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New Intel Multi-Core Architecture Enables Energy Efficient, High-Performance Board Designs

A Case Study with Kontron and Intel Corporation

Kontron has introduced four new boards, based on new Intel Core Duo processors, offering significantly enhanced performance capabilities for applications such as visualization, interactive gaming, industrial applications and medical imaging. According to Kontron, the big gain in using dual-core architecture is the ability to get almost double the performance without increasing power consumption. This results in the design of more power-efficient solutions that are essential for many of the high-performance embedded applications being developed today.

The Pressure to Perform
Embedded developers face competitive pressure to provide more application features and improved platform management capabilities. This often requires trade-offs between performance, space and power consumption, especially when adapted to demanding application environments. For example, medical imaging applications demand high bandwidth and increasingly higher processing power to deliver high-resolution data.

To compound the challenge, developers must work within an ever-shrinking form factor. Faced with these design challenges, developers need the ability to scale solutions and add features within embedded form factors without dramatically affecting the energy variables such as thermal output and power consumption.

Multi-Core Processing Solution
Inte's platform approach to development combines a multi-core architecture with complementary system-enhancing technologies to deliver scalable, energy efficient processing for a wide range of applications. The Intel Core Duo processor delivers nearly twice the performance as the previous Intel Pentium M 756 processor, while consuming about the same amount of power. Intel's 65nm process technology makes it possible to integrate two cores, along with many advanced features, in one physical package.

Norbert Hauser, Vice President of Marketing at Kontron, cites Kontron benchmark data using a single-threaded software application: "The Kontron boards, based on the new dual-core processors, show an increase in floating point performance of over 96.5%, a higher integer performance of over 89.3%, and double the 3D mark. These performance increases definitely validate Moore's Law."

Hauser also believes that multi-threaded software would allow developers to leverage the multi-core architecture to even greater efficiency. "If existing software is optimized to be multi-threaded, an even more dramatic increase in performance can be expected. For many applications that were not previously available for parallel computers due to prohibitively high costs, this results in a performance explosion, creating previously unimaginable possibilities. Applications such as visualization and control will also be able to be implemented in one system with various operating systems, while keeping hardware costs under control."

Platform Approach Yields Multiple Solutions for a Wide Range of Applications
Each of Kontron's four new boards is equipped with the Intel Core Duo processor T2500 at 2.0 GHz. The 6U CompactPCI board comes with the Intel 7520 chipset and Intel 6300ESB I/O controller hub; the others with the Mobile Intel 945GM Express chipset. All offer up to twice the performance of the Intel Pentium M processors at the same GHz clock speed and energy efficient performance, reaching up to 31W.

Kontron utilized Intel's new dual-core processing architecture to maximum advantage for several, diverse applications. For example:

The Kontron CP307 is a 3U high-performance CompactPCI CPU assembly. Streamlined for performance and designed to handle tough environmental conditions, it is targeted for use in industrial robots, vision systems, mobile data capture systems, and in aircraft, train or vessel applications. The PICMG 2.16-compliant Kontron CP6012 is designed for bandwidth-intensive applications. With hot-swap support and PICMG 2.9-compliant Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI), it meets the highest specifications for management of high-availability applications. Many of these are data and telecommunications applications, but also include highly sensitive, security-related solutions. Thanks to the robust construction of these systems, they are also ideal for image processing systems in medical technology (tomographs) and other vertical industries.

Mini-ITX is a new ATX-compatible motherboard standard that has quickly gained acceptance. At 17 cm x 17 cm, the smallest ATX-compatible motherboard form factor, it can be used in very compact housings and systems. Kontron's high-end Mini-ITX embedded motherboard, the new Kontron 986LCD-M/mITX, supports the latest dual-core, low-power processors and is designed for processor and graphics-intensive applications such as gaming, medical technology, multimedia, point-of-information, point-of-sale, data communications and high-end thin clients.

The new Kontron ETXexpress-CD module is a concept board based on the new PICMG open standard known as COM Express. PCI-Express is the primary data path for upcoming x86 based systems. Non PCI-Express components such as PCI plug-in cards can still be supported with the PCI 2.1 32 Bit Interface as ETXexpress COMs will continue supporting the PCI bus for legacy applications. With dual-core performance for customer-specific embedded designs, the Kontron ETXexpress-CD module can provide optimum energy efficient performance in a solution-ready, customizable computer-on-module.
B For the full case study please visit: intel.com/design/embedded/casestudies/313480.htm