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Processor Architectures: Kontron Embraces ARM to Extend Product Range

On September 8,  global embedded solutions provider Kontron announced it is adding ARM architecture-based products to its portfolio which it believes will enable a new breed of embedded scalable products for application-ready platforms, especially those requiring low-power consumption.

The first products planned for release in 2011 are expected to be in the module and board form factors. Under development at Kontron is a new module format, optimized for use with ARM System-On-Chip (SOC) processor types. The modules will enable ARM processors, single, dual and quad core, to be used in many vertical market applications.  Following the initial module release, Kontron then plans to expand its SBC family, as well as tablet and box PCs and HMIs. All Kontron ARM-based products are expected to be available as standard solutions or as customer-specific designs require.

To help ensure improved time-to-market, Kontron is also designing and building its ARM-based products to work with the most relevant operating systems. In addition to Windows CE 6/7, Linux operating systems such as QNX, Green Hills and VxWorks (including Hypervisor) will also be supported to focus on high reliability and real-time computing. In addition, Kontron’s ARM products are expected to be aligned with the introduction of Windows 8. 

Microsoft is expected to showcase Windows 8 for the first time at next week's BUILD Conference (September 13 -September 16 in Anaheim, California).  Windows 8 is also widely considered to be the software firm's most significant play within the tablet market, directly competing against formidable competitors such as Apple’s iPad.

In terms of product general availability, the first Kontron ARM-based module early field testing platforms will be available before the end of 2011, with SBCs, tablet computers, box PCs and HIMs following in 2012.  With this generalized roadmap, VDC sees Kontron's decision to extend into new embedded product families based on the ARM architecture as being highly complementary to its existing RISC-based product portfolio. 

With this strategic business and technology decision, the clear operational advantages now emerging for Kontron are found in its capacity to offer a wider array of solutions to support its customer's unique design needs, especially as power management and performance per watt requirements vary and weigh heavily on designers and developers. While certainly a competitive advantage, the long-term challenge for Kontron will be in servicing and supporting a wider range of products.

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