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Advantech PCM-3362

Intel Atom N450-based PC/104-Plus Single Board Computer for industrial and embedded applications that require PCI/ISA support and fanless operation
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

The Advantech PCM-3362 is a fanless Intel Atom N450-powered PC/104-Plus single Board Computer that includes support for CRT, LVDS, LAN, USB 2.0, COM and on-board Flash. It's geared towards various embedded control and industrial applications for communication, environmental monitoring, factory automation, military and medical application that require economical operation, decent performance as well flat panel support and dual display capability.

What's PC/104 and PC/104-Plus?

PC/104 is one of the many embedded computer standards. Administered by the PC/104 Embedded Consortium (www.pc104.org) the standard goes back to 1992. It began with the goal of offering an open design for an IMB PC-compatible computer in a size small enough for embedded applications. PC/104-Plus, which is the standard the PCM-3362 is based on, was first published in 1997 as an extension to the original PC/104 standard that also included the PCI bus. PC/104-Plus provides support for both PCI and the older ISA bus, whereas PCI/104 means only PCI support. The PC/104-Plus based PCM-3362 by Advantech has a 120-pin PCI-104 connector as well as both a 64-pin and a 40-pin PC/104 connector linking to a ITE8888G PCI to ISA bridge.

Below you can see the top (left) and bottom (right) of the board with their ISA and PCI connectors. Note that the top picture doesn't show the optional cooling sink sitting on top of the Atom processor and chipset.

In terms of size, PC/104 boards measure an almost square 3.55 x 3.775 inches. Height of a PC/104-Plus is usually determined by the height of the connectors (though in the case of the PCM-3362 it's the cooling sink that determines height). PC/104 modules are designed to be stackable, allowing for embedded solutions with multiple PC/104 boards.

In terms of specs, the PCM-3362 supports up to 2GB of DDR2 667 SDRAM, uses the ICH8M chipset, 2 or 4GB of flash, support for three COM ports (2 RS232, 1 RS422/485), four USB 2.0 ports, gigabit LAN, VGA and 18-bit LVDS. The system also has a Serial ATA interface (up to 300mb/s).

Systems like the PCM-3362 may be used to operate in a wide variety of temperatures. As a result, Advantech offers them in different versions that can handle operating temperatures from 0 to about 140 degrees Fahrenheit (US$319), -4 to about 176 degrees Fahrenheit (US$510), and an extreme one for temperatures between -40 and 185 degrees Fahrenheit (US$541).

What's in the box

Here is what Advantech ships when you buy the PCM-3362 for your project:
  • the PCM-3362 SBC
  • SATA data cable
  • SATA power cable
  • Keyboard/Mouse cable
  • Y cable for KB/MS extension
  • Ethernet RJ-45 conn. cable
  • VGA cable (up to SXGA (1400 x 1050 pixel)
  • USB cable/bracket with 2 ports
  • RS-422/485 COM cable
  • RS-232 COM cable
  • ATX power cable
  • AT power cable
  • Manual and CD with drivers

OS, APIs and utilities

As for operating systems, the system can be used with Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows XPe, QNX 6.5, and even Windows CE 6.0 (and presumably soon Windows Embedded Standard 7 and Embedded Compact).

Like many of Advantech's hardware products, the PCM-3362 supports a variety of embedded APIs (GPIO, I2C, watchdog timer, hardware monitor, brightness control, backlight on/off, etc.) and software utilities (monitoring, eSOS, embedded security ID).

Why pick the PCM-3362?

With the PCM-3362, Advantech offers a tried-and-true single board computer that can be used in numerous rugged applications that benefit from an easily expandable, flexible non-backplane approach to embedded systems design. Small, stackable, power-efficient and supporting a very wide variety of popular PC technologies and standards, the economical PCM-3362 covers a broad range of application requirements.

Why use a PC/104-Plus standard board instead of just ditching the old-style ISA part completely and go for a PCI-104-based solution? Because in embedded systems that are often used for byte-oriented "real-world" data acquisition and control functions, many applications require, or benefit from, having the two separate buses. With the PCM-3362 developers and system integrators essentially get this flexibility of having both buses in a product that also includes a state-of-the-art low power processing and chipset solution in the Intel Atom N450 and its accompanying ICH8M chip.

In essence, a PC/104-Plus based system such as the PCM-3362 is a full miniaturized desktop PC that can either function by itself, or be part of a more complex carrier board project that may contain multiple stacked PC/104 type "mezzanine" cards. From a mechanical perspective, the PC/104-Plus form factor with its four corner-mount holes makes for a rugged solution that can handle shock and vibration. And the availability of extended temperature range versions of the board add additional design flexibility.

As for the Intel Atom N450 processor used in the PCM-3362, it's part of Intel's second generation of Atom processors introduced in December of 2009. This chip is already power millions of netbooks, has decent integrated graphics, and very modest power consumption with a thermal design power of just 5.5 watts.

Below is a schematic of the Advantech PCM-3362:

With their small size and great versatility, PC/104-Plus based solutions continue to be suitable building blocks for many embedded systems projects. And by offering the PCM-3362 with Intel's Atom N450 processor, Advantech now has a PC/104-Plus solution that combines the inherent flexibility of the standard with intel's latest high-volume Atom processor technology.

Advantech PCM-3362 Specs:

Type PC/104-Plus Single Board Computer
CPU Type Intel Atom N450
Clock Speed 1.66GHz
Chipset Intel ICH8M
BIOS AMI 16 Mbit
Memory Max 2GB DDR2 667MHz in 1 200-pin SODIMM socket
Graphics Controller Integrated Intel Embedded Gen3.5+
VRAM Shared system memory up to 224 MB SDRAM
LVDS Single channel 18-bit LVDS (up to 1366 x 768 pixel WXGA); VGA 1400 x 1050 pixel SXGA
Dual display CRT + LVDS
LAN 2 x 10/100/1000Base-T Intel 8567V)
SATA 1 x 300 MB/s
SSD 2 or 4GB integrated
USB 4 x USB 2.0
Serial 3 x RS232 ( 2 RS232, 1 RS422/485)
Parallel 1 NA
Audio HD audio with optional audio extension module PCA- AUDIO-HDA1E
DIO 8-bit general GPIO
Watchdog Timer Output system reset, programmable 1 to 255 seconds
Size 96 mm x 90 mm (3.8" x 3.5")
Weight 8 ounces (with heat sink)
Operating Temp. 0 to 140F
-4 to 176F
-40 to 185F
Price US$319 (0 to 140F)
US$510 (-4 to 176F)
US$541 (-40 to 185F)
Datasheet Advantech PCM-3362
Advantech store Advantech Advantech PC/104 store

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