MSC Vertriebs, a German company specialising in computer-on-module designs, has announced the first Qseven COM to feature ARM Cortex-A9 processing cores in the form of Nvidia's Tegra 2 system-on-chip.
The MSC Q7-NT2, which makes use of the Qseven format co-developed by MSC Vertriebs back in 2008 to pack all the components needed for a modern computer into a tiny 70mm x 70mm module, is the first ARM-based COM design to use the Qseven bus - replacing the traditional Intel Atom chip used in the company's previous products.
Designed for low-power computing tasks, the Qseven specification only supports a maximum power draw of 12W - meaning only a limited selection of processors are supported. While previous designs have relied on Intel's low-power Atom range, the Q7-NT2 switches to Nvidia's Tegra 2 290 platform featuring a pair of 1GHz Cortex-A9 processing cores and Nvidia 3D graphics.
The use of Nvidia's Tegra 2 platform allows the new COM to decode full HD 1920x1080 video and perform 3D renders via the OpenGL ES 2.0 standard - despite an overall power draw of just 5W.
Depending on model, a Q7-NT2 COM also includes up to 1GB DDR2 RAM, up to 8GB of on-device solid-state storage, an SDIO interface for expansion, up to three PCIe interfaces, an optional pair of SATA 3.0Gb/s interfaces, gigabit Ethernet, up to four USB 2.0 host ports and a single OTG port, HDMI 1.3, the option of LVDS support for up to two displays, a camera interface, and an AC97 standard audio interface.
Designed primarily for digital signage use, the Q7-NT2 is an impressive piece of kit - and, given that the Qseven standard has only supported the ARM architecture since an update in September, another example of ARM's growing encroachment on Intel's turf.
Thus far, MSC Vertriebs hasn't detailed pricing or availability on the modules.