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Stackable SBC sandwich runs Linux on ARM/FPGA Zynq SoC

Jul 24, 2015 — by Eric Brown 3,565 views

Sundance’s sandwich-style SBC runs Linux on an ARM/FPGA Xilinx Zynq SoC, offers VITA57.1 FMC-LPC I/O, and stacks via a PCIe/104 OneBank expansion bus.

With its announcement of the EMC2-Z7015 SBC, PC/104 module maker Sundance Multiprocessor Technology Ltd. has become the third vendor we’ve come across to support the PC/104 Consortium’s new OneBank bus option for its stackable PCIe/104 bus spec. The EMC2-Z7015 is a sandwich-style, stackable SBC consisting of three key ingredients: a PC/104 form-factor (90 x 96mm) baseboard; a Trenz TE0715 SoM computer-on-module; and a cable-less I/O interface card, dubbed the Sundance External Interface Connector (SEIC) board.

EMC2-Z7015 baseboard alone (left), and combined with the Trenz SoM and SEIC I/O board
(click images to enlarge)

The stackable EMC2-Z7015 can be used as a standalone SBC, but it’s really designed for large-scale, stacked multiprocessing ARM/FPGA systems in a variety of commercial, medical, industrial, and military applications, says Sundance.

A stack consisting of multiple EMC2-Z7015 subsystems
(click image to enlarge)

The 50 x 40mm Trenz SoM is equipped with a Zynq-7000 series ARM/FPGA SoC along with 1GB of DDR3 RAM, SPI boot flash, an RTC with clock generator, LEDs, and a variety of I/O. You can also boot the module from the EMC2-Z7015 board’s microSD slot as an alternative to the boot flash.

Default Trenz SoM module front (left) and back views
(click images to enlarge)

The default Trenz module uses the Zynq-7015, which falls in between the Zynq-7010 and -7020 in FPGA functionality. It combines its dual-core ARM subsystem with Artix-7 level FPGA featuring 74k logic cells and 160 DSP slices, and supplies four 6.25Gbps transceivers. Sundance also offers a Zynq-7030 Trenz SoM option that instead mimics lower-end models of the upper-range Kintex-7 FPFA family, with 125k logic cells and 400 DSP slices. The Zynq-7030 provides four 12.5Gbps transceivers.

Block diagrams: EMC2-Z7015 (left) and Trenz SoM
(click images to enlarge)

The EMC2-Z7015 includes coastline gigabit Ethernet, SATA, USB 2.0 host, and HDMI ports, in addition to the microSD slot. The board is further equipped with a a 1-wire interface, an SMA interface, and dual ADCs. LEDs and a reset button are also provided.

EMC2-Z7015 front (left) and back views, showing baseboard and I/O board details
(click images to enlarge)

On the back of the board, there is an RS232 port, a PCIe Gen 2 expansion slot, and a PCI Express switch. Sundance even added a 3-axis accelerometer and magnetometer.

In a stackable system, the EMC2-Z7015’s PCI Express links provide high-speed communications among the COMs’ 1GHz, dual-Cortex-A9 Zynq SoCs.


Sundance touts the “cable-less-break-out” design of both the Trenz module and the EMC2-Z7015 board, which is said to enables systems without external cables. The design uses a Samtec Razor Beam self-mating connector. In the case of the Trenz module, this enables easy swapping between the -7015 and -7030 COMs, “or even the next generation of Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC,” says Sundance.

The other major twist here is the VITA57.1 FMC-LPC expansion interface, which supports a variety of 75 x 75mm PCIe mezzanine cards. This LPC (low-pin count) variant provides 34x parallel interfaces, including I2C and JTAG, as well as dual clocks as differential pairs. A free web-edition of the Xilinx Vivado 2015.2 toolsuite provides the VHDL synthesis for FPGA programing of a VITA57.1 FMC-LPC module carrier’s logic and control, says Sundance.

“The addition of a VITA57.1 FMC-LPC makes it easy to migrate R&D efforts from Xilinx’s development ‘bread-boards’ to a fully rugged PC/104 environment, be it air, land, sea or space,” stated Mark Jensen, Director of Xilinx Alliance Ecosystem in a Sundance testimonial.

The EMC2-Z7015 board is available in -10 to 40ºC and -25 to 80ºC versions, and runs on either 5V or 12V power. Both the module and board will run any standard Linux application. The devices are supported with extensive hardware specs, including Trenz SoM schematics.

Further information

The EMC2-Z7015 is available starting at $1,485 in single units or below $800 for 100+ volumes. Lead-time is typically 1-3 weeks, says Sundance Multiprocessor Technology. More information may be found at the Sundance EMC2-Z7015 product page.

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