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Rugged, Linux-ready sandwich style SBC packs Skylake CPUs

Mar 21, 2017 — by Eric Brown 1,115 views

VersaLogic’s 125 x 85 x 37mm “Blackbird” offers Skylake CPUs, up to 32GB of DDR4, 3x mini-PCIe sockets, wide-range power, and MIL-STD-202G ruggedization.

VersaLogic calls its dual-layer Blackbird an Embedded Processing Unit (EPU). Like the other VersaLogic EPUs we’ve seen, such as the Atom-based Osprey EPU, the Blackbird is a three-layer sandwich consisting of a COM Express module in the middle, a same-sized I/O interface board on the top, and a heat spreader on the bottom. Compared to the Osprey, the Blackbird has a lot more real-world ports, making it more SBC-like rather than a COM with SBC-like characteristics. The Blackbird is “supplied fully assembled and tested, including heat plate, ready to install in a system,” says Versalogic.

(click image to enlarge)

The Blackbird showcases Intel’s 6th Generation “Skylake” Core processors, including dual-core U-Series and quad-core EQ-series chips up to an i7-6822EQ clocked to 2.6GHz. Relatively low power consumption compared to earlier Core processors enables 15W to 22W overall board performance depending on the Skylake variant, claims the company. The board supports Linux, VxWorks, QNX, DOS, and various flavors of Windows.

The Blackbird adopts a COM Express Basic-like 125 x 85mm footprint, but the dual layer construction gives it a hefty 37mm profile. The X/Y dimensions are roughly equivalent to that of a 100 x 72mm Pico-ITX board, such as the Skylake-based PICO500 or DFI BW051.


The Blackbird supports -40 to 85°C, as well as 0 to 60°C temperature ranges, and offers MIL-STD-202G rated shock and vibration resistance. The board provides several latching connectors for better protection, and includes power management features like 8 to 30V DC input and over- and reverse-voltage protection.

The Blackbird supports up to 32GB DDR4 RAM, and provides dual coastline SATA 3.0 ports, and a mini-PCIe socket with mSATA support. There are three mini-PCIe slots overall, including a second full-size slot and a half-size slot, both with PCIe and USB 2.0 signaling.

Blackbird detail view
(click image to enlarge)

Other real-world ports on the side of the board includes dual USB 3.0 ports and dual mini-DisplayPorts with up to 2560 x 1600 resolution. The board also includes a dual-channel 18/24-bit LVDS interface with backlighting signals and 1920 x 1200 support.

Blackbird’s carrier board bottom view showing COM Express connectors (left), and the EPU’s block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The EPU is further equipped with 4x USB 2.0, 4x RS-232/422/485, and the VersaLogic SPI interface, which supports up to 2x SPX modules in addition to SPI devices. The interface is also found on the company’s recent, Intel Kaby Lake based Lion SBC.

The Blackbird provides 24x TTL DIO lines, as well as 8-channel analog inputs and 4-channel analog outputs. You will also find audio I/O, an I2C interface, an RTC battery connection, and various counters and timers. A TPM security chip is also available. As usual, there are loads of optional mini-PCIe and SPX expansion modules, as well as customization services.

Further information

The Blackbird is available now at an undisclosed price. More information may be found on VersaLogic’s Blackbird product page.

(advertise here)

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