Elkhart Lake Powers SBC with 4 M.2 Slots and Ubuntu Driven UP Kit

Aaeon has announced a 3.5-inch “GENE-EHL5” SBC with Intel’s Atom x6000 featuring 4 M.2 slots. The company also launched a $599 “UP Squared 6000 Edge Computing Kit” with the same Atom SoC, 3x GbE, 2.5GbE, and 3x M.2 slots.

Last November, Aaeon introduced a PICO-EHL4 Pico-ITX board with Intel’s Atom x6000. The company has now followed up with a 3.5-inch GENE-EHL5 SBC with the same Elkhart Lake processor.

Also this week, the Netherlands-based Taiwanese company “UP! Bridge the Gap” announced an embedded system built around its Elkhart Lake-based SBC UP Squared 6000. The UP Squared 6000 Edge Computer Kit is a more advanced version of the UP Squared 6000 Edge computer that was announced with the SBC. The $599 kit comes with an AI stack preloaded with Ubuntu, OpenVINO, and more, and adds two more GbE ports, a second 40-pin GPIO header, and a dedicated micro-USB port for Cortex debugging -Programmable M7 from Elkhart Lake. Services engine (see below).

GENE-EHL5, front and back
(Click on images to enlarge)

Aaeon has not listed OS support for the GENE-EHL5, but its PICO-EHL4 does support Ubuntu Linux and Windows. The SBC is available with the dual-core Atom x6211E and the quad-core Atom-6425E, both up to 3.00 GHz. There are also Celeron and Pentium options and the 1.9GHz quad-core Atom x6425RE. Some other models, including some “FE” SKUs, are available upon customer request. The RE and FE models add Intel’s similar TSN and TCC synchronized network features, while the FE also adds Intel Safety Island (FuSa) functional safety features.

Compared to the only other 3.5-inch Elkhart Lake SBC we’ve covered – Ibase’s IB836 – the GENE-EHL5 has one fewer GbE port with two and one fewer SATA interface with one. It also lacks Ibase’s -40 to 85°C support. However, Aaeon’s entry has 4 M.2 slots, compared to just one M.2 and mini-PCIe. We can’t recall another SBC of this size or smaller with so many M.2 slots. Aaeon calls this feature “groundbreaking”.

The GENE-EHL5 follows Aaeon’s Apollo Lake-powered GENE-APL6 3.5-inch SBC. The company claims that the SBC is 40% faster than the GENE-APL6.

You can load up to 32GB of DDR4, with IBECC error-correcting RAM available on select SKUS. The SBC comes with 32GB eMMC, and there’s a powered SATA slot. Optional SATA is available on one of the 3 M.2 B-key slots, the other two supporting cellular or NVMe, and one of those supporting up to 5G. There’s also a Nano-SIM slot and an M.2 dongle for WiFi/BT.

Block diagram and detailed views of the GENE-EHL5
(Click on images to enlarge)

Triple displays are enabled via HDMI, DP and eDP or LVDS, and audio I/O includes a 2W speaker. Internally there are serial, USB 2.0, DIO and dual CANBus interfaces. There is a wide range 9-36V input plus TPM 2.0, RTC and a watchdog. A heat sink allows the SBC to withstand temperatures from 0 to 60°C.

Specifications listed for the GENE-EHL5 include:

  • Processor — Intel Elkhart Lake Atom x6000E, Celeron, and Pentium (2 or 4 Elkhart Lake 10nm cores up to 1.8 GHz/3.0 GHz) or quad-core, 1.9 GHz Atom x6425RE; Intel UHD graphics (Intel Gen11) up to 32EU; Integrated Cortex-M7; TDP from 4.5 to 12W
  • Memory storage:
    • Up to 32GB DDR4-3200 via 1 slot (IBECC RAM on some SKUs)
    • 32 GB eMMC 5.1
    • SATA 3.0 with power supply
    • Optional SATA and NVMe available on M.2 B-key slots (see expansion)
  • Networking:
    • 2 GbE ports (Intel I210) with WoL
    • WiFi/BT and up to 5G available via M.2 slots
  • Multimedia I/O:
    • HDMI 2.0b socket
    • DisplayPort 1.4 or optional VGA port
    • eDP 1.3 or 24 bit, dual channel LVDS
    • Optional 4/5/8 wire touch controller
    • Triple display support
    • Audio I/O Headers (Realtek ALC269); 2W speaker
  • Other I/O:
    • 2 x USB 3.2 Gen2
    • 4 USB 2.0 connectors
    • 4x RS-232/422/485 headers
    • 8-in/8-out DIO
    • 2x CANBus (or TX/RX on Celeron models)
    • SMBus (or I2C), smart fan, eSPI debug and front panel headers
  • Expansion:
    • M.2 E-key 2230 slot (PCIe, USB 2.0)
    • M.2 B-key 2242 slot (PCIe x2 or opt. x1, USB 2.0; SATA optional)
    • M.2 B-key 2280 slot (PCIe x1 or opt. x2, USB 2.0); supports NVMe
    • M.2 B-key 3052 (USB 3.2 Gen2) slot for up to 5G
    • Nano-SIM slot
  • Other features — watchdog; Hardware monitoring; TPM 2.0; RTC with Li-Ion battery; heat sink; optional cables
  • Power — 9-36V input (or optional 12V); [email protected] (typical) or [email protected] consumption (max) at 12V with x6425E and 32 GB of RAM
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 60°C with a non-condensing relative humidity tolerance of 0 to 90%
  • Dimensions — 146 x 101.7 mm (“3.5-inch form factor”)

UP Squared 6000 Edge Computing Kit

Aaeon announced plans to launch the UP Squared 6000 Edge Computer Kit in December when it launched the UP Squared 6000 SBC and UP Squared 6000 Edge system based on it. The new computer kit, which is available now for $599 for pre-order with shipments slated for April, is a modified and expanded version of the Edge system.

UP Squared 6000 Edge Computing Kit, front and rear
(Click on images to enlarge)

The UP Squared 6000 Edge Computing Kit is equipped with the quad-core Atom x6425RE and offers TCC/TSN and IBECC RAM. You also get 8GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC. The kit comes with an “Intel Edge Insights for Vision” stack based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and Linux 5.13. The SDK includes Intel OpenVINO, Intel Media SDK and Intel Python.

The kit is 1cm longer than the Edge system and comes with a carrier board add-on, which is an accessory on the Edge. The carrier board provides two additional GbE ports (via Marvell Alaska), an RS232/422/485 port, and an additional 40-pin GPIO header. It also provides built-in support for Elkhart Lake’s Cortex-M7-based Programmable Services Engine (PSE). A new micro-USB port is dedicated to PSE-compatible out-of-band (OOB) functionality, “which allows IT staff to remotely manage manufacturing assets even when the operating system is unresponsive or the device is turned off “.

The spec sheet on the product/purchase page includes some of these features, but not the additional 2 GbE ports and second 40-pin GPIO header, which are clearly evident in the images. There’s no mention of other features announced for the carrier in December, including a second SATA interface with power, a USB 2.0-driven mini-PCIe slot, and CANBus and UART interfaces.

Like Edge, there are also GbE and 2.5 GbE ports, so the total is 3x GbE and 1x 2.5GbE. You also get 2 USB 3.2 Gen2, HDMI and DP ports and an internal eDP. Expansion features include M.2 M-, B-, and E-key slots with microSIM, among other features detailed in our previous report.

More information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the GENE-EHL5 SBC.
More information can be found in announcement and product sheet.

The UP Squared 6000 Edge Computing Kit is available for pre-order at $599 plus $4 for an optional UK power cord, with deliveries expected in April. More information can be found in Aaeon’s announcement and purchase page.

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Steven L. Nielsen