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Linux-ready industrial PCs are tough as nails

Sep 25, 2014 — by Eric Brown — 1,719 views

MEN Micro announced two rugged, Linux-ready box PCs with 3rd Gen. Intel Core i7 CPUs: the video storage oriented “BL70S” and the wireless focused “BL70W.”

The BL70S and BL70W are fanless industrial computers that operate from -40 to 85°C, and feature aluminum fins that facilitate conduction cooling. Earlier MEN Micro box computers had much the same appearance, including the circa-2011, AMD G-Series based BC1. Both computers support Linux, as well as Windows 7 and WES7.

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Although the computers have many features in common, the BL70S is designed for storage applications such as video recorders or content servers, while the BL70W supports wireless computing, “whether used alone or connected to a display computer,” says MEN Micro. The BL70S is notable for its 4-port gigabit Ethernet switch, Power over Ethernet (PoE) support, and external, hot-pluggable HDD/SSD shuttles. The BL70W stands out with its four mini-PCI Express slots, each with a dual SIM card, and its wide support for wireless technologies.

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Both computers come standard with an Intel Core i7-3517UE CPU from the chipmaker’s 3rd Generation “Ivy Bridge” family. The dual-core, quad-thread processor runs at 1.7GHz (2.8GHz turbo), and is paired with the Intel QM77 controller hub. Both computers also support the dual-core, 1.6GHz Core i3-3217UE, as well as several single-core (927UE, 827E) or dual-core (1047UE) Celerons, all from the same Ivy Bridge generation.

The BL70S and BL70W each offer 4GB of soldered DDR3 SDRAM with ECC support, expandable to 16GB. There’s also a microSD slot and a mSATA slot. They each provide SATA 2 support, but while the BL70W houses a single, 2.5-inch SATA 2 bay, the BL70S offers two external, hot-pluggable, 2.5-inch HDD/SSD shuttles with RAID 0/1 support.

The BL70W is equipped with two gigabit Ethernet ports. By comparison, the BL70S has one standard GbE port and an electrically isolated 4-port GbE switch. The latter features PoE support, as well as auto negotiation, Layer 2 controls, and support for various features like Quality of Service and priority-based switching.

BL70S port detail
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The BL70W is equipped with two DisplayPort 1.1a ports for up to 2560 x 1600-pixel resolution while the BL70S has just one. Both computers provide dual USB 2.0 ports, as well as dual SA-Adapter slots for legacy serial I/O, including RS-232, RS-422/485, CAN, IBIS master, IBIS slave, and GPIO. Other common features include gold cap buffered real-time clocks.

BL70W port detail
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The remaining I/O is quite different. The BL70W has an RS-232 port, an RS-422/485 port, plus 7x GPIOs, 2x relay outputs, and 2x photocouplers. There’s also an odometer input and an IBIS slave interface. As noted, the BL70W has four mini-PCIe slots, each with a pair of SIM slots. These interfaces support GSM (2G), UMTS (3G), LTE (4G), and WLAN. The BL70W also supplies a GNSS location interface that supports GPS and GLONASS, The BL70S, on the other hand, has none of the features listed in this paragraph except for a single mini-PCIe slot and a pair of SIM slots.

The computers have the same 400 x 240mm footprint, but the W version is 60mm tall while the S version is 66mm. The weight is 3 Kilograms and 4.25 k, respectively. Both PCs feature a wide-range power supply with 24 VDC and 36 VDC nominal input voltage (10 V to 50.4 V), as per EN50155. They offer power consumption of 30 Watts, in compliance with the EN 50155 (railway) and ISO 7637-2 (E-mark for automotive) standards.

BL70W internal CPU and I/O boards
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In addition to the industrial temperature support, common ruggedization features include vibration (1 m/s(2), 5Hz-150Hz, EN 61373) and shock (50 m/s(2), 30ms, EN 61373) resistance. They also conform to EMC standards, and provide conformal coating of internal components.

Hi-res photos of the BL70S (top) and BL70W
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Options on both computers include M12 connectors for the Ethernet ports, HD audio jacks, including an SPDIF out port. Other options include HDDs and SSDs, antenna connectors and SA-Adapters. The systems are available with extensive customization services, including jolting up the input voltages to as high as 110V.

Further information

No pricing information was provided for the BL70S and BL70W, and delivery is said to take six to eight weeks ARO, says MEN Micro. More information may be found at the BL70S and BL70W product pages, respectively.

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