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Rugged ARM module spec targets harsh environments

Mar 29, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 585 views

Advantech, Aaeon, and Avalue unveiled an “RTX” spec for 68 x 68mm ruggedized ARM COMs, with four 100-pin connectors and wide-range power and temperature.

The Linux-supported RTX (Rugged Technology eXtended) open-spec form factor for ARM-based computer-on-modules was developed by a new RTX Consortium with founding members Advantech, Aaeon, and Avalue. The other collaborators on the spec are ARM, NXP, and Texas Instruments (TI), although they have not been formally tagged as members on the RTX site. The RTX 2.0 spec is now available for download along with a design guide, carrier board schematics, and mechanical drawing files.

RTX overview
(click image to enlarge)

Unlike other ARM-compatible form factors such as the eight-year old Qseven (70 x 70mm) and three year old SMARC (82 x 80mm or 82 x 50mm), RTX 2.0 is ruggedized against shock and vibration, in part due to its 2mm PCB thickness requirement. Specifically, RTX “board strength is up to four times stronger than 1mm PCBs,” states the spec’s brochure. RTX also supports full industrial -40 to 85°C temperatures, as opposed to the 0 to 85°C extended temperature support of the other formats, both of which are maintained by the Standardization Group for Embedded Technologies (SGET).

RTX dimensions

RTX 2.0 also offers many more expansion pins via its four 100-pin connectors. Whereas RTX has 400 expansion pins, Qseven 2.0 has 230 and SMARC 1.0 has 340. Additionally, RTX 20’s connectors feature a 98N mating force, and offer vibration, oxidation, and solder crack resistance, as well as “excellent electrical performance,” according to the RTX Consortium. Up to 12 layer PCBs are supported.

RTX compared to Qseven 2.0 and SMARC
(click image to enlarge)

The RTX form factor supports wide-range 5V to 24V power. Module power pins support operation at a maximum of 6A (30W input at 5V).

RTX carrier, COM, and heat spreader stack
(click image to enlarge)

The four connectors carry power and I/O signals specified as follows:
  • Connector A — Power management and system bus
  • Connector B — Camera, PCIe, GbE, USB
  • Connector C — TTL, SD, eMMC, SPI, GPIO
  • Connector D — SATA, LVDS, HDMI, CANbus, UART, I2S

Advantech announced the first two modules based on RTX 2.0. The ROM-3310 features a TI Sitara AM3352 SoC, while the ROM-3420 extends the NXP i.MX6. The modules are supported with an Advantech RTX-compliant carrier called the DB-3900.

The Advantech modules appear to be supported only with Linux. A posted RTX 1.0 design guide from December offers a driver checklist for Windows Embedded. The guide also says: “Regarding Linux, please consult with your IC vender, OS vender, OS community, and your module vender for driver support and maintenance.” We’ll have more on these Advantech RTX boards soon.

“Because of the platform’s innovative mechanical and electrical design, products developed with RTX are suitable for complex and challenging environments, such as those encountered in logistics, transportation/fleet management operations, military, and many other industrial applications,” states the RTX Consortium’s website.

Further information

The RTX 2.0 spec is available for free download, along with other documentation. More information may be found at the RTX Consortium website.

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