Adlink fleshes out Intel-based Com Express, ATCA lines

-April 08, 2008

DENVER — Fresh from its acquisition of Ampro Computer Inc., board-level specialist Adlink Technology Inc. is covering conferences from Embedded Systems Conference/Silicon Valley (ESC; San Jose, April 14-18, 2008) to the Shanghai Intel Developers Forum, demonstrating new Intel-based boards in Com Express and ATCA form factors.

Adlink's new president, P.J. Go, is on a mission to make products as well-known in industrial and telecom accounts as they are in the retail and reseller channels. The Ampro brand gives Adlink an important boost in the latter category.

Adlink has a particular market in mind for the Express-MLC card utilizing Intel's new Atom processor--embedded seat-back entertainment systems for second-tier airlines driving lower-cost multimedia. Jeff Munch, chief technology officer of Adlink, said that the low power dissipation of the Atom card, combined with high-performance graphics and HD audio, made the system applicable to both in-flight entertainment for smaller jets and in-vehicle information systems for cars and trucks. The Express-MLC also is being marketed for POS terminals and patient monitors.

The Express-MLC card uses Atom alongside the US15W Intel System Controller Hub IC, which Intel recently introduced along with. Munch pointed out that the 95-mm-square compact size of Express-MLC gives the company experience for developing Advanced Mezzanine Cards used in ATCA designs.

Adlink's strategy for ATCA is to concentrate on full-size ATCA boards and adjunct mezzanine cards for now, moving to MicroTCA only if the company sees the market develop for the smaller version of the telecom standard. At next week's ESC, Adlink will show the aTCA-6900 card based on the Intel 5100 San Clemente chipset. The card features Xeon CPU bays that can be used for either dual-core or quad-core Xeons, as well as two general-purpose AMC bays. The only circumstance where thermal management could be a problem, Munch said, is when two CPU bays are populated with quad-core processors and two AMC bays are populated with high-speed I/O. All other mixes of dual- and quad-core processing and I/O can be handled in typical ATCA systems.

The aTCA-6900 can handle high-speed frame switching within a telecom CPU blade, by integrating a 24-port Gigabit Ethernet switch directly on the CPU blade. Adlink offers a special riser card for the blade to support different fabric interfaces, such as PICMG 3.1 or 3.4.

Adlink also will expand its instrumentation and data-acquisition support, this month, with the PXI-2950, a card for PXI using the Intel dual-core T7500. Munch said that the wealth of new Intel multicore offerings keeps his company focused on Intel architectures. Careful consideration is given to different RISC architectures on the market, but, for now, "we are more than busy enough following Intel architectures," he said.

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