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The Raven Single Board Computer

What has more computing power than one of first computers, the ENIAC, and is 3.2 x 10-5 smaller? What comes in a very small 3 ½” x 3 ½” package, has the processing power of an Intel® Atom™ processor with security, an extended operating temperature of -40°C to 85°C and can accept an input voltage range from 8 to 30 VDC?

EAI Model TR-20 Desktop analog computer released in 1963

The Single Board Computer (SBC) Raven is from VersaLogic. The Raven is actually a family of three SBCs that come in Quad (E3845), Dual (E3827), and Single (E3815) core “Bay Trail” processors. Let’s take a closer look at VersaLogic and what makes their Raven boards so amazing.

Now most people don’t recognize the name of VersaLogic, so they assume that they are some new garage-based company. Yes, VersaLogic started in a garage, but that was about 40 years ago. They are an Oregon-based company that specializes in ruggedized SBCs with some serious computing power. Their boards are built for the long haul with long life spans which is very atypical in the SBC market. From their website: “We have a formal life cycle stewardship program to sustain product from cradle to grave and back up newly introduced products with a 5-year guarantee.”

Let’s look more closely at the Raven SBC family and what it can do. The heart and power of the Raven comes from Intel’s E3800 processor family. There are Quad, Dual, and Single core options for this family. Intel, the world’s leader in processors, has this on their website about the E3800 family: “The Intel® Atom™ processor E3800 product family is the first system-on-chip (SoC) designed for intelligent systems, delivering outstanding compute, graphical, and media performance while operating in an extended range of thermal conditions. These SoCs are based on the Silvermont microarchitecture, utilizing Intel’s industry-leading 22 nm process technology with 3-D tri-gate transistors, which deliver significant improvements in computational performance and energy efficiency.“

The Raven has a security system that is known as Trusted Platform Module (TPM). What does it do, and, frankly, why we should care? TPM is a type of security system that is required in many SBC applications today. Microsoft has a great explanation of what TPM is. “A TPM is a microchip designed to provide basic security-related functions, primarily involving encryption keys. The TPM is usually installed on the mother board of a computer or laptop, and communicates with the rest of the system using a hardware bus.” What does this mean for you and me? It means that the TPM will provide basic security-related functions which is essential for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). According to Steve Hanna at Infineon Technologies, “With the goal of enabling and accelerating the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has placed security high on its must-do list. The consortium’s September 2016 Industrial Internet Security Framework (IISF) provides a common security framework that addresses security issues in IIoT systems. Trusted Platform Module (TPM), is highlighted in that document as a key technology.

VersaLogic’s Raven EPU next to a ruler and U.S. coins for size comparison

The Raven boards come in a compact 3 ½” x 3 ½” (95 mm by 95 mm) package that has not one but two mini PCIe sockets. This allows a system that includes an mSATA drive for solid state program and data storage as well as adding a Wi-Fi module for communications (or a GPS module for location services). The ruggedized (MIL-STD-202G) board can support operating temperatures of -40°C to 85°C. The power input can support voltage ranges from 8 to 30 VDC. Why the need for such a wide input range? I really did not know, so I went back to VersaLogic to find out. Kerry Howell, a VersaLogic product manager, said:

The biggest issue that our customer support team gets calls about is power. That is why we went to the wide input voltage range (8 to 30 VDC) so that we can accommodate both fixed and mobile 12 and 24 volt systems. We also have protection from transient voltages that are often found in mobile power systems (vehicle).”

Check out the Product Training Module (PTM) on the Raven.

So if you are looking for a Single Board computer with big power and small size that is rugged and secure, look no further than the Raven. With three core options available and the widest input voltage range in the market, the Raven would be ideal for the Internet of Things as well as vertical markets of automation, transportation, defense, simulations and vision. Check out the Raven from VersaLogic today.

About this author

Image of Stephen Wegscheid Stephen Wegscheid, Senior Product Manager-Semiconductors at Digi-Key Electronics, specializes in analog/linear electronics, connectivity products, and single-board computers. He has a Master of Science degree from Bemidji State University and over 25 years of experience in design, manufacturing, and distribution. Additionally, he is the holder of a US patent.
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