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Evaluating COM Express and COM-HPC for Your Projects

While COM Express suits a wide range of applications, COM-HPC excels in high-performance scenarios like AI and 5G

3 min read

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This sponsored article is brought to you by Kontron.

When the COM-HPC standard was first mooted in 2019, there was, understandably, some initial concern in the market over its potential impact on COM Express Type 6 and 7 modules. This quickly dissipated once the specification became clear. After all, they were always intended to be complementary standards and clearly differentiated with respect to performance, overall feature sets, and price level.

But with the growing choice of COM-HPC products now available, how do you choose between these and those based on the long-established COM Express COM standard?

COM Express is most probably still the right platform to use when:

  • The performance level and memory capacity match the application requirements – processor TDP up to 60 W – memory capacity up to 128 GB
  • A smaller footprint and thermal limit are necessary
  • Extending the longevity of an existing COM Express solution to save investment and ensure continuity
  • There’s a low to medium budget consideration

COM-HPC, on the other hand, is more likely to be viable when:

  • Processor power is required beyond 60 W TDP
  • Memory capacity must go beyond the limit of 128 GB
  • Faster interfaces such as USB 4.0, PCIe Gen 4/5 or 25Gbit Ethernet (allowing 100GbE interfaces) are required
  • To accommodate the above, a larger footprint and price level are accepted

Which Client Module?

COM-HPC /Client modules are positioned above COM Express Type 6 for a wide range of embedded applications - where the priorities are increased processing and graphics capabilities, faster data transmission, and network connectivity.

  • Power envelope up to 150W
  • Up to 48 + 1 PCI Express Gen4/5 lanes
  • Up to 4 graphics interfaces
  • Up to 2x 25 Gb Ethernet interfaces
  • Module sizes: A: 95 x 120 mm; B: 120 x 120 mm; C: 160 x 120 mm

For example, COM-HPC Client Modules Type A and C can be used effectively in a range of high-end embedded client products requiring one or more displays. Typical uses are in networking, automation, measurement, and AI applications for medical equipment, high-end instrumentation, industrial equipment, casino gaming equipment, ruggedized field PCs, transportation, and defense systems.

Deciding between COM Express and COM-HPC for your embedded projects? While COM Express suits applications with specific performance and budget constraints, COM-HPC excels in high-performance scenarios, especially in AI, Machine Learning, and 5G.

COM Express Type 6 addresses many embedded clients’ needs by offering a broad range of I/O interfaces for graphics, Digital Display Interfaces (DisplayPort, HDMI, LVDS, or eDP), and super-fast USB 3.1. It is therefore equipped to serve many application requirements across various market segments. Embedded solutions manufacturers have helped this by offering essential applications pre-integrated on carrier boards and custom interfaces.

All necessary functionality is readily available at the single board level. COM Express Type 6 also offers wide scalability with compact and basic size form factors and a proven ability to use processors with a TDP (thermal design power) of 50 watts or more.

What about Server Modules?

COM Express Type 7 is a popular choice for use in server-grade edge platforms where high data throughput is essential. The pin-out is a complementary specification to the existing Type 6 pin-out, replacing graphics support with multiple 10GbE-KR ports and defining 32 PCIe lanes.

COM-HPC Server modules A and D., on the other hand, offer even higher scalability, compute, and communications performance. These are intended for very high-performance edge server-class applications with enormous data volumes at stake, requiring real-time analysis and transmission.

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning are typical examples, along with autonomous driving and 5G. This is where COM-HPC servers’ increased processing performance and greater connectivity come to the fore.

  • Power envelope up to 300W
  • Up to 64 + 1 PCI Express Gen4/5 lanes
  • No graphic interfaces
  • Up to 8x 25 Gb Ethernet interfaces enabling 100Gb Ethernet
  • Module sizes: D: 160 x 160 mm; E: 200 x 160 mm

To learn which COM is right for your next embedded project, visit Kontron.com

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