PICMG Ratifies ModBlox7 for Harsh Environments

By Chad Cox

Production Editor

Embedded Computing Design

February 21, 2024


PICMG Ratifies ModBlox7 for Harsh Environments
Image Credit: PICMG

Wakefield, Massachusetts. PICMG ratified the ModBlox7 base specification, a groundbreaking solution focused on the industrial demand for modular and interoperable embedded box PCs by setting parameters for a flexible mechanical architecture and compatible modules contained in a 1.4-inch horizontal pitch (7 HP) chassis. Mounting options for up to 12 of the 7 HP units include interconnection on walls, DIN rails, or insertion into a 19” sub-rack.

“With ModBlox7, we combine the advantages of modular standards like CompactPCI and CompactPCI Serial with the demands we see from box PC customers like cost sensitivity, small form factor, and low weight,” explains Mathias Beer, CEO of Ci4Rail GmbH and member of the PICMG ModBlox7 working group. “By combining all of this in a PICMG specification, ModBlox7 addresses the design requirements of our clients and avoids vendor lock in.”

A standard ModBlox7 system comprises of Power Units, Processing Units, and PCIe or USB 2.0/3.0 Input and Output Units (IOUs), each with a width of 1.4” or 7 HP. These units can be extended in increments of 7HP to 14 HP, 21 HP, and so on, while still meeting the spec.

The Power Unit blocks convert the external supply voltage into a 12V internal voltage and then link with Processing Units through terminal wire-to-board or board-to-board connectors. Processing Units can handle an overall thermal design power (TDP) of up to 150W and communicate with IOUs via high-speed board-to-board connectors.

ModBlox7 systems can handle up to four PCI Express-based or eight USB-based IOUs, offering versatility. For safety critical applications configurations with redundant Processing Units or Power Units is possible. The maximum number of slots supported in any ModBlox7 is 12.

“The ModBlox7 standard defines a direct board-to-board interconnect in a box format to realize cost-effective system solutions,” says Bernd Kleeberg, CEO and Head of Sales at EKF Elektronik GmbH and chair of the PICMG ModBlox7 working group. “Thanks to native support for redundancy, ModBlox7 is also recommended for high-availability solutions.”

Ideal Applications:

  • Edge Computing
  • Data Acquisition
  • Communication
  • Control Use Cases (transportation, automation, avionics, defense, medical, agriculture)

For more information, visit picmg.org/product/modblox7.

Editors Note: Members of the PICMG ModBlox7 subcommittee include Ci4Rail GmbH, EKF Elektronik GmbH, ELTEC Elektronik AG, Elma Electronic, Embeck Co., Ltd., ept GmbH, HEITEC AG, Hirose Electric Europe B.V., nVent/Schroff GmbH, Phoenix Contact GmbH & Co. KG, Samtec, Inc., Sealevel Systems, Inc., UBER Co. Ltd., FASTWEL Group Co. Ltd, and Tews Technologies GmbH.

Chad Cox. Production Editor, Embedded Computing Design, has responsibilities that include handling the news cycle, newsletters, social media, and advertising. Chad graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a B.A. in Cultural and Analytical Literature.

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