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Compact, rugged, Linux-friendly Skylake module is loaded with I/O

Jul 26, 2016 — by Eric Brown 698 views

Axiomtek’s “CEM501” COM Express module runs Linux on Skylake CPUs, and offers triple display operation plus numerous SATA, USB, LAN, and PCIe interfaces.

While we’re waiting for Intel’s 7th Gen “Kaby Lake” Core processors to arrive — they began shipping to manufacturers last week and received support in this week’s new Linux Kernel 4.7 — board and device vendors are still pushing out more products based on the 6th Gen Core “Skylake” processors, which similarly uses a 14nm fab process. Axiomtek has already released a Skylake-based MANO500 Mini-ITX board and PICO500 Pico-ITX SBC, and is now delivering its first Skylake COM Express Type 6 Compact module with the 95 x 95mm CEM501.

Axiomtek CEM501
(click image to enlarge)

Like Axiomtek’s earlier 4th Gen Core “Haswell” based CEM880 Type 6 module, the CEM501 runs Linux or Windows 7/8.1/10. The COM offers a choice of three dual-core options from the power-efficient, 15W TDP, U-series line of 6th Gen processors: the 2.6GHz Core i7-6600U, 2.4GHz Core i5-6300U, and 2.3GHz Core i3-6100U.

Like most Skylake modules, the CEM501 is touted for its up to 32GB DDR4-2133 RAM, and its 4K support when using one of the two DDI (HDMI/DVI/DisplayPort) ports. It also offers triple display support when mixing in the available LVDS interface or optional eDP or VGA ports, which swap out LVDS and DDI ports, respectively.

CEM501, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

While these are all typical of the Compact Type 6 competition, less common is the generous support for up to six PCIe Gen 3 and three SATA 3.0 interfaces. The module also features four USB 3.0 ports and eight USB 2.0 ports.


The CEM501 is further equipped with a GbE controller with WOL and PXE boot, dual serial interfaces, and an HD audio link interface to a carrier codec. You also get LPC, SPI, I2C, and smart battery interfaces, plus a watchdog and DIO (4-in, 4-out) or optional SDIO.

The announcement claims 40°C to 85°C support, but the product page and datasheet both say -20 to 70ºC, as well as 3.5 Grms vibration resistance. Options include a heatspreader or heatsink with fan. The CEM501 runs on a +12V, +5VSB ATX input, and supports Axiomtek’s AXView 2.0 remote management software.

CEB94006 carrier board
(click images to enlarge)

Like the earlier CEM880 and Intel Bay Trail based CEM842 and CEM843 COM Express Type 6 Compact modules, the CEM501 works with Axiomtek’s CEB94006 baseboard. The CEB94006 offers features like four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, five video ports, and a Port 80 display for debugging.

Further information

The CEM501 is available now at an undisclosed price. More information may be found at the Axiomtek CEM501 product page.

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