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Tiny rugged COM runs Linux on quad-core 2GHz Tegra K1

Feb 27, 2015 — by Eric Brown 5,405 views

[Updated Mar. 17] — GE unveiled a rugged COM Express Type 10 Mini module that runs Linux on a 2GHz Tegra K1 and offers soldered 2GB RAM and support for CUDA and VisionWorks.

GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, a division of GE Energy Management headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., is primarily focused on the military/aerospace segment. The 84 x 55mm mCOM10K1 computer-on-module, which conforms to the COM Express Type 10 “Mini” form factor, is designed in part for SWaP-constrained mil/aero applications like image and video processing, sensor processing and electronic warfare. However, it also has broader applications in industrial Internet and Internet of Things applications, says GE. These are said to include industrial process automation, automotive and transportation, and medical imaging.

(click image to enlarge)

The mCOM10K1 appears to be one of the first COMs to embrace Nvidia’s ARM-based Tegra K1. The Tegra K1 adds an impressive, 192-core Kepler GPU to what is essentially a Tegra 4-like quad-core Cortex-A15 design, and offers a combined 326 gigaflops of processing power.

A year ago, and a month after the K1 was announced, an open source K1 driver earned a thumbs-up from long-time Nvidia critic Linus Torvalds. The SoC was then prominently featured in Nvidia’s own Linux-based hacker SBC, the Jetson TK1. Last October, the 64-bit “Denver” version arrived in the form of a dual-core 2.3GHz SoC with the same 192 Kepler cores. The 64-bit K1 was first built into the HTC-manufactured, Google branded Nexus 9 tablet.

GE diagram showing suggested peripherals and applications
(click image to enlarge)

Nvidia has already moved on to its next 64-bit darling, the Tegra X1. The 20nm fabricated SoC incorporates four Cortex-A57 cores and four -A53 cores, and delivers twice the performance and twice the power efficiency of the K1, according to Nvidia.


The K1 is plenty powerful, however, even in the original 32-bit version that appears to be used in GE’s mCOM10K1 COM. Power consumption is not bad, either, as the mCOM10K1 is said to run on 10 watts or less.

The mCOM10K1’s Tegra K1 is supported with Nvidia’s C/C++ “VisionWorks” toolkit based on the Kepler GPU’s CUDA 6.0 architecture. With CUDA, GPU-optimized code can easily ported to other platforms, and developers have access to numerous third party tools and open standards libraries, says GE.

Block diagrams: mCOM10K1 COM (left) and its Tegra K1 SoC
(click image to enlarge)

The mCOM10K1’s on-board components “are specifically selected for their reliability in demanding conditions,” says GE. The processor, as well as 2GB of DDR3L RAM, are soldered “for maximum resistance to shock and vibration,” says the company (see ruggedization specs below). It’s unclear if the 4GB eMMC flash is soldered as well, though it seems likely given the emphasis on ruggedness and reliability. Conformal coating is optional.

The mCOM10K1 offers a gigabit Ethernet controller, and supports HDMI and LVDS display interfaces. Other I/O available through the COM Express connectors include SATA, PCI Express, audio I/O, GPIO, and five USB ports, including one USB 3.0 port.

Specifications listed for the mCOM10K1 include:

  • Processor (soldered) — Nvidia Tegra K1 (4x Cortex-A15 cores @ up to 2.0GHz with 192-core Mobile Kepler GPU and power management core)
  • Memory — 2GB DDR3L RAM (soldered); 4GB eMMC flash
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet controller
  • Other I/O (via COM Express Type 10 interface):
    • HDMI
    • LVDS
    • SATA 3Gbps
    • USB 3.0
    • 4x USB 2.0
    • Audio line-in, line out
    • CSI-2
    • 8x GPIO
    • PCIe x2 Gen 2
  • Other features — optional conformal coating
  • Power — 12V input; 10W and under consumption
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 65°C (air cooled)
  • Shock resistance — 40g, 11ms
  • Vibration resistance — 15-2000 Hz, 0.1 g2 / Hz
  • Dimensions — 84 x 55mm; COM Express Type 10 Mini
  • Operating system — Linux; supports CUDA and VisionWorks platform

“The Tegra K1 at the heart of the mCOM10K1 delivers a significant opportunity to exploit GPGPU technology [reference] on a scale that was previously unimaginable, creating a sophisticated processing capability at the edge nodes of the network,” stated Simon Collins, Product Manager at GE’s Intelligent Platforms business.

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the mCOM10K1. More information may be found on GE’s mCOM10K1 product page.

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