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COM Express Modules set sail on Intel’s 6th Gen Core Skylake

Sep 4, 2015 — by Rick Lehrbaum — 2,398 views

Intel’s launch of its 6th Gen Core (“Skylake”) processors this week precipitated a flurry of COM Express module announcements by embedded board vendors.

Intel’s 48 new 6th Gen Core processors span an extremely wide range of power consumption and performance.

Intel’s 6th Gen Core family spans 48 processors, with TDPs ranging from 4.5 to 91 Watts
(click image to enlarge)

At the low end are the mobile-oriented “Y-series” system-on-chips, starting with the dual-core, 2.2GHz-clocked Core m3-6Y30 that have 4.5 Watt TDPs and include internal platform controller hub (PCH) functionality for reduced silicon footprint and cost. At the other extreme you’ll find “S-series” processors, which top out with the gaming/overclocking-oriented, power-thirsty, 91 Watt TDP, 4.2GHz Core i7-6700K. In between are the single-package 15 Watt TDP “U-series,” as well as the 45 Watt TDP “H-series” processors that, like the S-series, require dedicated external PCH “chipsets.”

Comparison among Intel’s Y-series, U-series, and H-series Skylake “chipsets”
(click image to enlarge)

Of these 48 6th Gen Core processors, we would expect the ones used as the heart of next-generation embedded-, mobile-, and IoT-oriented COMs and SBCs to primarily come from the lower-end, Y- and U-series Skylake processor families. In particular, the computer-on-modules announced this week, and that we cover below, mostly use the Core i7/i5/i3 U-series processors detailed in the right-hand table below. So far, we haven’t come across any board-level products that use the 4.5W TDP Y-series Skylake SoCs.

Specs summary for 6th Gen Intel Core Y-series (left) and U-series processors
(click images to enlarge)

Regarding how Skylake compares to the generation that preceded it, Intel boldly claims its 6th Gen Core processors offer “up to 40 percent better graphics performance” along with “a power-sipping 4K video playback capability,” while providing improvements in energy efficiency of “up to 60 percent for some SKUs [despite] enabling higher levels of performance.”

Below, we briefly summarize a handful of new computer-on-module products that were announced this week by Aaeon, Adlink, Advantech, Congatec, and Kontron in the wake of the launch of the 6th Gen Intel Core (“Skylake”) processors and SoCs.


Aaeon unveiled a pair of COM Express Type 6 modules that are built with Intel’s Skylake processors. The COM-SKHB6 is implemented in the full-size 125 x 95mm “Basic” format and the COM-SKUC6 conforms to the 95 x 95mm COM Express “Compact” form-factor. The larger module taps Intel’s 25W TDP “H-series” Skylake processors, while the smaller one uses the 15W TDP “U-series” processors.

Aaeon COM-SKHB6 (left) and COM-SKUC6 COM-SKHB6
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These two modules’ key features are evident from their block diagrams, below.

Block diagrams: Aaeon COM-SKHB6 (left) and COM-SKUC6
(click images to enlarge)

Further details on Aaeon’s two Skylake-based COMs may be found at the company’s COM-SKHB6 and COM-SKUC6 product pages.


Adlink announced that it will offer COMs based on the 6th-gen U-series Core i7/i5/i3 processors in two COM Express Type 6 module lines. The cExpress-SL modules will be built to COM Express standard’s “Compact” (95 x 95mm) specs, while the Express-SL modules will use the 125 x 95mm “Basic” format. These modules will pair the Core i7/i5/i3 processors with Intel’s QM170 and HM170 chipset.

With a bit of digging, we learned that Adlink also is readying two other Skylake-based COM Express lines. The “Express-SLE” will be minted in Type 6 Basic size, will use Intel’s Xeon E3-15XX v5 processors and CM236 chipset, and will support ECC RAM (hence the “E” at the end of the family name). A fourth new COM, dubbed “cExpressBX” will use Intel Skylake-based Atom processors, and adopt the smaller, 95 x 95 Compact form-factor (as suggested by the “c” at the front of the product’s model name).

Adlink notes that its 6th Gen Intel Core-based COMs will support up to 32GB of DDR4 SODIMM memory. Additionally, their support for three independent UHD/4K displays will make them “well-suited for applications in automation, medical, and infotainment,” adds the company. Extended operating temperature ranges will be available as an option, adding “transportation and defense applications” to the mix.


Like Aaeon and Adlink, Advantech unveiled a pair of Skylake-based modules built to COM Express Type 6 specs: the SOM5897, in the Basic (125 x 95mm) format; and the SOM-6897, meeting Compact (95 x 95mm) specs. Additionally, as in the case of Aaeon’s similar COM pair, Advantech’s SOM-5897 Basic COM uses Intel’s Skylake H-series (45W TDP) processors while its Compact COM taps the 15W U-series parts.

Advantech SOM-5897 (left) and SOM-6897
(click images to enlarge)

These two COMs’ key features are detailed in the pair of block diagrams, below.

Block diagrams: Advantech SOM-5897 (left) and SOM-6897
(click images to enlarge)

Further details on these two Skylake-based COMs may be found the company’s SOM-5897 and SOM-6897 product pages.

Advantech also tipped a pair of small form-factor single-board computers based on Skylake processors: the MIO-5272 and AIMB-275, which are built in the 3.5-inch and Mini-ITX form-factors, respectively. We’ll circle back to these two interesting boards soon, in a separate SBC-oriented post.


Congatec’s initial Skylake-powered module is a 95 x 95mm COM Express Type 6 Compact design, called the “Conga-TC170.” Like Aaeon’s, Adlink’s, and Advantech’s similar size COMs, the Conga-TC170 is built around Intel’s 6th Gen U-series Core-i7/i5/i3 (15W TDP) processors, and is paired with Intel’s Series 100 PCH. The photo and block diagram below offer more details.

Congatec Conga-TC170 (left) and its block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Further details may be found at Congatec’s Conga-TC170 page.


Kontron announced that it is preparing to release several COM Express modules based on the 6th Gen Intel Core processors, including both COM Express Type 6 Basic- and Compact-sized boards. As with Advantech’s pair of similar modules, Kontron’s Basic-sized COM uses with H-series processors and its Compact-sized COM uses U-series processors. No photos or block diagrams were available at the time of this posting.

Kontron said it expects the smaller, “Skylake-U” modules to begin shipping in November, followed by the larger, “Skylake-H” modules in Q1 of 2016. The company also said it’s also developing Skylake-based Mini-ITX and Flex-ATX SBCs, among other unspecified SBC form-factors.

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