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Advantech ARK-3390 Box PC

Rugged industrial automation control system with isolated COM ports and GPIO
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

As embedded systems with off-the-shelf technology become more and more important and more specialized, there are also more and more situations where standard PC enclosures just won't do because they are too large and not stable and tough enough. Instead, what may be needed is a compact, rugged, fanless box that can be installed almost anywhere and operate in demanding environmental conditions.

The Advantech ARK-3390, shown below, is an automation control system designed specifically for applications that require reliable computing power and extensive I/O in a compact, sturdy housing that'll fit in tight and remote places.

The ARK-3390 is part of Advantech's ARK-3000 series of embedded computers that was created to provide flexible power with various combinations of I/O options (COM and USB ports, audio, TV, DVI and Ethernet ports, etc.) for a wide variety of vertical market needs. For other examples of the ARK-3000 series, see our reports on the ARK-3399, ARK-3403 and ARK-3440.

The ARK-3390 Core Duo or Core2 Duo powered industrial automation control system

The special role of the ARK-3390 in Advantech's lineup of hardened industrial PCs is that of an automation control system, i.e. a computer that uses a variety of inputs and outputs to control other machines. To that extent, the ARK-3390 offers a grand total of six serial COM ports of both the standard RS232/RS422/TS485 variety as well as two ports with full 7.5k Volt isolation.

While many vertical market applications don't require anything more than a very low voltage processor, some need the computing power of one of the more complex core processors, but without requiring the absolut latest and fastest processor technology (and its associated costs). Advantech specializes on offering solutions in numerous standards and form factors, based on anything from super-efficient Intel Atom-based solutions all the way up to serious computing power.

The ARK-3390 provides embedded Intel Core 2 Duo power, with the 3390 available with either a 1.66GHz L2400 low voltage Core Duo processor or a 1.06 GHZ ultra low voltage Core 2 Duo. Yet, despite considerable ruggedness it measures just 10.4 x 5.4 x 2.75 inches and weighs less five pounds.

The image below shows the top view and all four side views of the ARK-3390. The housing is all-aluminum and feels very solid. The low-voltage L2400 processor's fairly low 15 watt Thermal Design Power, combined with good thermal management, allows for a fanless design, a huge plus for systems that cannot afford to fail due to a faulty fan. Note the clean and purposeful design and execution that facilitates easy integration as well as easy maintenance.

In terms of functionality, Advantech can accommodate just about any automation control requirement. The ARK-3390 is configured to offer the following external ports:

  • 5 x USB 2.0 (three front, two back)
  • 1 x Serial RS232
  • 3 x Serial RS232/422/485 with auto flow control
  • 2 x Serial RS422/485 with 7.5kV isolation
  • Line-In
  • Line-Out
  • Microphone
  • Digital I/O
  • 48-bit LVDS (optional)
  • DVI-D
  • VGA Video
  • 2 x RJ-45 gigabit LAN
  • Power (9 to 34 Volt DC)
While the ARK-3390 can accommodate an internal 2.5-inch SATA hard disk and up to 2GB of SDRAM, our review system ran Windows XP Embedded on just 2GB of Apacer CompactFlash and 512MB of RAM.

Relative performance

The figures below show where a L2400-equipped ARK-3390 and ARK-3399 fit into the performance landscape in terms of sheer processor punch. In essence, what you get is very decent performance that's well ahead of standard Atom-based systems, though the Atom D510 powered ARK-3403 is not very far behind. On the other hand, a comparison with the Core i7-powered ARK-3440 shows the large difference between a system designed for high processor performance versus one that concentrates on I/O, with no need for excess performance.

Core i7-610E Atom D510 Core 2 Duo L2400 Core Duo L2400
Clock speed 2.53GHz 1.66GHz 1.66GHz 1.66GHz
Tested in Advantech: ARK-3440 ARK-3403 ARK-3390 ARK-3399
Thermal Design Power: 35 watts 13 watts 15 watts 15 watts
ALU 35793 11083 12662 12971
FPU 40328 9704 15443 15353
MEM 18458 6447 6305 6407


In terms of ruggedness, the requirements for a boxed PC/industrial controller are different than those of a mobile computer. The housing is tough and very sturdy, and designed to handle the kind of shocks and vibration that may be encountered by fixed-mount system. Vibration is usually a bigger issue than shock, and so the ARK-3390's DIN-rail mounting system uses rubber tabs to dampen vibration and shocks. Operating temperature for a Flash-based system is 32 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit and the computer fulfills a long list of EMC and safety requirements.

Note that the ARK-3399 can be configured for a wide variety of tasks. There is a huge difference between a SATA hard disk configuration with 2GB of memory and running Widows 7, and one using a customized Windows Embedded Standard implementation running on minimal memory and storage. One can handle general computing tasks while the other will be used for very specific custom applications. There's also a difference in ruggedness. All else being equal, Flash-based systems will almost always be able to handle wider temperature ranges and a higher degree of shock and vibration.


What an industrial automation control box PC like the Advantech ARK-3390 offers is tailored computing power and tailored I/O in a very compact, very rugged package that can be configured for just about any automation control task. And it is not just clever packaging either—since Advantech makes all of its own boards and has decades of experience in embedding and industrial computing, customers get a one-stop solution from one of the most reliable sources in the industry. -- Conrad H. Blickenstorfer

Advantech ARK-3390 Specs:

Type Compact box IPC/Automation Control System
CPU Type 1.66GHz Core Duo L2400 (tested), 1.06GHz Core 2 Duo
Chipset Intel 945GME965 + ICH7-M
BIOS Phoenix AwardBIOS 4Mbit, FWH
OS Windows Embedded Standard, Windows XP, Windows 7
Memory Max 2GB DDR2 533/667 in 1 SDRAM 200-pin SODIMM socket
Graphics Controller Integrated graphics built in to Intel 945GM, Intel 3.5 Gen Integrated Graphics Engine
VRAM unknown
CRT VGA out (tested to 1680 x 1050)
LVDS Optional 48-bit LVDS
LAN 2 x 10/100/1000Base-T (Intel 82541PI)
SATA Supports internal 2.5-inch SATA drive
SSD Compact Flash type I/II slot
Housing Aluminum with DIN-rail mounting (desk/wall)
Vibration With CF Flash: 5 Grms, IEC 60068-2-64, random, 5 ~ 500 Hz, 1 Oct./min, 1 hr/axis; With hard disk: 1 Grms, IEC 60068-2-64, random, 5 ~ 500 Hz, 1 Oct./min, 1 hr/axis
Shock With CF Flash: 50 G, IEC 60068-2-27, half sine, 11 ms duration; With hard disk: 20 G, IEC 60068-2-27, half sine, 11 ms duration
Safety CE, UL, CCC, BSMI
USB 5 x USB 2.0
Serial 1 x RS232, 3 x RS232/422/485 with auto flow control, 2 RS422/485 with isolation 7.5kV
Keyboard/Mouse 1 PS/2
Audio Line Out, Line In, Mic.
DIO Supports 8-bit Digital I/O
Size 10.4" x 2.75" x 5.4)
Weight 4.4 lbs.
Power 9 VDC ~ 34 VDC; power consumption 28-32 watts
Operating Temp. 32 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit (32 to 112F with hard disk)
Price Starting at US$1,260 (see price configurations
Datasheet Advantech ARK-3390

Advantech Corporation
38 Tesla, Suite 100
Irvine, CA 92618
Toll Free: 1-800-866-6008
Ph: 949-789-7178
Fax: 949-789-7179

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