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Tiny COM Express Mini module is first to tap Braswell

Oct 7, 2015 — by Rick Lehrbaum — 648 views

Congatec’s Linux-friendly “Conga-MA4” COM appears to be the world’s first COM Express Mini-sized module to incorporate Intel’s 14nm, 7W TDP “Braswell” SoCs.

The roughly credit card-sized COM Express Mini form-factor has emerged as a popular, standardized computer-on-module format in recent months, as seen by new Intel Bay Trail based products from Aaeon, Arbor, CompuLab, Congatec, DFI, Hectronic, Kontron, XES, and possibly others. Now, Congatec has raised the stakes with the Conga-MA4, which appears to be the first announced COM Express Mini module to be based on Intel’s 14nm Braswell SoCs that debuted earlier this year.

Conga-MA4 front (left) and back
(click images to enlarge)

From a form-factor perspective, the Conga-MA4 stands on the shoulders of Congatec’s Intel Bay Trail-based Conga-MA3 (below, left), while from a processor point-of-view, the Conga-MA4 inherits DNA from the COM Express Compact-sized, but similarly Braswell based Conga-TCA4 (below, right).

Conga-MA3 recipe: mix one Bay Trail-based Conga-MA3 (left) with one Braswell-based Conga-TCA4 (right); bake for one hour; test and ship!
(click images to enlarge)

The Conga-MA4 COM offers a choice of four 4th Gen Intel Atom (“Braswell)” SoCs, ranging from the dual-core, 1.04GHz Celeron N3000 with a 4 Watt TDP, up to the quad-core, Pentium N3700 that draws up to 7 Watts. The Linux-ready module also supplies up to 8GB of soldered DDR3 RAM memory, along with an optional onboard eMMC flash disk for up to 32GB of solid-state storage.

Conga-MA4 block diagram (includes Braswell SoC details)
(click image to enlarge)

All I/O routes through the module’s single, high-density COM Express bus connector. Dual-display operation is available, with output options said to include single-channel 18-bit/24-bit LVDS, DisplayPort 1.1a, HDMI 1.4b, DVI, and eDP (some appear to be dependent on special-order build options). Although Congatec touts the board for its 4K video support, the highest resolutions currently listed on the module’s product page and data sheet are 2560×[email protected] or 3840×[email protected], depending on which display interface is being used.

The Conga-MA4’s COM Express expansion bus also carries signals for one gigabit Ethernet interface, two USB 3.0 and seven USB 2.0 ports, three SATA 2.0 ports, SDIO, a pair of serial ports, digital HD audio, and various serial buses (I2C, SMBus, LPC, SPI, etc.). For high-speed expansion, there are three PCIe x1 lanes with 5Gb/s data rates, or four x1 lanes if the module’s on-board Ethernet controller is depopulated (a build option).

Specifications listed for the Conga-MA4 include:

  • Processor — Intel 4th Gen Atom family (Braswell), 4-7W TDP, Intel HD Graphics Gen 8:
    • Pentium N3700 (4x cores @ 1.6GHz, 2MB L2, 7W TDP)
    • Celeron N3150 (4x cores @ 1.6GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 6W TDP)
    • Celeron N3050 (2x cores @ 1.6GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 6W TDP)
    • Celeron N3000 (2x cores @ 1.04GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 4W TDP)
  • Memory/storage:
    • DRAM — up to 8GB soldered-on DDR3L (1600MT/s)
    • SSD — up to 32GB eMMC 4.51 NAND flash
    • SDIO interface (via COM Express bus)
    • 3x SATA 2.0 (3Gbps) interfaces (via COM Express bus)
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet (Intel I211; via COM Express bus)
  • Display options (via COM Express bus):
    • LVDS — single channel 18-bit/24-bit interface (up to 1400×[email protected])
    • 2x Digital Display Interfaces with options including:
      • 2x DisplayPort 1.1a or HDMI 1.4b
      • DVI (up to 2560×[email protected] or 3840×[email protected])
      • eDP 1.4 (up to 2560×[email protected])
  • Other I/O (via COM Express bus):
    • 8x USB 2.0; 2x USB 3.0
    • LPC bus, SPI, SM-Bus, I2C bus (fast mode 400 kHz, multi-master)
    • 2x UART
    • Digital HD audio
    • PCI Express — 3x PCIe x1 lanes (5 Gb/s)
  • Other features — Congatec board controller; watchdog timer; LCD power and backlight control; ACPI 5.0 with battery support
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 60°C (commercial)
  • Dimensions — 84 x 55mm (COM Express Mini Type 10)
  • Operating system — Linux; Windows 7/8/10; Windows Embedded Compact/WES7/WES8

Further information

The Conga-MA4 is shipping now, according to Congatec, although pricing is left to the imagination. Further details may be found on the company’s Conga-MA4 product page.

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