PC/104 Consortium's OneBank Unites Saving, Performance and Compatibility for Embedded System

The PC/104 Consortium, the organization that maintains standards and provides information about PC/104 and related small form factors, has today announced the latest revision of the PCIe/104-ExpressTM specification, rev 3.0, that sports a new variations that is called OneBankTM.

SANTA CLARA, CA, January 22, 2015 – The ®, the organization that maintains standards and provides information about PC/104 and related small form factors, has today announced the latest revision of the PCIe/104-ExpressTM specification, rev 3.0, that sports a new variations that is called OneBank.

The PCIe/104 OneBank is a new small form factor stackable connector/mezzanine format designed to allow designers to stack boards using a complementary format that both saves board real estate and reduces cost for a wide variety of applications.

PC/104, the longest and most widely used small form factor format for embedded systems, has undergone several stages of evolution following the advances in performance and inter-connect technology while always maintaining a path to backward compatibility. Originated from the original 8-bit PC-ISA bus it has added capabilities for 32-bit PCI and for PCI Express resulting in five major form factors. With the latest announcement, the PC/104 Consortium is now also responding to advances in silicon integration.

The PCIe/104 Express module format fully supports PCI Express including the ability to configure a single channel of up to 16 lanes (x16). It turns out, however, that such a 16-lane configuration, designed mainly for high-performance graphics or other massive data transfers, is under-used in today’s World where the vast majority of processors have integrated their graphics and processing on-chip. That leaves a good number of channels and thus a large number of connector pins unused. OneBank is designed to free up the space and costs taken up by those pins while also maintaining the PCI Express functionality that is needed.

The OneBank connector, supplied by Samtec®, represents the removal of two of the three “banks” of the standard “three-bank” PCI Express connector resulting in a 52-pin connector as opposed to the standard 156-pin standard. The OneBank connector is positioned so that it will plug into the bottom of the leftmost bank (Bank 1) of the PCIe/104 connector. This preserves the stackability and compatibility of the PCI/104-Express and PCIe/104 modules along with the new OneBank modules.

This not only reduce the PCB area taken by the stackable connector on each side of the PCB with 270% , but it also lowers the connector cost to the region of about $7 in 5k quantities.

A PC/104-sized OneBank board can plug into any existing PC/104 with a three-bank PCIe connector, immediately opening possibilities for such new kinds of integration and applications

If, for example, a PCIe connector is replaced on a PCI/104-Express board with OneBank, that board is capable of 4 PCIe x1 lanes (configurable up to x4), 2 USB 2.0 ports, ATX power and control signals (+5V standby, PS on, Power Good) and +5V, +3.3V and signal ground. In addition, all the legacy signals supplied by the PCI connector are still available to the board. Speed scales up to PCIe Gen 3, which is 8GHz and 985 Mbytes/s for each lane and OneBank has up to four lanes, giving plenty of bandwidth for the future

The ‘Real-Estate’ PCB space saved by OneBank represent a staggering 270% and this allows some useful additional feature of a PC/104 Module. The VITA57.1 FMCTM was created to I/O to devices, in the same was OneBank provide PCI-Express for inter-module communication. The FMC uses a Samtec SearayTM connector family and has either 68x TTL I/O or 160x TTL I/O + plus a number of high-speed serial lanes and will provide the ‘bespoke’ I/O that all Embedded Solutions require. This can be achieved without any cables

In addition to its usefulness within the PC/104 Universe, OneBank lends itself to the idea of a more general mezzanine board that could potentially be used with other form factor carrier boards fitted with OneBank connectors. Potentially any baseboard or standard form factor board could add an OneBank connector and then stack OneBank-equipped mezzanine boards. These could include , VME, and more. In addition, OneBank-equipped boards are not limited to the PC/104 form factor so the possibilities are huge both within and beyond the World of PC/104.

Technical advancement with true compatibility has been the hallmark of PC/104 and the PC/104 Consortium since their inception. OneBank is yet another advance along that road offering developers the rich world of PC/104 along with the ability to use the latest in performance and connectivity at truly affordable cost.

Topics covered in this article