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Low-power ARM-based controls could slash OEM costs

02 January, 2012

The costs of designing and using embedded control systems could drop dramatically following the announcement by the industrial computing specialist Kontron that it has defined a new “computer-on-module” (COM) standard based on low-power ARM processors. The Taiwanese embedded computing specialist AdLink is supporting the standard and says that its first modules will cost “far below” $100.

The new standard bridges the gap between proprietary industrial offerings and consumer products. The modules are designed to be used in products such as HMIs, industrial PCs and controls, rugged tablets and handheld devices. The 4.3mm-high modules come in two sizes: 82 x 50mm and 82 x 80mm.

The standard was announced at the recent SPS/IPC/Drives show in Germany. The photo above shows Norbert Hauser from Kontron and Catherine Wu from Adlink holding the new module.

The modules will consume less than 3W of power, allowing them to operate on batteries and avoiding the need for fans or other cooling. They will incorporate camera interfaces as standard. Various operating systems will be supported, including Windows CE 6/7, VxWorks and Android 2.3, with Windows 8 to follow. 

Kontron and AdLink say that the development will reduce OEM r&d costs “massively” by offering them application-ready platforms that have not been available previously, and allowing them to focus on their core capabilities.

Speaking at SPS, Kontron’s chief technology officer Dirk Finstel said: “We believe that the technology will be adopted very quickly”. He revealed that at least two other suppliers are planning to use the new COM standard.

Another industrial computing specialist, Congatec, also announced at SPS that it will be adding low-power ARM products to its portfolio.

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