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Rugged Type 6 COM runs Linux on 5th Gen Intel Core

Jan 29, 2015 — by Eric Brown 1,446 views

Adlink unveiled a rugged, Linux-ready “cExpress-BL” COM Express Compact Type 6 module with Intel 5th Gen Core chips and optional -40 to 85°C support.

Adlink is the second vendor to announce a product based on Intel’s 14nm-fabricated 5th Generation Core (“Broadwell U”) processors, following Congatec’s Conga-TC97. The cExpress-BL supports the same Core models as the Conga-TC97 and similarly complies with the COM Express Compact Type 6 form factor.

cExpress-BL, top view
(click image to enlarge)

The cExpress-BL is pin-to-pin compatible with Adlink’s cExpress-HL Type 6 COM, which uses the 4th generation (“Haswell”) of Core processors. The new module is available with a Linux BSP, and is “suitable for fanless edge device solutions that demand intense graphics performance and multitasking capabilities in a space-constrained environment,” says Adlink. Examples include digital signage for medical, transport, and retail applications, as well as machine vision in factory automation.

This first generation of Broadwell Core chips are primarily notable for faster, more capable graphics, rather than overall performance improvements, thanks to new Intel HD Graphics 5500 and 6000 technology. Power consumption is also generally lower when comparing the full product range to Haswell CPUs.

cExpress-BL, from two angles
(click images to enlarge)

The cExpress-BL is available with the same three dual-core Broadwell processors found on Congatec’s TC-97: the 2.2GHz Core i7-5650U, the 1.8GHz Core i5-5350U, and the Core i3-5010U. The Core i7 has 4MB of L2 cache, while the other two have 3MB. All have Intel HD Graphics 6000 except for the Core i3-5010U, which incorporates HD Graphics 5500.

Intel “Broadwell-U” block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The three processors have the same 15W TDPs and core count as the respective Haswell Core chips found in Adlink’s cExpress-HL. However, the clock rates are higher, except for the Core i5 model, which is just slightly lower.

cExpress-BL compared to Conga-TC97
(click images to enlarge)

The cExpress-BL is very similar to the Conga-TC97. Both support up to 16GB of DDR3L RAM, and offer display features including 24-bit LVDS, which in this case can be swapped out for eDP. There are also dual DDI ports for HDMI and DisplayPort, as well as triple display support.

cExpress-BL block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

Like the Congatec module, the Adlink COM supports four SATA ports, four PCIe slots, and dual USB 3.0 ports. However, it supports six USB 2.0 ports instead of Congatec’s eight. Instead of offering dual Express Card interfaces, it instead adds dual serial UART ports and GPIO. The module also supports Super I/O if required by the carrier board.


The other key difference is the addition of shock and vibration resistance, as well as optional support. Like most other Adlink embedded products, it also supports Adlink’s Smart Embedded Management Agent (SEMA) remote monitoring software.

Other options include Adlink’s COM Express engineering test tools, including a Type 6 starter kit, which “allows customers to proceed with carrier board design and software verification simultaneously,” says Adlink. There’s also a T6-DDI video adapter card, which provides access to the cExpress-BL’s DDI ports, as well as an LPC POST debug board. Optional services include a customized BIOS service and a carrier board design service.

Specifications listed for the cExpress-BL module include:

  • Processor — 5th Generation Intel i7/i5/i3 “Broadwell” Core processors
    • Core i7-5650U — dual-core 2.2GHz (3.2GHz turbo), 4MB Cache, 15W, Intel HD Graphics 6000 @ 300MHz (GT3)
    • Core i5-5350U — dual-core 1.8GHz (2.9GHz turbo), 3MB Cache, 15W, Intel HD Graphics 6000 @ 300MHz (GT3)
    • Core i3-5010U — dual-core 2.1GHz (no turbo), 3MB Cache, 15W, Intel HD Graphics 6000 (GT2
    • Intel Core technologies – Intel Turbo Boost, Hyper-Threading (HT), VT, Execute Disable Bit, AVX 2.0 AES-NI, Trusted Execution Technology (TXT), Streaming SIMD Extensions 4.2 (SSE 4.2), PCLMULQDQ Instruction, Secure Key, Transactional Synchronization Extensions (TSX)
  • Memory — up to 16GB dual-channel DDR3L RAM @ 1600/1333MHz, via 2x SODIMMs
  • Storage — 4x SATA 6Gbps ports with RAID 0/1/5/10 support
  • Networking — 10/100/1000 Ethernet controller (Intel I218-LM) with AMT 10 support
  • Display:
    • Dual-channel 18/24-bit LVDS with optional swap-out for eDP
    • 2x DDI ports for DisplayPort or HDMI, at up to 4k with Multi-Stream Transport (MST)
    • Triple independent simultaneous displays
    • Supports OpenGL 4.2, DirectX 11.1
  • Audio — Intel HD Audio
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 3.0
    • 6x USB 2.0
    • 2x UARTs (COM1/2 with console redirection)
    • GPIO (4x in, 4x out) with interrupt
  • Expansion — 4x PCIe x1 (or 1x PCIe x4); LPC; I2C; SMBus (system)
  • Other features — TPM module (optional); watchdog; fan control; supports SEMA monitoring
  • Ruggedization:
    • Operating temperature — 0 to 60°C; optional -40 to 85°C
    • Optional heat spreaders and passive and active heatsinks
    • Shock and vibration — IEC 60068-2-64 and IEC-60068-2-27; MIL-STD-202F, Method 213B, Table 213-I, Condition A and Method 214A, Table 214-I, Condition D
    • HALT — Thermal stress, vibration stress, thermal shock, combined test
  • Power:
    • Standard input — ATX = 12V±5% / 5Vsb ±5% or AT = 12V±5%
    • Wide input — ATX = 5 to 20 V / 5Vsb ±5% or AT = 5 ~20V
    • ACPI 4.0 with battery backup
    • Power states — C1-C6, S0, S4, S3, S5, deep S5 ECO mode, Wake on USB S3/S4, WOL S3/S4/S5
  • Dimensions — 95 x 95mm; Type 6 “compact”
  • Operating systems — “extended BSP” for Linux and WES7/8S; also supports Windows 7/8.1U

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the cExpress-BL. More information may be found on Adlink’s cExpress-BL product page.

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