Boards/Backplanes

Kontron motherboards ‘Designed by Fujitsu’

19th March 2020
Joe Bush

For insiders, it didn't really come as a surprise when Kontron announced that it would take over Fujitsu's motherboard business at the Augsburg location. As a supplier of IoT/embedded computing technology, Kontron has experience in embedded systems and the corresponding services, and has launched the 'Designed by Fujitsu' boards..

Fujitsu's OEM motherboards come in a variety of form factors such as Mini-ITX, Thin Mini-ITX, µATX, Mini-STX and ATX which complement and expand Kontron's embedded motherboard product portfolio of pITX and Mini-ITX. With the acquisition, Kontron is able to offer more application-specific choices and open up new application areas with the 'Designed by Fujitsu' boards. Merely weeks after the takeover of the operational business, the embedded specialist has come up with new models.

For example, Kontron launched nearly a dozen new motherboards ‘Designed by Fujitsu’ with the latest Intel technology on the market immediately after the takeover. They are based on the Intel Coffee-Lake platform and enable the use of the new 9th processor generation through a comprehensive BIOS update. The Coffee-Lake refresh enables customers who are already deploying the boards to use the latest processors without having to replace the hardware. The established BIOS tools for customer-specific adaptation of board and systems, such as the use of the own logo and individual BIOS defaults or the adjustment of the fan speed, are also already available.

Lifecycle counter back to zero

Thanks to the refresh, it is possible to renew existing applications or to add new functions. This effort is worthwhile, because the lifecycle starts all over again: With the first eight-core processor in the LGA1151 socket, the refresh ensures an increase in performance with full availability for seven years. This almost reaches the 5GHz performance limit of the new top model of the Intel Core 9000 series, the i9-990-0K processor.

Until now, Kontron has mainly relied on soldered chips. Since these allow smaller form factors and are characterised by lower power consumption, they are particularly suitable for embedded boards. Motherboards with LGA sockets, as is the case with most previous Fujitsu boards, are less expensive and more freely scalable. The products from Kontron and Fujitsu therefore complement each other perfectly, even with the same form factors. Kontron can now offer an even more differentiated portfolio and customers benefit from a wider choice according to their specific requirements. For example, the latest innovation is the availability of models without graphics such as the Intel Core i5-9400F - an advantage in workstation and imaging applications where dedicated graphic cards are used via PCI Express.

Boards in two versions

With the new boards ‘Made in Germany’, Kontron remains true to Fujitsu's two-variant concept and offers an Extended Lifecycle Line and an Industrial Line. The Extended Lifecycle Line guarantees an availability of 36 months and is designed for semi-industrial applications such as kiosk systems, ticket machines or interactive displays at the point of sale. The Industrial Line is designed for use in harsh environments that require robustness against dust, vibrations and temperature fluctuations. The availability is seven years, which means that the devices can be used for a longer period of time without any updates.

Customer-specific services ‘Made in Germany’

Kontron offers so-called ‘SMARTCASES for selected models. This is a box solution with a mini-PC completely assembled according to customer specifications, including cooling and housing. A further service is ‘kitting’. Here, the motherboards are equipped ex-works with the desired processors and memory latches. If required, the BIOS is also configured individually, integrated into a SMARTCASE and the complete unit is tested according to customer specifications.

Kontron’s lifecycle support and services also include the ‘Made in Germany’ feature. This includes the development and production of the motherboards within a reliable supply chain. Kontron also continues to provide proven technical support directly from Augsburg, which benefits customers in Europe in particular.

Scalable, high-performance boards under development

The new Kontron motherboards ‘Designed by Fujitsu’ are only a part of the former Fujitsu portfolio available through Kontron. A board for ultra-compact, power saving systems in mini-STX and mini-ITX form factor with the Gemini-Lake platform is already available. Kontron furthermore launched two boards with the Cascade-Lake refresh at the end of 2019. Other new additions to the portfolio, whose availability is already foreseeable, include mini-ITX boards that support the AMD Embedded V1000/R1000 Series System on Chip. The AMD Ryzen processor not only ensures high performance, the graphics integrated in the SoC also support up to four displays with 4K resolution.

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