Kontron Reveals Preliminary Specs for Embedded Computer-On-Module

12/23/2003 - Kontron, a leading embedded computer technology company, released initial information about the preliminary specification for a future embedded Computer-On-Module (COM) standard -- the ETXexpress.

ETXexpress is the next-generation small form factor integrating the latest interface technologies, including PCI Express, Serial ATA, Gigabit Ethernet, Dual Channel DDR and USB 2.0. The new standard, which is gaining support from a number of industrial and embedded computing leaders, will join Kontron's existing COM portfolio.

Kontron expects to open the ETXexpress specification to a wide range of companies and establish it as a leading standard in the embedded industry -- similar to the launch of the successful ETX specification. Kontron currently is working with Intel on the technical definition of this open spec and plans to make it available for review in the near future, with the final ETXexpress standard specification expected to be published in Q1 2004. The preliminary standard now is being made available to parties registering with Kontron under a non-disclosure agreement.

The ETXexpress standard is expected to be offered initially in a 85 mm x 125 mm form factor. It will support 4 PCI Express x1 Lanes and PCI Express cards as well as established hardware solutions based on current busses such as 32-bit PCI. A 10/100/1000 Megabit Ethernet port will provide fast connectivity to LAN/WAN, and USB 2.0 ports will provide fast and plentiful interfaces for external drives/flash, keyboard, mice and other peripherals. ETXexpress modules also will provide the following interfaces, located in the same physical position on each board to guarantee scalability between modules: serial ATA, parallel ATA, and LVDS display ports as well as an ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) for optimized power management. 160-pin SMT connectors will permit data transmission rates of up to 5 GHz. Six mounting holes on the board provide resistance to shock and vibration. As with the ETX standard, the thermal coupling system will incorporate a standardized heat spreader.

The first Kontron ETXexpress modules will be based on Intel® Pentium® M processors. The planned release of Kontron's boards is set for Q2 2004, and Kontron plans nine variants based on the new standard for availability by the end of 2004 -- offering performance scalability at a wide range of price points.

"It gives us great pleasure to lead this spec development for the industrial and embedded market segments and to work with key players in the embedded industry," said Hans Muehlbauer, COO, Kontron AG. "Kontron has vast experience in driving and embracing open standards efforts such as PICMG 1.2, embATX, ATCA and ETX modules. Computer-On-Modules address the largest segment of embedded computing technology today -- that of proprietary designs. We expect that as more embedded and industrial OEMs introduce new designs, they will further embrace the COM concept with its potential for high volumes and growth."

Kontron is in the process of meeting with embedded vendors and OEMs to evaluate the establishment of a consortium to promote a manufacturer-wide advancement of the ETXexpress standard.

"We believe the adoption of standard, modular computing elements by the embedded computing market segments can accelerate the implementation of advanced technology such as PCI-Express and Gigabit Ethernet while providing scalable and interoperable solutions," said Ton Steenman, General Manager, Embedded Intel Architecture Division. "The ETXexpress standard is an example of how Intel Architecture fits in small form factor applications requiring small size and low power at a competitive performance."

Kontron continues to support the ETX standard effort launched in 2000, along with the X-board and DIMM-PC standards. All three Kontron product lines will be maintained through new designs offering performance upgrades and/or power.

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