Sponsored content by Congatec AG
Benefits beyond improved performance
The 8th generation of Intel Core Mobile processors offers a full 58% increase in performance over that of the predecessor generation. However, there are even more reasons that speak in favor of the new Intel Core Mobile processors, which congatec offers on COM Express and Mini-ITX motherboards as well as now on extremely space-saving 3.5-inch single-board computers for the first time ever
Whopping increase in performance through more cores New processor generations are measured above all by the increase in performance they offer. The eighth Intel Core Mobile generation (code name “Whiskey Lake”) with its new high-end Intel® Core™ i7, Core™ i5, Core™ i3, and Celeron® Embedded processors is no different in that aspect. This time, however, it achieves levels that haven’t been seen for a long time. Thanks to an improved microarchitecture and especially thanks to twice as many cores, it offers a performance increase of up to 58% over that of the previous U-series processors (code name “Kaby Lake”). The memory has also been designed to match the performance boost: two DDR4 SODIMM slots provide up to 2400 MT/s with up to 64 GB. But there are still other reasons that speak in favor of use in embedded applications. One of them is especially significant, and that is the availability of the processor series, which Intel has pushed up to 15 years. Long-term availability of up to 15 years This promise of high availability celebrates a premiere in the entire embedded computing sector with the introduction of the new 8th Generation Intel® Core™ Mobile processor boards. They cater to the increased life cycle needs of the transportation and mobility sector, but they are also perfect, e.g., for medical devices and industrial controllers, embedded edge clients, and HMIs because they enable extended life cycles at no additional cost to customers. Ultimately, however, the entire market profits from this high availability because naturally no one is excluded from it. CAP3: Take note of the eighth generation: in relation to comparable processors of the seventh Intel Core generation (code name “Kaby Lake”), the eighth generation impresses above all through a leap in the multiprocessor performance, which offers a plus of 40%. The graphics also score with improved performance. Handling the availability leap pragmatically However, not all component manufacturers were able to follow this remarkable leap from 7 to 15 years, which is why only a few embedded board and module manufacturers have been able to follow this extended long-term availability up to now. congatec is one of the few companies to have dealt intensively with this long-term availability promise and now also offers suitable solutions that can be handled pragmatically. The company now offers boards and modules with an availability of 10+ years as a standard offering. On the basis of a specific long-time buy contract, the availability can additionally be extended to 15 years. Congatec offers its customers standard arrangements for this. With the corresponding agreement, the components that have already in part been discontinued at the end of this life cycle are stocked through congatec and financed within the scope of the agreed-on coverage volume. New high-speed interfaces Apart from providing improved performance and extended long-term availability, the new processors also impress with other interesting features never offered before. For the first time ever, an Intel U-series processor now also offers native USB 3.1 Gen 2 support. This USB SuperSpeed+ interface can transfer up to 10 Gbps or 1.25 GB/s so that even uncompressed UHD video can be transferred from a camera to a monitor. For this, the high-performance Intel UHD Graphics 620 is integrated into the processor to provide for brilliant high-performance graphics on up to three 60-Hz UHD displays with a resolution of up to 4096 x 2304 pixels. Thanks to the faster memory connection of the 8th Generation, it performs much better in high-end graphics applications than the graphics of the predecessor model did. Through further functions such as the optional Intel® Optane™ Memory 2 support, everyday tasks can also be completed faster. Beyond that, the processor cores enable efficient task scheduling for additionally optimizing the I/O throughput of the input channels to the processor cores. Further functions of the 8th Generation Intel Core Mobile processors can best be explained using concrete board configurations as are offered by congatec with the new 3.5-inch single-board computer conga-JC370. Before that, however, it should be pointed out that the board also offers extensive support for features such as real time. This may only partly be attributable to the processor, but it should be highlighted first as an important characteristic. CAP1: Maximum performance with minimal embedded single board form factor: the high-end Intel® Core™ i7, Core™ i5, Core™ i3, and Celeron® Embedded processors advance the 3.5-inch SBC form factor with a mighty performance leap in every performance class. TSN support included An example of an attractive feature in this context is the integrated TSN support, which, in conjunction with the OPC UA, is predestined to replace proprietary real-time Ethernet with a genuine open source solution. The SBC is therewith accordingly interesting for many embedded devices that are expected to be used in IIoT and Industry 4.0 environments and will need to exchange data with neighboring machines and higher-level plant management systems under real-time constraints. OEMs and users impose the same requirement on data recorders for wireless network monitoring and on automotive test systems or data loggers for test vehicles, respectively, to store high-speed data streams from external sensors to solid-state drives or hard drives and analyze them and to capture and log high-speed data streams to detect 3D objects and perform lidar imaging and mobile mapping. Real-time hypervisor support In keeping with these scenarios, the conga-JC370 also supports the use of RTS hypervisor software, with which multiple virtual machines can be consolidated on a single system, for example, to control two or four robots to be coordinated via TSN on a single hardware platform. However, with virtualization, OEMs can also integrate diverse additional functions such as Industry 4.0 gateways or artificial intelligence into suitable virtual machines, thereby making the application programming easier, more flexible, and even more portable. For this, the board memory is designed to meet the requirements of consolidation of multiple operating system applications on a single platform: via two DDR4 SODIMM slots with up to 2400 MT/s, it provides up to 64 GB in total, which is impressive. CAP4: congatec offers the new 8th Generation Intel Core processors on COM Express Type 6 and Mini-ITX motherboards, besides the 3.5-inch SBC. Supports three independent UHD displays When it comes to physical interfaces, the board impresses with its USB-C port with integrated Displayport++ channel to enable monitor connections with a single cable. On the back, the board also implements a separate DP++, whereby HDMI can optionally be selected. There is also an onboard option of using either one LVDS or one (or optionally two) eDP (1.2 and 1.4) for connecting displays via embedded connectors. Altogether, the board thus implements all three video outputs supported by the processor. The power supply for display backlights is also implemented on the back. It can be adjusted via jumper to 3.3 V, 5 V, or 12 V according to requirements. Two rear I/O USB interfaces can also be used, for example, for a keyboard and a mouse. For the network connection and connection of additional peripherals, there are two Gigabit Ethernet (one with TSN support), up to four UART (one implemented on the back via a DE-9 connector), and one CAN interface. Additionally, diverse system functions can be controlled via one I2C, one SM bus, and two other integrated feature connectors with 8 GPIOs each – with one connector already preconfigured and ready for application. An additional case open intrusion detector provides additional system protection. CAP2: Comprehensive interfaces and numerous extension possibilities make the extremely compact 3.5-inch SBC a universal application-ready embedded computing platform suitable for use in numerous applications. Most flexible extension options For customer-specific extensions, there is one miniPCIe slot as well as one M.2 slot each of type B (2242/3042) for two PCIe and one USB2.0 as well as of type M (2280) for one SATA and four PCIe, also conforming to Intel Optane technology. Optional WLAN can be connected via an M.2 type E (2230) slot, which also supports one PCIe, CNVi, and USB 2.0. A SIM card slot is also connected to the M.2 type B slot (optionally also on mPCIe) for connecting the system to cellular networks. SSDs can of course also be connected via the SATA port. Optional license and data protection is supported via a TPM slot. The power supply is provided via a 12 V–24 V wide-range input. The new conga-JC370 offers all this with an economical 15-W TDP, which is scalable from 10 W/800 MHz to 25 W/4.6 GHz in Turbo Boost mode. Author: Jürgen Jungbauer is Single-Board Computer Product Line Manager at congatec congatec AG
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