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Diamond Systems, a supplier of single-board computers (SBCs) and expansion modules for real-world applications, launched the Aurora SBC at the recent Intel Developer Forum (IDF).

Featuring the 1.6GHz Atom Z530 processor from Intel, Aurora incorporates advanced manufacturing process techniques to achieve a rich feature set in the tiny 3.6 x 3.8in PC/104 form factor.

The Aurora system uses a thermal design among stackable SBCs to reduce size, weight and power and cost compared with legacy VME and PC/104 SBCs.

Colin McCracken, vice-president of marketing at Diamond Systems, said: ‘With the end of life of the 855 chipset in all form factors, popular Pentium M and Celeron M SBCs need to be replaced with power-efficient Atom-class products.

‘Featuring conduction cooling, Diamond’s new Aurora SBC stretches programme budgets by providing an unmatched feature set.

‘Half the size, weight, power and cost is a compelling migration value proposition.

‘For basic command, control, data collection, portable, vehicle upgrade and communications applications, the days of USD1,000+ [GBP640+] mid-range rugged SBCs are numbered thanks to Aurora’s perfect-fit solution,’ he added.

Aurora combines the 1.6GHz Atom Z530 processor with Sodimm RAM up to 2Gb, Gigabit Ethernet, USB Flashdisk, Serial ATA (SATA), four RS-232 serial ports (two with RS-422/485 capability), four USB 2.0 ports, a PS/2 keyboard and mouse and both Sumit-A and PC/104 ISA bus expansion.

Prior to Aurora, this feature set was typically accomplished by two-board stacks or SBCs with ‘wings’ (form-factor excursions).

Compared with Com Express modules, which require +12V input and full custom carrier card designs, Aurora saves power by operating off a single, low-voltage +5V input, while still allowing input/output (I/O) customisation in the form of a plug-in Sumit module.

Diamond supports Windows Embedded Standard and Linux 2.6 operating systems.

Features include -40C to +71C operation and a new Sodimm solution with optional mounting holes.

Diamond’s RAM offering will be manufactured by multiple embedded suppliers.

The onboard SATA connector interfaces to solid-state drives (SSDs) with short 3in latching cables and there is no need for an external SATA convertor.

Diamond chose to convert IDE (PATA) to SATA on board since IDE drives are EOL and as SSDs are at risk of higher prices and a shorter lifecycle compared with 2.5in SATA SSDs.

Conduction cooling is ideal for sealed (waterproof/dustproof) metal enclosures in order to prevent thermal runaway and to maximise the reliability and longevity of electronics.

Aurora is suitable as a basic x86 controller for a range of applications.

Sumit-A is a space-efficient interface for PCI Express x1, USB, LPC and I2C buses.

The combination of Sumit and PC/104 expansion interfaces is on a growth trajectory to support the largest overall ecosystem of stackable I/O cards, as PCI chips are becoming EOL in favour of PCI Express chips.

System OEMs who use PC/104 I/O cards can now continue to use such cards without having to increase their stack height with a bridge card or to completely re-engineer their software and stack for PCI-based I/O cards.

Supported operating systems currently include Windows XP and Linux 2.6, with support for additional operating systems and real-time operating systems available on request.

Aurora samples are shipping within 30 days.

Pricing in OEM volumes starts from around USD400.

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