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Expandable 3.5-inch SBC runs Linux on Bay Trail SoCs

Jun 2, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 1,011 views

Axiomtek’s “CAPA840” SBC supports Atom E3800 SoCs, and offers -20 to 70°C support, wide-range power, dual mini-PCIe, and a “ZIO” connector for I/O modules.

Like Axiomtek’s CAPA841 SBC, the fanless CAPA840 is a 146 x 104mm “3.5-inch” SBC that supports a quad-core, 1.91GHz Intel Atom E3845 or dual-core, 1.75GHz Atom E3827 of the Bay Trail generation. (The CAPA841 was announced with a somewhat slower E3826 dual-core option, but the current model has the E3827 as well.) Other 3.5-inch Atom E3800 based SBCs include the WinSystems SBC35-CC405.

(click image to enlarge)

The CAPA840 is designed for applications including IoT/M2M, industrial control, self-serve terminal, digital signage, POS, and kiosk, says Axiomtek.

As the numbering scheme suggests, this is a reduction from the earlier feature set, but only a slight one, and it offers some additional features such as a multifunction “ZIO” connector that supports optional expansion modules. As with the CAPA841, you can load up to 8GB of DDR3L RAM. There’s no longer a CFast connector, but you still get mSATA and SATA-300 interfaces. The CAPA840 ships with dual gigabit Ethernet ports, as well as HDMI, VGA, and audio ports. There’s also an LVDS connection available internally.

CAPA840, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Compared to the earlier model, there’s a new USB 3.0 port in addition to the four earlier USB 2.0 ports, three of which are similarly coastline ports. On the minus side, there are only two serial ports instead of four, although one of those is still the selectable RS-232/422/485.

CAPA840 front and back details
(click images to enlarge)

The CAPA840’s ZIO expansion interface is located on the back of the board. ZIO, a homegrown standard that integrates PCIe x1, USB, LPC, and SMBus expansion buses into a single connector, first showed up in 2012 on Axiomtek’s Atom-based CAPA830 SBC (see photo below). Available ZIO expansion modules currently include combinations of COM ports with mini-PCIe, DIO, or gigabit Ethernet (see spec list farther below).

Older CAPA830 with a ZIO module installed on its back side
(click image to enlarge)

In addition to the PCIe interface available on the ZIO expansion connector, there are two separate full-size mini-PCIe expansion slots, one of which is dedicated to USB. Unlike the earlier SBC, there’s a wide 12V to 24V power range, but there’s only a single -20 to 70°C temperature range without the earlier -40 to 80°C option. Watchdog and monitoring features are also available.

There’s no explicit mention of OSes on the product’s web page, but you can count on Linux here (generally Ubunto and Centos in Axiom’s case), along with Windows. The company provides customization services, as well as a password-protected Axiomtek Technical Portal (ATP) support service where users can download technical design guides, mechanical 2D/3D drawings, and software utilities.

Specifications listed for the CAPA840 include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom E3800 with Intel Gen. 7 Graphics:
    • E3827 (2x cores @ 1.75GHz with 8W TDP)
    • E3845 (4x cores @ 1.91GHz with 10W TDP)
  • Memory/storage:
    • Up to 8GB DDR3L-1066/1333SDRAM via 1x SODIMM
    • mSATA socket
    • SATA-300 interface
  • Display:
    • VGA port
    • LVDS 18/24-bit single/dual channel interface
    • HDMI port
    • Dual display support
  • Networking — 2x gigabit Ethernet ports with Wake-on-LAN, PXE boot (Intel i211AT)
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 3.0 port
    • 4x USB 2.0 ports (1x internal)
    • RS-232/422/485 interface
    • RS-232 interface
    • Audio line-out, line-in, mic-in (Realtek ALC662))
    • 8x DIO
  • Expansion:
    • 2x Mini-PCIe (with USB and mSATA)
    • ZIO expansion connector (with PCIe x1, USB, LPC, SMBus); optional ZIO modules include:
      • 4x COM ports and a mini-PCIe slot
      • 2x COM ports and 32-bit programmable DIO
      • 2x COM ports and 2x gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Other features — Watchdog; HW monitoring
  • Operating temperature — -20 to 70°C
  • Power — +12 to 24VDC input (2×2 connector); AT auto power on; Lithium 3V/220mAH battery
  • Dimensions — 146 x 104 x 1.6mm; 3.5-inch form-factor

Further information

The CAPA840 will be available in late June 2015 at an unstated price. More information may be found at the CAPA840 page of Axiomtek’s website.

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