Adopting a strategy emphasizing flexibility in relatively standardized single-board computers, MEN Micro introduced the Embedded System Module at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Francisco today. The Embedded System Module consists of a mezzanine card with system-level functionality and a carrier board for additional I/O if it's required.
The company's ESM specification defines the mechanical, electrical, and environmental characteristics of the ESM mezzanine card and the interface between the module and the carrier card. The specifications are purposely left open ended so that they can be developed by embedded systems developers, EMS, or third party companies.
The mezzanine cards are complete computer systems with a CPU and chipset, main memory, a connection to mass storage, and essential I/O on board. The microprocessor can be any of several types, such as an Intel x86, PowerPC, ARM, XScale, or MIPS processors. They are electrically compatible with all versions of the PCI bus, from 32 bits/33MHz to 64 bits and up to PCI-X. Many ESM mezzanine cards include an FPGA that can be programmed in VHDL. Board support packages accommodate a number of operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and several RTOSes.
The cards measure 72mm by 149mm, which makes them compatible with 6U carriers and a variety of mezzanine I/O cards, including PMC, PC-MIP, PC/104-Plus, and M-Modules. With this form factor, a 6U carrier card can accommodate one ESM and two PMC modules.
The open-ended nature of the ESM carrier card specification allows cards to be tailored to the needs of a specific application. They can range from a simple passive card with nothing more than a connector for a power supply to complex carriers that include additional functionality or additional I/O modules.
ESM Mezzanine cards are available now from MEN Micro.