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Compact module runs Linux on quad-core Braswell

Jul 31, 2015 — by Rick Lehrbaum — 1,211 views

Congatec announced a compact, low power computer-on-module based on Intel’s 14nm “Braswell” SoCs, and featuring triple display outputs, and up to 4K video.

Last month we reported that Adlink, MSC, Nexcom, and Portwell had all launched Braswell-based COMs built according to PICMG’s “COM Express Type 6 Compact” form factor specs. As of this week, that Braswell COM quartet has morphed into a “gang of five,” thanks to the addition of Congatec’s “Conga-TCA4” module to the mix.

Left to right: Braswell-based COM Express Type 6 Compact modules from Adlink, MSC, Nexcom, and Portwell
(click images to enlarge)

By virtue of its similar Type 6 Compact compatibility, the Conga-TCA4 module has much in common with its COM Express Braswell brethren. However, unless they’re designed as drop-in replacements for each other, modules often differ in the number or mix of USB ports, PCIe lanes, and video interfaces they implement, and they may add on-board options that reside outside the spec, such as flash storage or TPM modules.

Conga-TCA4, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Since all five of these modules are built around the same four Intel Braswell SoCs, and also comply with COM Express Type 6 Compact specs, they share a common baseline set of features. These include:
  • 95 x 95mm footprint and dual bottom-side bus connectors
  • Support for up to 8GB DDR3L SDRAM (in SODIMM format)
  • DP, eDP, HDMI, and LVDS video interfaces, with up to 4K resolution
  • 2x SATA 3.0, 1x Gigabit Ethernet, and at least four each of USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports

A complete list of the Conga-TCA4 module’s features appears farther below.

Conga-TCA4 details

Target markets and applications listed for the Conga-TCA4 module are also pretty much the same as those of its rivals. Congatec says its module is ideal for use in “graphics-intensive, low-power applications including IoT gateways, as well as IoT edge node devices.” Examples of commercial applications listed by the company include “Digital Out-of-Home advertising, infotainment in buses and trains, as well as digital signage, kiosk, ticketing and cash systems,” and some industrial possibilities are “stationary and mobile HMIs and thin clients” tuned to industrial automation and medical requirements.

Conga-TCA4 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

Conga-TCA4 features that extend beyond the baseline set listed above include eight rather than four USB 3.0 ports, plus on-board options for a MIPI-CSI interface feature connector and an eMMC flash storage module. Interestingly, the detailed block diagram above shows an “X” beside each COM Express bus function that is unsupported by the module.

These specifications are listed by Congatec for the Conga-TCA4 COM:

  • Processor — Intel “Braswell” Pentium and Celeron N3000 family with Intel HD Graphics Gen 8:
    • Pentium N3700 — 4x Braswell cores @ 1.6GHz (2.4GHz burst) with 2MB L2 cache and 6W TDP (4W SDP)
    • Celeron N3150 — 4x Braswell cores @ 1.6GHz (2.08GHz burst) with 2MB L2 cache and 6W TDP (4W SDP)
    • Celeron N3050 — 2x Braswell cores @ 1.6GHz (2.16GHz burst) with 2MB L2 cache and 6W TDP (4W SDP)
    • Celeron N3000 — 2x Braswell cores @ 1.04GHz (2.08GHz burst) with 2MB cache and a 4W TDP (3W SDP)
  • RAM — 2x SODIMM sockets for up to 8GB DDR3
  • Storage — 2x SATA 3.0
  • Interfaces available via COM Express connectors:
    • Display — Intel HD Graphics Gen 8, with interfaces for 2x DP 1.1, or 2x HDMI 1.4b and 1x eDP 1.4 or dual channel LVDS; supports up to 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution
    • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet (Intel I211)
    • USB — 4x USB 2.0; 8x USB 3.0
    • Other I/O — HDA audio; LPC; 4x GPIO; SMBus (I2C); SPI; SDIO; 2x UART; optional dual MIPI-CSI
    • PCI Express — 5x PCI Express Gen 2.0 lanes
  • Other features — watchdog, RTC, LCD and backlight control, ACPM 5.0, optional TPM, and more
  • Power — 6W TDP (typical)
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 60°C
  • Dimensions — 95 x 95mm; COM Express Type 6 Compact
  • Operating systems — Linux, Windows Embedded Standard/Compact, Windows 7/8/10

Further information

The Conga-TCA4 appears to be available now, at an undisclosed price. More information may be found at Congatec’s Conga-TCA4 product page.

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