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Compact IoT gateway runs Linux on Quark

Jul 7, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 1,312 views

Advantech is prepping an Intel Quark based IoT gateway that runs Linux and offers PoE support. mini-PCIe expansion, and web-based device management.

Like Adlink’s recently announced Matrix MXE-100i, Advantech’s new “UBC-221” is an Internet of Things gateway that runs Linux on a low-power, 400MHz Intel Quark x1000 processor. Whereas the Adlink product runs on Wind River’s Yocto Project-based “Intelligent Device Platform XT” Linux platform, the UBC-221 mentions only Yocto Project-based Linux. Specs listed for the UBC-221 are preliminary, however.

While the GPU-free Quark is suitable for IoT endpoint devices, it’s also a good fit for IoT gateways, since a gateway typically forwards aggregate data to the cloud rather than displaying it for local study. The Linux stack is said to be topped off with an undefined web-based management software package.

Two views of the UBC-221
(click images to enlarge)

The 108 x 79 x 30mm device is further equipped with 512MB of 800MHz DDR3 RAM. There’s also an SD slot and a 4MB allotment of SPI NOR flash for the Advantech boot loader. The product page mentions 4GB of eMMC flash, which is not listed in the datasheet, but it does not mention the NOR flash noted in the datasheet

Front panel ports include two 10/100 Ethernet ports, one of which has PoE support, taking advantage of the power-sipping Quark processor. There’s also a USB 2.0 host port, a COM port, and a 4-pin GPIO connector.

UBC-221 connections
(click image to enlarge)

An apparently internal mini-PCIe interface supports PCIe and USB signals, and while there’s no specific mention of a wireless option, an antenna connector is located on the side of the unit along with the SD slot and a 12V DC-in jack. This is an indoor cat, with a modest temperature range of 0 to 40° C. Other features include dual LEDs and s a watchdog timer.

The UBC-221 has a more modest feature set than the Matrix MXE-100i, which has twice the RAM, but no flash memory beyond the SD slot. Adlink’s gateway also has a two more USB and one more serial port, a uSIM slot, and optional wireless modules. In addition, the MXE-100i has wide-range power, extended temperature support, and shock and vibration resistance, among other extras. Then again, no pricing was listed for either product, so it all depends on your application.

Specifications listed for the UBC-221 include:

  • Processor — Intel Quark X1021 (1x 32-bit Pentium ISA-compatible core @ 400MHz)
  • Memory:
    • 512MB DDR3-800 RAM
    • 4MB SPI NOR flash (possibly and/or 4GB eMMC flash)
    • SD slot for up to 16GB
  • Wireless — antenna connector
  • Networking — 2x 10/100 Ethernet ports (1x with PoE)
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 2.0 port
    • COM port
    • GPIO port (2x in, 2x out)
  • Expansion — 1x mini-PCIe socket (PCIe and USB signals)
  • Other features — watchdog; 2x LEDs; web-based management software; flexible mount support
  • Power — 12V DC
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 40°C
  • Dimensions — 108 x 79 x 30mm
  • Operating system — Yocto Project-based Linux

Further information

The UCB-221 is expected to ship by the end of the month. No pricing was listed. More information may be found at the UCB-221 product page.

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