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Stepping ahead

COM Express hopes to satisfy demand for small form factor, high end boards for embedded systems. By Vanessa Knivett.

COM Express (Computer on Module Express) is one of the latest formats being developed around the PCI Express switched serial interconnect standard by the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG).
Incorporating other switched serial interconnect interfaces – such as Serial ATA, USB 2.0, LVDS and the new serial digital video out standard – the outline specification for COM Express was based on ETXexpress, initiated by Kontron and Intel late in 2003.
By Spring 2004, PICMG was involved, seeing it as a way of meeting the wider challenges of embedded computing. Whilst ETXexpress was envisaged as a way of meeting the specific needs of high end embedded systems, the need for a small form factor complement to PCI and graphics capabilities is industry wide. Market analyst VDC predicted last year that the small form factor embedded market would show compound annual growth rate of more than 50% for next four years. Next year, this market is likely to be worth around $400million, fuelled by new opportunities for embedded systems such as security.
Some 40 companies are helping to develop the COM Express specification, now billed as an industry open standard that will enable very high I/O and processing performance densities.

Vanessa Knivett

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