Advantech Demos X86-Based Instant-on SBC Using Micron's SYNCFLASH Memory and Microsoft Windows CE

10/29/2002 - Advantech, delivering hardware and software solutions that empower the e-world, is previewing an x86 Demo CPU board capable of fully booting in 3 seconds. By utilizing Micron Technology's SyncFlash® memory, which provides flash memory with the same performance as SDRAM, Advantech engineers are able to bring lightning fast instant-on performance to an Advantech x86-based (NS GeodeTM GX1) single board computer running Microsoft's newest Windows CE OS. With production of the new board scheduled for Q1 2003, Advantech has closely followed Micron's product ramp for their SyncFlash memory technology, culminating in this demo board and a new Authorized Systems Integrator (ASI) agreement with Micron Technology.

Advantech's Embedded Software Solution Division (ESSD) team has been working hard on this Instant-on x86 solution for over one year. "We are very happy with the performance of the newest CPU demo board," said Isaac Hsu, ESSD Product Manager. "We have been reducing startup times of all our x86 board products through a combination of hardware technology, software development, system firmware setup and application specific optimization. This particular combination of GX1 CPU, SyncFlash memory and Windows CE OS happens to be our fastest startup time, and we believe the industry's fastest starting x86 board to date."

"Advantech's x86 board is an impressive demonstration of performance," said Jan du Preez, Micron's Vice President of Networking and Communications. "Customers continue to require increased performance and Advantech's x86 board with Micron's SyncFlash memory provides an ideal solution for applications requiring instant on performance. We are excited to be part of this demonstration."

Advantech has seen the growing demand for faster startup time in their Microsoft approved Windows CE Training classes. Partners and customers have many applications that require fast response, such as mission critical military and medical, as well as gaming applications. Automotive, instrumentation and Internet appliances, and other fast recovery applications such as broadcasting, POS, POI and kiosks also benefit tremendously from minimized startup times. Hsu adds, "Technology such as faster CFC read rates, burst-read operation of 133 MHz for SyncFlash memory, and a BIOS ExpressLoader from National Semiconductor specifically for the GX1 CPU, certainly contribute to these gains, but showing customers smarter ways to improve performance matters greatly too. Driver support and configuration, selecting which components are loaded and which can be left out, load order, eliminating functionality not required such as CPU ID and SDMU sizing are examples where we are adding value in our training and product development. It is a big breakthrough when a customer learns how to effectively reduce their Windows CE medical application start time from 25 seconds to 3 seconds."

SyncFlash® Memory Benefits
Understanding the increased importance of flash memory in the portable consumer electronic device market, Micron has given flash more functionality, using a DRAM-like internal architecture. SyncFlash memory is a non-volatile memory that replaces the traditional flash or ROM typically used to store operating code. It also reduces the need for redundant DRAM because code is not duplicated in DRAM for optimal performance. Instructions are directly executed from flash. SyncFlash memory has a 64-bit data bus that supports burst-read operations at maximum speeds of 133 MHz through a four-bank architecture allowing users to update operating code without interrupting ongoing functions. SyncFlash memory provides SDRAM (133 MHz) speed performance with the advantages of a non-volatile memory, and is priced comparable to standard flash. Designers benefit from using SyncFlash memory because they can reduce their component count, simplify their layout, and offer lower-cost, higher-performance designs to their customers. SyncFlash memory not only enables designers to simplify their systems by replacing two devices with one, it also surpasses today's highest performing Flash devices and is currently the industry's fastest Flash Memory.

Advantech's XIP total solution
Advantech will soon release a standard Windows CE .NET product bundled with Micron's®SyncFlash memory to allow XIP and near instant-on performance on an x86 platform. The solution works seamlessly with previous Windows CE solutions as well, allowing customers to easily migrate from a CompactFlashTM or Disk-on-Chip solution.

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