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Advantech ARK-3399 Box PC

Rugged, sealed, fanless industrial box PC with Intel Core Duo/Core 2 Duo power
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

As embedded systems with off-the-shelf technology become more and more important, 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-3399, shown below, is a system designed specifically for applications that require reliable computing power in a compact, sturdy housing that'll fit in even the tightest places.

Advantech created the ARK-3000 series of embedded computers 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.

The ARK-3399 Core Duo or Core2 Duo powered Box PC

While many vertical market applications don't require anything more than a very low voltage processor, some need the computing power of an advanced dual core processor. Advantech offers a very comprehensive lineup of Computer on Modules, single board computers and industrial motherboards covering almost every standard. The company is therefore able to supply solutions based on anything from super-efficient Intel Atom-based solutions all the way up to serious computing power. The ARK-3399 measures just 10.4 x 5.4 x 2.75 inches and weighs less five pounds, yet it provides Intel Core 2 Duo power, with current offerings including either a 1.66GHz L2400 low voltage Core Duo processor or a 1.06 GHZ ultra low voltage Core 2 Duo.

The image below shows the top view and all four side views of the ARK-3399. The housing is all-aluminum and feels very solid. The low-voltage L2400 processor 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 requirement. The ARK-3399 is configured to offer the following external ports:

  • 5 x USB 2.0 (three front, two back)
  • 1 x Serial RS232
  • 1 x Serial RS232/422/485
  • Line-In
  • Line-Out
  • Microphone
  • Digital IO
  • LVDS
  • Backlight
  • Video (up to 1024 x 768)
  • RJ-45 gigabit LAN
  • Power (9 to 34 Volt DC)
While the ARK-3399 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. Benchmark results were right up there with high performance mobile systems, though the flash-based XP Embedded configuration is, of course, tuned for specific applications as opposed to general purpose computing.

In terms of ruggedness, the requirements for a boxed PC 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-3399's DIN-rail mounting system uses rubber tabs to dampen vibration and shocks. Operating temperature is 32 to 131 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 Vista, and one using a customized Windows XP Embedded 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 a Box PPC like the Advantech ARK-3399 offers is tailored computing power and tailored I/O in a very compact, very rugged package that can be configured for just about any 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-3399 Specs:

Type Compact box IPC
CPU Type 1.66GHz Core Duo L2400 (tested), 1.06GHz Core 2 Duo
Chipset Intel 945GME965 + ICH7-M
BIOS Phoenix AwardBIOS v6
OS Windows XP Embedded, Windows XP, Windows Vista
Memory Max 2GB DDR2 in 1 SDRAM 200-pin SODIMM socket
Graphics Controller Intel GME945 GMCH integrated Graphics engine
VRAM Dynamic Video Memory Allocation up to 224 MB
DVI via Chrontel CH7307C SDVO transmitter
LVDS 2 channel (2 x 24-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 5 Grms, IEC 60068-2-64, random, 5 ~ 500 Hz, 1 Oct./min, 1 hr/axis
Shock 50 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, 1 x RS232/422/485
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 ~ 35 VDC; power consumption 26-40 watts
Operating Temp. 32 to 131 degrees Fahrenheit
Price Starting at US$1,000
Datasheet Advantech ARK-3399

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