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Rugged PC/104-Plus SBC runs Linux on Vortex86DX2 SoC

Sep 15, 2015 — by Rick Lehrbaum — 723 views

Versalogic’s “Fox” SBC features a DMP Vortex86DX2 SoC, dual display, USB, serial, and LAN ports, stackable ISA and PCI expansion, and -40 to 85°C operation.

The Fox single-board computer is the newest member of Versalogic’s family of rugged, PC/104-style SBCs. It joins siblings named Cougar, Leapard, Minx, Tiger, Tomcat, Wildcat, and Ocelot, which are variously based on AMD, Intel, and DMP system-on-chip processors. The Fox appears to be the company’s first SBC to integrate DMP’s several-years-old “Vortex86DX2” x86 architecture SoC.

Versalogic Fox
(click images to enlarge)

The Fox conforms to the 108 x 96mm PC/104-Plus form factor, which features a combination of ISA- and PCI-based self-stacking bus expansion. The board typically draws around 5.5 Watts from a single +5V DC supply, and it’s offered in versions rated for either 0 to 60°C or -40 to 85°C operation. Other factors that make the Fox SBC well suited for harsh environments and reliability-critical applications are said to include MIL-STD-202G shock and vibration compliance, the use of latching connectors, I/O port transient suppression, and soldered-on RAM.

Fox SBC details (left) and Vortex86DX2 SoC block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The Fox SBC’s I/O interfaces include two helpings each of 10/100 Ethernet, USB 2.0, and serial ports; a SATA storage interface; and both LVDS and VGA outputs with support for dual simultaneous display operation. Additional expansion mechanisms include an on-board, full-sized mini-PCIe socket with mSATA support, as well ISA- and PCI-based expansion modules plugged into the board’s PC/104-Plus expansion headers.

We’ve seen quite a few PC/104 form-factor SBCs based on DMP’s x86 architecture Vortex86 SoCs over the years. These have included the Tri-M VSX104+ (Vortex86SX in 2008), Icop VDX-6354 (Vortex86DX in 2009), Aaeon PFM-535S (Vortex86SX in 2009), WinSystems PCM-VDX-2-512 (Vortex86DX in 2010), Eurotech CPU-1440 (Vortex86DX in 2011), and Adlink CoreModule1-86DX2 (Vortex86DX2 in 2013). Versalogic’s Fox follows most closely in the footsteps of Adlink’s Vortex86DX2-based module, but it adds the PC/104-Plus standard’s PCI expansion bus.

The Fox SBC is compatible with Linux, Windows, and “most x86 operating systems,” says Versalogic. Additionally, an available “VersaAPI” API simplifies access to various on-board I/O functions from application software running on Linux or Windows.

Further information

Versalogic expects to start shipping the Fox SBC during Q1 of 2016, both directly and through its distributor, Digi-Key, priced from $569 in OEM quantities. Further details may be found at the company’s Fox product page.

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