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Server class COM supports 16-core Xeons, packs dual 10GbE

Jul 11, 2016 — by Eric Brown 1,096 views

Advantech’s server-class SOM-5991 COM Express module runs Linux on up to 16-core Xeon D-1500 processors, and offers dual 10GBase-KR ports and PCIe with NTB.

We’ve seen a number of embedded boards supporting server-class Xeon E3-1200 SoCs from Intel’s Skylake architecture, such as Seco’s COMe-B09-BT6 COM Express Basic Type 6 module. Yet, Advantech’s SOM-5991, which uses the same 125 x 95mm Basic Type 6 form factor, is the first we’ve seen to run the similarly 14nm “Broadwell” based Xeon D-1500 SoCs, which are available with up to 16-core Xeons. Advantech claims it’s the first COM Express to use the Xeon D-1500, which debuted over a year ago, with more models arriving last fall and earlier this year.

SOM-5991, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Although Advantech bills the SOM-5991 as an “up to 16 core” module, the fastest processor options currently listed on its product page and PDF datasheet are the octa-core, 2.0GHz (2.6GHz turbo) Xeon D-1548 with a 12MB cache and 45W TDP, followed by an octa-core Xeon D-1537 clocked at 1.7GHz/2.3GHz with 12MB cache and 35W TDP. There’s also a quad-core, 1.6GHz/2.2GHz Pentium D1517 with 6MB cache and a 25W TDP from the same 14nm Broadwell family.

Like the Xeon E3-1200, the Xeon D-1500 is designed to be more power efficient than most server-class Xeon SoCs. The E3-1200 offers higher clock speeds, while the D-1500 has more cores, and also offers extra like dual 10GbE interfaces, which the SOM-5991 taps for its dual 10GBase-KR controllers. For more on the differences between the Xeon E3-1200 and Xeon D-1500, see this STH comparison report.



The SOM-5991 is designed for midrange routers, network and security appliances, wireless base stations, embedded midrange IoT devices, midrange storage area networks (SANs), NAS devices, and “warm cloud storage,” says Advantech. In addition to featuring dual 10GBase-KR controllers, the module offers PCIe x16 Gen 3 and PCIe x1 Gen 2, both with support for Non-Transparent Bridge (NTB). This enables a secondary system to take over PCIe storage devices in case of CPU failure, and “provides high availability for applications providing continuous service,” says the company.

The module is the first COM Express with backplane to increase rigidity, enabling the thermal module to make tight contact with the CPU, with no board bending, claims Advantech. The company also offers a thermal-solution preassembly service. Temperature ranges include 0 to 60°C and -40 to 85°C with 0.7m/s air flow, and vibration resistance is listed as 3.5 Grms, per IEC 60068-2-64. The module supports 8.5-20V input.

SOM-5991 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The SOM-5991 supports up to 32GB of up to 2400MHz dual-channel DDR4 RAM with ECC. A GbE controller is provided along with the dual 10GbE interfaces. The module is further equipped with four SATA III ports, four USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, and dual COM ports.

Other features include 8-bit GPIO, plus SMBus, LPC, I2C, SPI, dual Express Card, and dual smart fan interfaces. A watchdog is standard and TPM is optional. The module runs Linux or Windows Server 2012, and is supported by Advantech’s SUSIAccess remote management software.

SOM-DB5900 development board

The SOM-5991 module is available with a SOM-DB5900 development board that features a Baseboard Management Controller (BMC) for remote management. Other features include KVM and storage redirection, IPMI2.0/1.1 via a dedicated or shared NIC, SOL (serial-over-LAN), and remote system BIOS updates, says Advantech.

SOM-DB5900 carrier (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The 304.8 x 244mm (12.0 x 9.6-inch) SOM-DB5900 carrier board is equipped with four 10GBase-KR ports via a riser card, as well as 10/100 and 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports. A VGA port with 1920 x 1200 resolution is available, driven by a 266MHz AST2400 2D graphics controller with its own 512MB DDR3 RAM.

The SOM-DB5900 features four SATA connectors, four USB 3.0 ports, and two USB 2.0 pin headers. You also get a PCIe x16 and two PCIe x4 interfaces, plus LPC, SPI, SMBus, and I2C. Three COM ports are onboard along with 8-bit GPIO, optional SDIO and TPM, and a visible debug utility (BIOS 80 Port and Power State). Power and temperature details match the specs listed for the module

Further information

The SOM-5991 COM Express module and SOM-DB5900 carrier board are available at undisclosed prices. More information may be found at Advantech’s SOM-5991 and SOM-DB5900 product pages.

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