Nvidia’s Tegra 3 multicore system-on-chip (SoC) is well known for powering smart phones and tablets, but its powerful, compact architecture makes it inviting for industrial applications as well. Kontron’s ULP-COM-SAT30 is host to a 1.2-GHz Tegra 3 in a compact 82- by 50-mm, Ultra-Low-Power Computer-on-Module (ULP-COM) form factor (see the figure).
The Tegra 3 has four Arm Cortex-A9 cores plus a fifth low-power core and an integrated 12-core GeForce GPU. The module supports up to 64 Gbytes of eMMC NAND flash and up to 2 Gbytes of DDR3 memory.
The Standardization Group for Embedded Technologies (SGET) manages ULP-COM. Its members include Adlink, Advantech, GreenBase, and Kontron. ULP-COM defines a full-size 82- by 80-mm module. Both form factors (82 by 50 mm and 82 by 80 mm) use a 314-pin MXM 3.0 connector that’s 4.3 mm high, supporting a board spacing of only 1.5 mm.
The ULP-COM-SAT30 typically requires only 5 W, so it can run off a single lithium-ion battery or a fixed 3.3-V or 5-V power supply. It also runs on Android and Linux. Featuring an x1 PCI Express Gen 1 interface and a 1-Gbit Ethernet port, it additionally boasts SATA, SD Card, eMMC, two SPI, five I2C, and four serial port interfaces. There are 12 general-purpose IO connections. And, one of the three USB 2.0 ports supports OTG.
The GPU can drive a range of displays and an 18/24-bit LCD interface. The board supports dual-channel, 32-bit low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS) as well as HDMI. The Tegra 3 also has hardware-based HD video decode and encode. The GPU provides 2D and 3D acceleration, and it supports MPEG2. There are two CSI-2, dual-lane camera ports as well.
Arm processors have been very successful in embedded applications where custom designs reign. SGET’s ULP-COM form factor joins form factors like the larger Qseven that have host Arm processors, giving developers a modular solution for embedded applications.
Modules are available from a number of sources. For example, the GreenBase GK-335x is based on the Texas Instruments Sitara AM335x with a 720-MHz, 32-bit Arm Cortex-A8 core, integrated POWERVR 3D graphics engine. The module features 512 Mbytes of DDR3 RAM and 4 Gbytes of eMMC NAND flash memory.