SMARC computer-on-modules, now with Intel Atom

February 28, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Kontron has introduced ultra low-power SMARC Computer-on-Modules with a processor other than ARM architecture - an Intel Atom processor E3800 series – the first x86 SoC processor to become available on this low-profile mini-computer form factor (82 x 50 mm).

The new modules offer excellent graphics, high processor performance and x86 compatibility on the smallest SMARC footprint combined with very low power consumption (5 to 10W). Both the flat profile of the module and its mobile feature set are tailored for smallest portable handheld devices. The modules can, however, be deployed in any application where power consumption has to be kept at just a few Watts but high-level computing and graphics performance are required.

For the SMARC Computer-on-Module standard, which was primarily developed for performance and interfaces of the new tablet PC processors, to date only ARM processors could be made available Kontron says that this launch opens up new opportunities for developers in terms of the form factor’s scalability as well as in terms of software re-use and compatibility.

Michael Väth, Executive Vice President Global Sales & Marketing at Kontron, underlines the added value of the SMARC form factor’s high scalability, which Kontron also supports with corresponding porting services between ARM and x86: "SMARC Computer-on-Modules are designed for performance and for the interfaces of the new tablet PC processors, to make them available on Computer-on-Modules for especially small, low-profile embedded designs. First, we focused on ARM-based designs. With the new Intel Atom processor E3800 series, x86 SoC technology is now also possible as a basis for SMARC designs. This drastically increases this mini form factor‘s scalability and we intend to expand this even further in the future."

Engelbert Hörmannsdorfer, Chairman of the SGET Standardization Group for Embedded Technologies e.V., comments, “As a standards-setting body for the latest embedded technologies, we have never set up any barriers amongst processor technologies. On the contrary, our aim is namely to provide technological standardisation for all these new processor technologies and thus make them attractive for embedded applications. From the outset, the SMARC specification was designed to integrate both processor technologies. It just wasn’t possible to talk about it before the launch of