Requirements for ruggedness and extended temperature ranges limit commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) board choices for mil/aero small form factor (SFF) solutions. Embedded boards must be able to withstand the temperature extremes of action in the air and on land, as well as underwater in submersibles. The boards must also be tough enough to endure vibration and shock, including landings on a runway, vehicle transport over rough terrain, or use as a portable in field operations.
To deliver on extended temperature, vibration and shock, as well as size, weight and power (SWaP), mil/aero board manufacturers are calling to duty the Intel® Atom™ processor E3800 product family. Intel’s 22nm technology and 3D Tri-Gate transistors enable excellent thermal efficiency, helping the processors deliver both significant power savings and operate in constrained thermal conditions for a range of embedded applications. Processors range from one to four cores with power dissipation ranging from 3 to 10 watts. Operating temperature range extends from -40º C to +85º C.
A single-die SoC design combining CPU and chipset (Figure 1), Intel Atom processor E3800 product family SoCs include CPU, memory controller, GPU, I/O interfaces, security, and media engines – everything needed except the power supply. This integration reduces bill-of-materials (BOM) costs and enables outstanding compute performance per watt.
Figure 1. Two chips become one for lower BOM costs and better performance per Watt.
Intel Atom processor E3800 product family SoCs deliver up to 3x higher performance and consumer as little as 20% the power of the previous generation, making them an excellent choice for low-power, small form factor applications. With extended temperature support, BGA packaging, and error correcting code (ECC) memory support, these processors are ready for duty in rugged applications such as vehicle fire and weapon control and manpacks. Improved power management capabilities enable standby power measured in milliwatts to provide days of standby time.
The SoCs include Intel® HD Graphics 4000. First introduced in 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processors, this Gen7 GPU includes dedicated execution units, as well as fixed-function and hardware decode engines. These components increase 3D performance and provide hardware media acceleration for seamless visual experiences.
The SoCs are particularly well-suited for applications requiring image processing. A built-in image signal processor eliminates the need to develop custom ASICs/FPGAs. The SoCs support up to two camera interfaces with 8 MP and provide such imaging technologies as burst mode, continuous capture, low light noise reduction, and video stabilization.
The SoCs’ integration of I/O interfaces is extensive (Figure 2). In addition to supporting display interfaces (embedded DisplayPort*, DisplayPort, HDMI, and VGA), the SoCs support Digital Signal Processing (DSP) for audio, multiple storage types, and legacy embedded I/O. Expansion capabilities are readily available through industry-standard high-bandwidth interfaces such as PCI Express Gen 2.0, Hi-Speed USB 2.0, and USB 3.0 connectivity.
Figure 2. The Intel® Atom™ processor E3800 product family SoC provides extensive I/O.
Security is crucial for mil/aero applications. The Intel Atom processor E3800 product family SoCs include Intel® Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (Intel® AES-NI) for hardware-assisted data encryption and decryption. They also include Secure Boot, a feature that allows only trusted software to run on a device. Additionally, inclusion of Intel® Virtualization Technology (Intel® VT-x) provides near-native performance of virtualized workloads for greater reliability, security, and flexible resource management.
Extended Temperature COTS Boards
An example of a COM Express module that uses these SoCs is the COMe-cBTi6R from Kontron (Figure 3). With COM Express, all computing elements are contained in the off-the-shelf module, while all application customization is done in the accompanying carrier board. This division enables reusing the carrier board design when swapping out processors to achieve next-generation performance.
Figure 3. Kontron COMe-cBTi6R
The COMe-cBTi6R offers a full range of extended temperature Intel Atom processor E3800 product family SoCs and soldered RAM for vibration resistance. It meets the requirements of real-time controllers or memory-hungry HMIs with a choice of up to 4GB LPDDR3 with ECC or up to 8GB LPDDR3 without ECC. Rapid Shutdown support minimizes the risk of system or data tampering in mission-critical applications. Software and application data can be stored on the eMMC Flash and via 2 SATA interfaces. Peripherals can be connected via 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB OTG, 8x USB 2.0, or 4x PCIe x1.
The XPedite8152 (Figure 4) is a rugged COM Express module from Extreme Engineering Solutions. An extended version (55 mm x 109 mm) of the COM Express® Mini form factor, it provides up to 32 GB of SLC NAND flash as well as 4 GB of DDR3 ECC SDRAM. The XPedite8152 supports an enhanced Type 10 pinout with one Dual-Mode DisplayPort, one Embedded DisplayPort, two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, and three SATA interfaces. With built-in test (BIT) support, true configuration and obsolescence management, Class III PCB fabrication and assembly, environmental qualification per MIL-STD-810, the XPedite8152 is ready for action in demanding environments and applications requiring long life cycles.
Figure 4. The Extreme Engineering Solutions XPedite8152
Developers can choose from Wind River VxWorks and Linux Board Support Packages, as well as Microsoft Windows drivers, for the XPedite8152. The COM supports the open source coreboot bootloader powered by the Intel® Firmware Support Package (FSP) to enable ultra-fast boot times and drastically simplify system security.
In a PCIe/104 single board computer design, ADL Embedded Solutions offers the ADLE3800PC with a choice of the Intel Atom processor E3845 or E3827 (Figure 5). This board is well designed for rugged, extended temperature intelligent systems with stringent size, weight, and power requirements. It has a wide thermal junction temperature ranging from -40C to +85C, and is particularly suited for extreme environments as mobile autonomous systems for civil, commercial and defense applications. Ruggedization options include underfilling (including BGA underfill), bonding, and conformal coating. Two heat spreader options are available for high temperature applications.
Figure 5. ADL Embedded Solutions offers the ADLE3800PC
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Solutions in this blog:
Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance
Associate Editor, Embedded Innovator magazine