Intel And Arm Systems Show Up At Design West 2013

April 25, 2013
The pace was slow on the floor but there were plenty of design trends at Design West 2013.

Design West 2013

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There was plenty of Intel-based hardware at Design West 2013 like Super Micro Computers (Supermicro) CSE-101i SuperChassis (Fig. 1) that holds a Mini-ITX motherboard. Supermicro has a plethora of options from Atom-based boards with HMDI support to Core i7 platforms for applications that need more computing power.

The SuperChassis can hold a 2.5-in disk drive and up to an 80-W DC-to-ATX power supply. Wall mount and VESA mount brackets are available for digital signage applications. Side venting improves cooling for conduction and fan cooled motherboards.

Figure 1. CSE-101i SuperChassis can hold a Mini-ITX motherboard and a 2.5-in disk drive.

The SuperServer 1017A-MP puts a Mini-ITX motherboard with a 1.86 GHz, conduction cooled Intel Atom N2800 processor inside the case. It uses the Intel NM10 Express chipset that can handle up to 4 Gbytes of 1066 MHz DDR3 memory in a pair of SO-DIMM sockets. It has one Mini-PCI Express socket. It supports VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort video. There are two Intel 82574L Gigabit Ethernet ports. The motherboard also has two USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports. The system has a 60-W power supply.

Arming Boards

Arm-based solutions were also out in force at Design West. WinSystems’ SBC35-C398Q board (Fig. 2) has the same form factor as a 3.5-in disk drive. The board is based around an industrial, 800 MHz Freescale i.MX 6Q SoC with four Cortex-A9 cores. It also has 2 Gbytes of soldered DDR3 memory. There are CFast, SD and Micro SD memory sockets.

Figure 2. WinSystems’ SBC35-C398Q board has an 800 MHz Freescale i.MX 6Q SoC with four Cortex-A9 cores.

The board has a stackable IO60 expansion socket along with a Mini-PCIe socket. There are lots of peripheral and communication interfaces including Gigabit Ethernet with IEEE-1588 support, dual CAN ports, three RS-422/485 serial ports, a pair of RS-232/422/485 ports, six USB 2.0 ports, one USB OTG port and 24 GPIO lines with 30-V DC tolerant inputs. It can handle multiple display interfaces including two channel LVDS and HDMI. It has a MIP capture and display interface plus a CMOS camera interface.

The board handles a wide range of power inputs including support for Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) without external interfaces. The system can handle a range of operating systems including Linux, Android and Windows Compact 7 plus a variety of RTOS solutions.

This is WinSystems’ first flirtation with Arm products and it has brought an impressive array of peripherals and a solid Arm SoC to the table. It will be interesting to see how the IO60 interface works. They had a couple of prototype interfaces on display at the show.

Another platform was the IFC6410 from Inforce Computing (see Pico-ITX Board Hosts Quad Core Snapdragon S4). It has a 1.7 GHz, quad core “Krait” Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 that is comparable to a quad core Cortex-A15. The Pico-ITX board includes a 4 Gbyte eMMC memory chip along with MicroSD and SATA connections. It comes with 2 Gbytes of DDR3 memory.

The major difference with the Arm solutions is cooling. Conduction cooling is the norm and the processors often lack even a heat sink.

About the Author

William Wong Blog | Senior Content Director

Bill Wong covers Digital, Embedded, Systems and Software topics at Electronic Design. He writes a number of columns, including Lab Bench and alt.embedded, plus Bill's Workbench hands-on column. Bill is a Georgia Tech alumni with a B.S in Electrical Engineering and a master's degree in computer science for Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

He has written a dozen books and was the first Director of PC Labs at PC Magazine. He has worked in the computer and publication industry for almost 40 years and has been with Electronic Design since 2000. He helps run the Mercer Science and Engineering Fair in Mercer County, NJ.

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