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Rugged box-PC runs Linux on Atom

Feb 6, 2014 — by Eric Brown 1,452 views

Aaeon’s Linux-ready “AEC-6523” industrial PC runs on an Intel Atom N2600, supports SATA and CFast storage, and features wide power and temperature ranges.

The AEC-6523 embedded controller is a more temperature resistant alternative to the AEC-6401 computer announced by Aaeon last August. Among other differences, it offers a wider power range, adds Mini PCI-Express expansion and an extra serial port, and provides two gigabit Ethernet ports instead of one. The AEC-6523 is designed for industrial automation, steel making factories, outdoor labs, power plants, building automation, and environment monitoring applications, says Aaeon.


Like the AEC-6401 (pictured at right), the AEC-6523 runs on Intel’s 1.6GHz dual-core Atom N2600 processor of the 32nm “Cedar Trail” generation. The N2600 features lower power consumption than the previous 45nm “Pineview” Atoms and offers an improved PowerVR SGX 545 GPU.


The AEC-6523 supports up to 2GB DDR3, and features both a CFast slot for a solid state drive (SSD) and a 2.5-inch SATA 2.0 HDD bay. Like the earlier AEC-6401, the new system offers four USB 2.0 ports, two of them facing front. Except for a DIO port, the remaining I/O is back-facing, including the dual gigabit ports, an RS-232 port, and three RS-232/422/485 ports. Instead of the mini-HDMI port on the earlier system, the AEC-6523 goes old school with VGA.

AEC-6523, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Ruggedization features, including anti-drop, vibration, and shock resistance, are similar to the earlier system, but the AEC-6523 has a wider temperature range. Without airflow applied to the passively cooled system, the computer can withstand temperatures of -30 to 65°C. With airflow, that bumps up to -30 to 70°C, according to the data sheet, and -40 to 70°C according to the announcement and product page. We’ll assume they extended the system’s sub-zero endurance in the final stages of production, and list the -40 figure below. The AEC-6523 can also handle a wide 9–30 VDC voltage range, and integrates voltage protection, says Aaeon.

Specifications listed for the AEC-6523 include:

  • Intel Atom N2600 SoC (3.5W TDP):
    • CPUs — 2x x86 cores @ 1.6GHz
    • GPU — integrated 400MHz PowerVR SGX 545
    • chipset — Intel NM10
  • Memory — up to 2GB DDR3 1066 SDRAM via 1x SODIMM
  • Storage — 2.5-inch SATA 2.0 (3.0 Gbps) HDD bay; CFast (SSD) slot with cover protection
  • Networking – 2x gigabit Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • 4x USB 2.0 (2x front)
    • VGA
    • RS-232
    • 3x RS-232/422/485
    • DIO line out (front)
  • Expansion — Mini-PCIe slot
  • Other features — 2x LEDs; antenna holes for optional wireless
  • Ruggedization:
    • Drop — 92cm (1x corner, 3x edge, 6x surface)
    • Vibration — 5g (SSD) or 1g (HDD) rms; 5-500Hz
    • Shock — 50G (SSD) or 20G (HDD) peak; 11 mS duration
    • Operating temperature — -30 to 65°C without airflow; -40 to 70°C with airflow
  • Power — DC 9 to 30V With 3-pin terminal block
  • Weight — 2.2 k
  • Dimensions — 212 x 107 x 79mm (not including mounting bracket); wall-mount, din-rail mounts
  • Operating system — Linux 2.635 and above (Fedora); Windows XP Pro; Windows 7, WES

“Today’s manufacturing facilities and production lines often face extreme weather and drastic temperature conditions,” stated Wayne Chen, CTO of Aaeon. “It requires outstanding fanless computing systems with the highest available processing power able to withstand extreme high and low temperatures even when passively cooled to avoid dust accumulation.”

Aaeon has been building Linux-ready AEC controllers for years. The earliest record we have in the LinuxDevices Archives is a rugged, Intel Celeron-based Boxer AEC-6905 back in 2008. More recent models include an Atom D525-based AEC-6612 from 2012.

Further information

No pricing or availability information was supplied for the AEC-6523. More information may be found in Aaeon’s AEC-6523 product page.

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