Kontron's certified design partners Diamond Point International, b-plus, ACCES I/O and Microteam are sharing the multiple industry breakthroughs enabled by the extremely small nanoETXexpress Computer-on-Module form-factor. For OEMs, the COM Express COM.0 Type 1 pin-out compatible Kontron nanoETXexpress-SP Computer-on-Module provides investment security as one of the most innovative and future-oriented Computer-on-Modules with extremely compact dimensions based on Intel Atom processors. Since a lot of customers request custom carrier board designs for nanoETXexpress, Kontron has created the Certified Design Partner (CDP) network to give them a head start for fastest time to market.
With the Kontron nanoETXexpress-SP, Kontron is expanding the range of Computer-on-Module types for embedded applications in mobile systems. A key construction element of the Kontron nanoETXexpress-SP is the 220-pin connector that follows the COM Express COM.0 Type 1 standard of the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group. Dirk Finstel, VP of Global Research and Engineering at Kontron, says: "nanoEXTexpress, with its extremely small footprint of 55 x 84mm, and its larger equivalent, the microETXexpress Computer-on-Module form-factor, are ideal extensions to the well-established COM Express standard since they are 100 per cent COM Express compatible. This allows our clients and partners to start their designs straight away and bring their product to market without delay."
Mark Jeffrey, Technical Director of DPIE, confirms: "The Kontron nanoETXexpress-SP Computer-on-Module is 100 per cent compatible with the COM Express Type 1 pin-out with respect to the positioning and assignment of the contacts. This was important for our decision to adopt the new form factor, as we can build on existing designer knowledge. Compared to other connector systems, this specification offers significant advantages and better investment protection."
Products in development
Diamond Point International (DPIE) has several nanoETXexpress-ready products in the pipeline, including a nanoETXexpress-variant of the popular RD-103 series of industrial computers, while b-plus and ACCES I/O have integrated the nanoETXexpress Computer-on-Modules into their baseboards. b-plus developed a small but full-featured carrier board for the nanoETXexpress form factor, designed for evaluation purposes, small-quantity applications and as a reference design for custom carrier boards. ACCES I/O will be using it to provide custom carrier boards and further plans to add to its COTS line of small embedded carrier boards utilising the nanoETXexpress Computer-on-Module specification.
The extremely small size of the nanoETXexpress Computer-on-Module gives it several advantages. Michael Sieg, Managing Director of b-plus, says: "b-plus has chosen the nanoETXexpress Computer-on-Module form factor in order to enhance solutions for its typical markets of mobile and other low-power applications on small footprints which today typically use traditional RISC CPU technology. The new nanoETXexpress Computer-on-Module with its intrinsic x86 technology meets or even surpasses the required HW functionalities of this market. At the same time it allows classical SW such as Windows XP and XP embedded to be used for these applications along with WinCE and Linux."
The Computer-on-Module, specifically designed for mobile applications, provides features tailored to the requirements of OEM customers. These are based on recognised standard platforms that would be available in the long-term on a non-proprietary basis.
Sieg adds: "b-plus believes that the extremely small nanoETXexpress Computer-on-Module is exceptional in that it features state-of-the-art I/O connectivity, which is most important in today's embedded market. Further, it runs without external memory or periphery, which permits better integration and thus allows great mechanical advantages for small housings. Moreover, it offers the best performance-to-power-consumption ratio - key criteria in the battery-driven handheld markets. b-plus is currently integrating the nanoETXexpress Computer-on-Modules into its own ePDA portfolio to launch two new products this year."
Mark Jeffrey, Technical Director of DPIE, states: "DPIE is committed to supporting the nano Computer-on-Module form factor. With this in mind DPIE has begun development of 'nanoETXexpress-ready' products."
Stephen Newbegin, Director of Sales and Business Development for ACCES I/O, says: "ACCES I/O considers saving space the final frontier in embedded computing and embedded I/O. Small computing solutions such as nanoETXexpress Computer-on-Modules are a natural compliment to ACCES I/O products with planned designs of smaller, denser I/O boards."
Microteam has started to develop the first customer-specific nano-size Computer-on-Module platform. Karl Viitala, Project Manager at Microteam, says: "The nano form-factor, being an innovative small-scaled embedded computer system, is suitable for many industrial applications which are important to Microteam and its customers."
The Kontron nanoETXexpress-SP is said to offer just about all the functions that could be expected from a modern Computer-on-Module. The format is roughly that of a credit card. Additionally, it has the advantages of using energy-efficient technology that operates on less than 7W. The module's operating voltage ranges from 4.75-14V, which means it can be directly integrated into existing 5V systems or a vehicle's on-board system, with generous storage capacity up to 1GByte DDR2 400/533 RAM on board. It is compatible with all standard industry operating systems such as Linux, VxWorks, Windows XP, XPe and CE that are suitable for standard application software used in, for example, industrial control technology, communication technology, office automation and gaming. It also offers high-end graphics and HDTV support not previously standard in modules of this size.