Kontron Interview: The Processor with the Power of a Tiger 

Computer-on-Modules, Single Board Computers and Industrial PCs with 11th generation Intel® Core™-i processors


To meet the ever-growing demand for processing power in the digitalized industry, Kontron equips Computer-on-Modules, Single Board Computers and Industrial PCs with 11th generation Intel® Core™-i processors. This enables previously unattainable performance with additional functions that are especially in demand in industrial applications. In this interview, Peter Müller, Vice President Product Center Computer-on-Modules, explains the advantages of the new product range.



Mr Müller, why does Kontron integrate the new technology into its products?

Peter Müller: "Processes are becoming faster and more efficient every day. Digitalization and automation are making great strides in this regard. On the other hand, this means that processing power must increase accordingly. Kontron offers the right hardware for Industry 4.0-compatible environments. This includes Single-Board Computers, Computer-on-Modules, Industrial PCs and much more. Utilizing the 11th generation Intel® Core™-i processors, previously purchased extras such as real-time communication are now becoming standard!"


What makes the 11th Gen Intel® Core™ processors so special?

Peter Müller: "In a novel manufacturing process, the structure width of the chips is reduced to 10nm, thus clock frequency, energy efficiency and scalability are significantly increased. This Intel innovation is therefore ideally suited for use in high-performance CPUs. The products based on the Intel® Core™-i processors of the 11th generation are already fully available and, as a middle class, form a main focus in the portfolio of the US provider, which is rounded off by low-end processors Intel Atom® or server processors of the Intel® Xenon™ series. For us as Kontron, it is important to mention that as a long-standing partner of Intel, we have been given the opportunity to integrate the new technology at an early stage."


What opportunities does this offer in detail for your products?

Peter Müller: "Clearly, this is its high performance combined with broad scalability. With the 11th processor generation from Intel®, PCIe 3.0 and a TSN-capable Ethernet controller, the Kontron COM Express® module in the Compact form factor enters a new performance class without overly increasing power consumption. For this purpose, it is equipped with a single-chip Tiger Lake U processor with two or four computer cores. These CPUs already have an instruction set for AI's vectorized neural networks."


What about the performance class above? 

Peter Müller: "In the Basic form factor of the Kontron COM Express® modules, these processors with up to 8 computing cores ensure suitability in high-end applications with high bandwidth. These are the two-chip solutions Tiger Lake H. These get support from Intel® Iris® Xe Graphics and Intel® Deep Learning Boost for increased AI performance and integrated TSN and TCC functionality."


Do you also use the 11th generation Intel Core processors in Box PCs?

Peter Müller: "Yes, but we use the more powerful two-chip Tiger Lake H version in our products exclusively. Being equipped with Intel® Core™ i3, i5 and i7 CPUs with up to eight processing cores, the devices of the KBox C-104-TGL family with integrated TSN and Intel® TCC functionality are especially suitable for demanding edge workloads and high-end applications with high bandwidth."



You mentioned the increased data volumes in the course of digitalization. Which product is used when it comes to really high processing performance?

Peter Müller: "For particularly data-intensive IoT edge and AI applications, we have developed the KBox A-151-TGL industrial PC based on the same processors. This has an expansion slot on the front (I/O Door), via which additional functionalities such as fieldbuses, interfaces such as graphics, serial or digital I/Os and Ethernet interfaces can be added. Optionally, the system can also be expanded with 4G/5G or WiFi 6 connectivity. For us, there are virtually no upper limits, we are equipped for enormous data volumes."


Where exactly do you see the benefit of these new products?

Peter Müller: "Exactly in situations where several processes run simultaneously and these must be synchronized without too much latency, i.e. in real time. We provide these complex systems with the necessary performance."


To what extent is industrial safety an issue for you?

Peter Müller: "This is a very important topic! Industrial suitability and functional safety have top priority in highly automated systems. Only systems functioning smoothly without downtimes guarantee the desired competitive advantage. For this in turn, high-performance hardware components are indispensable. The current Intel® processors are particularly suitable for the construction of safety-oriented programmable controllers. This means that not only one dedicated processor core can be reserved for safety-oriented applications. The Intel® Functional Safety Essential Design Package (Intel® FSEDP) provides customers with the technical documentation to design and certify safety-critical platforms to functional safety standards."


Imagine a customer who has just equipped their plant with this new technology. How long can it run like this?

Peter Müller: "You are alluding to the availability of the hardware. Especially for us as market leader, it is very important to maintain a long-term partnership with both customers and suppliers. I can guarantee you that our Computer-on-Modules, Single-Board Computers and Industrial PCs with 11th generation Intel Core-i processors will be available a very long time.


Many thanks for these insightful explanations!


Would you like to learn more about COM Express® basic, COM Express® compact, COM Express® mini? Then visit our page at: https://www.kontron.com/en/products/boards-standard-form-factors/com-express/c90452

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