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Embedded 14nm Atom x5-E8000 debuts on Congatec boards

Feb 13, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 2,348 views

[Updated: Feb. 14] — Intel released several new 14nm Atom SoCs, including an embedded, quad-core x5-E8000 part with 5W TDP, now available in four Congatec boards.

Intel released the Atom x5-E8000, the first truly embedded system-on-chip using its 14nm Airmont architecture. Airmont is also the design that fuels Intel’s Celeron N3000 “Braswell” SoCs and its mobile-focused Atom x5 and x7 Z8000 “Cherry Trail” SoCs. The x5-E8000 is the heir to the 22nm Bay Trail generation Atom E3800 family.

Intel quietly delivered the first Atom x5-E8000 chips last month, according to CPU World, which also reported on two new Cherry Trail SoCs, the Atom x5-Z8330 and x5-Z8350 (see farther below). Specs for all three SoCs are available from this Intel ARK page.

Congatec’s Atom x5-E8000 ready Mini-ITX board and three modules
(click to enlarge)

With its 5-Watt TDP, the quad-core Atom x5-E8000 is more power-efficient than the 10W TDP quad-core Atom E3845. Congatec also cites a 4W Intel SDP (Scenario Design Power) estimation for the chip. Although the Atom x5-E8000 is named like a Cherry Trail SoC, it’s actually based on the related Mobile Celeron N3000 Braswell design.

The Atom x5-E8000 is notably cheaper than the Atom E3845, priced at $39 instead of $52, and it’s much more affordable than the faster Braswell processors, which start at $107. In the past, Intel’s struggle to gain traction in mobile has been due as much to high prices as high power consumption. Now Intel is fighting the expansion of ARM processors into the embedded space by staying more competitive on price.

Congatec, which announced the first products to support the Atom x5-E8000, touts the new chip for costing about the same as equivalent, quad-core ARM SoCs. Congatec announced a Qseven computer-on-module (Conga-QA4), COM Express Compact Type 6 module (Conga-TCA4), COM Express Type 10 Mini (Conga-MA4) module, and a Mini-ITX board (Conga-IA4), each of which is supported with Linux and Windows BSPs. The three modules are actually relaunches of existing Braswell designs already covered by LinuxGizmos. The Mini-ITX board was announced in October, but we offer our first coverage below.

The Atom x5-E8000 is unusual in that there’s a huge gap between its base clock rate of 1.04GHz, which is lower than any of the Cherry Trail SoCs and most of the Braswell models, and its high burst frequency of 2GHz. This may reflect an intended role as an Internet of Things gateway or hub in which periods of relative inactivity are interrupted by periods of intensive communications and processing. For example, Congatec cites IoT device that must “execute an array of additional tasks alongside their actual application such as de- and encrypting, virus protection and network traffic.”

The 64-bit E8000 is quad-threaded and equipped with 2MB L2 cache. It features a 320MHz Intel Gen 8-LP GPU with 12 execution units. That’s a lower GPU clock rate than the Gen 7 graphics found on the Atom E3845, but judging by the Intel Gen8 graphics on the Braswell and Cherry Trail chips, this should be a major improvement.

The Atom x5-E8000 offers a dual-channel memory controller for DDR3L-1600 RAM at up to 25.6GB/s. Interfaces are said to include video encoder/decoder, display controller, camera, HD audio, four PCIe 2.0 lanes, SATA 3.0, SD 3.0, SDIO 3.0, eMMC 4.5.1, I2C, SPI, and UART. The E8000 uses a BGA1170 package measuring 27 x 25mm, and maxes out at temperatures of 90°C.

The new Cherry Trail models are the Atom x5-Z8330 and x5-Z8350, each of which have four cores clocked to 1.44GHz/1.92GHz. That’s a higher burst mode than on the x5-Z8300. Other features include 2MB of level 2 cache and a very low SDP of 2W.

Other than the Atom x5-Z8330 adding USB 3.0 support, the SoCs appear to be identical. The Atom x5-Z8330 is listed with Intel HD 400 graphics, while the x5-Z8350 page says simply Intel HD graphics, but they’re both clocked to 200MHz/500MHz burst.

Congatec’s Atom x5-E8000 boards

Congatec was the first to announce support for Intel’s new Atom x5-E8000, offering a pair of COM Express modules, a Qseven module, and a Mini-ITX board. As noted, however, only the Mini-ITX board is actually fairly new. The COMs are identically named and spec’d as Braswell modules previously covered by LinuxGizmos. To be on the safe side, however, we have presented all the latest photos and block diagrams.

Conga-QA4 (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

In addition to the Atom x5-E8000, all the products support four relatively new Braswell processors. These include Pentium and Celeron branded, quad-core SoCs and two dual-core Celerons. When originally announced, the three modules supported three entirely different Braswell chips: the Pentium N3700 and Celeron N3150 and N3050.

The complete list of supported processors, showing base frequencies, is as follows:

  • Intel Pentium N3710 (4x 1.60GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 6W TDP)
  • Intel Celeron N3160 (4x 1.60GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 6W)
  • Intel Celeron N3060 (2x 1.60GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 6W)
  • Intel Celeron N3010 (2x 1.04GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 4W)
  • Intel Atom x5-E8000 (4x 1.04GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 5W)

Applications for the four Congatec boards include embedded mobile devices, industrial gateways, gaming, digital storage, terminals, and ticket and cash register systems, says Congatec. Additional targets are said to include compact industrial and transport PCs, as well as medical devices.

All the boards except the 4GB RAM Conga-MA4 feature up to 8GB of DDR3L-1600 RAM. They offer Intel HD Graphics Gen 8, with support for DirectX 11.2, OpenGL 4.2 and OpenCL 1.2. The products support up to three independent displays via DisplayPort or HDMI with up to 4K resolutions (3840 x 2160 pixels), as well as LVDS or eDP connections. Hardware acceleration supports 4K video playback in real time, claims Congatec.

The boards all provide dual SATA 3.0 storage links, as well as support for PCI Express 2.0, USB 3.0 and 2.0, and SDIO, among other interfaces. A Gigabit Ethernet controller is provided along with Intel HD Audio.

Conga-MA4 (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The products are supported with BSPs “for all popular Linux distributions,” as well as Windows 10, 8, 7, and Windows Embedded 8/7. The BSPs include extensive documentation, industry-compliant driver implementation, and personal integration support, says Congatec. Embedded Design & Manufacturing (EDM) services are optional.

Conga-TCA4 (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Here’s a quick look at the three modules, with links to our previous, indepth LinuxGizmos coverage:
  • Conga-QA4 — The 70 x 70mm, Qseven form-factor Conga-QA4 supports up to 8GB RAM and 64GB of eMMC. Unlike the other modules here, it provides dual MIPI-CSI2 camera interfaces.
  • Conga-MA4 — This 84 x 55mm COM Express Type 10 Mini module offers up to 32GB eMMC flash. It was originally listed as supporting 8GB of soldered RAM, but now supports 4GB, with no mention of soldering.
  • Conga-TCA4 — This 95 x 95mm COM Express Type 6 Compact offers up to 8GB RAM, but no onboard flash.


The one relatively new Congatec product is the Conga-IA4, a 170 x 170mm thin Mini-ITX board that launched in October with support for Braswell processors. While adding support for the new Intel Atom x5-E8000, it also competes with many other Braswell-ready Mini-ITX boards that launched last summer.

Conga-IA4 thin Mini-ITX (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The Conga-IA4 has coastline ports including a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, audio jacks, and two DisplayPorts. LVDS and eDP interfaces are onboard, and like the Conga-QA4, there’s a pair of MIPI CSI-2 camera connections. Three PCIe slots are available, one of them shared with mSATA.

Conga-IA4 detail view
(click image to enlarge)

Onboard headers include dual serial ports, as well as SPDIF/DMIC, GPIO, SPI, LPC, and SMB. A watchdog is available, and options include TPM, ccTalk, and a SIM card slot.

The board features long life components, and has a wide-range 12V to 24V power supply. Like the Congatec modules, it has a standard 0 to 60°C temperature range.

Further information

The Intel Atom x5-E8000 and new x5-Z8330 and x5-Z8350 Cherry Trail SoCs are available now, with product pages available at this Intel ARK page. The four Congatec boards are also available. More information may be found in the Conga-QA4, Conga-MA4, Conga-TCA4, and Conga-IA4 product pages.

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