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Make your next move a SMARC one: the next platform for modular embedded solutions

The latest COM standard, SMARC, delivers a versatile, small form factor for computer-on-modules. It is suited to applications needing low energy consumption, a low profile, low cost and high performance. Typically, the computer-on-modules use both ARM and x86 SoCs, similar to those used in tablet PCs or smart phones. The maximum electrical power consumption of the module is designed for passive cooling applications.

The SMARC modules are used as components in mobile and stationary embedded systems. The module contains the processor, main memory, boot flash memory, board management controller, the CPU power supply, a Gigabit Ethernet controller and, if necessary, an LVDS display transmitter. The modules are combined with application-specific carrier boards. This allows additional functions such as audio codecs, a touch controller or a wireless link to be implemented. The modular approach provides scalability by using different modules in one device class, a faster time to market by purchasing standard modules, and expandability.

Two main criteria must be satisfied for an open industry standard. For one, the standard must be published, it must be available to anyone and it must be maintained by a neutral committee that enjoys wide support in the industry. The SGET, as the responsible committee, provides the specifications for download at its website. It currently has more than 50 members including all important module suppliers.

The SMARC hardware specification defines two module sizes. One, the short-size format (82 mm x 50 mm), is about the size of a credit card and the other is the full-size format (82 mm x 82 mm), which provides more space for memory modules, flash memory or Wi-Fi modules. SMARC modules are distinguished by a very low profile (including the heat spreaders), low power dissipation and the MXM3.0 connector. This was originally designed for video cards and has been used for many years in industry. With 314 pins over a connector width of 82 mm, SMARC modules can provide more interfaces than Qseven modules (230 pins) or COM Express® Mini modules (220 pins).

In contrast to the COM Express® and Qseven, the SMARC standard was designed for both x86 and ARM architectures. As a result, it can be used on a wide range of applications.

TQ is now offering the new TQMxE39S SMARC 2.0 module with the latest-generation Intel Atom® E3900 processors (codename: Apollo Lake). The technical properties of the module are optimized for harsh industrial applications. The combination of high-speed RAM with 2 to 8 GB of dual-channel LPDDR4 and available eMMCs ranging from 4 to 64 GB for an expanded temperature range, optimized cooling solutions and an optional conformal coating stake out new potential applications for the module under extreme environmental conditions.

To find out more or to discuss all the available board and module options, please come and see us at EDS 2018 where we will be showcasing all the choices available to you.

Author
Hitex (UK) Ltd

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