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Pico-ITX board spins triple 4K displays with Elkhart Lake

Sep 24, 2020 — by Eric Brown 906 views

Congatec announced a Linux-ready “Conga-PA7” Pico-ITX SBC with Intel’s new Atom x6000E SoCs with up to 16GB LPDDR4-4267 and 512GB UFS 2.0 flash, triple 4K display support, 2x GbE with TSN and OOB, and 2x USB 3.1.

Congatec has announced an SBC and four SMARC, Qseven, and COM Express compute modules based on Intel’s new Elkhart Lake Atom x6000E, Pentium, and Celeron system-on-chips. The German embedded vendor also unveiled a dozen Tiger Lake boards, joining its previously announced Conga-TC570 and Conga-HPC/cTLU Tiger Lake modules. We will cover these in separate reports and will focus here on the Pico-ITX form-factor Conga-PA7 SBC.

Conga-PA7 render images with coastline ports (left) and PCB only
(click images to enlarge)

Like many vendors, Congatec has skipped over Intel’s most recent 14nm-fabricated Gemini Lake and Gemini Lake Refresh generation, going straight from the 14nm Apollo Lake loaded on its Conga-PA5 Pico-ITX to the Elkhart Lake based Conga-PA7.

Elkhart Lake is built around Tremont cores fabricated with Intel’s 10nm SuperFin technology, which is similar to that found on Willow Cove cores used on the 11th Gen Tiger Lake Core CPUs. Intel claims up to 1.7x better single-thread, 1.5x better multi-thread, and 2x better graphics performance compared to the 14nm Goldmont Plus based Gemini Lake.


The dual- and quad-core Elkhart Lake SoCs comprises 8x Atom x6000E, 2x Pentium, and 2x Celeron models. The processors feature up to 32EU Intel Gen11 graphics, with triple 4K display support and greater potential for AI tasks.

Elkhart Lake has added embedded-focused features starting with an Intel Programmable Services Engine (Intel PSE) built around a real-time Cortex-M7 core. Intel PSE support functions such as advanced power management and remote out-of-band (OOB) and in-band (INB) device management. (For more details, see our Elkhart Lake report.)

Intel’s Elkhart Lake lineup (left) and Conga-PA7 block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The Conga-PA7 supports all the Atom models except the two “FE” versions of the Atom x6000E, which offer Intel Safety Island functional safety (FuSa) features. The Atom options are led by a quad-core, 1.8GHz/3.0GHz Atom x6425E with 32EU 500MHz/750MHz graphics and a 12W TDP. The board also supports the quad-core Pentium J6425 and Celeron J6413.

The Conga-PA7 does not exploit Elkhart Lake’s support for up to 64GB RAM, limiting the board to 16GB LPDDR4 via 4x slots. But it does offer the faster, up to 4,267 MT/s RAM. The SBC makes use of the platform’s support for dual UFS 2.1 flash sockets, enabling up to 64GB, which can optionally boost to 512GB. UFS 2.x offers “substantially higher bandwidth, faster data processing and greater storage capacities” than eMMC, says Congatec.

The dual GbE ports support TSN, TCC, and OOB, and are accompanied by dual real-time triggers. Intel’s Elkhart Lake announcement suggested that TSN and TCC were limited to the 3x “RE” models, but Congatec makes no such distinction here.

Triple simultaneous displays are enabled via DP++, DP via USB Type-C, and LVDS, which can be swapped out for either eDP or MIPI-DSI. With eDP, you can run triple simultaneous 4K displays, which had previously been beyond the capabilities of Atom chips.

The Conga-PA7 is further equipped with 2x USB 3.1 Gen2 ports plus internal I/O including a pair each of USB 2.0 and RS232/422/485 headers and optional dual CAN. Expansion is enabled via SATA-ready M.2 B-key and wireless-ready M.2 E-key slots.

The 100 x 72mm SBC provides TPM 2.0, embedded BIOS features, and the Congatec Board Controller. Commercial and industrial temperature models are available.

Specifications listed for the Conga-PA7 include:

  • Processor — Atom x6000E and FE plus Pentium and Celeron (2x or 4x 10nm Elkhart Lake cores @ up to 1.8GHz/3.0GHz; Intel UHD Graphics (Intel Gen11) up to 32EU; built-in Cortex-M7
  • Memory:/storage:
    • Up to 16GB LPDDR4 @ up to 4,267 MT/s via 4x SODIMMs
    • Up to 64GB (optional up to 512GB) UFS 2.1 flash
    • SATA optionally available via M.2 B-key (see expansion)
  • Networking — 2x GbE ports with TSN and OOB; 2x real-time trigger
  • Media I/O:
    • DisplayPort++
    • DisplayPort via USB Type C dual mode
    • LVDS (18/24-bit) or optional eDP or MIPI-DSI
    • Backlight power connector (5V/12V)
    • Triple 4K display support
    • Audio connector (Intel LPE Audio via I2S) with HP/line-out, mic-in, and optional DMIC
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 3.1 Gen2 ports (10Gbps)
    • USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C ports with dual mode (power and DP)
    • 2x USB 2.0
    • 2x RS232/422/485
    • 3x feature connectors
    • Fan connector with PWM
    • 2x optional CAN
  • Expansion:
    • M.2 B-key 2280 slot (2x PCIe/SATA/USB 2.0)
    • M.2 E-key slot (1x PCIe/USB 2.0)
  • Other features — TPM 2.0; Congatec Board Controller with watchdog; embedded BIOS features; RTC; optional heatspreaders and passive coolers
  • Power — 12VDC jack; ACPI 5.0 and smart battery management
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 60°C or -40 to 85°C; 10 to 90% non-condensing relative humidity tolerance
  • Dimensions — 100 x 72mm; Pico-ITX form factor
  • Operating system — Linux, Yocto, Android; Windows 10, Win 10 Iot Enterprise; Win 10 IoT Core; RTS hypervisor

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the Conga-PA7. More information may be found in Congatec’s announcement and product page.

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