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Tiniest Braswell COM ships, with 4K video, GbE, up to 8GB RAM

Sep 22, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 1,202 views

SolidRun is shipping a tiny module based on Intel Braswell SoCs, and featuring SATA, GbE, HDMI, USB3.0, PCIe, 4K video, up to 8GB RAM, and up to 128GB eMMC.

In March, SolidRun pre-announced an “Intel Braswell MicroSOM” family that features a new computer-on-module form factor measuring a wee 53 x 40mm. The Intel Braswell MicroSOM, which is now shipping, features a unique reverse-power design that generates five power outputs for use by a carrier and its peripherals. Applications for the module are said to include medical, industrial, point-of-sale, and drones. Linux, Android, and Windows are supported, including Windows 10 IoT. The module is supported with an optional SolidPC Q4 carrier board, and is also available combined with the carrier as a sandwich-style SBC.

Intel Braswell MicroSOM (left) and sandwich-style SolidPC Q4 SBC
(click images to enlarge)

The Braswell design is initially available in almost identical SoM IB3710 and SoM IB8000 modules with Intel Pentium N3710 and Intel Atom x5-E8000 SoCs, respectively. Both SoCs hail from the same 14nm Braswell family related to the mobile-oriented “Cherry Trail” x5 and x7 Z8000, and similarly feature advanced Intel Gen 8 graphics and 4K video support.

Intel Braswell MicroSOM, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The first Braswell based COMs, from Adlink, MSC, Nexcom, and Portwell, debuted in early June of last year in conjunction with Intel’s Braswell Pentium and Celeron announcement. The Atom x5-E8000 only appeared in January of this year, and debuted on Congatec QSeven and COM Express modules in February.

The only other COMs we’re aware of that support the more power-efficient Atom x5-E8000 at this point are the COM Express Compact Type 6 Advantech SOM6868, DFI BW-968, and Win Enterprises MB-73450, and the and Qseven 2.1 Advantech SOM-3568. Yet, we imagine that many, if not most, of the other Braswell COM modules will add Atom support in the coming months.

x86-oriented COM form factors compared (left to right): COM Express Basic, Qseven, SolidRun Intel Braswell MicroSOM
(click image to enlarge)

Despite the impression given by SolidRun’s comparison diagram (above), most Braswell modules introduced to date have actually been COM Express Type 6 Compact (95 x 95mm) models, such as the Nexcom ICES 621, as opposed to the Type 6 Basic (125 x 95mm) size illustrated. Last July, Avalue announced a Braswell-based Qseven model in addition to a COM Express entry, and in January Adlink announced the LEC-BW and Q7-BW modules, based on SMARC and Qseven form factors, respectively.

SolidRun’s 52.8 x 40mm SoM IB3710 and SoM IB8000 have them all beat on size with a footprint of 2,112 square millimeters. That’s only about half the footprint of Adlink’s 82 x 50mm “short form” SMARC LEC-BW (4,100 sq. mm) and it’s even smaller than Congatec’s 84 x 55mm COM Express Mini Type 10 Conga-MA4 (4,620).

This is only the second COM product from SolidRun, following its even smaller, 47 x 30mm i.MX6 SOM, which is equipped with NXP i.MX6 SoCs and fuels the company’s CuBox mini-PCs and HummingBoard carrier boards. The latter are provided in pre-integrated, sandwich style hacker SBC products such as the HummingBoard-Gate.

SolidRun’s Intel Braswell MicroSOM modules are claimed to offer easier power management than most Intel-based COMs. Instead of requiring multiple, conditioned and sequenced voltages from the carrier board, the MicroSOM receives a single 7 to 21 Volt input voltage from the carrier board and generates five sequenced DC levels (see specs farther below) for its own use, and that of the carrier board. “All power sequencing and conversion is performed in the module, reducing complexity and cost, while improving reliability,” says SolidRun.

Intel Braswell MicroSOM power outputs (left) and distributed fan-out expansion connector design
(click images to enlarge)

Another claimed innovation implemented on the Intel Braswell MicroSOM is a distributed interface signal fan-out that design uses three 80-pin Hirose DF40 expansion connectors instead of a single, high density board-to-board connector. The decreased conductor density, results in a claimed reduction of up to 50 percent of the required PCB layers, says SolidRun. The design is also claimed to improve reliability and reduce crosstalk due to shorter PCB traces.

Finally, the module is touted for its single A3 carrier schematic, claimed to avoid the need to browse hundreds of Intel schematic diagrams. It’s unclear, however, if this differs significantly from the documentation provided for other COMs, which inherently reduce the complexity compared to working directly with a SoC.

SoM IB3710 and SoM IB8000 module details

The SoM IB3710 and SoM IB8000 modules appear to differ only in the SoC model and RAM. While both support up to 8GB DDR3L, the Atom-based SoM IB8000 is also available in 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB versions. Both the Pentium and Atom models support optional eMMC ranging from 4GB to 128GB.

The modules are further equipped with a GbE controller, dual SATA 3.0 interfaces, and dual DisplayPorts with HDMI and eDP options, respectively. Other I/O includes four USB 3.0 ports, one of which is OTG, plus dual MIPI-CSI-2 camera inputs, three PCIe interfaces, and dual UARTs. In addition to onboard I2C and SD interfaces, a GPIO connector provides additional I/O, as does an MCU-based connector for generic I/O, HDMI CEC, and IR.

The module supports wide-range 7 to 21V power input, and offers a PMIC, RTC support, and the five aforementioned power outputs. The module also is notable for its wide, 0 to 90°C extended temperature range.

Specifications listed for the SolidRun SoM IB3710 and SoM IB8000 modules include:

  • Processor — Intel Braswell with Intel HD Graphics Gen 8:
    • Intel Pentium N3710 (4x 1.60GHz (2.4GHz turbo), 2MB L2 cache, 6W TDP, 400MHz/700MHz GPU)
    • Intel Atom x5-E8000 (4x 1.04GHz (2.0GHz turbo), 2MB L2 cache, 5W TDP, 320MHz/600MHz GPU)
  • Memory/storage:
    • RAM — 8GB (SoM IB3710) or 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB (SoM IB8000) DDR3L
    • SSD — optional 4GB to 128GB eMMC
    • SDIO (via 3x 80-pin expansion connectors)
    • 2x SATA 3.0 (6Gbps) (via expansion)
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet (RTL8111G) controller
  • Display/camera options (via expansion):
    • DisplayPort or HDMI (up to [email protected])
    • DisplayPort or eDP (up to [email protected])
    • 4-lane MIPI CSI-2 via flex cable
    • 2-lane MIPI CSI-2 via flex cable
  • Other I/O (via expansion):
    • 4x USB 3.0 (1x OTG)
    • I2C
    • 2x UART
    • Digital HD audio (on carrier)
    • GPIO multiplexed for UART, I2C, SATA DevSlp, PCIe CLKREQ, SDI
    • MCU-based (STM32F042K4U6) expansion interface (via internal USB) — 5x generic I/O, HDMI CEC, IR
    • PCI Express — 3x PCIe 2.0 x1
  • Other features — optional SolidPC Q4 carrier
  • Power:
    • 7 to 21V supply
    • Battery-optimized PMIC
    • 2x PMU wakeup signals
    • RTC switchover for 3.3v battery on carrier
    • Power outputs for carrier — V5S (2.8A), V3P3S (2.1A), V3P3A (2.8A), V1P8A (1.75A), V1P8S (1.05A)
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 90°C
  • Dimensions — 52.8 x 40mm
  • Operating system — Linux; Android; Windows incl. Windows 10 IoT

SolidPC Q4 carrier board and SBC

The SoM IB3710 and SoM IB8000 COMs are supported with a SolidPC Q4 carrier board, which like SolidRun’s HummingBoards is said to be ready for in-product deployment as well as for use as a reference design. The 100 x 80mm board has an optional metal enclosure with wireless antennas. The carrier is also offered as a sandwich-style SolidPC Q4 SBC, with one of the COMs pre-installed,

SolidPC Q4 carrier board
(click image to enlarge)

The antennas support the SolidPC Q4’s optional WiFi/Bluetooth module available via an M.2 interface. A separate M.2 supports an optional SATA SSD in addition to any eMMC already on the module. A microSD (UHS-1) slot and dual Gigabit Ethernet ports with optional PoE are also available.

MicroSOM SolidPC Q4 SBC (COM+carrier) and its optional enclosure
(click images to enlarge)

The SolidPC Q4 is further equipped with a DisplayPort, an HDMI 1.4b port, three USB 3.0 host ports, and dual UART headers. An IR receiver is built in along with LEDs and reset and power buttons. A 7-21V DC input is provided along with a battery for the RTC function.

Further information (updated: Sept. 22)

The SoM IB3710 and SoM IB8000 modules, SolidPC Q4 Carrier, and sandwich-style SolidPC Q4 SBC are currently available through SolidRun. The Braswell-based MicroSoMs can be purchased separately starting at $117 USD (IB8000 with 2GB RAM), or bundled with the SolidPC Q4 carrier board, starting at $157 USD. More information may be found at SolidRun’s Braswell family and shop pages.

Note: This post was originally published on Mar. 29, 2016, and has been updated to reflect current pricing and production status.

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