Kontron Rolls Out Two New Inexpensive Entry-Level ePCI-X Boards

12/29/2003 - Kontron AG, the market leader in embedded computer systems, has extended its PICMG 1.2 product range with two new CPU boards that are based on the new, fast ePCI-X-Standard: The ePCI-101 hosts an IntelR PentiumR M processor, which is part of the IntelR Centrino mobile technology package, and the ePCI-102, which is based on a VIATM Eden processor. The two half-size boards are inexpensive ePCI-X entry-level modules, which are optimized to provide a wide range of applications with the appropriate fanless performance: from genuine 733 MHz operation to a performance level that is comparable to that of a 2.7 GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor.

The ePCI-101 and ePCI-102 have been designed for use in embedded applications such as point-of-sale terminals, network security devices, and measurement and control technology and automation solutions. They are part of an evolutionary development path for users of Viper boards and are comparable to half-size ISA products, which enables migration towards higher performance ePCI-X products - such as ePCI-200 or future developments, should the need arise.

Since the ePCI-101 is based on the Pentium M processor, it combines the highest level of performance with a low power consumption, which therefore makes it the optimal choice for embedded applications that require powerful processing with passive cooling only. The performance of a Pentium M processor is equivalent to that of a Pentium 4 processor, but with the power consumption of a Pentium III processor. Since this performance is delivered with the Pentium M processor running at a much lower clock frequency than the Pentium 4 processor (1.6 GHz in comparison to 2.4 to 2.7 GHz), the processor is able to remain comparatively cool, even during periods of heavy usage.

ePCI-101 in Detail
The ePCI-101 includes the 855 GME chipset and it can host both the 1.1 and 1.6 GHz versions of the Pentium M processor. The board provides extensive connectivity options: Six USB 2.0 interfaces, two 10/100Mbit Ethernet interfaces, two serial and a parallel interface enable the ePCI-101 to communicate effectively with both its local and remote environments. The maximum memory capacity is 1 GByte of DDR-SDRAM. Storage media can be connected via an Ultra DMA/33/66/100 interface, one CompactFlash and two floppy interfaces. Support for Intel Extreme Graphics II is included in the chipset. A mouse and keyboard are attached via the usual PS/2 connector.

ePCI-102 in Detail
Since VIA CPUs are in general more cost-effective and less power consuming than comparable Pentium III chips, the ePCI-102 hosts either the 733 MHz VIA Eden or the 1.2 GHz VIA Antaur processor. The new board can accommodate up to 512 MByte of PC133 SDRAM. An integrated PR Savage 4 controller with CRT and flat-panel support provides fast VGA graphics. Mass storage is connected via the Ultra DMA/100 HDD interface and a CompactFlash socket. A 10/100 base-Tx Ethernet interface provides fast network connectivity. Other interfaces include four USB, PS/2- mouse and keyboard, one floppy, one parallel and one serial.

About ePCI-X - Purer and Faster PCI for Embedded Systems
The specification of ePCI-X (PICMG 1.2) enables for the first time a "pure" PCI solution that allows the simultaneous use of PCI and PCI-X in embedded systems. The PICMG consortium has specified two boards based on the PCI/ISA form factor. The first is a half-sized single-bus board with a a single PCI-X bus, which resembles half-size ISA SBCs and allows up to three expansion modules to be integrated via a passive back-plane. It is used above all, if space is the deciding factor. The other board is a full-size single or dual bus board with one or two PCI- or PCI-X busses for I/O intensive applications. This board allows the use of passive back planes with up to eight slots.

Most new designs that are based on the traditional PCI/ISA standard actually use only the PCI bus. All new chipsets no longer support ISA. The general view is that there will be no need of ISA in the future. However, many applications require a greater I/O bandwidth than that which can be provided by a PCI/ISA board.

ePCI-X is the ideal solution in such cases: The specification smoothes the way for pure, PCI and PCI-X solutions that exclude the ISA bus altogether. It also allows the use of PCI-X, with its 64-bit bandwidth and 133 MHz clock frequency in embedded systems and enables more PCI-bus participants to be connected. Since compatibility to the desktop PCI version is retained, solution providers can always fall back on the economical standard PCI products of the mass-market. An evolutionary advancement of the PCI/ISA standard is that ePCI-X boards are mechanically compatible to the ISA chassis, so that existing PCI/ISA products can be easily migrated to new components with the new bus combination.

About Kontron
Kontron is a global leading embedded computer technology company which supplies a diversified customer base of OEMs, system integrators and application providers in the communications, automation, transportation, medical, military, aerospace, and test and measurement markets. The company helps its customers to considerably reduce their time-to-market and to gain a competitive advantage with products including high-performance open computer platforms and systems, single-board computers, man-machine interfaces and mobile computers.

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