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X-ES spins Enterprise Linux BSP for its x86 boards

Apr 21, 2017 — by Eric Brown 891 views

X-ES launched a RHEL-compatible “X-ES Enterprise Linux” distro optimized for its x86 COMs and SBCs starting with its recent Xeon/Broadwell VPX and VME SBCs.

Extreme Engineering Solutions (X-ES), which has supported its embedded boards with Gentoo Linux, will now offer a Red Hat flavored X-ES Enterprise Linux (XEL) board support package option as the default, with Gentoo still available as an alternative. XEL will be offered for all x86-based X-ES “embedded processing modules,” which would appear to include its Intel Bay Trail based XPedite8150 and Xpedite8152 COMs, among others. Tthe first four “featured products” with XEL are VPX and VME compliant SBCs aimed at high-end networking (see farther below).


The open source, GPL-licensed XEL BSP “operates in conjunction with a stable Enterprise Linux distribution to add full functionality and accessibility to all of an X-ES embedded computing module’s ports and I/O,” says X-ES. The XEL BSP adds a layer of support for X-ES hardware through an assortment of kernel modules and drivers, says the company.


XEL appears to be based on the server-oriented Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, although it may derive from the similar, Red Hat sponsored upstream Fedora community project or the RHEL-like CentOS. “Linux distributions compatible with XEL include, but are not limited to, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, and Scientific Linux,” says X-ES. XEL is said to support “Enterprise Linux 6 versions both in the x86_64 and i686 architectures, all versions of Enterprise Linux 7, and RedHawk 7.2 and 7.2.3 in the x86_64 architecture.”

The XEL BSP drivers provide access to Intel ICH GPIO and Intel “Bay Trail” devices, I2C GPIO devices, and temperature sensors. XEL also offers access to I2C GPIO devices through either a sysfs or I2C character device interface.

The temperature sensor is said to support processors in the coretemp driver and a large AT24 serial EEPROM. There’s also support for access to a PCI-to-VME bridge. Numerous scripts and utilities support X-ES functions such as access to readings from onboard temperature sensors, automatic I2C/SMBus device registration, and onboard LED control. XEL is available with support and updates via its X-ES Open-Source Software Portal.

VPX and VME boards first to offer XEL

The XEL product page showcases four fairly recent SBCs that ship with the distribution, although it would appear that XEL is also available for all its x86 boards. Three of the SBCs use the VBX standard, which is also adopted by the QorIQ LS2088A based XPedite6370 SBC we covered last year. As an ARM-based board, however, the XPedite6370 would not appear to be eligible for XEL.

A fourth board complies with the older VME standard, which lacks VPX’s support for modern connectors, bus technologies, and serial fabrics. Both the VPX and VME formats are governed by the OpenVPX standard, the latest in a line of mil/aero-focused specifications maintained by VITA (VME Industry Trade Association). Two of the four boards use the 3U form factor while two others use the larger 6U.

XPedite7670 (left) and XPedite7570
(click images to enlarge)

Here’s a quick rundown on the first four XEL-enabled X-ES SBCs, with names linking to product pages:


  • XPedite7670 — This 3U VPX-REDI board taps an up to 16-core, server-class Intel Xeon D-1500 from the 5th “Broadwell” generation, which we’ve seen on COMs like the Advantech SOM-5991 and Eurotech CPU-161-18. The 160 x 100mm XPedite7670 features dual GbE ports and dual 10-GbE ports configured as 10GBASE-KR, and can load up to 16GB DDR4 and 32GB NAND. The board includes three VPX sites and an XMC site, and supports I/O including 16x PCIe, 6x SATA III, 2x USB 3.0, 6x serial, and GPIO. Extended temp support is available for up to 12-core models.

  • XPedite7570 — The VPX-REDI compliant XPedite7570 runs on a “Broadwell-H” or 4th Gen “Haswell” Core i7 with Intel QM87 chipset, and offers 4x GbE ports, 2x of which are configured as SerDes ports. A PCIe switch with Non-Transparent Bridging enables direct communication with other Intel processors, eliminating the need for a separate switch module, says X-ES. The 160 x 100mm board supports up to 8GB of DDR3L and 32GB NAND, and provides 3x VPX sites and one XMC/PrPM site. I/O includes 16x PCIe, 5x SATA III, 2x USB 2.0, 2x serial, GPIO, and 2x HDMI/DVI-D or dual-mode DP ports.

  • XCalibur4643 — This 6U VPX SBC offers a Xeon-D-1500 with up to 16 cores paired with a Xilinx Kintex UltraScale FPGA. The 233 x 160mm board furnishes dual 10-GbE ports on the dataplane and 3x PCIe x4 interfaces on the expansion plane. OpenVPX, XMC, and PrPMC sites are available. The XCalibur4643 supports up to 32GB of DDR4 and 64GB of NAND, and provides 4x GbE, 4x SATA, 2x USB, and up to 5x RS-232/422/485 ports on the back panel. An optional front-panel add-on provides GbE, USB 3.0, and RS-232 ports in single units.

  • XCalibur4531 — The 6U, VME-compliant XCalibur4531 features a 5th Gen Core i7 with Iris Pro graphics backed up with up to 16GB DDR3L and 64GB NAND. The 233 x 160mm board provides a VME interface and dual XMC/PrPMC sites, with I/O including 3x GbE, 2x USB 2.0, 2x serial, and a SATA port. There’s also HDMI/DVI-D or dual-mode DP, as well as PMC I/O.

XCalibur4643 (left) and XCalibur4531
(click images to enlarge)

Further information

The X-ES Enterprise Linux (XEL) BSP is available now on the XPedite7670, XPedite7570, XCalibur4643, and XCalibur4531 SBCs, and appears to be available for download for other X-ES x86 embedded boards. More information may be found at the X-ES XEL product page.

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