Open Standards

November 1, 2022

PICMG Ratifies COM-HPC FuSa Extensions, COM Express PCIe 4/USB 4 Updates to Meet Edge Workload Demands

COM-HPCIndustry NewsNewsPICMG

PICMG COM-HPC 1.15 and COM.0 R3.1 continue evolution to support high-performance, mixed-criticality, and cost-optimized IoT edge, gateway, and server designs with strict time-to-market requirements.

WAKEFIELD, MA. OCTOBER 31, 2022. PICMG, a leading consortium for the development of open embedded computing specifications, has announced major updates to the COM-HPC and COM Express families of computer-on-module (COM) standards with the ratification of Functional Safety (FuSa) extensions to COM-HPC (COM-HPC 1.15) and COM Express Revision 3.1 (COM.0 R3.1), which adds 16 Gbps connectors, support for PCI Express Gen 4, USB 4, SATA Gen 3 optimizations, and other enhancements.

COM-HPC 1.15 is a set of safety extensions that expand the FuSa capabilities of “safety island” blocks available on modern chipsets out to the broader system. Available on all COM-HPC form factors – including the upcoming COM-HPC Client Mini – COM-HPC FuSa extensions define a dedicated SPI signal that connects health and status monitoring features of such blocks to a FuSa “Safety Controller” located on COM-HPC carrier cards where any findings can be processed for external use.

The COM-HPC 1.15 architecture thus enables the creation of mixed-criticality multicore embedded systems by providing a direct path to redundancy and fail-safe process implementation for developers of industrial machine control, train and wayside control, robotics, autonomous vehicles, avionics, and other critical systems.

“With the small size definition of the upcoming Mini specification and the recent FuSa extensions, COM-HPC covers all use cases I can think of,” says Christian Eder, Chair of the COM-HPC technical committee and Director Product Marketing at congatec. “COM-HPC is the most complete computer module definition ever. I expect an extremely fast growth for scalable and compute-power hungry embedded applications based on COM-HPC technology.”

The COM-HPC 1.15 specification effort is sponsored by ADLINK, congatec, and Kontron.

COM Express Revision 3.1 continues the evolution of the electronics industry’s most popular COM standard by adding support for PCIe Gen 4 and an updated 16 Gbps connector across the family’s Type 6, 7, and 10 pinouts. SATA Gen 3 signal integrity and loss budget information has also been added for each Type.

These improvements join pinout-specific upgrades including optional USB4 (Type 6), MIPI-CSI connectors (Types 6, 10), SoundWire (Types 6, 10), as well as an additional general-purpose SPI interface (Types 6, 10). A CEI signaling-enabled 10 GbE interface and IPMB management interface are also now defined in the Type 7 pinout as part of COM.0 R3.1.

COM Express Revision 3.1 Type 6 and Type 10 hardware is fully backward-compatible with 3.0 modules and carrier boards, while Revision 3.1 Type 7 modules are backward compatible apart from 10GBASE-KR Ethernet side-band signals and a second PCIe reference clock not included on R3.0 modules.

“The PICMG COM Express specification just had its 23rd anniversary. During this time, the specification has been updated to support the latest interfaces while focusing on maintaining backwards compatibility. Revision 3.1 is no exception,” says Jeff Munch, CTO of ADLINK Technology and Chairman of the COM Express subcommittee. “In the latest release of the COM Express specification the subcommittee has added support for PCI Express Gen 4, USB4, and newer 10G side-band interfaces while maximizing backwards compatibility.

“These new interfaces will allow COM Express to continue to fill its role as a leading computer-on-module standard.”

For more information on the COM-HPC FuSa extensions specification, visit www.picmg.org/openstandards/com-hpc or purchase the specification for $750 from www.picmg.org/product/com-hpc-module-base-specification-revision-1-15.

For more on the COM Express family of specifications, go to www.picmg.org/openstandards/com-express or purchase the latest specification revision from www.picmg.org/product/com-express-module-base-specification-rev-3-1.

More on PICMG’s range of open, modular computing standards can be found at www.picmg.org.

About PICMG
Founded in 1994, PICMG is a not-for-profit 501(c) consortium of companies and organizations that collaboratively develop open standards for high performance industrial, Industrial IoT, military & aerospace, telecommunications, test & measurement, medical, and general-purpose embedded computing applications. There are over 130 member companies that specialize in a wide range of technical disciplines, including mechanical and thermal design, single board computer design, high-speed signaling design and analysis, networking expertise, backplane, and packaging design, power management, high availability software and comprehensive system management.

Key standards families developed by PICMG include COM Express, COM-HPC, ModBlox7, IoT.1, CompactPCI, AdvancedTCA, MicroTCA, AdvancedMC, CompactPCI Serial, COM Express, SHB Express, MicroSAM, and HPM (Hardware Platform Management). For more information visit www.picmg.org.

June 29, 2022

PICMG forms new smaller COM-HPC module committee and announces FuSa support at embedded world 2022

COM-HPCIndustry NewsJess IsquithNews

Wakefield, MA., USA / Nuremberg, Germany, June 23, 2022 – PICMG – a leading consortium for the development of open embedded computing specifications – announces two new specifications for the high-end Computer-on-Module standard COM-HPC. They target mixed-critical functional safety applications and small form factor designs requiring credit card-sized modules.

COM-HPC Client Mini

Like COM Express Mini, the COM-HPC Client Mini specification will define the use of one connector instead of the two implemented for the larger modules (Sizes A -E). But with COM-HPC, half the number of signal pins still means 400 signal lanes, which equals 90% of the capacity that COM Express Type 6 modules offer. Compared to COM-HPC Client Size A modules, the smallest available COM-HPC form factor, COM-HPC Mini, also reduces the footprint to 50%. Such extremely small modules measuring only 60 x 95 mm are required for high-end embedded computer logic in devices such as top-hat rail PCs for control cabinets in building and industrial automation, or portable test and measurement devices. In addition, the new specification will enable engineers to integrate state-of-the-art computer interface technologies such as PCIe Gen4 and Gen5 into ultra-small processing units that provide highest performance. As the new specification will come with a focused high-performance pinout and will comply with the entire COM-HPC ecosystem, it is expected to become the high-end standard extending the PICMG’s earlier COM Express Mini standard. PICMG expects the COM Express specification to continue leading the COM market for many years as it meets numerous standard application requirements now to be allocated in the mid-range performance sector.

FuSa support: COM-HPC
The new version of COM-HPC defines signal pinouts to support FuSa (Functional Safety) applications. These applications include safety critical machine control, autonomous vehicles and robotics, transportation related hardware such as train and wayside control, avionic equipment and much more.

The new extensions for functional safety (FuSa) target an even more promising market: Connected device developers want to utilize x86 processor technologies to be able to execute mixed-critical applications on multi-core processors. This requires redundancy and the possibility of implementing fail-safe processes. With the new functional safety extensions, COM-HPC is thus entering a market that is expected to accelerate the demand for embedded Computer-on-Modules significantly. Besides functional safety control applications that require an IoT and industry 4.0 gateway, it also targets collaborative robotics working closely with humans. Further markets arise from the demands of automated intralogistics with autonomous logistic vehicles and stretch from factory mobility to any new market that can be found in autonomous driving, from agricultural and construction machinery to smart city vehicles and AUVs as well as UAVs. Of course, the functional safety extensions are supported across all COM-HPC form factors, including the upcoming COM-HPC Client Mini.

„With the small size definition of the COM-HPC Client Mini and the FuSa extensions, COM-HPC covers all embedded use cases I can think of. COM-HPC is the most complete computer module definition ever. I expect an extremely fast growth for scalable and compute-power hungry embedded applications based on COM-HPC technology.“ Christian Eder, Chair of the COM-HPC technical committee and Congatec Director Product Marketing.

The FuSa specification in detail
FuSa versions of some contemporary chipsets or System-on-Chips (SoCs) incorporate a FuSa “Safety Island”. This is a specialty portion of the hardware – along with supporting firmware and software – that is separate from the main portion of the chipset or SoC. The Safety Island monitors the health and status of the main chipset or SoC and can report any findings over a dedicated FuSa GPIO and dedicated FuSa SPI Slave interface to an external carrier based FuSa System Safe State Agent and optionally a Safety Controller. The FuSa “Safety Controller” is a carrier based microcontroller that collects safety and status information from the Safety Island over a dedicated SPI bus and processes it for external use. The Safety Controller is the FuSa SPI Master.

The efforts of both new specifications are sponsored by: congatec, Kontron and ADLINK

About COM-HPC

COM-HPC, a new open Computer-on-Module form factor, targets extremely high I/O and compute performance levels from high-end clients up to the entry server class and beyond. Standard COM-HPC modules plug into a carrier board typically customized to the application. OEM benefits are fast and cost-effective layout with high design security for application-specific embedded and Edge computing boards. As a result, COM-HPC is the right choice for autonomous vehicles, base stations, medical equipment, high-end instrumentation, industrial equipment, casino gaming equipment ruggedized computers for various industrial fields, and more.

About PICMG
Founded in 1994, PICMG is a not-for-profit 501(c) consortium of companies and organizations that collaboratively develop open standards for high performance industrial, Industrial IoT, military & aerospace, telecommunications, test & measurement, medical, and general-purpose embedded computing applications. There are over 130 member companies that specialize in a wide range of technical disciplines, including mechanical and thermal design, single board computer design, high-speed signaling design and analysis, networking expertise, backplane, and packaging design, power management, high availability software and comprehensive system management.

Key standards families developed by PICMG include COM Express, COM-HPC, ModBlox7, IoT.1, CompactPCI, AdvancedTCA, MicroTCA, AdvancedMC, CompactPCI Serial, COM Express, SHB Express, MicroSAM, and HPM (Hardware Platform Management). https://www.picmg.org

September 10, 2021

New framework of platform management features for COM-HPC based edge computing designs

COM-HPCIndustry NewsNews

PICMG releases Platform Management Interface specification for COM-HPC

Wakefield, MA., USA / August, 2021 – PICMG, a leading consortium for developing open embedded computing specifications, announces the release of the COM-HPC Platform Management Interface (PMI) specification. It provides a framework of remote and out-of-band platform management features for COM-HPC Computer-on-Module based edge computing designs and is freely available on the PICMG website. COM-HPC is an open Computer-On-Module (COM) form factor standard for High-Performance Computing (HPC) that combines high-end I/O bandwidth with edge computing performance levels. Standard COM-HPC modules plug into an application-specific carrier board (aka baseboard) and offer OEMs an application-ready computing core to accelerate design cycles, reduce NRE costs and increase ROI as well as sustainability by extending longevity options beyond a certain processor family or module vendor.

 “The dedicated modular system management interface, which gives remote management access to embedded systems – even out-of-band – is another industry first introduced by COM-HPC,” explains Christian Eder of congatec, the chairman of the COM-HPC committee. “Thanks to this feature, OEMs and users will be able to ensure highest levels of reliability, availability, maintainability, and safety (RAMS) for their worldwide deployments of distributed network infrastructure equipment and edge/fog computing servers as well as IIoT gateways and clients. For individual needs, these COM functions can be expanded via an optional board management controller on the carrier board. This provides OEMs with a modular framework of uniform remote management functions that can be flexibly scaled to specific requirements.”

 The COM-HPC PMI specification is a supplement to the COM-HPC open standard and serves as a guide on how to achieve interoperability between COM-HPC modules from different vendors and combinations of carrier boards. It adapts the Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) specifications to COM-HPC designs and also touches the implementation of Redfish features.

 IPMI is a collection of side-band/out-of-band management commands that are used for system interaction. IPMI firmware generally runs on a board management controller, a discrete integrated circuit that is accessed via a network connection and/or serial interface, and/or LPC/eSPI. Redfish, a standard managed by DMTF, provides a Representational State Transfer (RESTful) interface for the management of systems. Redfish is still under active development, and it continues to evolve as new use cases are discovered.

 The COM-HPC PMI document describes three different PMI maturity levels for modules and two for carrier boards. The modules’ PMI maturity levels range from unmanaged module (M.U) and basic managed modules (M.B) to fully managed modules (M.F); and carrier board levels range from unmanaged (C.U) to managed carrier boards (C.M). The goal of specifying these different levels is to allow interoperability between multiple modules and carrier board designs. The different module management capabilities are broken down by their adherence to a set of IPMI commands listed below.

 The modular COM-HPC Platform Management Interface specification is available for download on the PICMG website at https://www.picmg.org/openstandards/com-hpc/