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Input Devices Hardware

New I/O Standard Bids To Replace Mini PCI Express 31

DeviceGuru writes "LinuxDevices reports that a group of companies today unveiled — and demonstrated products based on — a tiny new PCI Express expansion standard. Although it's somewhat larger than the PCI Express Mini Card, the tiny new 43mm x 65mm FeaturePak card's high density 230-pin edgecard connector provides twice the number of PCI Express and USB 2.0 channels to the host computer, plus 100 lines dedicated to general purpose I/O, of which 34 signal pairs are implemented with enhanced isolation for use in applications such as gigabit Ethernet or high-precision analog I/O. While FeaturePaks will certainly be used in all sorts of embedded devices (medical instruments, test equipment, etc.), the tiny cards could also be used for developing configurable consumer devices, for example to add an embedded firewall/router or security processor to laptop or notebook computers, or for modular functionality in TV set-top-boxes and Internet edge devices." The president of Diamond Systems, which invented the new card, said "Following the FeaturePak initiative's initial launch, we intend to turn the FeaturePak specification, trademark, and logo over to a suitable standards organization so it can become an industry-wide, open-architecture, embedded standard" (but to use the logo you have to join the organization).
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New I/O Standard Bids To Replace Mini PCI Express

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  • Totally useless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultrapenguin ( 2643 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:09AM (#31326950)

    General consumers won't have any use for 100 gpio pins, the fragile 240-pin connector will not last on any kind of multiple-insertions application, and in general, is there even any demand for this kind of stuff? bringing more pci-e lanes = only useful for graphics, anyone who needs more than 1x out of a laptop will be buying a desktop instead.

  • MXM is the connector used for modern laptop video cards (essentially PCIe x16 + video/monitor out)

    Let's see: FeaturePak uses the same connector, FeaturePak uses PCIe, FeaturePak has a bunch of undefined IO pins. Sounds to me like MXM, except they replace the video-card-specific but mostly standardized video out signals with totally unspecified "put whatever you want here, including power" signals. Great.

    This doesn't look like it's aimed at laptops at all (unlike Mini PCI Express, which is the form factor used for small PCIe modules such as video capture cards and WiFi). This sounds like it's more suited to small form factor embedded platforms for industrial/medical/etc use.

  • It's not even a new connector. They use the MXM connector used for laptop video cards. Looks like they just replaced all of the video I/O pins with an incompatible free-for-all and made the card somewhat shorter.

  • by Tiersten ( 58773 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:23AM (#31327018)

    They're just saying it may potentially enter the consumer market just for something to say. The fact it has general purpose IO lines on it means it is aimed specifically at the embedded device market like SBCs.

    The connector is physically bigger than the equivalent one in a mini PCI Express system. Manufacturers aren't going to switch to this new interface if it means allocating more space inside their laptop/tablet/netbook. It doesn't add anything extra that would be useful in those situations.

  • by Enleth ( 947766 ) <enleth@enleth.com> on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:41AM (#31327098) Homepage

    Unless I'm reading wrong, this *is* PCI-Express all right, just a different physical interface with an additional (most likely optional) lane and some new, fancy I/O lines.

    But why USB 2.0? That would be a perfect place to include 3.0, wouldn't it?

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