Small Form Factor Modules Deliver Flexible Deployment Options

April 11, 2013
Modules are everywhere at Design West 2013 from compact µQseven form factors to COM Express modules.

Design West 2013

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Modules are everywhere at Design West 2013 from compact µQseven form factors to COM Express modules. They are delivering high performance video in a compact package allowing designers to utilize the latest processor and video technology without having to contend with designing a complex processor board. Pluggable modules also allow developers to choose the level of performance they need and to offer different options to their customers by simply changing the module.

Table of Contents

  • Versalogic VL-COMm-26
  • Kontron SMARC Starterkit
  • SECO µQseven module

    Versalogic VL-COMm-26

    Versalogic's VL-COMm-26 is based on the 55-mm by 84-mm COM Express Mini form factor with a Type 10 pinout (Fig. 1). The very rugged, fanless design operates from -40° to +85°C allowing it to be used in harsh environments with Class 3 Manufacturing available as an option.

    Figure 1. Versalogic's VL-COMm-26 is based on the 55-mm by 84-mm COM Express Mini form factor.

    The 1.6 GHz Atom E6x0T processor is paired with the integrated Intel GMA600 graphics core. This provides hardware-accelerated MPEG-4 / H.264 as well as MPEG-2 video encoding and decoding. The module can drive a standard LVDS flat panel display and the SDVO output can support a variety of video interfaces including VGA and DVI.

    The module can be ordered with up to 2 Gbytes of soldered DDR2 DRAM. There is a pair of 3 Gbit/s SATA ports and a microSD socket that supports up to 32 Gbytes of flash memory. The 1 Gbit/s Ethernet port supports network boot. The two serial interfaces run at speeds up to 1 Mbits/s and there is a 2-wire CAN port.

    The VL-COMm-26 can be used in secured applications with the optional Trusted Platform Module (TPM). This provides secure boot support and helps prevent unauthorized hardware and software modification. The processor also supports Intel's Execute Disable Bit functionality.

    Thermal monitoring is standard. The system can be used in 12 V automotive applications since it can run on voltages from 8- to 17-V.

    Kontron SMARC Starterkit

    I highlighted Kontron's ULP-COM form factor last year (see Small Modules Deliver More Performance). The SGET (Standardization Group for Embedded Technologies) standard is now called SMARC.

    SMARC modules require a carrier board soKontron has delivered a platform for testing and developing with these kinds of modules. It is called the SMARC Starterkit (Fig. 2).

    Figure 2. SMARC Starterkit is a platform for developing and testing SMARC-based module solutions without the need for a custom carrier board.

    The kit includes a SMARC Evaluation Carrier board that accepts SMARC modules like the Kontron SMARC-sAMX6i based on Freescale's dual or quad core Cortex-A9 i.MX6 SoC. The carrier board has a range of interfaces including a SIM card interface, Camera Serial Interface (CSI), CAN bus, Gigabit Ethernet, and MicroSD storage. It supports mSATA, two miniPCIe sockets and a PCIe x1 socket. The 7-in WVGA display has touch support.

    Getting started with the platform is a matter of plugging in the desired module and booting the system. It allows evaluation of SMARC modules as well as starting software development prior to availability of a custom carrier board.

    SECO µQseven module

    SECO's µQ7-i.MX6 is a compact µQseven module (Fig. 3) based on Freescale's i.MX6 system-on-chip (SoC). The module is 40-mm by 70-mm and it is available with a single, dual or quad core Cortex-A9 chip. It is compliant with the Qseven Release 2 standard.

    Figure 3. SECO's µQ7-i.MX6 is a compact µQseven module based on Freescale's i.MX6 system-on-chip (SoC).

    The processor has access to 2 Gbytes of DDR3 memory. The integrated graphics controller has 2D and 3D acceleration with drivers that support OpenGL ES2.0 3D and OpenVG support. The module can support up to 3 displays making it ideal for digital signage applications. It supports HDMI 1080p as well as LVDS resolutions up to 1920 by 1200 pixels.

    Nonvolatile storage includes soldered eMMC plus one SATA interface and two SD/SDIO/MMC interfaces. The module also has a two serial ports, a USB OTG interface and four additional USB 2.0 interfaces. There is on PCI Express x1 port and a Gigabit Ethernet interface. Audio support is AC'97 compatible.

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