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Mini-ITX SBC runs Linux on Braswell, supports triple displays

Mar 17, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 1,202 views

Aaeon’s EMB-BSW-1 is a Mini-ITX SBC based on Intel’s N3000 “Braswell” SoCs, and featuring triple display support, dual hdmi, dual mini-PCIe, and 12-24V input.

Due to the height of the built-in heatsink, Aaeon can’t use the term “thin” for its latest “EMB-BSW-1” industrial Mini-ITX board, but otherwise the board would likely fit that definition. The low profile, along with wide range 12-24V DC power input plus triple display make the EMB-BSW-1 well suited for embedded applications including digital signage, ATM, and point-of-sale.

EMB-BSW-1’s low profile coastline
(click image to enlarge)

Although Aaeon labels both of the EMB-BSW-1’s supported Intel N3000 (“Braswell”) processors as Atom chips, Intel’s data sheet pages actually classify the quad-core 1.6GHz/2.4GHz N3710 as a Pentium chip, while the dual-core 1.6GHz/2.08GHz N3060 is tagged as a Celeron. Aaeon has the right idea, however, as the new, embedded focused Atom x5-E8000 is based more closely on Braswell than on the mobile-oriented Atom x5-Z8000 “Cherry Trail” SoCs. A growing number of embedded vendors are supporting both Atom x5-E3800 and Braswell SoCs on the same boards, in part thanks to the two SoC families’ PCB footprint compatibility.

(click image to enlarge)

Intel’s naming schemes have grown increasingly convoluted, especially when it comes to Celerons and Pentiums, two brands that have previously been linked to either Atom or Core product lines. Typically, Celerons and Pentiums are faster and more expensive than Atoms, and have often been less power efficient, although the latter difference has largely faded.

The key point here is that the Braswell, Atom x5-E8000, and Atom x5- and x7-Z8000 processors are all SoCs based on Intel’s 14nm “Airmont” architecture, and feature much-improved Intel Gen 8 graphics over the 22nm Silvermont generation of Atom, Celeron, and Pentium “Bay Trail” SoCs. Power consumption is also improved — the N3000 chips boast 6W TDPs.

A number of other Linux-ready Braswell-based Mini-ITX boards have reached market since last summer. Aaeon, meanwhile, has tapped Braswell chips for its 3.5-inch GENE-BSW5 SBC.

EMB-BSW-1 detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The EMB-BSW-1 supports up to 8GB of dual-channel DDR3L RAM, and provides a mSATA interface and three SATA 3.0 connectors for storage. Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports with wake-on-LAN and PXE boot are provided along with 10 USB ports, four of which are USB 3.0. Two of those are coastline ports.

There are two 4K ready coastline HDMI ports, while 2K-capable LVDS and optional eDP are accessible via top and bottom mounted internal connectors, respectively. LCD backlight connectors and jumpers are also available.

EMB-BSW-1 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The remaining coastline ports include audio I/O and a PS/2 port. Other I/O includes 8-bit DIO, five RS232 headers, and a box header for RS-232/422/485. For expansion, you get a half-size mini-PCIe slot with USB support. The full-sized mini-PCIe mSATA slot can be reconfigured for similar PCIe/USB duty.

The 0.5-kilo EMB-BSW-1 has a fairly modest 0 to 60° temperature range. The board is supported with Fedora Linux and Windows.

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the EMB-BSW-1. More information may be found on Aaeon’s EMB-BSW-1 product page.

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