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Intel's Kaby Lake arrives on COM Express Compact at up to 3.9GHz

Jan 3, 2017 — by Eric Brown 956 views

Congatec unveiled the first COM based on Intel’s 7th Gen “Kaby Lake” Core CPUs, offering faster performance, speedy Optane memory support, and 10-bit video.

This week at CES, Intel is expected to formally launch its 7th Gen Core “Kaby Lake” successors to its “Skylake” CPUs, going head to head with AMD’s introduction of its much hyped Ryzen processors. Congatec jumped out a bit ahead of Intel today to announce the Conga TC175 — the first computer-on-module based on Kaby Lake.

Conga TC175, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Linux-friendly COM Express Compact Type 6 module ships with a choice of four dual-core Core i7, i5, and Celeron Kaby Lake models with configurable TDPs ranging from 7.5 to 15W and Intel HD Graphics 620 or 610 GPUs. The 95 x 95mm Conga TC175 follows Congatec’s Skylake-based Conga-TC170 COM Express Compact model.

Kaby Lake


Like the 6th Gen Skylake and 5th Gen Broadwell Core processors, Kaby Lake is fabricated using a 14nm process, thereby replacing Intel’s traditional tick-tock development model with a three-stage, tick-tock-tock “Process-Architecture-Optimization” approach. (By contrast, the big ARM SoC announcement expected this week is for a 10nm fabricated Qualcomm Snapdragon 835.)

The 7th Gen Core chips promise “greater CPU performance, more dynamic HDR graphics thanks to 10-bit video codec, and support of the optional, super-fast 3D Xpoint-based Intel Optane memory,” says Congatec. The Intel Gen 9 HD Graphics 620 technology supports OpenCL 2.1, OpenGL 5.0, and DirectX 12, as well as three independent displays with up to 4k @ 60Hz. New hardware-accelerated 10-bit encoding/decoding and high dynamic range for HEVC (H.265) and VP9 will result in HD streams that are “more vivid and lifelike in both directions,” says Congatec.

By August of last year, there were rumors of quad-core Kaby Lake gaming processors ranging up to 4.2GHz. The first four models available on the Conga TC175, however, are all dual-core, quad-threaded models. The three Core chips are U series models, while the Celeron is an EQ.

On the Core i7-7600U and Core i5-7300U, you can burst the CPU clock rate to up to up to 3.9GHz and 3.5GHz, respectively. Standard and burst clock rates are a bit higher than on the Skylake Core U-Series models.

On the three new Core CPUs, you can also configure the TDP, as shown in the dual TDP listings shown below. Like the Skylake Core U-Series modules, they max out at 15W, but unlike Skylake, the Kaby Lake Core chips let you lower this to as low as 7.5W.

Inside the Conga TC175

The Conga TC175 is available with the following Intel Kaby Lake U and EQ series processors with integrated Intel PCH-LP chipset:

  • Intel Core i7-7600U — (2x quad-threaded cores @ 2.8GHz / 3.9GHz); 4MB cache; 7.5W to 15W TDP; Graphics 620
  • Intel Core i5-7300U — (2x quad-threaded cores @ 2.6GHz / 3.5GHz); 3MB cache; 7.5W to 15W TDP; Graphics 620
  • Intel Core i5-7442EQ — (2x quad-threaded cores @ 2.4GHz); 3MB cache; 7.5W to 15W TDP; Graphics 620
  • Intel Celeron 3695U — (2x dual-threaded cores @ 2.2GHz); 2MB cache; 10W to 15W TDP; Graphics 610

The Intel Optane non-volatile memory mentioned by Congatec is an alternative to NAND solid state drives. Compared to standard 2D NAND, the 3D NAND based Optane offers significantly lower latency — 10 µs, or about a thousand times lower than that of standard HDDs — yet is capable of handling the same sized data packets, claims Congatec.

Optane stacks its layers of data storage cells vertically, creating denser storage, enabling greater capacity and cost savings, lower-power usage, reliability, speed, and overall performance. There’s no Optane available on the Conga TC175, but Congatec carrier boards already support the technology via PCIe 3.0, says Congatec. Optane is not, however, mentioned as an option on the pre-existing Conga-TEVAL evaluation board (see farther below).

The Conga TC175 is aimed at industrial, medical, transportation, infotainment, retail, and building and home automation, says Congatec. The module supports Intel technologies built into Kaby Lake including Intel Turbo Boost Technology, Hyper-Threading Technology (HT), Advanced Vector Extensions 2.0 (AVX2), Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (AES-NI), Clear Video HD Technology, Virtualization Technology (VT), Trusted Execution Technology (TXT), and Secure Key.

Conga TC175 (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Customers can order the module with up to 32GB DDR4 (2133 MT/s) delivered via a dual channel memory controller with up to 34.1 GByte/sec. bandwidth. There’s an onboard Intel i219-LM GbE Controller with AMT 11.6 support, as well as 8x PCIe Gen 3 lanes and 3x RAID-configurable SATA 3.0 interfaces.

Triple displays are enabled with the dual DDI/TMDS interfaces (DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 2.0a), and the optional eDP 1.4. The latter can replace the default dual-channel, 24-bit LVDS interface. Other options include a VGA port and a Conga-LDVI daughter-board that converts LVDS to DVI-D.

The Conga TC175 supports 4x USB 3.0 and 8x USB 2.0 ports, all with XHCI (eXtensible Host Controller Interface) technology. Additional I/O includes LPC and I2C buses, 2x UARTs, and HD audio.

The Congatec Board Controller provides features like a watchdog and power loss controls. There’s also ACPI 4.0 power management with battery support, as well as optional TPM security. This commercial temperature (0 to 60°C) module offers optional passive, active, and heatspreader cooling solutions.

The Conga TC175 runs Fedora 24, Ubuntu, SUSE, RHEL, and Yocto Project 2.2 Linux distributions, as well as Chromium 2. There is also support for VxWorks and 64-bit Windows 10 and Windows 10 IoT Enterprise.

Conga-TEVAL carrier board

Congatec’s existing Conga-TEVAL carrier board is available as an option. The 294 x 244mm board offers display interfaces including dual HDMI and dual DisplayPort links, as well as four SATA ports, and seven USB ports. Other highlights include six PCIe x1 slots, one PCIe x16, plus a gigabit Ethernet port, and several serial connections. The Conga-TEVAL ships with full schematics.

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the Conga TC175. More information may be found on Congatec’s Conga TC175 product page and Conga-TEVAL product page.

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