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Less-than-$1,200 cPCI Pentium M SBC packs PCI Express

Posted: 07 Apr 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Alex Mendelsohn? MEN Micro? CompactPCI? cPCI? single-board computer?

The board makers at MEN Micro Inc. are dishing up a CompactPCI 9 (cPCI) single-board computer (SBC) that runs a 2GHz Intel Pentium M microprocessor and packs multiple PCI Express lanes. This SBC can also be configured with a low-power Celeron M processor. Depending on processor version, forced-air cooling may be required inside your cPCI system.

MEN Micro's F14 SBC can operate as a single-slot 32bit 33MHz cPCI system master, or as a standalone SBC in a single-wide 3U-sized CompactPCI form-factor. It is designed for operation in hostile environments, and is capable of operating over the extended temperature range of -40C to 85C. The company added that all of its components are soldered onto the underlying circuit board for shock and vibration resistance. The F14 also features several watchdog monitors to oversee processor and board temperature.

In addition, the F14 can be delivered with an optional conformal coating that protects it from humid and corrosive chemicals in the environment. As such, it should fill the bill for applications in industrial automation, medical systems and transportation.

Four PCI Express lanes
The F14 supports four PCI Express lanes. These can be used by the F14's two Gbit Ethernet ports, or two Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) interfaces. Alternatively, they can be used to deliver high-speed graphics.

The F14's four lanes of PCI Express are enabled by an Intel 915GM north bridge chipset. The I/O interfaces at the front panel on the F14 include a VGA graphics connector, the two Ethernet channels, and two USB 2.0 (Universal Serial Bus) ports. Additional I/O can be configured using expansion cards, or the F14 can be mounted on a carrier card for 6U double Eurocard systems. I/O from the F14 can be expanded to include common UARTs, additional USB ports, audio I/O, or two DVI connections. The latter can be used to display either the same or different images on several screens. The F14 also supports rear-panel I/O.

Memory resources
On-board memory resources include up to 2Gbytes of fast double data rate DRAM. A CompactFlash slot is also available for additional memory, or a 1.8-inch hard disk drive can be installed on the board.

Support is available for Windows, Linux, QNX and Wind River VxWorks OSes. The Award BIOS is designed for embedded system applications.

Pricing for the F14 starts at about $1,200 for single unit orders.

- Alex Mendelsohn

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