Motherboard: Kontron KT690/mITX
This is an interesting motherboard, because the brand is not very well known among enthusiasts and end users, and also because it is a highly integrated piece of technology that is geared for small-form-factor, low-power, high-performance PCs.
On the Kontron Website you’ll find the product when you look for embedded motherboards in MiniITX format. The KT690/mITX is based on AMD’s M690T chipset and the SB600 Southbridge. They are not high-performance components, but offer all features for a full-blown PC, and they’re optimized for mobile use; hence they are power efficient. The offering includes an ATI Radeon X1250 graphics controller with both a D-SUB and a DVI display output and even an x8 PCI Express slot, which you can either use for a graphics card or any other add-on card such as a storage controller. An S-video output can be added as an option and we found a 32-bit PCI slot for legacy components.
As we found out in our PCI Express Scaling Analysis, the x8 bandwidth still is good enough to run our benchmarks, although x16 would have provided slightly better results.
We liked the fact that this board is based on a conventional AMD socket S1 for mobile processors, which is why we could run the Turion 64 X2 family. Memory is added via two 200-pin DDR2 SO-DIMM sockets, which will accept modules at up to 8 GB capacity according to the data sheet. Regardless of the small MiniITX dimensions (17x17 cm or 6.67’), Kontron accommodated six USB 2.0 ports in the backplane and four more on the motherboard. The back panel comes with PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, a simple HD audio sound system and two Gigabit Ethernet ports, which are based on Realtek RTL8111B controllers.
Four SATA/300 ports and an UltraATA/133 channel are more than enough to hook up storage devices. Since this motherboard was designed for industrial markets (Kontron emphasized long-term availability), it also comes with a CompactFlash connector. This allows users to run the operating system off a CompactFlash memory card. Looking at CompactFlash prices, a 4-GB card will be sufficient to hold a Linux distro and is amazingly affordable.
The little board even comes with a TPM unit (Trusted Platform Module), GPIO and hardware monitoring and two serial ports. The only features missing are overclocking options, which are, of course, almost always unnecessary for industrial applications.
Kontron utilizes the SB600 Southbridge, which provides a basic set of interfaces.