SMARC 2.1 carrier board offers rapid customisation

Embedded computer specialist, congatec, has introduced a SMARC 2.1 carrier board in a 3.5-inch form factor. The conga‑SMC1/SMARC-x86 carrier board is application-ready and off-the-shelf deployable in small to mid-sized series in combination with any congatec SMARC Computer-on-Module (CoM) available to date, says congatec.

It is tailored to make 3.5-inch SBC designs modular and is optimised for the Gen 5 Intel Atom, Celeron and Pentium processors (codenamed Apollo Lake) and future low power x86 generations. Its slot for SMARC 2.1 processor modules provides processor socket independent scalability for flexible, long term availability.

The PCB design has fewer layers, making it less complex and less expensive compared to a full-custom design, explained congatec. The carrier board has the capability to rapidly implement customisations, which ensures high custom design efficiency. For example, specific interfaces can be quickly added or deleted, is comparatively simple, cost efficient and there are 500 boards offered each year, said the company. For efficient, high volume projects, SMARC module customers get free access to the carrier board schematics as support for own carrier board designs.

“This size-optimized SMARC 2.1 carrier board in 3.5-inch form factor is just the starting point of our design roadmap to make embedded computing even more modular,” said Martin Danzer, director, product management at congatec. “Together with our carrier board design partners in various sectors, congatec can offer tremendous benefits to any standard embedded form factor, with the potential to disrupt established vendors in markets such as embedded motherboards and SBCs as well as modular edge server and backend systems such as CompactPCI Serial, PXI or VME/VPX,” he added.

The conga-SMC1/SMARC-x86’s audio codec and USB-C implementation is optimised for Intel Atom processor technology. It is also optimised for MIPI cameras, which can now be connected directly and without any additional hardware. The two MIPI-CSI 2.0 connectors make it possible to develop systems that provide three-dimensional vision and can be used for situational awareness in autonomous vehicles. Combined with processor-integrated support for artificial intelligence (AI) and neural networks, the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) conga-SMC1/SMARC 2.1 can be deployed in smart vision systems. The company has also introduced software support with pre-compiled binaries for its COTS offering.

The conga-SMC1/SMARC-x86 SMARC 2.1 carrier board has a  footprint measuring just 146 x 102 mm. It offers dual GbE, five USB and USB hub support as well as SATA 3 for external hard drives or SSDs. For custom expansions, the board offers a miniPCIe slot as well as an M.2 Type E E2230 slot with I2S, PCIe and USB and an M.2 Type B B2242/2280 with two PCIe and one USB slot. An integrated MicroSim slot for IoT connection is also provided, next to specific embedded interfaces such as four UART, two CAN, eight GPIO, I2C and SPI ports.

Displays can be connected via HDMI, LVDS/eDP/DP and MIPI-DSI. The board further offers two MIPI-CSI inputs for camera connection.

Sound is implemented via an audio jack.

The board comes with full Windows and RTS hypervisor support. For the open source community, congatec also offers pre-compiled binaries with a suitably configured bootloader, appropriately compiled Linux, Yocto and Android images, plus all required drivers that are available to congatec customers on GitHub.

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