© Toradex Embedded | January 29, 2013

A New Architecture for Embedded Computing

There has been dramatic growth in products using ARM processors, driven most recently by the expanding smartphone and tablet markets.
ARM based solutions are appearing in areas previously reserved for high power x86 based solutions. At the same time, the likes of Intel and AMD are trying to increase power efficiency in their x86 products in order to compete in areas previously dominated by ARM. In the midst of this, Toradex is unveiling a new, independent, computer on module architecture called Apalis.

The integration of new interfaces in recent years - including powerful 3D Graphics Engines, PCI-Express, Gigabit Ethernet and HDMI - has enabled ARM devices to enter application areas like digital signage and high-end multimedia. These are areas which were previously reserved for higher power x86 platforms. Toradex conducted research into many technologies whilst designing the Apalis module, aiming to future proof the product family and allow support for a range of System on Chips (SoCs).

The Apalis is designed to fulfil four objectives – flexibility, usability, extensibility and longevity. The numerous features include a range of interface options and pre-installed operating systems - Windows Embedded Compact or Linux.

Interfaces on Apalis modules are divided into two categories: standard and type specific. Standard interfaces are the ones most commonly used. These are kept entirely compatible between all modules in the emerging Apalis family. This feature enables a price and performance optimised product with room to increase processing power and storage in the future. Type-specific interfaces such as MIPI CSI or DSI can be valuable additions, but are less commonly used in industrial applications, and usually suffer from very short product life spans in the mobile and consumer markets.

Toradex believes that Apalis computer modules are leading the way in a new generation of smart, Internet enabled devices. The modules provide access to cloud based services and come with a wealth of development tools and continually evolving features.

Integration into custom carrier boards is made easy by Toradex’s Direct Breakout technology. Direct Breakout enables signal routing direct from module connector to outside world I/O ports without crossing traces or traversing layers. The Apalis module can be fixed to a carrier board either with M3 screws or a MXM Snaplock connector. The MXM Snaplock option provides a simple retention mechanism for the development phase or in gentler conditions.

The Apalis T30 module will begin shipping in March 2013.
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