Intel Atom System-on-Chip: Big Performance in a Small Package



Figure 1: NI CompactRIO and NI CompactDAQ controllers implement Intel Atom System-on-Chip to maximize controller performance while minimizing size and power dissipation.

The new NI CompactRIO and NI CompactDAQ controllers use the latest technology, such as the Intel Atom processor, to deliver high performance in a rugged, embedded form factor. NI and Intel have a long history of bringing powerful processing performance to embedded measurement and control customers. For example, NI uses the powerful 64-bit Intel Atom E3825 and E3845 System-on-Chip (SoC) to deliver advanced features such as multicore technology, out of order execution, and an integrated GPU for built-in display capability, all in a compact, rugged, and fanless enclosure. Please update the first sentence in the second paragraph of the Silvermont Microarchitecture for Advanced Processing Performance section to: NI chose this architecture, its first use of an Intel SoC, because it provides incredible system performance with low power consumption in a compact board design.

  Intel Atom E3825 ProcessorIntel Atom E3845 Processor
Core Speed1.33 GHz1.91 GHz
L2 Cache1 MB2 MB
Graphics Frequency533 MHz542 MHz
Memory64-bit DDR3L-106664-bit DDR3L-1333
Memory Density1 GB or 2 GB2 GB


Silvermont Microarchitecture for Advanced Processing Performance

These processors are based on the Intel Silvermont microarchitecture, which uses Intel’s industry-leading 22 nm process technology. This new microarchitecture delivers significant improvements in performance and energy efficiency over previous low-power microarchitectures for Intel Atom™ processor families. It includes a new out-of-order execution engine for superior single-threaded performance and outstanding power management capabilities.

NI chose this architecture, its first use of an Intel SoC, as the foundation for the next generation of CompactRIO and NI CompactDAQ because it provides incredible system performance with low power consumption in a compact board design. This choice resulted in small and rugged CompactRIO and NI CompactDAQ controllers that have more than four times the performance of the previous generation of controllers, but can still be deployed in harsh environments.


More Peripherals for More Flexible Systems

The E3800 series supports an array of peripheral connections including a display interface with built-in graphics processing unit (GPU), multiple storage types including SATA, and expansion capabilities through industry-standard high-bandwidth interfaces such as PCI Express, Hi-Speed USB 2.0, and 16 DMA channels. When combined with the Intel i210 Ethernet controller, this processor can deliver incredible Ethernet streaming rates reaching close to the theoretical maximum rate for Gigabit Ethernet, while minimally impacting processor utilization.

The Intel Atom SoC helps CompactRIO and NI CompactDAQ controllers make a significant leap in processing performance by powering faster control loop rates and more complex processing algorithms. It also supports a variety of industry standard peripherals and makes the CompactRIO and NI CompactDAQ controllers unrivaled in their ability to simplify your systems by consolidating components into a single hardware device.

Take advantage of the high bandwidth USB connections and larger number of DMA channels to stream measurement and control data faster then ever before and stream that data directly to removable SD storage cards. Saturate the dual Gigabit Ethernet connections and stream data across the network to build the highest performance distributed data logging, control, and monitoring systems ever. Connect a touch monitor to the built-in display and USB ports to integrate your human machine interface (HMI) directly into your data logging, control, or monitoring system.


Low Power, Small Size, High Performance

The Intel Atom processor E3800 product family is the first single-chip family designed for data logging, monitoring, and control systems that delivers a winning mix of capabilities, including excellent processing and graphics, an integrated memory controller, high throughput, and low-power peripherals that can operate at an extended temperature range. Most notably of all, this unique set of features is delivered in just a single 6-watt SoC package.

With so many impressive capabilities and industry-leading performance packed in such a low-power SoC, NI was able to design the CompactRIO and NI CompactDAQ controllers to be compact and fanless, and still provide the wide -40 to 70 °C operating temperature range required for the most rugged environments. NI also implemented a compact and efficient core onboard power supply for the Intel Atom SoC that further reduces system power consumption and size making these controllers ideal for a wide range of data logging, measurement, and control applications.


Conclusion and Next Steps

By making use of the latest Intel Atom SoC devices, NI can bring high-performance control and measurements platforms to harsh industrial and field environments.