PORTWELL Introduces PCOM-B218VG COM EXPRESS® MODULE, Using Intel® “CEDAR TRAIL” (ATOM™ D2700/N2800) for Military, Medical, industrial and NETWORKING Applications
COM Express® Module Standard
The COM Express® form factor, an open computer-on-module (COM) standard managed by PICMG, defines a highly integrated compact PC subsystem that can be used in custom embedded designs much like an integrated circuit macro-component. Each COM Express module integrates CPU core and memory functionality along with networking and common chipset I/O signals that are mapped to two high-density, low profile connectors on the bottom side of the module.
The key advantage of the COM architecture in the embedded computer industries is that the common subset of highly integrated, high-speed components like CPU, chipset, LAN and memory are combined onto a small form factor module for easy adaptation into different applications across multiple market segments, each with its own optimized application-specific carrier board.
There are three official sizes in the PICMG COM Express specification: Compact, Basic and Extended. The Compact form factor is 95mm x 95mm, designed to meet the requirements of low-power and small-space applications with limited RAM. The Basic form factor is 125mm x 95mm, the most common size, and focuses on higher performance processors with one or two horizontal mounted SO-DIMMs. The Extended footprint is much larger at 155mm x 110mm and supports up to two full size, vertically mounted DIMM modules to accommodate larger memory configurations for high-performance CPUs, chipsets and multiprocessor systems. The placement of the shrouded carrier board high-density 220-pin connectors and the mounting holes are compatible among these three official footprints.
COM Express Module Pin-Out Types
There are seven COM Express pin-out definitions made by the PICMG organization to satisfy various customers’ requirements. The differences in pin-out type definitions are summarized in the table below.
Table A. Overview of COM Express module pin-out types
USB 2.0/USB 3.0
Up to 6
Up to 22
Up to 22
Up to 32
Up to 32
Up to 24
Up to 4
In general, different pin-out types of COM Express support different display interfaces by utilizing PCI Express Graphics (PEG) lanes and PCI Express lanes. For example, SDVO functions may be pin-shared with PEG lanes on types 2-5; but for type 6, SDVO is moved from the PEG to DDI (Digital Display Interface) 1; and Type 10 features one DDI but no PEG lanes. Currently, Types 2, 6 and 10 are the most popular types promoted by module vendors. Often, though, Type 10 has been implemented in a size that is not included in the current revision of the standard (COM.0 R2.0).
COM Express Advantages
The advantage of all COM architectures is how they separate out the CPU subsystem—the portion that changes rapidly with advances in processor and chipset technologies and has the highest obsolescence risk—as an upgradeable module from the system-specific I/O as a carrier board. Positive feedback from system manufacturers confirms that this modular architecture actually speeds up their time-to-market for custom-made applications because it provides them with a CPU module that already works and the flexibility for future processor upgrades without the board spin that accompanies full custom single-board designs after CPU end-of-life.
Furthermore, COM Express safeguards development investments and lowers total long-term cost of ownership by enabling designers to partition commodity host-processor COM Express modules from proprietary, value-added platform building blocks, including FPGAs and specialty I/Os on custom carrier boards.
All in all, COM Express modules can help minimize current and future design risks compared to full custom single-board designs because they save development time and costs during the initial phase of development, while achieving faster time-to-market, simplifying the future upgrade path and scalability, and increasing the application’s lifecycle and value to system OEMs.
Advantages of COM Express Carrier Boards
COM Express modules have standardized form factors and have specified pin assignments on the two system connectors that remain the same regardless of the module vendor. The COM Express pin assignment “types” reflect the functional requirements of a wide range of embedded applications. These functions include but are not limited to PCI Express, PCI, graphics, high definition audio, Parallel ATA, Serial ATA, Gigabit Ethernet and USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports. Two ruggedized, 220-pin shrouded connectors provide the carrier board interface and bridge all the I/O signals to and from the COM Express module.
Carrier board designers can utilize as little or as many I/O interfaces as deemed necessary. A carrier board tends to be unique to a given system OEM’s requirements, and can provide all the circuits and interface connectors required to attach the system to the application specific peripherals. This versatility allows the designer to create a dense and optimized package, much shorter or thinner than board stacks or card cages or ATX motherboards with vertical I/O cards, which results in a more reliable product while simplifying system integration. Most importantly, COM Express applications are scalable, which means an entire product family can be created through the use of different performance class COM Express modules. Simply unplug one module and replace it with another, no redesign is required as long as the power supply is chosen up front for the highest performance module.
Portwell’s “Cedar Trail” COM Express Solution: PCOM-B218VG
Portwell’s “Cedar Trail” COM Express module, PCOM-B218VG, is the very latest in a portfolio of Type 6 Compact Size COM Express module. The new PCOM-B218VG Type 6 (Type VI) COM Express module joins our Qseven, Nano-ITX, ECX, and Mini-ITX form factors as part of the extensive range of options within Portwell’s family of small form factor embedded computer boards. At a mere 95mm x 95mm (3.74˝ x 3.74˝), the Compact PCOM-B218VG includes the new Intel Atom processor N2xxx and D2xxx series together with the Intel NM10 Express chipset (code name: “Cedar Trail”). This platform includes an integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3600/3650 graphics engine to enhance 3D performance for media applications such as high definition 1080p imaging, and two DisplayPort™ (DP) interfaces that support multiple DP/HDMI/DVI functions. DP is an example of a DDI.
Portwell’s PCOM-B218VG features DDR3 SDRAM, VGA, DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet, and USB, and of course, long life cycle support to give our customers peace of mind. Also fully implemented on the PCOM-B218 module are Cedar Trail’s advantages including lowest power consumption among Intel’s dual core processors, security functions and remote access. Furthermore, the PCOM-B218VG is designed with the intelligent ability to monitor system loading and allocate computing power accordingly. Every Watt on PCOM-B218VG is used for code execution with optimized energy efficiency.
The firmware on PCOM-B218VG provides hash functionality, ATA security commands and flash region protection. With these security features, the system is secure from hacking including setting changes and stolen data during the system’s operation.
Specifically, the one-way hash function is mainly used to verify the correctness of transmitted messages to avoid data being tampered with during transmission and assist in the identification of security (Authentication) function demands. Hash function enhances system efficiency in obtaining objective data and improves access speed as the amount of data grows enormously over time. Well-known hash algorithms supported in “Cedar Trail” are MD5 (Message-Digest Algorithm 5) and SHA (Secure Hash Algorithm).
Remote display and control functions are also supported by PCOM-B218VG, so that customers can control their systems without a monitor and keyboard which simplifies system designs and also saves the cost of sending technicians to perform on-site services.
Packed with so many advanced features of security, power efficiency, intelligent computing, multiple display options, as well as a robust design, Portwell’s PCOM-B218VG is the perfect solution for modular applications in Networking, Medical, Industrial and Military market segments.
Portfolio of Applications
There are more and more services which we can get from the Internet, including voice communications, streaming video and social networks. Such convenience does not come without a price, namely that our personal and business data are at a higher risk of being exposed to the public. The challenges when developing a 24x7 Network system also include reducing power consumption and maintenance costs, in addition to manage the security issues.
To meet these challenges, Portwell designed the PCOM-B218VG COM Express module with low power consumption and built-in security functions. PCOM-B218VG monitors system loading and manages computing power so that every watt on PCOM-B218VG is used to execute data. Firmware provides hash function, ATA security command and flash region protection. Systems built with Portwell PCOM-B218VG are set to securely guard the data 24x7 while operating at greater power efficiency.
Medical devices are often one of the critical elements of all services offered in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of illness and disease. Every step during the design and development phase of the devices is therefore crucially important, for it requires considerable investment, directly affects human lives, and involves high maintenance cost.
Portwell, an ISO 13485:2003 certified company proudly introduces the PCOM-B218VG COM Express module for easy integration with each customer’s own carrier board (or baseboard). Portwell PCOM-B218VG features the multi-core Intel Cedar Trial processor, high-resolution graphics capability, fast time-to-market, cutting edge chipset, and seven-year long life cycle support. It is ideal for various medical applications and devices such as Point of Care, X-Ray, Ultrasound, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computer Tomography (CT) Scanning systems.
Military application computers face more stringent conditions than industrial computers. They must withstand extreme vibration, shock, humidity, and operation temperatures between minus 40 degrees Celsius and 85 degrees Celsius.
Portwell PCOM-B218VG COM Express module is designed with industrial grade components made with wide-range temperature materials. With world-class SMD and DIP manufacturing processes and quality control processes, PCOM-B218VG is expected to excel in military, aerospace and other harsh environments.
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Portwell Inc, an Associate Member of the Intel® Embedded Alliance, designs and manufactures Network and Security Appliances along with a full range of IPC products (SBC, Backplane, Redundant Power Supply, Rackmount & Node Chassis), Embedded Architecture Solutions and DVR System Platforms. We provide complete R&D and project management services to help customers accelerate time to market, and reduce project risk and cost. Portwell is also an ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified company which deploys quality assurance throughout product design, verification and manufacturing processes.
About the Intel® Embedded Alliance
The Intel® Embedded Alliance is a community of communications and embedded developers and solutions providers who share a common vision on the convergence of computing technologies. The member companies within the Alliance are committed to the development of modular, standards-based building blocks, platforms, and solutions based on Intel® technologies, processors, products, and services. The availability of these standards-based modular building blocks and solutions offer the market greater choice, faster time to profit, and the opportunity to innovate using modular building blocks from multiple levels of integration - silicon, software, boards and complete systems.
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