There’s something satisfying about fitting a decent processor into a small form factor, and the latest example is a credit-card-sized single-board computer that uses an 11e-part generation Intel Core.
The single-board PC comes from Aaeon, Asus’ industrial computing-focused subsidiary, and it’s made alongside another board of the same size that uses an AMD Ryzen Embedded V2000 processor. According to CNX softwareAaeon expects the cards to go into mass production by the end of September.
These two little units go under the brand name “de next”, and they’re really close to the size of a credit card, with each board measuring 84 millimeters long and 55 millimeters wide.
Taiwan-based Aaeon even went so far as to say that the Intel-based board is the smallest to date with a Core processor. The company did not provide any superlatives for the AMD based cardalthough we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s one of the smaller options available with such processors.
When people read about a single board computer, they might think of the Raspberry Pi, which brought the form factor to the masses. The world is full of Arm-compatible single-board computers, and others with other architectures, such as RISC-V and MIPS. There is also SBC x86 although we’re talking about Aaeon’s hardware here today due to its choice of silicon.
These Aaeon cards are designed for industrial purposes, such as transportation, robotics, and other environments where data must be processed close to the source. However, we wouldn’t blame you if you justified a personal purchase so you could put one of these little things on your desk. We don’t know yet how much it would cost you.
With industrial focus, Intel and AMD cards support an operating temperature range of 32 to 140°F (0 to 60°C). What helps these cards withstand such high temperatures is the fact that they use embedded versions of processors from Intel and AMD.
Intel-based next-TGU8 supports three of Intel’s 11 optionse generation of Core embedded processors: the dual-core i3-1115G4E, the quad-core i5-1145G7E and the quad-core i7-1185G7E. The i3 has a base frequency of 2.2 GHz and a turbo frequency of 3.9 GHz while the i7 can run at a sustained speed of 1.8 GHz and burst at 4.4 GHz. Each processor has a dynamic thermal power (TDP) that ranges from 15 to 18 watts, and they all support hyperthreading.
The AMD-based Next-V2K8 supports two options of AMD’s Ryzen Embedded V2000 processors: the six-core V2516 and the eight-core V2718. The V2516 has a base frequency of 2.1 GHz and a turbo frequency of 3.95 GHz while the V2718 nominally operates at 1.7 GHz and bursts at 4.15 GHz. Both processors have a TDP range of 10 to 25 watts and both support hyperthreading.
The Intel and AMD cards each support up to 16 GB of LPDDR4x memory, although the former has a memory bandwidth of 3,733 megatransfers per second (MT/s) while the latter has 3,200 MT/s.
They also both come with integrated graphics and support up to two simultaneous displays: one at 1080p resolution with an HDMI port and the other at 4K with an integrated DisplayPort.
Now, it should be clarified that the boards are not as thin as a credit card. But it’s for good reason. They come with a range of I/O options: the aforementioned integrated HDMI 1.4b and DisplayPort ports, as well as two Ethernet ports, two USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports and a DC power jack.
And the system will get even thicker if you apply the card’s specially designed heatsink and fan assembly, which appears to double the depth of the card, judging from an image provided to CNX.
Either way, these cards are still remarkably small for having the ability to offer computing power that’s probably on par with some laptops. We know there’s a good debate about whether Moore’s Law is coming to an end, but it still shows how far we’ve come from the mainframe era decades ago. ®