New credit card-sized nanoETXexpress form factor COM

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Developed by Kontron, the credit card-sized open-standard nanoETXexpress Computer-on-Module form factor (84x55mm) for developing ultra-mobile mini-computer devices based on x86 processors with 45nm technology now has its first second-source partner: AAEON.

In response to the increasing demand for ever-smaller Computer-on-Modules with ever better performance-per-watt values, AAEON is presenting its first nanoETXexpress Computer-on-Module at the electronica trade fair in Munich. Conforming 100 per cent to the COM Express specification in terms of the location and assignment of the pinouts, the nanoETXexpress open-standard form factor offers excellent investment security for the next generation of ultra-mobile designs. Other Computer-on-Module manufacturers are expected to launch further nanoETXexpress modules soon.

Peter Yang, AAEON Product Manager ECD, responsible for Computer-on-Modules at AAEON, explains: “We support the nanoETXexpress form factor because it fits perfectly into our product portfolio. We have already implemented the Intel Atom processor on our COM-U15 COM Express Computer-on-Module. The step to implementing the nanoCOM-U15 was therefore easy. The new COM perfectly fits the requirements of small Mobile Internet Devices (MID) and similarly sized, long-term available embedded computer solutions. Above all, for our OEM customers nanoETXexpress means maximum investment security for their designs.”

New possibilities

Joseph Behammer, Director of Marketing of Kontron's Embedded Modules Division, says: “Ever since the availability of the 45nm Intel Atom processor, OEM customers have been exploring the new possibilities opened up by this processor and the new form factor technology. As a result, the demand for nanoETXexpress is growing rapidly. This is a clear sign that the market has accepted nanoETXexpress and we are delighted to have AAEON on board as the first competitor to officially follow this small form factor trend. More companies will soon follow to give nanoETXexpress a big push towards adoption in the PICMG specification.”

Basic and extended form factors are currently incorporated in the PICMG COM Express specification. Kontron is now heading an initiative to incorporate the nanoETXexpress (84x55mm) and slightly larger microETXexpress (95x95mm) form factor, which is already supported by five different manufacturers, into the COM Express specification. Upon successful acceptance, these will be known as COM Express ultra and COM Express compact, respectively. Certification will establish a comprehensive specification that guarantees OEMs reliability and long-term availability to reduce design risks to a minimum. Competing mini Computer-on-Modules come with significantly higher design risks since no other specification recognises different sized modules.

Derived from the guidelines of the PICMG COM Express specification, the nanoETXexpress form factor follows the specification 100 per cent (as far as the dimensions permit). The only differences are the size of the form factor and some of the mounting holes. This enables scalability with COM Express Computer-on-Modules of different sizes. More important for nanoETXexpress customers, however, is the high reliability and widespread know-how for COM Express-conforming designs as well as a universally recognised standard that allows customers (according the Pareto Principle) to meet 80 per cent of all market requirements with one major form factor specification only.

The latest nanoETXexpress specification and design guidelines for carrier boards can be downloaded free of charge from Other suppliers of embedded computer technology are encouraged to develop Computer-on-Modules that accord with this specification.

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