Kontron announces the release candidate of the ultra low-power module standard for ARM- and SoC-based COMs

28th February 2012
News Release from: Kontron AG
Written by : ES Admin
Kontron announces the release candidate of the ultra low-power module standard for ARM- and SoC-based COMs
Today, at the Embedded World 2012 in Nuremberg, Kontron announced the release candidate of the ultra low-power Computer-on-Modules specification. The new specification for the ARM/SOC module standard for ultra low-power (ULP) Computer-on-Modules has been pioneered by Kontron. The specification release candidate now receives further global support from the embedded community.
The expanded network of supporters is now working on the finalization of the 1.0 specification, planned for release later this year pending group agreement on all technical elements.

In addition to ADLINK, which has been supporting the new ULP-COM standard (working title) right from the start, Fortec and Greenbase have announced their support of the specification as well and have begin application-specific carrier board development based on the release candidate of the specification. Furthermore, the supporting companies are aiming for the new ULP-COM standard to be hosted by the Standardization Group for Embedded Technologies (SGET) that is currently being founded to guarantee the further development of this vendor-independent specification. Customers will benefit from the highest design security and longevity of their ARM- and SoC-based applications. Further embedded computer manufacturers on board- and system-level, embedded system integrators and OEM solution providers are now invited to support the ULP-COM specification.

The availability of the release candidate specification for ultra low-power COMs based on ARM/SoC technologies represents another milestone as Kontron makes its strategic entry into the ARM technology space. We first wanted to clarify any standardization issues before we launched any product which means having an elaborated specification for ratification by a manufacturer-independent institution. And the new SGET consortium is exactly what we need to get this done at accelerated speed. We now can fully concentrate on the actual task in hand which means finalizing the design of the first modules that are being shown in first demonstrations at the Embedded World and commencing with the first custom implementations, explains Dirk Finstel, CTO of Kontron AG.

It is a pleasure for us to work with Kontron on this specification for ultra low-power COMs, which is now in the release candidate phase, added Henk van Bremen, Product Director for Module Computing at ADLINK Technology. It is very beneficial for both ADLINK and our customers to be able to enter the predominantly proprietary ARM market with a standardization initiative for embedded building blocks to design customer-specific systems on a proven and scalable module platform. With proprietary designs, it is by far more laborious to get a verified and proven design, and customers cannot benefit from the scaling effects of usage across numerous applications. Additionally, we see it as a great bonus that the SGET has been founded to continue the tremendous development that Kontron has initiated and carried out so far.

GreenBase focuses on ultra low-power computer-on-module and systems. Thus, Kontron's new COM standard for ARMs and SoCs is the best fit for our long term product strategy setting for reliable, scalable and flexible systems. It is definitely the 'green core' for the embedded world. We are very happy to join Kontron in this great ecosystem, said Ed Hou, General Manager of Greenbase. Unlike other computer-on-module standards for based on x86 architecture, some of which keep the backward compatibility with legacy x86 architecture, the new ULP-COM standard is focused only on ARM/SoC architecture. It provides almost all the interfaces needed for versatile embedded platforms and we will not have to add any proprietary interfaces.

For us, as a manufacturer of customer-specific HMI solutions, this further stage of development in the ARM initiative is a very welcome one. We are in the development phase of a carrier board design that embraces the functions of the Kontron ARM modules and enhances it with future-oriented HMI functions such as multi-touch or camera connection. With the founding of the SGET, a consortium is now in place that can bundle the momentum of the booming global ARM market for industrial applications and allows us to play an active role in this exciting future, notes Markus Bullinger, COO and Business Unit Manager Embedded & Displays Fortec Elektronik AG.

An overview of the ULP-COM release candidate specification
The new standard for ultra low-power COMs was developed specifically for new modules with ARM and SoC processors and is characterized by the extremely flat build of its form factor. It uses a 314-pin connector that has a construction height of just 4.3 millimeters (the MXM 3.0) with an optimized ARM/SoC pin-out definition. This connection method allows robust and cost-effective designs that have an extremely thin construction height. Kontron has elected to use the version of this connector that is shock- and vibration-resistant to serve the needs of applications that will need to function reliably under rough environmental conditions. Furthermore, the standard integrates dedicated interfaces for the latest ARM and SOC processors. This means that not only LVDS, 24-bit RGB and HDMI are supported but embedded DisplayPort for future designs is supported as well. As another first for the industry, dedicated camera interfaces are being incorporated into the standard. OEMs benefit from minimized design effort and bill of material costs. Two different module sizes are specified, in order to offer a high level of flexibility regarding different mechanical requirements: a short module measuring 82 mm x 50 mm and a full-size module measuring 82 mm x 80 mm. Additionally, ULP-COM will cover all other known requirements analog to other module standards, so that the release version 1.0 is already completely mature for the market.


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