Advantech and Kontron unveil COM Express Extension

05 June 2007

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Advantech and Kontron, the founders of the ETX Industrial Group, unveiled their "COM Express Extension" document which offers optimized pin-outs for graphics and other core features for COM Express designs based on the PICMG COM.0 COM Express specification. In parallel with this launch Advantech and Kontron also announced the transformation of the ETX Industrial Group (ETX-IG) to become the COM Industrial Group (COM-IG), in order to extend the group's focus on the needs of all computer-on-module solutions including ETX and COM Express. For more information about the COM Express Extension see

This move by the founders of new COM-IG is an effort to ensure that all COM Express solutions continue to be interchangeable no matter which vendor provides them. The joint efforts of Kontron and Advantech are outside of the official PICMG committee, but the proposed "extension" pin-outs are intended to be brought before PICMG for future adoption into a revised COM Express specification. Kontron and Advantech feel the "extension" is essential in order to consistently utilize the latest graphics capabilities from chipset vendors including those from IntelŽ, AMDŽ/ATIŽ and VIAŽ.

"We have never seen such intense discussions between competing vendors of Computer-on-Module technology, all aimed at solving the genuine problem posed by predicted graphics incompatibility of COM Express Computer-on-Module designs. This is why we engaged in the new graphic pin definition with Kontron to develop a detailed new graphics pin-out for COM Express based COMs." says Jeff Chen, Chief Technology Officer of Advantech, who supported this launch from the start.

"We believe that the upgrade of the graphics pin-out definition is a vital step towards our ultimate goal: a revision of the current PICMG COM Express specification to be revision COM.1. The Extension ensures the graphics compatibility of COMs based on all the upcoming embedded CPU chipsets from all the different vendors," stated Dirk Finstel, CTO Embedded Modules Division, Kontron; he added that this launch is not intended to be and should not be considered to be an affront to PICMG and its member working committees: "it is just the step we feel is needed in the face of dramatically increasing demand."

The COM Express Extension delivers an optimized graphics pin-out for COM Express based COMs that fits the needs of all the chipsets that will appear in the next few years. It is our intension that it will become part of the PICMG COM.x specification. COM Express Extensions are a tested and reliable way to provide high-performance support for all the different graphics signals while also assuring 100 percent pin compatibility and scalability for all COM Express based Computer-On-Modules. In addition to the graphics pin-outs the COM Express Extension also specifies pin-outs for important extended features like onboard thermal control and also BIOS implementations with smart battery support and new graphic interface standards.

COM Baseboard Design Guide

The COM Express Extension is accompanied by a design guide that gives a round-up of all trusted design roles for COM Express baseboards, and streamlines potential baseboard designs to just the most reliable and future proven circuits, validated by the world's leading vendors of COM technology: Advantech and Kontron. Use of the design guide is essential when developing 100 percent optimized baseboard designs for free scalability of COM Express based Computer-on-Modules.

COM Industrial Group

At the launch of the COM Express Extension, Advantech and Kontron also announced the transformation of the ETX Industrial Group into the COM Industrial Group. The goal of the COM Industrial Group is to promote COM specifications that assure compatibility and to support designers with value-adding IP and design standards to ensure the most appropriate and reliable baseboard designs based on COMs like ETX and COM Express.

The COM Industrial Group also ensures the long-term availability of all the published standards, since all the leading vendors are members. ETX is one of these standards: it is currently available in version ETX 3.0 and has been available since 2000. Therefore, all the members of the ETX Industrial Group will also become members of the COM Industrial Group. COM Express Extension is the second initiative from the COM Industrial Group members to keep next generation Computer-On-Modules closer to the market needs.

COM Express Extension comprises of two documents and is based on the COM Express specification by PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG).

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