Using High-end Intel® Processors in Space, Power, Cost, and Reliability Critical Embedded Applications

By Ampro Computers, Inc.

Table 1: Environmental Profiles Supported by Ampro’s Embedded PCs

Competitive pressures have long suggested using off-theshelf board-level computers to increase the efficiency of developing embedded system products. Instead of “reinventing the wheel” by developing and debugging an embedded computer and porting a BIOS or RTOS, companies can focus on developing application-specific hardware and software, resulting in fast-track development of highly differentiated, competitive end products.

The advantages of using off-the-shelf, board-level embedded computers are further enhanced by utilizing an “embedded PC” architecture, which combines well-known operating systems and tools with familiar hardware components.

Recently, however, technology advances have introduced both challenges and opportunities into both the hardware and software sides of the equation. For example, high-speed buses and interfaces such as PCI Express, SATA, USB2.0, and LVDS have burst upon the scene over the past few years, as have multi-core CPUs such as the Intel® Core™2 Duo processor.

Similarly, platform-level software technology has evolved dramatically. Examples include operating systems such as Linux 2.6, Windows XP Embedded, Windows CE 6.0, and VxWorks 6.x; filesystem technologies such as journaling, encryption, flash memory management, and RAID; OS extensions such as virtualization, hypervisors, and real-time performance; and protocol stacks for wireless communications, multimedia, DRM, security, etc.

To help OEMs keep up with all these evolving hardware and software technologies, Ampro offers a continually evolving product line of single-board computers (SBCs) and computer-on-modules (COMs) that span a wide range of form-factors, performance levels, and application-oriented features.

Ampro’s embedded PC products, offered in five basic form-factors as tabulated below, integrate Intel® processors ranging from the Intel® Celeron® M to Intel Core 2 Duo processors, at speeds up to 1.86 GHz. In addition to the CPUs, the boards provide onboard memory; graphics, storage, and Ethernet controllers, USB and other I/O ports, and expansion buses such as PCI and PCI Express.

In addition to specific size constraints, embedded systems must often meet stringent environmental factors, including fanless operation either to eliminate noise or to protect the electronics from dust or moisture. To meet such requirements, Ampro offers SBC and COM products designed and tested to comply with the three environmental profiles tabulated below.

Of note, Ampro’s Rugged and Extreme Rugged products are designed for harsh environments from the ground up, not simply lot screened. In order to support extremes of shock, vibration, humidity, and temperature, utmost care is given to component selection, circuit design, PCB layout and materials, thermal solutions, and manufacturing processes, and HALT testing is used to locate and correct weak spots in the designs.

Equally important is the choice of manufacturing materials and process technology. The EU requirements for RoHS compliance means that suppliers can no longer rely or tinlead solder on an inexpensive no-clean immersion gold process to provide durable solder joints that hold components in place without cracking under flexing loads.

Finally, recognizing the critical need for OEMs to maintain consistency throughout the life of their products, Ampro works tirelessly to ensure long-term availability and stable configurations of its board-level embedded computers.

In conclusion, thanks to their careful design and component selection -- and comprehensive software support -- Ampro’s SBC and COM products can help OEMs leverage Intel’s high-end processors for reliable, cost-effective embedded applications. By using off-the-shelf, board-level, embedded PCs as the basis of their designs, OEMs can accelerate their product development cycles and increase their investment on application-specific features and product differentiation.



Contact Information

Ampro Computers, Inc.
5215 Hellyer Avenue #110
San Jose, CA 95138 USA.
408.360.0200 Telephone
408.360.0222 Fax<