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First embedded-focused Skylake Mini-ITX SBCs arrive

Oct 13, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 2,695 views

Arbor and Advantech unveiled Linux-ready Mini-ITX boards using Intel’s 6th Gen Skylake CPUs, with options ranging from a 25W Xeon to a 65W Core i7-6700.

A month before Intel’s formal announcement of its 6th Gen Core (Skylake) processors in early September, several Windows-based, gaming oriented Mini-ITX boards were announced from ASRock, Asus, Gigabyte, EVGA, and ECS. Now Advantech and Arbor have announced more embedded-oriented Mini-ITX boards that support Linux, as well as Windows. Arbor’s website does not list Linux support, but a spokesperson told us it will likely support a range of 64-bit Linux distributions including Yocto.

Advantech AIMB-275 (left) and Arbor ITX-i89H0
(click images to enlarge)

The Advantech AIMB-275, which was revealed with very limited specs last month when Advantech more comprehensively detailed its 3.5-inch MIO-5272 SBC, has now been fully documented. Arbor’s ITX-i89H0 has also joined the mix.

Intel’s 6th Gen Core “Skylake” family is a “tock” release, compared to the “tick” release earlier this year of the similarly 14nm fabricated Broadwell processors. They generally offer higher performance and lower power consumption than Broadwell, although the exact mix depends on which of the over 48 models you choose.

Comparison among Intel’s Y-series, U-series, and H-series Skylake “chipsets”
(click image to enlarge)

Neither of these 170 x 170mm Mini-ITX boards uses the 4.5W Y-Series Skylake processors used by some of the first 6th Gen Core COM Express modules or the 15W U-Series used in Advantech’s MIO-5272. Instead the Advantech AIMB-275 offers two power-guzzling, 65W TDP S-Series Core models, one 35W S-Series Core chip, and one of Intel’s new Skylake-architecture Xeon E3 processors with a 35W TDP. Arbor’s ITX-i89H0 offers only a soldered, 25W DTP Xeon. All the options are quad-core, octa-threaded chips.

Processor specs for the new Advantech and Arbor Mini-ITX boards are as follows, with links to Intel product pages:

    Arbor ITX-i89H0:
    • Intel Xeon E3-1505L — 4x Skylake cores @ 2GHz (2.8GHz Turbo), soldered 8MB cache, 25W TDP, Intel HD Graphics P530, Intel CM236 chipset (Sunrise Point-H)
    Advantech AIMB-275:
    • Intel Core i7-6700 — 4x Skylake cores @ 3.4GHz (4GHz Turbo), 65W TDP, 8MB cache, Intel HD Graphics 530
    • Intel Core i7-6700TE — 4x Skylake cores @ 2.4GHz (3.4GHz Turbo), 35W TDP, 8MB cache, Intel HD Graphics 530
    • Intel Core i5-6500 — 4x Skylake cores @ 3.2GHz (3.5GHz Turbo), 6MB cache, 65W TDP, Intel HD Graphics 530
    • Intel Xeon E3-1286L v5 — 4x Skylake cores @ 2.4GHz (Turbo undisclosed), 35W TDP, Intel Q170 chipset

The reason there’s no link for the Xeon E3-1286L v5 is that Intel had yet to document this chip at publication time, listing only an earlier version E3-1286L v3 with a higher clock rate (3.2GHz base/4GHz Turbo), as well as a higher 65W TDP. The version 3 model has Intel HD Graphics P4700 graphics.

We imagine the Xeon E3-1286L v5 option may not be ready for a few months. The only chip option here listed with a Q3 ship date is the Core i7-6700 and the Core i5-6500. The Xeons available on the Arbor and Advantech boards are both set for a Q4 launch, so they could be ready now.

Block diagrams: Advantech AIMB-275 (left) and Arbor ITX-i89H
(click images to enlarge)

Both the Advantech AIMB-275 and Arbor ITX-i89H0 support up to 32GB DDR4 RAM, and the Arbor supports ECC RAM. Each has dual, 600Mbps SATA 3.0 ports, as well as one or two M.2 ports. Advantech lists a SATA DOM interface in addition to its single M.2 port, which it says supports 3G or storage. Arbor offers two M.2 ports, one with a Skt1-M socket for storage, and the other with a Skt1-E for wireless. M.2, or Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF), ports are smaller, thinner alternatives to mSATA.

Otherwise, the Advantech and Arbor boards are fairly similar, although Advantech’s AIMB-275 has a second gigabit Ethernet port instead of one for Arbor’s ITX-i89H0, and has more display options. The AIMB-275 includes HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort (1,2), and CRT ports on the coastline, as well as an internal LVDS (or optionally eDP) interface. The ITX-i89H0 has an HDMI port and two DisplayPorts on the coastline, and an internal eDP interface.

Advantech AIMB-275 coastline ports
(click image to enlarge)

Both boards list six USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports overall. The Advantech board has four coastline USB 3.0 ports, while the Arbor boards has four USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports on the coastline.

Both products have coastline audio and serial ports, and Advantech adds a Phoenix connector and 8x GPIO. Advantech lists both PCIe Gen 3 x16 and a full-size Mini-PCIe x1 slot with mSATA support, and Arbor lists a PCIe Gen 3.0 x16 slot, as well as LPC expansion. Both the AIMB-275 and ITX-i89H0 offer optional TPM, and Advantech also list support for Intel vPro, AMT 11.0, PECI 3.0, and software RAID 0,1,5,10.

Two SKUs listed for AIMB-275
(click image to enlarge)

Note that there’s a scaled down version of the Advantech board, as shown in the table above. This AIMB-275L-00A1E model lacks the second GbE port, the M.2 slot, and the CRT and LVDS ports.

The Advantech board has a wide-range, 12 to 24V DC input, while the Arbor model is listed only as 12V DC. The Arbor ITX-i89H0 is further claimed to have 4.17A consumption. Advantech has the wider temperature range at 0 to 60°C, although it notes the full range might not be available with the faster chip options, depending on cooling options. Arbor offers 0 to 40ºC support.

Further information

Advantech’s AIMB-275 appears to be available now, while Arbor’s ITX-i89H0 is expected to begin shipping by the end of the year, but neither company lists pricing for these new Mini-ITX boards. More information may be found at the AIMB-275 and ITX-i89H0 product pages respectively.

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