Kontron Reveals JFLEX Specifications for Cableless I/O Modules

12/7/2004 - One year after JFLEX, the I/O module concept for 3.5" CPU boards with surface-mount connectors and avoiding cost intense internal cables, was presented, the specifications are now ready to be launched by Kontron Embedded Modules as an open standard for unrestricted public use. Extensive use of low-cost cableless systems technology, PCI and LPC buses instead of PCI-ISA and full SMT production as opposed to a combination of SMT and press-fitting are the main advantages of JFLEX. These features convinced the 19 companies participating in the validation stage with their own I/O module developments of JFLEX's superiority over such standards as PC/104. Version 3.0 of the standard will be published at www.kontron-em.com and www.j-rex.com.

Taking part from Germany were Aaronn, ACD Elektronik, ASENTICS, Bosch Rexroth, FZI Forschungszentrum, IES, Michels & Kleberhoff Computer, Miltenyi Biotec and Servo Halbeck. Other European contributions came from Elcard Oy (Finland), MITE (Czech Republic), Fela (Switzerland) and Aerotech Telub (Sweden). With involvement by Imperx, IGT, Navsys and Playback Tech from USA as well as Mazen and Tri-M from Canada, the American continent also played a significant role in refining the specifications.

JFLEXTM is Patented
European patent number 01 127 562.5 defines a cable-free expansion modules for PC-based systems, which can communicate with a host CPU board via the 32-bit, 33MHz, PCI bus as well as an LPC bus. The PCI-bus allows to connect up to three PCI busmasters on JFLEX modules. The LPC-bus enables low cost and real fast IO developments on a JFLEX. Thus, compared to PC/104, it is now possible for the first time to have systems that are based purely on the PCI bus. JFLEX boards are almost footprint compatible with the 3.5-inch form factor, and since they are plugged-in and screwed down to a motherboard, they also provide excellent resistance to shock and vibration. The form factor can be scaled as required by the application, board sizes should lie within the minimum and maximum limits, which are 80 mm x 33 mm, and 147 mm x 83 mm (width x depth). The variable size of JFLEX expansion boards frees engineers from conforming to the stringent definition of a "form factor", and the size of an I/O expansion module, can now for the first time be determined by the application. I/O board manufacturers will without doubt greet this new flexibility with great enthusiasm. As expected, the pinout positions of the two 144-pin gas-proof SMT connectors, as well as the positions of mounting screw holes, are clearly specified and cannot be altered.

Why a New Concept for Expansion Modules?
Since PC/104 modules include rare onboard connectors, they always require elaborate cabling. The inclusion of press fit connectors means it also is impossible to produce these modules exclusively using pick and place machines. Since both manufacturing stages require expensive and error-prone manual interaction, PC/104 is regarded by most only as a second choice and its use leads to increased system costs. The ISA bus also is always implemented in PC/104 systems. However, ISA is no longer sought after in new applications and the PCI bus or an LPC bus can therefore replace it.

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