EPIC-Express Board Demonstrates New Cooling Concept and Mechanical Design

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EPIC-Express Board Demonstrates New Cooling Concept and Mechanical Design

A new product family targets strategic mission-critical systems and enables easy and reliable development of applications that require non-stop operation reliability (24/7), within wide ambient temperature ranges and temperature variations, as well as extreme shock and vibration durability. With the Hurricane-QM57 from Lippert Embedded Computers, the innovative mechanical concept provides for a passive cooling mechanism and a robust mechanical construction. The rugged DDR3 SODIMM memory modules provide error correcting code (ECC). They surpass conventional SODIMM construction to withstand more rugged environmental requirements. Two memory channels access up to 8 Gbytes system memory for better system data throughput. One memory bank soldered directly to the board provides basic memory capacity. The second bank features sockets for expansion with Rugged SODIMM modules. The RAM clock runs at up to 1066 MHz.

The Core i7 processor features an integrated graphics controller, which manages and controls two independent high-resolution displays. Additionally, a dual channel 24-bit LVDS connects to flat screens. Other key features include two Gigabit Ethernet channels, four SATA interfaces at 3 Gbit/s with RAID support and ten USB 2.0 ports. There is a mini-PCIe slot for WLAN and other accessory cards as well as a PCI/104-Express extension slot. The extended temperature range covers -40° to +85°C.

With the cooling concept of the Hurricane-QM57, all components requiring cooling reside on the board’s bottom side, where they have direct thermal contact to a specially designed heat spreader. This also serves as a mechanically stable mounting platform preventing torsion and providing mechanical strength when mounting or removing extension boards on the top side. Extension boards in PC/104-Express as well as EPIC-Express formats can be mounted without obstruction on the top side. The heat spreader also provides the mounting holes required by heat pipes. This enables the fast and easy integration of customized heat pipe solutions. 

This design of the Hurricane-QM57 became possible through the use of a compatible, but higher, PCI Express connector to gain the height (22 mm) required for the Ethernet and serial interface connectors. PCI Express boards from other vendors with connectors of 15.24 mm height can be used without modification. Pin assignments are unchanged from the standard. Using the EPIC-Express form factor has several advantages for the user. It is an Industry standard by the PC/104 Industry Consortium and offers easy functional extension using PC/104 and PC/104-Express peripheral boards. It is a compact and rugged format (165 mm by 115 mm) with all connectors for external peripherals on one board edge. No cable sets are required. In additions, it accepts plug-on extension boards in EPIC-Express format with more room for special functions.

First introduced with Intel Atom designs, Lipppert Enhanced Management Technology (LEMT) provides additional valuable features for condition monitoring, such as:

  •  Operation hours counter (in minutes) 


  •  On-time counter since last power on in seconds

  •  Power cycle counter

  •  Reason for system restart (normal shut-down, watchdog, power loss, system crash)

  •  Long-term watchdog

  •  1024 bytes flash memory for customer’s information

  •  128-bit encryption key (write once, read many)

  •  Board identity (Vendor ID, board ID, serial number)

  •  Storing lowest, highest and current environmental temperatures


Lippert offers software APIs for the LEMT functions for various operating systems.

Two peripheral EPIC-Express extension boards for the Hurricane-QM57 have already been designed. One board features 8 serial COM ports with up to 1000V potential separation between the individual ports and the base board interface. Four COM ports interface to DSUB9 connectors; the other 4 require flat foil cables with DSUB9 connectors. All COM ports support software-configurable signal levels for RS-232C, RS-422 or RS-485 protocols. The other board provides eight Gigabit Ethernet channels with an individual MAC-ID on each channel. Many security applications require such configurations.

LiPPERT Embedded Computers, Mannheim, Germany. 

+49 (0) 621 43214 12. [].