The Qseven™ platform has been developed with performance and flexibility in mind while allowing various processor configurations. With a maximum power consumption of around 12 Watts specified in the standard, the new form factor is expected to appeal to manufacturers of applications that require fanless operation. Where heat dissipation is an issue, a thermal cooling interface has been defined to help transfer any heat generated to a cooling solution.
This new standard is expected to enable state-of-the-art technology with long-term availability, using the latest low power technologies such as the Intel® Atom™ processor Z5xx series.
In order to enable real interchangeability, an API software interface will be defined for the embedded features such as a watchdog timer, I²C bus, LCD backlight control, BIOS user storage area and temperature control. Support for the API is mandatory for all Qseven™ vendors. All types of mobile and ultra mobile applications will profit from this clearly defined interface.
Qseven™ also provides extensive connectivity through industry standard interfaces, including: 4x PCI Express lanes; 2x SATA; 6x USB 2.0; 1x 1000BaseT Ethernet; 2x SDIO 8 Bit; VIP (Video Input Port); HDA (High Definition Audio); I²C Bus; and LPC (Low Pin Count Bus).
Compared to other small form factor approaches, Qseven™ features an onboard graphics controller with output options for 2x 24-bit LVDS, SDVO, DisplayPort™ and HDMI™. It also supports the new VESA DisplayID™ standard to automatically detect the attached flat panel display.
The innovative form factor offers unparalleled flexibility in configuration. By leveraging the Mobile PCI Express Module (MXM) connector format, Qseven™ offers two different connector heights, from 5.5mm and 7.8mm. Through this configuration it is hoped the Qseven™ platform will be as simple to integrate as a DIMM memory module.
Typical applications will include automation / DIN rail systems, automotive, and any other application where an ultra mobile embedded computing system is required.
“We see the Qseven™ as a great initiative to approach new applications in fanless, mobile and battery powered systems, which current solutions do not support very well. This will open new markets with a strong industry commitment from the Qseven™ community”, says Wolfgang Eisenbarth, Director of Marketing at MSC.
Targeting next generation embedded processors built using 45nm technology, the Qseven™ format will complement the low power and small size of these processors. By exploiting the small form factor of the industry’s latest processors, the Qseven™ format offers high performance computing power, delivered in a board measuring just 70mm x 70mm.
The Qseven™ platform is a great initiative and will allow embedded designers to take advantage of the benefits of the new UMPC platforms such as Intel's Atom. We see this new module standard as a perfect fit for applications where very small form factors, competitive cost, x86 performance and ultra low power consumption are important requirements. Hectronic is planning to release an Atom based module as their first offering within the Qseven™ family later in 2008, says Hectronic sales and marketing manager Patrik Björklund.
The current supporting companies – congatec AG, SECO, MSC and Hectronic – are extending an invitation to all vendors to join the open consortium and plan to release a general specification and a design guide by the end of Q2/2008.