Kontron has unveiled an upgrade to the ETX specification for the computer-on-module (COM) category of single-board computers (SBCs). ETX 3.0 adds two serial ATA ports without changing any of the ETX board-to-board pins, keeping new modules 100 percent pin-compatible with previous versions, according to the company.
ETX 3.0 brings the two serial ATA (SATA) ports to “slim line” connectors on the top-side of the module, rather than through the ETX connectors on the bottom. Consequently, carrier boards require no modification to take advantage of the faster serial ATA hard drives, according to Kontron. Revision 3.0 also calls for the use of USB 2.0 on the ETX connectors.
The ETX Industrial Group has adopted ETX 3.0 with the intention of keeping the standard viable until at least 2010, Kontron says. A downloadable version of the specification should be available on the group's website in the “near term future.” In the meantime, copies are available from Kontron's sales offices.
Other recent spinoffs of ETX include COM Express (originally known as ETX Express), spearheaded by Kontron, and XTX, created by Congatec and lately championed by Ampro. A comparison table that compares ETX (prior to version 3.0) with XTX and COM Express appears here
First ETX 3.0 SBC
Kontron's first product based on ETX 3.0 is the ETX-LX, shown above, which is based on a 500 MHz AMD Geode LX800 processor plus a Geode CS5536 companion chip. The module offers all standard PC-style interfaces, such as AC97-compatible sound, Ethernet, four USB 2.0 ports, 1600 x 1200 graphics, and TV-out. Storage options include a CompactFlash socket, EIDE, and SATA hard drive interfaces, according to Kontron.
Kontron says the ETX-LX is available now. Price was not disclosed.
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