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Tough Skylake box PC has four GbE and eight USB ports

Jul 22, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 1,149 views

Adlink’s Linux-ready MXE-5500 fanless industrial computer offers 6th Gen Core CPUs, 4K support, dual SATA bays, four GbE ports, mini-PCIe, USIM, and more.

Systems based on Intel’s 6th Generation Core “Skylake” CPUs, such as Adlink’s new MXE-5500 embedded PC, continue to appear in new products even as “Kaby Lake” Core chips ship this week to manufacturers, with products due in a few months. Few details have been released on Kaby Lake, except that it will be faster than Skylake, despite using the same 14nm process. Kaby Lake is the first example of Intel’s new three-stage rollout release schedule rather than the old tick-tock model. A 10nm Cannonlake architecture is due in 2017.

MXE-5500 from both sides
(click images to enlarge)

Meanwhile, Skylake is still less than a year old, and has plenty to offer. Adlink’s fanless, rugged, MXE-5500 offers a choice of Skylake EQ and E series Core chips, separated into three product SKUs:
  • MXE-5501 — Core i7-6820EQ — 4x 2.8GHz (3.5GHz turbo) cores, 8MB L2, 45W TDP
  • MXE-5502 — Core i5-6440EQ — 4x 2.7GHz (3.4GHz turbo) cores, 6MB L2, 45W TDP
  • MXE-5503 — Core i3-6100E — 2x 2.7GHz cores, 3MB L2, 35W TDP

Compared to the 4th Gen Haswell-based MXE-5400 from 2014, the 230 x 204 x 90mm MXE-5500 is slightly larger and heavier. It also swaps out mSATA storage for CFast and M.2, and offers more USB ports (eight), although fewer 3.0 ports (four).

MXE-5500 port-side detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The MXE-5500 once again supports up to 32GB RAM, but its DDR4 RAM should run faster than the MXE-5400’s DDR3L. The computer’s dual hot-swappable, RAID-ready 2.5-inch SATA 3.0 bays are now available with optional SSDs up to 256GB, four times the top option on the MXE-5400.

Otherwise, the systems are very similar. You get a DVH port with VGA and DDI support, as well as dual DisplayPorts for up to 4K resolution. As in the case of most other Skylake-based products, such as Portwell’s recently announced WEBS-35C3, the MXE-5500 supports three independent displays.

MXE-5500 SATA-side detail view

Other similar features include four GbE ports, six serial ports, audio I/O, 8-bit DIDO, and dual mini-PCIe sockets. You now get two USIM slots instead of one, and once again optional wireless modules are available. The 9-32 V DC power supply remains the same, as do the ruggedization features. You get rated shock and vibration resistance, as well as standard 0 to 50°C support, with options ranging up to -20 to 70°C, depending on the processor.

Modular under the hood

As indicated by the block diagram and internal photo below, the MXE-5500 is built around a modular board stack that comprises a mainboard plus an “AFM Board” I/O expansion card that integrates both interface components and rear panel connectors. Signals passed to the AFM Board from the mainboard include 4x PCIe lanes, 4x I2C, 1x LPC, 1x SPI, 2x USB3, 2x USB2, and 16x GPIO, which would appear to support a wide range of system variants as well as customized OEM versions.

MXE-5500 block diagram and internal photo, with “AFM” I/O expansion board visible in the lower area
(click images to enlarge)

The MXE-5500 is primarily aimed at Windows, but Linux is available upon request. The system ships with Adlink’s SEMA 3.0 system management software.

Specifications listed for the MXE-5500 include:

  • Processor — Intel Core 6th Gen “Skylake” Core i7/i5/i3 EQ/E series (see list farther above)
  • Memory — 4GB DDR4-2133 RAM, expandable up to 32GB
  • Storage:
    • 2x SATA-III with hot-swappable 2.5-inch bays
    • Optional factory-installed 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB MLC industrial grade SSD
    • CFast slot
    • M.2 2280 slot
  • Display:
    • DVH (DVI-I/VGA) port
    • 2x DisplayPorts up to 4096 x 2304
  • Networking — 4x Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Other I/O:
    • 4x USB 3.0 ports
    • 4x USB 2.0 ports
    • 2x RS232 ports
    • 4x RS232/422/485 ports
    • Audio line-in and line-out
    • 8x DIDO (isolated)
  • Expansion/wireless:
    • 2x mini-PCIe sockets
    • 2x uSIM slots
    • Optional 3G/WiFi/Bluetooth/GPS wireless kit
  • Other features — SEMA 3.0 (Smart Embedded Management Agent); watchdog; wall-mount kit
  • Power — 9-32 V DC; optional 160W AC-DC adapter
  • Ruggedization:
    • Operating temperature — 0 to 50°C (standard) or optional -20 to 60°C (MXR-5501) or -20 to 70°C (MXE-5502/5503) with SSD or CFast
    • Vibration resistance — 5Grms, 5-500Hz, 3 axes w/SSD; 0.5Grms, 5-500Hz, 3 axes w/HDD
    • Shock resistance — 100G, half-sine 11ms w/SSD; 20G, half-sine 11ms w/HDD
  • Weight — 4 k
  • Dimensions — 230 x 204 x 90mm
  • Operating system — Windows 10/7/Embedded Standard 7; Linux on request

Further information

The MXE-5500 is available now at an undisclosed price. More information may be found at Adlink’s MXE-5500 product page.

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One response to “Tough Skylake box PC has four GbE and eight USB ports”

  1. Bert Lindner says:

    Would love to see a review of this one, as well as pricing. Does it play well with Ubuntu 16.04? Are headless/keyboardless reboots reliable (an issue with some NUCs)? How much thermal throttling happens under load with e.g. an i7 in there? What about power consumption?

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