipset, and is accompanied by up to 32GB of dual-channel DDR3L SDRAM (in dual stacked SODIMM sockets). Adlink offers the board in six models, each fitted with a different Core i7, i5, or i3 processor, ranging from the dual-core Core i3-4102E clocked at 1.6GHz at the low end, up to the 2.4GHz quad-core Core i7-4860EQ with GT3-level graphics.

The Express-HL’s numerous video outputs include dual-channel 18/24-bit LVDS, analog VGA, and multiple DDI ports; the latter can each be configured for HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort, or SDVO. And in case that’s not enough, an external video card can also be interfaced to the board via the COM Express expansion bus’s PCIe x16 signals. For applications requiring it, up to three independent displays can be used simultaneously, thanks to capabilities provided by the Intel processor’s integrated graphics controller.

Other interfaces available via the module’s bottomside expansion bus connectors include Gigabit Ethernet, four USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, 4 SATA 6Gb/s ports, SMBus, and I2C.

The Express-HL also boasts a suite of ruggedization features. These include a wide input voltage range of 8.5 to 20V DC, extended operating temperature ranges as broad as -40 to +85°C, a dual on-board BIOS for system redundancy, and what Adlink calls a “SEMA” (Smart Embedded Management Agent) controller, which monitors BIOS, power, temperature, watchdog, and various other board status parameters.

Specifications listed by Adlink for the Express-HL appear in the list below. Most of the module’s features are dictated by the COM Express Type 6 specification (PDF download), to which it adheres.

  • Processor — 64-bit 4th Generation Intel i7/i5/i3; Mobile Intel QM87 Express chipset:
    • Core i7-4700EQ @ 2.4/1.7 GHz with GT2-level graphics
    • Core i5-4400E @ 2.7 GHz with GT2-level graphics
    • Core i5-4402E @ 1.6 GHz with GT2-level graphics
    • Core i3-4100E @ 2.4 GHz with GT2-level graphics
    • Core i3-4102E @ 1.6 GHz with GT2-level graphics
    • Core i7-4860EQ @ 2.4 GHz with GT3-level graphics
  • Memory — up to 32GB dual-channel DDR3L SDRAM @ 1600MHz, via dual stacked SODIMMs
  • Storage — four SATA 6 Gb/s ports
  • Networking — 10/100/1000 Ethernet port
  • Video outputs, usable as three independent simultaneous displays:
    • Single/dual-channel 18/24-bit LVDS
    • VGA supporting up to QXGA (2048 x 1536)
    • 3x Digital Display Interface (DDI) ports supporting DisplayPort, HDMI, or DVI
  • Audio — Intel HD Audio integrated in QM87 chipset (Realtek ALC886)
  • USB — 4x USB 3.0; 4x USB 2.0
  • Serial I/O — 2x UARTs
  • Other I/O — 4x digital in; 4x digital out; TPM module; debug port
  • Expansion buses:
    • PCIe x16 (Gen3); alternatively usable as two x8’s or as one x8 plus two x4’s
    • six PCIe x1’s
    • one PCIe x1
    • LPC bus; SMBus; I2C
  • Operating temperature range options:
    • “Standard” — 0 to 60°C (supports wide voltage input)
    • “Industrial” — -20 to 70°C (supports wide voltage input)
    • “Extreme Rugged” — -40 to 85°C (requires standard voltage input)
  • Power:
    • Standard voltage input — ATX mode 12V with 5V standby; AT mode 12V
    • Wide voltage input — ATX mode 5-20V with 5V standby; AT mode 5-20V
  • Dimensions — 125 x 95 mm; complies with PICMG COM.0: Rev 2.1 Type 6 “basic”
  • Operating systems — Linux, Windows 7/8, OS X

Besides six Express-HL module models, based on the six processors listed above, Adlink also offers various heatspreaders and heatsinks to mate with the COM Express modules. For further details, visit the Express-HL page of Adlink’s website. The module appears to be available now, although prices are not listed.

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