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RoHS-compliant ETX board runs 2GHz Intel dual core, PCIe

Posted: 13 Apr 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:XTX 830 COM? XTX? baseboard? Ampro Computers? Alex Mendelsohn?

Ampro's XTX 830 COM board

Board-level computer vendor Ampro Computers Inc., demonstratedat last week's Embedded Systems Conferencea high-performance plug-compatible system for embedded system manufacturers facing complete re-designs of Embedded Technology eXtended (ETX) baseboards to adopt new technology.

These products will be based on XTX. It's a new industry standard that's supported by a worldwide consortium of embedded module manufacturers.

Seamless migration
XTX uses the same four baseboard connectors in the same locations as ETX. Module holes and dimensions are identical. From a mechanical standpoint that ensures seamless migration. There's also one board size, the same as with ETX, so OEMs you'll not have to design targeting the proverbial moving target.

Electrically, only the signals on one connector are different (the ISA bus). For integrators not using ISA, XTX modules plug directly into existing ETX baseboards, permitting access to the latest chipset technology, graphics and processors, as well as preserving investments in custom baseboards.

XTX also retains support for legacy peripherals such as serial ports, parallel ports, floppy drives, parallel ATA (IDE) and PS/2 keyboard and mouse operation.

Bridge to the future
The XTX standard also provides a bridge to the future by replacing ISA bus signals in the ETX standard with four PCI Express lanes, two serial ATA ports, two additional USB ports and the new desktop-standard low pin count (LPC) bus. All other ETX signals remain unchanged.

The LPC bus has already replaced the ISA bus in desktop and notebook PCs and chipsets, and is used primarily for flash BIOS and legacy SuperI/O devices. Access to both the PCI bus and the LPC bus at the XTX baseboard interface gives you two options for generating the ISA bus if needed for simple I/O expansion. You can go through a PCI-to-ISA bridge, or through an LPC-to-ISA bridge placed on the baseboard.

Baseboards can implement PCI Express and SATA when it's convenient for each OEM, not when forced by the supply chain. Note that many other recent module standards use completely different connectors, signals, locations and board sizes, with inconsistent and optional pin-outs for the module types. That can necessitate substantial baseboard re-design to access new processors and chipsets, even when PCI Express and SATA aren't required by your application.

Back to Ampro's new board. It uses Intel's 2GHz Core Duo processor (also known as the Yonah), introduced last January as the highest-performance CPU for embedded systems. It's now featured on Ampro's XTX 830 COM (computer-on-module).

Slated to sample this quarter, the XTX 830 COM is anticipated to provide a path forward for existing ETX designers. This announcement means that OEMs can switch to a modular architecture for next-generation image processing, storage, advertising display, communications and security applications.

In addition to the Intel Core Duo, the XTX 830 module uses DDR2 small outline dual-in-line module RAM, and can socket up to 1Gbyte.

Gobs of I/OThe module also contains no less than six USB 2.0 ports, and IDE (parallel ATA) port, as well as serial ATA interfaces. These cover both legacy and high-speed disk drives, and you get four PCI Express lanes for up to 10Gbps operation in both transmit and receive directions.

The XTX 830 module also gives you 10/100Mbit Ethernet, 32bit 33MHz PCI bus expansion, ACPI 2.0 support (including S3 Suspend-to-RAM), the latest high-performance embedded graphics with CRT and LVDS LCD interfaces, and RoHS compliance.

The XTX 830 can run Windows XP or Linux 2.6 OSes.

Price and availability
Ampro says the RoHS-compliant XTX 830 modules will begin shipping by June. Prices will start in the low $500s in moderate quantities.

- Alex Mendelsohn

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