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 Post subject: Credit card sized Atom motherboard
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 8:19 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2005 6:36 pm
Posts: 191
Location: UK
Image

My handiwork in shrinking computer motherboards has reached a new low.
That's a normal sized credit card in the background, not a photoshopped one!
Probably needless to say at this size, but it's got no moving parts and is therefore completely silent.

Consumes about 5W at full load in Windows (including the basic non PC ancillaries that this board needs) but depends very heavily on what is connected -a USB wifi dongle added around a 50% power increase; so I haven't bothered trying to underclock the CPU. I think the Z530 might get rather slow if underclocked too far, anyway!

Putting the power consumption another way, it should run happily for about half an hour from a PP3 battery. Before anyone says it, yes I know the heatsink is rubbish. It's just a convenient one for some testing.

Anyway, enjoy and any questions I'll do my best to answer.


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 Post subject: Re: Credit card sized Atom motherboard
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 8:57 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2010 6:06 pm
Posts: 3395
Location: US
Nice. How about some more pictures. Will it to dual core?

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 Post subject: Re: Credit card sized Atom motherboard
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 9:28 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:19 am
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Location: Boston, MA, USA
but is it ROHS compliant? :D

I'm interested how you went about producing the design, procuring the parts, and assembling!

Also: is this for commercial use? Mind putting up a PCB trace image? And did you write firmware? :D

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 Post subject: Re: Credit card sized Atom motherboard
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 10:17 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2005 6:36 pm
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Location: UK
It's a single core. There's no particular reason why it couldn't be made a dual core, but at the moment, it just isn't. What angles do you want pictures of?

As for ROHS compliance, yes it is. I won't publish the schematics however, since this is part of a commercial product. I thought people here might well be interested in this part however.

The BIOS is AMI BIOS, not written in house (really, why bother when you can just get it off the shelf?)

As for how we went about designing it, well, we started with the COM Express specification and, well connected up the bits that were needed (I'm not sure exactly what you want to know; in many ways, the process resembles a massive paint by numbers exercise. Ditto sourcing the parts -at that point it's really no harder than doing grocery shopping on line, you put what you want in the basket and UPS turn up with it a few days later). Most of the assembly was subcontracted out (all of the bits that you would find on a normal computer motherboard were; some of the custom parts for this design were done in house, but really very little).


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 Post subject: Re: Credit card sized Atom motherboard
PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2011 8:15 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:19 am
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Location: Boston, MA, USA
|Romeo| wrote:
The BIOS is AMI BIOS, not written in house (really, why bother when you can just get it off the shelf?)
Wasn't sure if you used some esoteric components to hit that power figure :D

|Romeo| wrote:
I'm not sure exactly what you want to know
Oh, I meant more what software did you use to route traces, etc :) But that was more a question if it was a hobbyist design, as I'm sure I can't afford to try your solution :)

Very cool board. Will it be sold as stand-alone at all?

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 Post subject: Re: Credit card sized Atom motherboard
PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2011 9:41 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2005 6:36 pm
Posts: 191
Location: UK
No, there's nothing particularly exotic to get the power down, it's an Z530 Atom with US15W (Poulsbo) as the chipset rather than one of the more power hungry chipsets (945, ION etc.). To be sure, quite a few things are turned off (Audio (no codec), LAN (no transformer), SATA (no connector), PCI Express (nothing connected to it) off the top of my head), and this probably helps keep the power consumption down. At this level, the power consumption of the Atom doesn't really matter, what you connect to it has a much bigger impact (a USB powered DVD drive more than doubled power consumption. It's a good thing we don't enforce the 500mA current limit on all the USB ports...)

The CAD software was P-CAD, which is a rather old commercial package; but more than up to the job and probably more importantly it's our CAD package for PCB work. Everything was human routed however, no fancy auto routing (we're old fashioned!) you could probably do it with one of the free PCB design tools that are available these days, it by no means required a high end piece of CAD software like some jobs do.

As for selling as a stand alone, you'll never be able to buy one from newegg (too expensive, to sell just one it'd have to cost the best part of $1000), but if someone wants to buy one, of course we'll sell you one! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Credit card sized Atom motherboard
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:37 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 12:55 am
Posts: 55
what can this thing be used for if it has no audio, no LAN, no SATA, or no pci?


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 Post subject: Re: Credit card sized Atom motherboard
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:54 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2005 6:36 pm
Posts: 191
Location: UK
WhiteFireDragon wrote:
what can this thing be used for if it has no audio, no LAN, no SATA, or no pci?


Anything that doesn't require those interfaces to be permanently connected. I can use any of those through USB adaptors if it were necessary.


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