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Mini-ITX and COM Express boards tap 5th Gen Core CPUs

Jan 6, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 2,429 views

Congatec announced two Linux-ready boards based on Intel’s new 14nm 5th Gen Core processors. One is a Mini-ITX SBC, and the other is a COM Express module.

Following yesterday’s release of Intel’s 5th Generation Core processors using the 14nm “Broadwell” architecture, Congatec stepped up with a Conga-TC97 COM Express Type 6 Compact computer-on-module and Conga-IC97 thin Mini-ITX board based on the chips.

Conga-TC97 COM (left) and Conga-IC97 SBC
(click images to enlarge)

This first generation of Broadwell Core chips are primarily notable for faster, more capable graphics, rather than overall performance improvements, thanks to new Intel HD Graphics 5500 and 6000 technology. Power consumption is also generally lower when comparing the full product range to the previous 4th Gen “Haswell” Core processors.

Both Congatec products are available with a choice of three dual-core Intel Core models with 15W TDPs: the 2.2GHz Core i7-5650U, the 1.8GHz Core i5-5350U, and the Core i3-5010U. The Core i7 has 4MB of L2 cache, while the other two have 3MB. All the models are listed as having Intel HD Graphics 6000, although the Intel chart has the Core i3-5010U instead slated for HD Graphics 5500.

The three processors have the same TDPs and core count as the respective Haswell Core chips found in Congatec’s Conga-IC87 thin Mini-ITX board. However, the clock rates are higher, except for the Core i5 model, which is just slightly lower, and as noted, the graphics are improved.

Both products support 4K displays and also offer enhanced security and manageability features baked into the 5th Gen Core chips. Congatec also notes the availability of Intel AVX 2.0 vector extensions for improved floating point performance, as well as other enhanced Intel technologies as shown in the feature table below.

Congatec bills its first two Broadwell devices as Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, although we’d prefer to see something under 10 Watts before we’re comfortable using the IoT label. (Let’s just call it embedded!) Both devices run Linux as well as Windows 7, 8, and Embedded Standard.

Both the module and the Mini-ITX board let you hook up three independent display interfaces using HDMI 1.4, embedded DisplayPort (eDP), and dual-channel 24-bit LVDS interfaces, When using DisplayPort 1.2, the “individual displays can be daisy chained to take advantage of simple wiring,” says Congatec. Other similarities between the COM and the Mini-ITX products include the availability of two SODIMM sockets that can be equipped with up to 16GB of DDR3L RAM.

Conga-TC97 COM Express module

The Conga-TC97 is very similar to the recent Congatec cExpress-HL module, sharing the same Type 6 Compact form-factor. The COM Express module similarly supports four SATA ports, four PCIe slots, HD digital audio, a gigabit Ethernet controller, and the aforementioned triple displays.

Conga-TC97 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

You still get two USB 3.0 connections, but the USB 2.0 count has gone from six to eight ports. One novelty is the addition of dual Express Card interfaces. Unlike the cExpress-HL, there’s no extended temperature or ruggedization features, but our guess is that a rugged version will be announced later this year.

Specifications listed for the Conga-TC97 module include:

  • Processor — 5th Generation Intel i7/i5/i3 “Broadwell” Core processors; integrated PCH-LP chipset:
    • Core i7-5650U — dual-core 2.2GHz (3.2GHz turbo), 4MB Cache, 15W, Intel HD Graphics 6000 @ 300MHz (GT3)
    • Core i5-5350U — dual-core 1.8GHz (2.9GHz turbo), 3MB Cache, 15W, Intel HD Graphics 6000 @ 300MHz (GT3)
    • Core i3-5010U — dual-core 2.1GHz (no turbo), 3MB Cache, 15W, Intel HD Graphics 6000
  • Intel Core technologies – Intel Turbo Boost, Hyper-Threading (HT), AVX 2.0 AES-NI, Clear Video HD, Virtualization, Trusted Execution Technology (TXT), Streaming SIMD Extensions 4.2 (SSE 4.2), PCLMULQDQ Instruction, Secure Key, Transactional Synchronization Extensions (TSX)
  • Memory — up to 16GB dual-channel DDR3L SDRAM @ 1600MHz, via 2x SODIMMs
  • Storage — four SATA 6Gbps ports with RAID 0/1/5/10 support
  • Networking — 10/100/1000 Ethernet controller (Intel I218-LM) with AMT 10 support
  • Display:
    • Dual-channel 24-bit LVDS up to 1920 x 1200 with automatic panel detection
    • 2x DDI ports for DisplayPort 1.2a, HDMI, DVI, or VGA at up to 4k with Multi-Stream Transport (MST)
    • Triple independent simultaneous displays
    • Supports OpenCL 2.0, OpenGL 4.0, DirectX 11.1, Intel Clear Video HD
  • Audio — Intel HD Audio
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 3.0
    • 8x USB 2.0
    • 2x Express Card
  • Expansion — 4x PCIe 2.0 x1; LPC; I2C
  • Other features — TPM module (optional); watchdog
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 60°C
  • Power — Voltage N/A; ACPI 4.0 with battery backup; CPU power states up to C10
  • Dimensions — 95 x 95mm; Type 6 “compact”
  • Operating systems — Linux, Windows 7/8, WES

Conga-IC97 Mini-ITX SBC

The Broadwell-based Conga-IC97 Mini-ITX board is almost identical to the Haswell-based Conga-IC87 board announced in November. It’s similarly thin — 170 x 170 x 25mm with the coastline I/O shield — enabling flat housings, such as those required for panel PCs, says Congatec. The motherboard offers the same 5th Gen Core processor and OS choices, as well as the same 16GB RAM support as the Conga-TC97 module (see above).

Conga-IC97 board details
(click image to enlarge)

One difference compared to the earlier Conga-IC87 Mini-ITX board is the availability of four USB 3.0 ports on the I/O shield rather than an equal split between 3.0 and 2.0 connections. Dual 5Gbps PCIe 2.0 lanes can be used as mPCIe half size and PCIe full size slots shared with PCIe x1 and mSATA. There’s also a Mini-PCIe slot, four SATA 6 Gbps interfaces, dual gigabit Ethernet ports, and other I/O as noted in the diagrams above and below.

Conga-IC97 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The Conga-IC97 board features a wide-range 12 to 24 Volt power supply. However, like the Conga-TC97 module, it lacks ruggedization or extended temperature support.

Further information

No pricing or availability information was supplied for the Conga-TC97 module or Conga-IC97 board. More information, including full datasheets, may be found at the Conga-TC97 and Conga-IC97 product pages.

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