As the new Cedar Trail architecture takes hold in off the shelf embedded modules, designers are able to quickly take advantage of the higher performance, lower power, ubiquitous connectivity, and an expanded graphical user interface in new development projects. As I covered in an earlier post, the Cedar Trail platform includes the next generation Intel® Atom™ processor ranging from the 1.66 GHz N2600 and 1.85 GHz N2800 up to the high performance 2.13 GHz D2700. This new architecture is based on 32 nm process technology and offers 7 year availability for extended lifecycle embedded applications. All of the processor options are dual-core, support up to 4 GB of DDR3 system memory, feature improved thermal design power, and interface with the Intel NM10 Express chipset. Multiple manufacturers have come to market with commercial off the shelf (COTS) modules based on the Cedar Trail platform to give designers new options for high performance, low power, and small form factor embedded applications.
Targeting applications that require enhanced performance, energy efficiency, manageability, security functions, and smoother visual experiences Avalue Technology recently introduced the ECM-CDV module based on the Cedar Trail platform (See figure 1). The module is designed to the Qseven COM standard and includes graphics, sound, mass storage, network connectivity, and multiple USB ports supporting most embedded applications. Packaged in a small, 70mm x 70mm (2.75” x 2.75”) form factor, the ECM-CDV provides a single-channel Low Voltage Differential Signal (LVDS) Display Interface, two Serial ATA ports, eight USB 2.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet interface, and three PCI Express connections. Qseven modules are smaller than other COM standards such as COM Express or ETX and are mounted onto an application specific carrier board through a single ruggedized MXM connector. The Qseven standard is also legacy-free and the maximum power consumption is limited to 12 watts.
COM Express is one of the most popular module standards for embedded systems offering designers a large number of competing products and lower recurring prices. For example, the Congatec conga-TCA COM Express module supports the Intel Atom N2600, N2800, D2700 processors and features up to 4GB single-channel DDR3 memory, five PCI Express x1 lanes, two SATA 2.0, eight USB 2.0, two optional USB 3.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet interface, fan control, LPC bus, and Intel high definition audio (See figure 3). Thanks to its low power consumption and compact measurements (95 x 95 mm) the conga-TCA is particularly well suited for applications in medical and automation technology, POS, kiosks and digital signage. Smart power and battery management guarantee long battery life, an essential factor for cost savings in portable devices. Conga-TCA is available now and prices start at less than $200 US in OEM quantities.
Eurotech has also introduced a new COTS module for applications which demand the most graphical and I/O performance while still needing a low power, small, and fanless design in markets such as industrial automation, medical, and in-vehicle infotainment. The Catalyst CV is a compact 67 x 100mm module based on the Intel Atom N2x00 processor with the NM10 Express chipset and delivers dual-core performance at CPU speeds up to 1.6GHz and extensive multimedia performance (See figure 2). Multimedia interfaces include full HD up to 1080p, Blu-Ray, HDMI, and DisplayPort. The Catalyst CV offers a range of operating system environments including Windows 7, Windows Embedded Standard, and Windows Embedded Compact. For full end-to-end solutions, the Catalyst CV also supports Eurotech's Everyware Software Framework and Everyware Device Cloud. The Catalyst CV will be generally available in Q2 of 2012.
Pre-engineered, off-the-shelf boards and modules offer designers a clear shortcut to the improved graphics performance, lower power, reduced component count, and lower cost benefits of the Cedar Trail platform. You can find a more information on the next generation Intel® Atom™ processors including technical datasheets, webinars, and videos at the N2000 and D2000 website. If you are starting an embedded design and plan to incorporate the next generation Intel® Atom™ platform, please offer your suggestions and share your experience or questions via comments with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community. You can also keep up with the latest related technical articles and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on Intel Atom N2800 D2700.
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Avalue Technology, Congatec, and Eurotech are Associate members of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance.