Embedded processor modules

Louise Smyth

congatec has introduced new SMARC 2.0 embedded processor modules that use USB-C to simplify the configuration and set-up.

This allows system designers to use USB-C for standard peripherals from USB 3.1 to USB 1.0 and - a brand new option - for connecting displays or even the power supply to the system or peripheral devices, reducing cabling efforts to a single cable.

In addition, the current data throughput of up to 5 Gigabit/s in line with the USB 3.1 specification boosts data intensive applications.

The modules use the SMARC 2.0 small form factor specification and are based on Intel Atom, Celeron or Pentium processors (codename Apollo Lake) in handhelds and other mobile devices, in-vehicle devices and stationary embedded and IoT systems with low power and high performance demands.

Fully featured USB-C jacks are still rare and present a real breakthrough for standardising the fragmented world of cable-based external interconnects.

This benefits system engineers as well as system integrators, administrators and device users.

System engineers don't need to think about the interface setup anymore as they only need to specify the number of USB-C compliant peripherals they want to interconnect and design in USB-C interfaces accordingly.

And system integrators can plug their USB-C compliant peripherals in any USB jack available on the board says Martin Danzer, Director of Product Management at congatec.

The first implementation is the conga-SA5 SMARC 2.0 Computer-on-Module and the new evaluation carrier board conga-SEVAL.

The USB-C functionalities include USB 2.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1 support with data rates of up to 5 Gigabit/s and the alternate modes for Display Port 1.2 (DP-Alt) and USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) supporting a power envelope of up to 100W.

All signals are simultaneously present at the point-symmetric female USB-C connector with 24 signal pins.

For the power modes, the solution supports all USB-PD modes as specified by the Universal Serial Bus Implementers Forum (USB-IF).

Besides the USB 3.0 compliant mode with 5 V and 1.5 A, it can provide additional voltages of 12 V and 15 V with a maximum current of 3 A and also 20 V with 5 A maximum current. This allows USB-C to be a unifying power supply standard for both peripheral devices and systems.

OEMs and developers can use the new SMARC module and carrier board as an application ready design-in solution for off-the-shelf evaluation of this new technology.

congatec is also working on USB-C implementations on its Qseven and COM Express Computer-on-Modules, maximising USB connectivity to data rates of up to 40 Gigabit/s via Thunderbolt 3 for COM Express Type 6 designs.