Box PC in the eNUC standard for high-performance applications

11th November 2019
Alex Lynn

With the AMD Ryzen V1000 based NUCV, E.E.P.D. is launching a new box PC in the eNUC standard for high-performance automotive, industrial, medical and robotics applications. Available also in customer-specific versions, it is developed and manufactured in Germany. This creates confidence in quality and service, while providing protection against industrial espionage.

AMD’s new Ryzen Embedded V1000 processor family is seeing high demand from the embedded, industrial and edge computing sectors. What makes it attractive is the compact low-power SoC design that seamlessly integrates the x86 performance of the ‘Zen’ CPUs with the innovative ‘Vega’ GPU architecture.

It also sets new standards in computing performance for next-generation box PCs, which often need to integrate new technologies such as AI (Artificial Intelligence), ML (Machine Learning), DL (Deep Learning), and CV (Computer Vision) as these are required by new solutions for robotics, automation and mobile systems, as well as measurement technology, POS and IIoT/Industry 4.0.

For these applications, the new SoCs offer discrete GPU-level graphics and multimedia performance with a computing power of up to 3.61 TFLOPS and a low thermal design power (TDP) of 12 54 watts. With these performance markers and the two to four cores, which support hypervisor technologies as well as simultaneous multithreading (SMT) for up to eight parallel tasks, the new embedded processor generation is predestined for use as IPC, PLC or HMI in a wide range of automotive, industrial, medical and robotic applications.

More intelligence at the edge

But the powerful GPU not only offers high-performance 3D graphics in UHD. It is also attractive for DL-based AI inference systems, which require massive parallel data processing. A comprehensive ecosystem for General Purpose GPU (GPGPU) deployment is also available to this end. Characterised by an open source software approach, it guarantees long-term availability and standardisation, which, among other things, ensures a high level of trust.

Integrated security

For machines and systems requiring Industry 4.0 connection, the new AMD Ryzen Embedded V1000 processor family offers numerous functions that significantly simplify connectivity tasks at the edge of the IIoT. However, Internet connection significantly increases the security requirements compared to previous, unconnected infrastructures.

Processors that offer developers more off-the-shelf security features therefore make it easier to design in security efficiently, not only from a technical point of view but also in terms of costs. The new processor generation features numerous additional hardware-integrated functions for this purpose.

They make it possible to develop trusted IPC configurations with as little effort as possible. For example, the new AMD Ryzen Embedded V1000 SoCs offer hardware-integrated protection against unauthorised memory access (AMD Memory Guard). In addition, they also offer a one-time programmable (OTP) function that allows customers to manage their own encryption keys.

Standardised features on a very small footprint

For ultra-compact system solutions, the new AMD Ryzen Embedded V1000 Series has now been made available for the first time in the compact eNUC box PC form factor. This comparatively young embedded form factor, which was standardised by the SGET (Standardisation Group for Embedded Technologies e.V.) at the board level in 2014, is the new star on the embedded box PC horizon. 

This is mainly down to its extreme compactness, which means it can be used everywhere as an application-ready system. Measuring 101.6 x 101.6 mm (4 x 4 in), the footprint of the embedded boards is extremely compact while still providing sufficient space on the front and rear flanks for numerous interfaces.

A further advantage of these systems is, of course, the SGET standardisation. It is currently unique in the box PC sector – there is no comparable manufacturer-independent standardisation host for 3.5 inch systems or Pico-ITX.

But such standardisation is a key success factor in the embedded market: First, it guarantees – like all form factors – that system designs remain available in an identical footprint for many years. Next, it ensures the uniformity of system configurations, even when purchased from different manufacturers, since a certain set of interfaces is an integral part of the specification.

It also specifies that eNUC boards must support at least the industrial temperature range of 0°C to +60°C or even the extended temperature range of -40 to +85°C. In addition, manufacturers are required to guarantee a long-term availability of at least five years. All this is unique in the box PC market thanks to SGET specification.

Broad ecosystem

Because of the many convincing advantages, there are already numerous eNUC board and system manufacturers on the market today. This gives customers the freedom to always choose the best solution. A wide range of accessories – from standard cooling solutions and cable sets to housings – makes it easy to purchase third-party components.

As a derivative of a commercial standard, the eNUC form factor can also offer low-cost component solutions for embedded applications. This is because there is often a mass-produced commercial option, allowing NRE costs to be reduced to a minimum. The fact that a large community of developers works with this form factor further ensures that the standard is constantly being improved.

All these standardisation advantages make the eNUC box PC form factor very attractive for many low-power small form factor (SFF) applications. The portfolio of use cases is extensive, since the compact eNUC systems fit into virtually all mobile and stationary industrial systems. Custom interface extensions are available for different industrial and embedded markets.

A variety of interface and mounting configurations from different manufacturers are therefore also on offer, including robust desktop solutions for the workplace as well as wall-mounted solutions or hat rail systems for use in control cabinets. The eNUC standard is also perfectly suited for automotive applications – provided there is a suitable integrated power supply.

As for the competition eNUC manufacturers face, this often doesn’t really qualify as such. At first glance, commercial NUC solutions produced in Asia may often appear highly cost-effective. However, they can rarely meet the rugged and long-term availability requirements of the embedded market. This is why there are many OEM customers and industrial end users in Germany and Europe today who value systems that are designed to the eNUC standard.

Production in their home market is equally important to them. The underlying motivation varies: For the one, it is important to be able to react quickly to problems in the field; this applies for example to highly sensitive just-in-time automobile production. For the other, the design quality embodied by the attribute ‘Made in Germany’ is important, because guaranteeing the highest quality for one’s own machines and systems is significant for companies who are worldwide quality leaders in their respective markets.

For quite a few, protecting themselves against organised foreign industrial espionage or susceptibility to sabotage is also a motivator, which is why they want to work exclusively with the core countries of the European Union (EU12/15). For many, fast project management, same time zones and barrier-free cultural and linguistic interaction also play an important role.

Because of all these requirements, there is still a large market for embedded and industrial PCs ‘Made in Germany’ despite Asia’s current supremacy in the IT segment. Ultimately, when you demand high quality, as the German industry does from its own production and/or products, this very quickly translates into lower TCO for the customer, something that is of particular importance for durable investment goods and production equipment, because breakdowns, unplanned maintenance costs and poor service are extremely expensive and the first fault usually far exceeds the comparatively cheap investment in a box PC.

OEMs looking for such robust ‘Made in Germany’ solutions can find them at companies such as E.E.P.D. The company positions itself as a solution partner for standard and customer-specific embedded computer modules and systems. This is why it supplies the new eNUC box PC not only as a standard off-the-shelf system, but also in individual I/O configurations tailored to customer requirements.

For this purpose, the company provides all important instances in-house to guarantee the highest quality and safety standards. This includes own board and system development as well as SMT/PIP/THT production and system assembly. Next to this, each and every prototype is subjected to extensive tests prior to series production in order to ensure highest quality and ruggedness.

These tests are performed in the in-house test field, which includes EMC and environmental test benches as well as shock and vibration test systems. This underlines the company’s extensive know-how with regards to these quality matters and supports optimisation processes in the best possible way, since the test field is virtually the extended workbench of the developers.

All these processes are corroborated by the company’s DIN EN ISO 9001:2015 certification and continuously improved quality management system. Various awards, such as the EITI Design Award and the VeriBest Design Award, are further testaments of the company’s high level of development and manufacturing expertise. So anyone looking for an eNUC box PC with ‘Made in Germany’ quality is in good hands with this near Munich based embedded computing specialist.

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