ETX 3.0: hassle-free path to SATA integration

ETX 3.0

Primary target applications: 
Medical, gaming and entertainment, military and aerospace

ETX Industrial Group
Year of specification release: 2000
Year of latest major update: 2006, to ETX 3.0

Kontron, Advantech, Adlink, Evalue, Arbor, Aaeon, Ibase

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95 mm x 114 mm (approx. 12 mm thick)

Requires carrier/baseboard, four mating connectors HIROSE FX8-100S-SV (3.0 mm height) or FX8C-100S-SVS
(9.5 mm height)

Power input:
+5 V from carrier/baseboard, optional 100 mA +5 V standby

Mandatory features:
•  Connector X1: PCI bus, USB, Audio
•  Connector X2: ISA bus
•  Connector X3: VGA, LCD, Video, COM1, COM2, LPT/Floppy, IrDA, Mouse, Keyboard       
•  Connector X4: IDE 1, IDE 2, Ethernet, miscellaneous
•  SATA: Two ports via connectors on top side

Figure 3
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ETX 3.0 benefits
Two SATA ports supported
• 100% ETX pin-to-pin compliant
• No carrier board changes
• Continued ISA support, along with Ethernet, USB 2.0, graphics, audio, and other features
• Multivendor standard – ETX Industrial Group
• Long term and hassle free

As new bus interface technologies are developed and introduced, embedded application designers face implementation challenges. The big questions are: How significantly does the design need to change? What new features are key for today, tomorrow, and in the near-term future? If bringing an embedded design up to date only requires one missing technology, why fuss with adding more than what is really needed?

Figure 1
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The Computer-On-Module (COM) concept for embedded computers simplifies the challenges and keeps pace with new technologies such as Serial ATA (SATA). The embedded community recently welcomed COM Express and XTX as new options. Both standards integrate new technologies but call for designers to make significant modifications to the custom part of system designs – the carrier board. For some applications this is acceptable, but for others such changes are bigger leaps than truly are required and would force unwanted investments of time and money. 

Figure 2
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Recognizing this challenge, Kontron and the other companies behind the ETX Industrial Group released a revised ETX module standard, ETX 3.0, which now includes SATA support while maintaining pin-to-pin compatibility with previous revisions.

New modules designed according to the ETX 3.0 specification integrate two SATA ports via two slim line connectors designed onto the top side of the CPU module in the vicinity of X4. The module or carrier board ETX connectors do not require any changes to take advantage of the faster SATA hard drives.