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Wednesday, August 03, 2016

First look at type 7 COM Express that brings 10G Ethernet and 16 cores to the Computer-on-Module

ADLINK Technology has launched the first computer-on-module (COM) based on the latest COM Express type 7 pinout.

The Express-BD7 uses the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG) COM Express 3.0 specification to put 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) onto a COM form factor. This is aimed at space-constrained systems in industrial automation and data communication, such as virtualization, edge computing or other numerical applications, that require high density CPU cores balanced by reasonable power consumption. 

The COM Express standard’s new Type 7 pinout, as compared to the Type 6 pinout, removes all the graphics support and replaces it with up to four 10GbE ports and an additional eight PCIe ports, for a total of 32 PCIe lanes. 

As a result the Type 7 pinout has been specifically aimed at low power, headless server-grade processors with a thermal profile (TDP) below 65 Watts. The board uses Intel's Xeon processors with support up to 16 CPU processor cores, 32 PCIe lanes, and multiple 10GbE ports. In addition, the Type 7 pinout brings out 10GBase-KR signals, meaning the carrier board designer can choose between KR-to-KR, KR-to-optical fiber or KR-to-copper. A Network Controller Sideband Interface (NC-SI) bus is also supported, allowing for Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) Board Management Controller (BMC) support on the carrier board.

ADLINK's Jeff Munch chairs the PICMG subcommittee that is currently defining the new Com Express 3.0 specification, and has just published a preview of the new specification. The preview defines the new Type 7 pinout and allows module manufacturers and customers to start designs before the full specifications are published, which is expected to be the end of Q3 2016.

“ADLINK has worked closely with fellow PICMG members to develop this latest module specification and pinout to leverage a new type of low power, server-level silicon that appeared on the market at the end of 2015. Type 7 is tailor-made to accommodate these low power, server-oriented SoCs. In addition to the obvious use case in 10GbE data communication, we see many others application areas for these products, such as virtualization, real-time control and even graphics application using discrete GPU solutions over PCIe x16, " said Alex Wang, product manager for COM Express modules at ADLINK. “Our COM Express Type 7 roadmap focuses on creating products with advanced computing performance and multi-core capabilities. Our COM Express products are off-the-shelf building blocks that allow our customers to focus on added value to their carrier boards, reducing their total cost of ownership and expediting their time to market.”

The Express-BD7 provides up to 32GB dual channel DDR4 at 1867/2133/2400MHz ECC, up to eight PCIe x1 (Gen2), two PCIe x4, one PCIe x16 (Gen3), two SATA 6 Gb/s and four USB 3.0/2.0. The module comes with a build option for an operating temperature range of -40°C to +85°C and supports ADLINK Smart Embedded Management Agent (SEMA), which enables remote management and control of distributed devices.

The SEMA Cloud enables remote monitoring, autonomous status analysis, custom data collection and initiation of appropriate actions. All collected data, including sensor measurements and management commands, are available from any place, at any time via encrypted data connection.
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For more information on the new PICMG COM Express® 3.0 specification and Type 7 pinout, download our technical article. For more information on the Express-BD7, please visit

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