The EPIC Express standard has only recently been adopted by the PC/104 Consortium, which is also the holder of the PC/104-based EPIC standard. EPIC Express (read more on EPIC Express) brings PCI Express speeds to this compact, stackable form factor. Now Ampro delivers the first EPIC Express board that will hopefully be followed by EPIC Express expansion boards.
The ReadyBoard 820 follows the same 4.5- by 6.5-in. form factor as the EPIC standard. The difference is the use of the new PCI Express connectors designed for the EPIC Express standard. The board has three connectors, but they are not arranged in the standard, three header configuration for EPIC Express. Instead, it follows the one connector standard and provides the other two for custom expansion (see Figure). Each header has four PCI Express lanes. This allows the single PCI Express header to be used with up to four expansion boards.
EPIC Express uses a stacking architecture similar to PC/104 except that it uses a shifting board-to-board connection instead of the straight-through bus of PC/104 or the PCI PC-104 Plus.
The board holds a 1.8-GHz Pentium with 2-Mbyte level 2 cache. It can handle devices through a 1 GHz ULV (ultra-low voltage) version. The ReadyBoard 820 handles up to 1 Gbyte of DDR SODIMM, and I have already mentioned the PCI Express expansion. Other interfaces include enhanced Ultra DMA 33/66/100 synchronous IDE interface, a CompactFlash Socket, four serial ports, CPIO, four USB 2.0 host ports, PS/2 keyboard/mouse, AC97 audio, and a Gigabit Ethernet and a 100BaseT Ethernet interface. The Intel GMA 900 graphic engine can handle LVDS and TTL display panels.
The ReadyBoard 820 is a sign of things to come.