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Industrial focused Mini-ITX board packs Skylake punch

Dec 8, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 1,502 views

Portwell’s industrial-focused “WADE-8017” Mini-ITX board taps Intel’s 6th Gen “Skylake” Core CPUs, and offers SATA, M.2, PCIe, and mini-PCIe expansion.

Like the Advantech AIMB-275 and Arbor ITX-i89H0, Portwell’s WADE-8017 SBC targets industrial applications rather than home use, and weds the 170 x 170mm Mini-ITX form-factor with Intel’s 14nm fabricated 6th Gen Core (Skylake) processors. The Skylake chips generally offer higher performance and lower power consumption than the 14nm Intel 5th Gen “Broadwell” Core CPUs announced at the beginning of the year, although the exact mix depends on which of the over 48 models you choose.

(click image to enlarge)

Portwell’s rather spare documentation doesn’t mention which series of 6th Gen CPUs are available with the WADE-8017, except to say it supports dual-or quad-core Core i5 and i7 models equipped with an Intel Q170 chipset. Its use of an LGA1151 socket, however, points to the powerful — and power-guzzling — S-Series chips used by the Advantech AIMB-275U. The Advantech SoC choices included three quad-core models with Intel HD Graphics 530 graphics: a Core i7-6700 @ 3.4GHz (4GHz Turbo) with 65W TDP and 8MB cache; a Core i7-6700TE @ 2.4GHz (3.4GHz Turbo) with 35W TDP and 8MB cache; and a Core i5-6500 @ 3.2GHz (3.5GHz Turbo) with 65W TDP and 6MB cache.

Portwell also fails to list OS support, but Linux and Windows should run just fine. Applications are said to include gaming, kiosk, digital signage, medical/healthcare, defense, and industrial automation and control.

The WADE-8017 is fairly similar to the 4th Gen Core “Haswell” based WADE-8015 Mini-ITX board. Portwell later used the WADE-8015 as the foundation for four Linux-friendly embedded computers.

WADE-8017 details
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The WADE-8017 supports up to 32GB of speedy DDR4 RAM, and has six SATA 3.0 slots and an M.2 socket compared to two SATA 2.0 and two SATA 2.0 on the Haswell-based WADE-8015. Like the WADE-8015, it supports triple displays using its VGA, HDMI, and DisplayPort connections.

WADE-8017 coastline ports
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The board is further equipped with HD audio I/O, 8-bit GPIO, and six COM ports, including an RS232/422/485 port. The spec sheet lists eight USB ports, including four USB 3.0, but the announcement instead notes only two USB 2.0 headers in addition to the four real-world USB 3.0 ports, for six USB ports overall.

Like the WADE-8015, the WADE-8017 uses a novel approach to PCIe expansion. In addition to providing an on-board PCIe x16 Gen. 3 slot, both Mini-ITX boards implement what Portwell calls a “Side Expansion Bus” (SEB) that enables coplanar PCIe expansion.

Portwell’s SEB (Side Expansion Bus) concept
(click image to enlarge)

As illustrated above, the small gold-finger SEB connector at the edge of the board contains a pair of PCIe x1 channels, and can mate with optional one- or two-slot PCI/PCIe backplanes. The WADE-8017 also includes a single, mSATA-ready Mini-PCIe slot.

Specifications listed for the WADE-8017 include:

  • Processor — Intel 6th Gen (“Skylake”) Core i5 or i7 (dual- or quad-core); Intel Q170 PCH chipset; LGA1151 socket
  • Memory — Up to 32GB DDR4 RAM via 2x DIMM
  • Storage — 6x SATA 3.0 (6Gb/s) including 1x mSATA ready slot and RAID 0/1/5,10 modes; M.2 socket (Type E2230)
  • Display — VGA; DisplayPort; HDMI
  • Networking — 2x Gigabit Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • 4x USB 3.0
    • 4x USB 2.0
    • 5x RS232
    • RS232/422/485
    • 8-bit GPIO
    • Audio I/O (Realtek ALC886-GR HD codec)
  • Expansion:
    • PCIe x16 Gen 3
    • Mini-PCIe (supports mSATA)
    • SEB connector with 2x PCIe x1 interfaces
  • Dimensions — 170 x 170mm (Mini-ITX)

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the WADE-8017, but the limited documentation suggests it has yet to ship. More information may be found on Portwell’s WADE-8017 product page.

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