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Advantech AIIS-1240 PoE Compact System

A computer dedicated specifically for automated optical inspection systems
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer; photography by Carol Cotton)

Advantech is a billion dollar company now, but by the sheer number of different industrial computing products and modules they produce, you'd think they're ten times that size. The latest example to make it into RuggedPCReview's lab is the AIIS-1240, where AIIS stands for Advantech Intelligent Inspection System. Advantech also calls it a PoE Compact System. PoE is the abbreviation for Power over Ethernet. So what exactly do we have here? That requires a bit of explanation.

Moving towards the "Intelligent Planet" — one of Advantech's major themes is being prepared for the emergence of an era where almost all devices in our daily life, both at work and at home, have intelligence. Intelligence not in the human sense, of course, but intelligence in that they can communicate with other devices, observe their environment via sensors, report data, and perform actions in response to feedback. All of this is in the process of being implemented right now.

Advantech points out that the manufacturing industry, in particular, is becoming smarter and smarter, with resulting gains in efficiency and competitiveness. That is made possible by the production lines of many factories increasingly having intelligence built in. Implementing "smart" manufacturing requires three steps, Advantech says. The first is establishing the connectivity to link all smart devices and collect all pertinent data. The second is smart motion control over all the robotic arms and related robotic equipments in a factory. The final one is implementing the machine vision required to capture and interpret images along the production lines.

The emergence of machine vision — Early examples of such "smart" manufacturing can be seen in printed circuit board production, label inspection, alignment tasks — all areas where defect scanning can be intelligently performed by machines even on the smallest parts to guarantee accuracy and precision. This is why machine vision has become very important. Automated optical inspection relies on it and requires systems that integrate both hardware — such as compact computing platforms, cameras, lighting controls — and software that can do very high-speed image processing, pattern matching, and exception reporting.

The Advantech AIIS-1240 — And this is where Advantech's Intelligent Inspection System hardware comes in. The AIIS-1240 was designed specifically for machine vision projects where one of the primary requirements is to have reliable high-speed two-way communication with cameras. The task of these cameras is to generate rapid-fire high-res images of production lines. Pattern recognition algorithms analyze each image before signing off on it. The process relies on flawless operation without bottle necks. How is this done best?

PoE: Power over Ethernet — Machine vision cameras must be very small so they can installed in wherever they need to be. Batteries would not last long enough, and there may not be room for an external power supply. The answer is supplying the power directly over Ethernet. But why using PoE instead of simply using USB which can also carry power? Because USB 2.0 is limited to five feet and can only carry up to 2.5 watts of non-isolated power. PoE allows longer cable lengths to connect to devices, and the 802.3af standard that describes and regulates power over Ethernet provides up to 15.4 watts to each device (see here).

So the Advantech AIIS-1240 is a computer equipped to a) communicate with multiple cameras (up to four) at high speed while supplying them power at the same time, b) have enough onboard connectivity to not only communicate with the cameras, but also numerous state-of-the-art as well as legacy devices, c) have enough processing power to handle all that communicating and also all the machine vision processing, d) support the IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (see PTP here) and GigE Vision (see GigE Vision here) cameras, and e) do it all in a small, compact package.

Below you can see what that package looks like from the top and from all four sides:

The first thing you may notice are the several vents. Unlike many embedded systems, the machine vision AIIS-1240 is not a low-power unit. All that processing and communicating requires serious CPU punch. So there's a fan and sophisticated thermal engineering. And because quick and easy maintenance is crucial, there's a filter housing on top that can be easily opened to quickly clean the reusable air filter. There are also thumb screws to quickly open the machine for maintenance and repair.

The second thing is the very large number of ports. That's necessary because assembly line machine vision systems have the need to communicate with multiple systems, sensors, peripherals and other devices. So the AIIS-1240 is configured to offer the following external ports:

  • 4 x Channels with PoE for the cameras
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 4 x Serial RS232/422/485
  • 4 x Serial RS232
  • 2 x RJ-45 gigabit LAN
  • Audio line-in and line-out
  • 1 x microphone-in
  • Power (19-24 Volt DC from adapter)
  • 1 x 15-pin VGA video
  • 1 x DVI-D with either 4 or 16 isolated DI and 4 or 16 isolated DO channels
Under the hood, Advantech offers a choice of three Intel "Ivy Bridge" 3rd generation Core processors, one each from the i7, i5 and i3 lines. All carry "embedded" status with extended availability, and all are standard voltage versions that provide serious performance. The table below shows some of the pertinent specs of the available processor options:

Advantech AIIS-1240: Available Intel processor options (Click for full spec table)
PROCESSOR COMPARISON Core i7 Core i5 Core i3
Model 3770 3550S 3220
Code Ivy Bridge (3rd gen) Ivy Bridge (3rd gen) Ivy Bridge (3rd gen)
Lithography 22 nm 22 nm 22 nm
Cores/Threads 4/8 4/4 2/4
Base Clock Speed 3.40 GHz 3.00 GHz 3.30 GHz
Turbo Speed 3.90 GHz 3.70 GHz no turbo
Thermal Design Power (TDP) 77 watts 65 watts 55 watts
Smart Cache 8MB 6MB 3MB
Integrated graphics HD Graphics 4000 HD Graphics 2500 HD Graphics 2500
Graphics base speed 650 MHz 650 MHz 650 MHz
Graphics max speed 1.15 GHz 1.15 GHz 1.05 GHz
Intel vPro Yes Yes No
PCI Express Rev. 3.0 3.0 2.0

Advantech usually offers customers the choice of processors wide an unusually wide range of performance and features, so as to neatly match system power to the task at hand. This is the case with the AIIS-1240 as well, though given the processing demands of virtually all machine vision applications, there are no true low-end, low-power options. That said, note that despite the similar clock speeds, there are very significant differences both in performance and capabilities between the i3, i5, and i7 processors available for the AIIS-1240.

Our sample system came with the top-of-the-line quad-core/8-thread Intel Core-i7-3770 chip with a 77 watt thermal design power. To get an idea of the relative performance of the AIIS-1240, we ran our two standard benchmark suites, PassMark and CrystalMark. For comparison, we're also listing the results of a variety of other Intel-based Advantech industrial PCs we have recently reviewed and benchmarked.

Advantech Intel-based Box PC Benchmarks and Comparisons
PERFORMANCE COMPARISON Advantech Advantech Advantech Advantech Advantech
Model AIIS-1240 ITA-1610 ARK-1122 ARK-DS520 ARK-6320
Model (click pic for review)
Year tested 2014 2014 2013 2012 2011
Intel Atom processor i7-3770 D525 N2800 N455 D510
CPU Speed 3.40GHz 1.8GHz 1.86GHz 1.66GHz 1.66GHz
Thermal Design Power (TDP) 77 watts 13 watts 6.5 watts 6.5 watts 13 watts
CPU Mark 8,820.9 556.8 546.1 248.7 509.9
2D Graphics Mark 696.5 182.7 NA 71.3 171.5
Memory Mark 1,420.5 266.2 254.3 220.4 231.3
Disk Mark 519.5 101.8 948.2 445.9 393.9
3D Graphics Mark 476.4 106.8 57.0 169.1 95.6
Overall PassMark 2,895.9 257.0 389.7 226.3 293.8
CM ALU 84,049 12,214 11,474 6,296 10,829
CM FPU 68,910 10,276 9,003 4,033 9,272
CM MEM 47,498 8,649 8,757 6,033 6,527
CM HDD 8,325 5,381 25,739 7,827 8,576
CM GDI 17,856 2,798 1,271 2,302 2,370
CM D2D 8,411 3,481 370 2,936 3,899
CM OGL 10,417 787 8,016 5,183 709
Overall CrystalMark 245,466 43,586 64,630 34,610 42,182

The above table really only shows two things. First, the exceptionally high performance level of the Advantech AIIS-1240 equipped with a desktop-class quad-core "Ivy Bridge" i7 processor. This unassuming compact system is more powerful than all but a very few of the very fastest rugged mobile systems we have tested here at RuggedPCReview.com. This shows how processing-intensive a task machine vision is.

Second, the table illustrates the enormous breadth in processing performance available from Intel today, and how important it is for systems integrators to accurately determine the performance level required for a task. When capturing and analyzing data streams from four simultaneous cameras on a single controller, suitably powerful multi-core processing can get the job done without the need for very specialized software to break down and optimize sequential data streams.

Emergence of "intelligent planet" technology — In essence, what the AIIS-1240 represents is an example of a COTS hardware system designed for specialized tasks. Machine vision will play an increasingly important role in numerous applications, and the AIIS-1240 shows how its demands can be met with standard and economically priced technology optimized for specific applications.

While this Advantech Industrial Inspection System may look like a regular compact IPC, it's purpose-built for the job in numerous areas. There's the high performance, the PoE channels to supply direct powers to the cameras (a companion model, the AIIS-1440, is available that emphasizes USB 3.0 camera control), isolated digital I/O, flexible wall or DIN rail mounting, easy access for cleaning and maintenance, and even details like an integrated G-sensor for vibration detection.

As is, the AIIS-1240 represents a new type of dedicated solution technology, this one specifically aiming at automated optical inspection, including packaging inspection, label inspection, wafer inspection, alignment inspection, and other applications that rely heavily on machine vision.

For some additional illustration of intelligent inspection systems, see Advantech's 3-in-1 vision system brochure.

Advantech AIIS-1240 PoE Compact System Specs:

Status Added 10/2014
Type PoE Compact System for automated optical inspection systems
CPU Type Intel Core i7-3770 OR Intel Core i5-3550S OR Intel Core i3-3220
Chipset Intel H61
OS Windows Embedded Standard 7, Windows 7 Professional
Memory Up to 16GB dual-channel DDR3 1066/1333MHz in two 204-pin SODIMM sockets
Graphics Controller Intel HD Graphics 4000 (i7-3770) or Intel Graphics 2500 (i5-3550S and i3-3220)
Watchdog Timer 255-level timer intervals, software setup
Graphics Interface 1 x VGA, 1 x DVI-D
LAN 2 x 10/100/1000 Mbps (Intel 82579V and Intel 82583V) LAN RJ45
Storage 1 x CFast, 1 x 2.5" internal HDD bay
Housing Steel case, aluminum heat sink, with optional DIN-rail, VESA and/or other mounts
Vibration 1Grms, rando, 5-500Hz, 3 axes, 1hr/axis
Shock 10G, half sine wave, 11ms duration
EMC Unknown
Safety Unknown
Operating temperature 32° to 113°F (0° to °45C)
USB 4 x USB 3.0 (front), 4 x USB 2.0 (rear)
Serial 4 x SR232/RS422/RS485 (front), 4 x RS232 (rear)
Audio 1 x speaker-out, 1 x mic-in
PoE CH1 through CH4 with Intel i210, 802.3af compliant, 15.4 watts per channel
Communication ???
DIO 4 isolated DI and 4 isolated DO channels; optional 16 isolated DI and 16 isolated DO channels
Size 9.1 x 6.9 x 2.75 inches (232 x 175 x 70 mm)
Weight 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg)
Power ATX, 19-24VDC via AC/DC adapter
Price Inquire
Webpage Advantech AIIS-1240 web page
Datasheet Advantech Advantech AIIS-1240 spec sheet

Advantech Corporation
13 Whatney
Irvine, CA 92618
Toll Free: 1-800-866-6008
Ph: 949-420-2500
Fax: 949-420-2501

Advantech Co. Ltd.
No.1, Alley 20, Lane 26, Rueiguang Road
Neihu District, Taipei Taiwan 114, R.O.C.
Tel: 886-2-2792-7818
Fax: 886-2-2794-7301