Kontron's KTT30 mini-ITX design is clever and feature-packed, but with no news on pricing it's too early to get excited.
The single-board computer market is set to get increasingly crowded as embedded computing specialist Kontron prepares to launch a mini-ITX motherboard packing Nvidia's latest Tegra 3 system-on-chip (SoC) processor.
Joining the incredibly popular Raspberry Pi
- which is being produced at the rate of 4,000 units a day yet still has an 11-week lead time on new orders - the Kontron KTT30 is the company's first design to be based around a mini-ITX form factor. Although this makes it significantly larger than the Pi at 170mm x 170mm, it also means the system is easy to integrate into existing mini-ITX cases.
Kontron's focus on PC builders is clear just by looking at the KTT30's expansion capabilities. The board includes up to 2GB of DDR3L memory, a mini-PCIe slot, a combined mini-PCIe and mSATA slot, and support for a 3G modem with onboard SIM socket. Storage is provided either through the mSATA connector or via two full-size SD card slots, while three USB 2.0 ports - two full-size, one micro - provide host and device connectivity for peripherals. The network connectivity, too, gets a significant boost, with a single port providing gigabit Ethernet.
To take full advantage of the quad-core Tegra 3 chip's multimedia capabilities, the KTT30 supports 1920x1080 output through an HDMI 1.4a port or 2048x1563 through the 24-bit LVDS connector. Like the Pi, a DSI connector is also included with support for displays of up to 1440x900 - and all three video outputs can be used simultaneously and independently. Audio is provided via analogue input, output and microphone connections, as is S/PDIF digital audio both in and out.
Sadly, not everything about the KTT30 is quite so impressive. The Tegra 3 chip is clocked down to 900MHz to hit the target full-board power consumption of under 7W at load, while the system also lacks the general-purpose input/output (GPIO) port of the Pi - although two RS232 serial ports are included. Kontron has also yet to indicate pricing, although with the added complexity of the board and the far more powerful - if underclocked - Tegra 3 processor, expect it to cost several times more than the rival Pi.
Kontron's latest SBC device is entering a new yet rapidly growing market for hobbyist boards: VIA's rival APC 8750
boasts a similar neo-ITX mounting system, while the Hardkernel ODROID-X
packs a faster 1.4GHz quad-core SoC processor.
Thus far, however, no devices have come close to rivalling the Raspberry Pi's low retail price - and with both RS Electronics and Farnell now taking orders for multiple boards from both individuals and businesses, its popularity is likely to skyrocket in coming weeks.