How to choose the right embedded computer or an on-board computer fitting your needs?

16/02/2022

As a preamble and if you want our system architects to advise you on the right tracks, you need to tell us at least a few words about your application, the context of use, your T0/prototype/series milestones, your budget, ...

Indeed, a multitude of parameters will come into account to define which model of embedded computer will be the most adapted to your need, for example:

  • You have very severe environmental constraints (extended operating temperatures, shocks, vibrations, dust, waterproofing, ...) because you develop applications in the defence or aeronautics field.
  • The I/O to be integrated are sometimes specific like video acquisition, multi-displays, avionics interfaces or military buses, FPGA, …
  • The operating system (O.S Operating System) can be Windows, Linux (RedHat, Debian, Ubuntu, ...) but your choice can also be for BSP (Board Support Package) like ElinOS from SYSGO, other more specific software e.g. "Built in Test", system monitoring, …
  • You have durability requirements, sometimes 10/15 years, the system must be operational for many years but must also be upgradeable in order to increase its memory capacity for example, to add an additional function, …
  • You are looking for an experienced actor able to advise and support you throughout your project with additional services such as support, obsolescence monitoring, MCO, ...
  • You simply encounter space problems to integrate the computer in your equipment.
  • The connectivity can also be an annoying subject to connect the system to its peripherals and your various sensors, actuators, …
  • You need performance, a lot of I/O and you need to dissipate all the heat.
  • Your project is a "five-legged sheep" but you want to stay on COTS/MOTS, customization of the computer without incurring full development costs & involving long delays for studies, qualifications, …

If your need is more about very ruggedized computers, then you will not find your answers here but rather in our other ranges nanoONYX, µONYX, ONYX, µTOPAZE (see links at the bottom of this article).

Other articles to come will also focus on our ranges of rugged computers, PC Box Fanless, ...

If your search is for a "just below" range of ruggedness with basic bricks available for a wide variety of applications and not reinventing the wheel then you are at the right place.

This article introduces you to our myOPALE™ modular embedded computer.

This computer system can be integrated in vehicles to carry out measurements, calculation, but also more widely in industry, transport, railways, energy, ... for very varied applications requiring acquisition, data processing, calculation, control/monitoring of machines/equipments, specific software, ... and in many other use cases in edge computing, IOT, Smart city, miscellaneous devices, ...

calculateur embarqué myOpale
myOPALE™

Why an Embedded Modular Computer as myOPALE™?

Thanks to PCI Express® Over Cable and standard 5.25" building blocks with mini-SAS HD connectors, myOPALE™ brings a new way to increase capacities and flexibility of your next Embedded Computers in a small size.

Traditional industrial architectures as ATX, mini-ITX… motherboards or PICMG® 1.3, HDEC backplanes solutions with all their limitations (size, number of I/Os, connectors locations, heat dissipation, customization not very easy, …) are here replaced by a modular small foot print embedded computer integrating the cooling system.

myOPALE™ includes most advantages of PCI Express® Over Cable inside the rack (to see some integration formats please check Use Cases at the end of this article) and is composed of the two following main modules, myOPALE-CPU and myOPALE-IO.

le calculateur embarqué myOpale

myOPALE-CPU:

  • Design based on the COM Express Type 6 standard with Embedded Low Power processors and 10 years life support, 5.25" Small Form Factor, 200mm depth only.
  • Intel® Core™ processor, Intel® Xeon® processor E3-1500 series.
  • Up to 32GB Dual Channel DDR4 with ECC for Intel® Xeon® SKUs.
  • 2 DisplayPort, 1 GbE Ethernet port, 4 USB 3.0 on the front.
  • 2 SATA3 and 3 USB 2.0 (on Micro-Fit 24-pin connector) on the rear panel.
  • Internal site for one 2.5” SSD SATA3.
  • 24 PCIe Gen3 lanes with 6 Mini-SAS HD connectors (4x PCIe lanes per Mini-SAS HD connector) that offer lot of benefits for embedded Industrial systems.
  • Aluminium mono-block cooling system with one conduction-cooled cold plate and fins cooled by a forced air-flow system (2 fans), fans speed and temperature are controlled by the CPU.
  • 12VDC power supply (+5Vstb for ATX mode).
  • myOPALE-CPU can manage and monitor myOPALE-IO modules without extra cabling.
  • Other variants can be imagined according to your needs, for example with processor boards based on ATOM®, ARM, AMD, ... other additional interfaces (for example additional Ethernet port, additional I/O management, ...).
  • No software drivers are required so latency and throughput delivered by myOPALE™ system, are then really good.
myOPALE-CPU
myOPALE-CPU

myOPALE-IO:

Two versions of myOPALE-IO are available offering one PCIe Gen3 8x I/O site or two PCIe Gen3 4x I/O sites.

PCIe connectors are mechanically in PCIe 16x format for both versions so can accept all types of PCI Express® of I/O boards.

The backplane of myOPALE-IO converts Mini-SAS HD connector to standard PCIe slot, ready to accept any type of COTS or Custom PCIe I/O cards.

  • Up to 2 full-height I/O cards in a standard 5.25" drive bay can be installed in a myOPALE-IO module, this in a depth of 200mm.
  • The cards are locked by a bracket to ensure a good hold against shocks and vibrations.
  • Other variants can be imagined according to your needs, for example with specific I/O's boards, GPGPU, ...
myOPALE-IO
myOPALE-IO

myOPALE™ Use Cases:

A range of new applications is from now on possible thanks to the ability to use PCIe Over cable at full performance with full software transparency.

PCIe Over cable provides a simple method for extending applications that need for example modularity, more & distributed I/O boards, …

Backplane performances available on a cable expands applications ranges of myOPALE™: Storage with NVMe interface, distributed I/O with various integrations possibilities, medical imaging equipment, multimedia editing systems, embedded test rigs in constrained environments, combined with a screen, it allows you, for example, to build a modular PanelPC … and many more.

Hereafter, we present some examples of applications where the myOPALE™ concept is demonstrated as a major differentiator and potential candidate for your next projects.

You will find these four examples with sketches in the page 5 of the data sheet here:

Very High density:

Configuration based on one myOPALE-CPU driving three myOPALE-IO, that allows to integrate up to 5 I/O cards in 1U/19’’ rackmount.

Many variants: 2 systems in one, I/O connectors in front or on rear panel…

Customized connectors:

PCIe Over cable mini-SAS HD connector allows to move back I/O cards in myOPALE-IO to provide custom connectors independently from myOPALE-CPU, on front or rear panel.

Blade with expansion slots:

This use case demonstrates the capability to integrate 6 in 1 system in 4U/19’’ rackmount.

Each blade can drive up to 2 I/O cards.

myOPALE-I/O in your PC:

Just by integrating one COTS PCIe or M.2 adaptor to mini-SAS HD card, you can add myOPALE-IO on front panel of your PC for audio, broadcast, communication extensions…

A press article among others that was dedicated to us at the launch of the product by "Boards and Solutions":

To send a message to us: https://ecrin.com/en/contact-us/ or give a call to chat: +33 (0)4 76 92 20 01 or sales@ecrin.com .

nanoONYX, µONYX, ONYX, µTOPAZE rugged systems product range:

https://ecrin.com/en/ecrin-ready-to-application-products/onyx-series/ or here : https://ecrin.com/en/ecrin-ready-to-application-products/topaze-series/ .

You can also take 2:08 minutes to learn more about our company:

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