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First 3.5-inch Apollo Lake single board computers appear

Nov 8, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 2,429 views

[Updated: Nov. 11] — Aaeon and Avalue each unveiled 3.5-inch SBCs using Intel’s Apollo Lake processors, providing triple display support, wide-range power, and up to 8GB of RAM.

Aaeon’s GENE-APL5 and Avalue’s ECM-APL are the first 3.5-inch (146 x 101mm) form factor single board computers we’ve seen that support Intel’s 14nm-fabricated “Apollo Lake” Atom E3900 SoCs. The Avalue model is the only one with optional industrial temperature support.

The five Apollo Lake options supported by these boards include three Atoms, one Celeron, and one Pentium, and are pin-compatible with each other. The five SoCs, which have TDPs ranging from 6W to 12W, are listed below:

  • Intel Atom x7-E3950 — 4x cores @ 1.6GHz/2.0GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 12W TDP
  • Intel Atom x5-E3940 — 4x cores @ 1.6GHz/1.8GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 9W TDP
  • Intel Atom x5-E3930 — 2x cores @ 1.3GHz/1.8GHz, 1MB L2 cache, 6.5W TDP
  • Intel Celeron N3350 — 2x cores @ 1.1GHz/2.4GHz, 1MB L2 cache, 6W TDP
  • Intel Pentium N4200 — 4x cores @ 1.1GHz/2.5GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 6W TDP

Intel’s Apollo Lake Celeron and Pentium processors became available in Q3, whereas the Atoms are just emerging this quarter. As a result, photos of new Apollo Lake based SBC and computer-on-module products are showing two different processor appearances, depending whether the boards are fitted with Atoms (see front view SBC photo pairs farther below).



Aaeon’s GENE-APL5 (left) and Avalue’s ECM-APL
(click images to enlarge)

Only Avalue lists OS support (Linux and Windows 10), but since Aaeon’s Intel Braswell based GENE-BSW5 supports Linux and Windows, we’re confident that’s the case here, as well.

Other Apollo Lake SBCs announced to date include Portwell’s Nano-ITX form factor Nano-6062, Adlink’s AmITX-AL-I Mini-ITX board, and Aaeon Europe’s community-backed Up Squared.

 
Aaeon GENE-APL5

The GENE-APL5 is equipped with up to 8GB 1867MHz DDR3L RAM, dual GbE ports with Wake-on-LAN, and a SATA 3.0 port with a power connector. There are also two mini-PCIe slots — the full-size slot defaults to mSATA, and the half-sized model offers mini-PCIe signals. A uSIM slot is available for wireless.



GENE-APL5 front view, with Atom SoC (left) and with Celeron or Pentium SoCs
(click images to enlarge)

Triple displays are achieved with an LVDS interface, plus an HDMI port and 2x VGA ports on the I/O panel. The HDMI port can be used as a second LVDS interface. There’s also a backlight inverter supply, an optional 4/5/8-wire resistive touchscreen controller, and an HD audio interface.


GENE-APL5 back view and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Other GENE-APL5 interfaces include 2x USB 3.0 coastline ports and 4x USB 2.0 interfaces, one of which is used for the optional mSATA or touch controller. You will also find 2x RS-232/422/485 and 2x RS-232 interfaces plus 8-bit DIO, which can be swapped out for a Parallel port.


GENE-APL5 detail view
(click image to enlarge)

Additional features include optional TPM, a watchdog, and 0 to 60°C support. You can buy the board with either a 9-19V supply or a fixed 12V supply.

 
Avalue ECM-APL

Like the GENE-APL5, Avalue’s ECM-APL supports up to the same 8GB DDR3L RAM, and similarly offers dual GbE ports, although not apparently with WoL, and a SATA 3.0 port. Instead of two mini-PCIe slots including one with mSATA, you get a mini-PCIe slot and an M.2 B-Key 2242 expansion interface with support for everything from SATA to 3G/4G, supported with a micro-SIM slot.



ECM-APL front view, with Atom SoC (left) and with Celeron or Pentium SoCs
(click images to enlarge)

Triple displays are achieved with dual HDMI and an 18/24-bit LVDS interface, which is further supported with an optional touch controller. The press release also notes the availability of DisplayPort, which if true, is presumably co-located with HDMI. HDMI resolution is listed as being up to 3840 x 2160 @ 30Hz. We imagine that the Aaeon board offers similar HDMI or VGA resolution, but no specs were listed.


ECM-APL coastline view
(click image to enlarge)

The ECM-APL is further equipped with Realtek ALC892 driven audio mic-in, line, in, and line-out interfaces. The board supports twice the number of USB 3.0 ports with four, and they’re all on the coastline. However, there’s only one USB 2.0 interface.


ECM-APL rear view,
(click image to enlarge)

Other features include 5x RS-232 and one RS-232/422/485, as well as 8-bit GPIO, LPC, SPI, and a watchdog. TPM 2.0 is optional. Additionally, Avalue offers optional -40 to 85°C operation support on three Atom E3900 SKUs of the board.

Avalue also announced an EBM-APL SBC that uses the old school 5.25-inch form factor. We won’t go into details on that, except to say that the 5.25-inch EBM-APL runs Linux, Windows, and even Android, on all five Apollo Lake options with up to 8GB RAM, dual display support, wide-range power, and industrial temperature support.

 
Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for either the Aaeon GENE-APL5 and Avalue ECM-APL 3.5-inch SBCs. More information may be found on the Aaeon GENE-APL5 and Avalue ECM-APL product pages, as well as the ECM-APL announcement.
 

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