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Rugged, expandable 3.5-inch Skylake SBC supports Linux

Mar 22, 2017 — by Eric Brown 2,170 views

Diamond’s 3.5-inch “Venus” SBC offers an Intel 6th Gen CPU, -40 to 85°C support, up to 20GB of ruggedized RAM, and mini-PCIe and PCIe/104 OneBank.

The Venus is “believed to be the very first rugged small form factor single-board-computer” based on Intel’s 6th Generation “Skylake” Core processors, says Diamond Systems. This may well be true, depending on how you define “rugged” and “SBC.”

Venus, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Around the same time as Diamond Systems’ Embedded World announcement of the Venus, ADL announced a similarly 3.5-inch, Skylake based ADLQ170HDS SBC, which offers -20 to 70°C or optional -40 to 85°C support, the standard temperature range for the Venus. The same week, VersaLogic unveiled its Skylake-based Blackbird SBC, which offers optional -40 to 85°C and standard MIL-STD-202G compliant shock and vibration resistance. However, it’s a dual-layer, sandwich style board paired with a COM Express module rather than a classic SBC.

Venus details


In addition to offering industrial temperature support, the Venus board furnishes latching connectors and a 2.3mm thick PCB. It also provides Diamond’s rugged RSODIMM RAM “for enhanced protection against vibration.” There are no specs or compliance claims for shock and vibration, but the newly updated Raptor embedded computer based on the Venus provides MIL-STD-202G compliant shock/vibration specs (see farther below).

Venus detail view (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The 3.5-inch form factor, 146 x 102mm Venus supports one of two dual-core U-series Skylake chips: the 2.6GHz Core i7-6600U and the 2.4GHz Core i5-6300U. The processors are supported with Linux or Windows 10 BSPs, optionally preloaded on SATA DOM. The SBC provides 4GB of soldered DDR4-2133 RAM, as well as up to 16GB more DDR4-2133 RSODIMM RAM for up to 20GB total.

The Venus is notable for supporting PCIe/104 OneBank expansion, which Diamond has also used on its Atom N2800 based Atlas, and which has appeared on other boards like VersaLogic’s recent, Intel Kaby Lake-based Lion SBC. The stackable, PCIe/104-Express compatible OneBank format includes both a legacy PCI connector and a high-speed PCIe connector. Here, the interface supports up to 4x I/O modules.

The Venus also provides three mini-PCIe expansion sockets. There’s a half-size socket, as well as dual full-size sockets, one of which is dedicated to mSATA. The board also provides two SATA 3.0 interfaces, one standard and one designed for SATA DOM storage.

Venus bottom view with heatspreader (left) and corner view showing thick PCB and latching connectors
(click images to enlarge)

The Venus provides triple display support with VGA and HDMI ports, as well as dual-channel LVDS with backlight support. Diamond claims that each is 4K ready on its own.

The SBC provides dual GbE ports, as well as 6x to 10x USB ports overall, depending on how you count them. You get 4x 3.0 ports and 2x USB 2.0 ports, as well as two more 2.0 ports via OneBank, and two more via mini-PCIe.

The Venus is further equipped with 4x RS-232/422/485 ports, audio I/O, MIPI–CSI, and 16x GPIO. You also get an RTC and a TPM module. The board runs at a typical 14W with a 9-18VDC input. Various cable kits are optional.

Raptor blasts off to Venus

The Venus is also available on one of Diamond’s rugged Raptor embedded “mission” computers. While the Raptor systems are highly customizable, this appears to be the first processor upgrade since a 2014 model based on Diamond’s Vega, a COM Express module built around an Intel 3rd Gen “Ivy Bridge” Core processor.

Raptor computer with Venus board
(click image to enlarge)

The Raptor computer with Venus offers MIL-DTL-38999 connectors, MIL-STD-202G shock/vibration conformance, MIL-STD-461 compliance, and an IP67 environmental rating, says Diamond. The 7.5 x 6.5 x 2.8-inch Raptor provides a variety of storage options, and enclosure customizations. Modifications include changes to the case size and finish, the connector types and finishes, as well as optional protection caps, additional heat sinks, custom mating cables, and custom labeling.

Further information

The Venus will be available in May at an undisclosed price. Presumably, the revised Raptor will be ready around then as well. More information may be found on the Diamond Systems Venus product page.

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