05 March 2012
EmbeddedXpress industry standard for COM based SBCs
Diamond Systems has unveiled EmbeddedXpress (EMXTM), a new industry standard form factor for embedded computers that combines COM Express cpu modules with stackable I/O expansion in an SBC format.
According to the global embedded computing solutions supplier, EMX boards offer increased flexibility, scalability, and longevity in the final product by providing interchangeable processor modules along with stackable I/O expansion. The combination of SBCs and COMs is said to result in off the shelf embedded computing solutions with easy I/O expansion, plus performance scalability and increased product lifetime.
EMX defines two sizes of boards: EMX Basic (95x125mm, same as COM Express Basic) and EMX Compact (95x95mm, same as COM Express Compact). Traditional single board computers (SBCs) as well as COM carrier boards can be designed in either size, while I/O modules are defined only in the Compact size.
EMX COM carrier boards are designed to provide a convenient and efficient way to utilise the wide selection of COM Express modules available from multiple vendors worldwide, resulting in performance scalability, protection from cpu obsolescence, and earlier access to the latest cpu technologies. In addition, EMX COM based SBCs offer efficient conduction cooling by means of a bottom mounted heat spreader that contacts the system enclosure. Conduction cooling enables a higher ambient operating temperature rating for the SBC, while simultaneously keeping the electronics inside the enclosure cooler, thereby improving reliability.
According to Diamond Systems, one of the key highlights of EMX is the use of a new, significantly more efficient expansion bus connector. The company states that the EMX expansion connector is smaller and lower cost than other stackable I/O standards, helping to reduce cost and increase the availability of PCB area for processor and I/O circuitry. The connector includes all the most popular expansion buses utilised by current and planned processors, chipsets, and peripheral chips, ensuring compatibility long into the future. It contains ample reserved pins, ensuring a long lifetime for the standard by providing the capacity to incorporate new features as they become available and desirable.
"EmbeddedXpress represents a significant advancement in small form factor embedded computing," said Jonathan Miller, president of Diamond Systems. "It successfully addresses key issues faced by all embedded customers: Performance scalability, product longevity, configuration flexibility, and size/cost efficiency."
EMX is intended to become an open standard available to the market without payment of any royalty or license fees. As the creator of EMX, Diamond Systems plans to maintain the standard and provide technical assistance to product designers until the standard is eventually housed by an appropriate standards organisation.
Diamond is also introducing Altair™, which it claims to be the world's first EMX Basic SBC and Vega™, the world's first EMX Basic COM-based SBC. Altair features an Intel Atom E680T processor at 1.6GHz, on board memory, a full suite of I/O features, PCIe Mini Card socket and latching connectors for enhanced ruggedness. It operates over the industrial temperature range of -40 to +85°C and has passed MIL-STD-202G shock and vibration testing. The Vega family of EMX COM-based SBCs is a two-board solution (COM Express module plus baseboard) that offers an 'unparalleled' set of features for its footprint. In addition to the processor and full complement of COM Express peripherals (Ethernet, VGA, LCD, USB, SATA), Vega includes a wide range power supply capable of delivering up to 96W for the COM module and add-on boards, a full autocalibrating analogue I/O circuit with 16bit a/d and d/a, a second gigabit Ethernet port, and 4 RS-232/422/485 serial ports.
According to Diamond, the benefits of EMX include: Because EMX utilises COM modules and also provides a complete SBC like solution, it appeals to a wider range of high and low volume customers than either COMs or SBCs alone. Furthermore it is said to enable COM module vendors to sell fully functional, off the shelf solutions using their COM modules, reaching traditional SBC customers by offering a complete solution. Since EMX offers the ability to use COM modules as the computing engine, it eliminates the need for traditional SBC vendors to design complex processor circuits, enabling them to get to market faster with a wider range of products, as well as providing longer lifetime and greater return on investment for their products.
For designers, EMX eliminates the need to design a custom baseboard for many applications, so they can select the COM module that best suits their needs, and match it to the baseboard of choice to get an instant off the shelf solution with no custom design. The size of EMX Basic is larger than PC/104. Designers of EMX SBCs can fit more processor circuitry on the board without resorting to shortcuts or form factor extensions. Customers can be assured of standard size and shape boards that will fit into their systems without worrying about non-standard board shapes and sizes. The size of EMX Compact is roughly equivalent to PC/104, providing sufficient room for common I/O designs. The expansion connector is optimized for size, cost, interconnectivity, PCB area, and PCB coastline, plus it contains sufficient reserved pins for future upgrades.