We spent some time awhile ago looking into a possible 'off the shelf' application of an Intel Mini-ITX solution for aftermarket integration into an Australian local automotive colour display system with touch-screen overlay. The colour display in question has an RGB input requiring NTSC signalling - 15.7kHz vertical refresh rate, roughly 640x400 resolution, horizontally interlaced - you can almost call it CGA signalling if you like.
Using an Intel 945GC mainboard at the time we trialled IEGD and found that IEGD did not support the 945GC chipset completely - probably because the 945GC was not targetted as an embedded chipset - something we didn't understand at the time. We were able to verify the creation of an IEGD driver that produced the correct output so it was enough to develop a working prototype, and we were positively encouraged to continue. But further into R&D we found that the 945GC did not support dual concurrent video outputs (Main custom CGA-style display was for the vehicle integrated display, 2nd display was for headrest LCD panels), and at that point the solution failed the initial critera, and since we'd hit too many issues, further R&D stopped.
With this new Embedded Development Kit with dual independent display capability, we've been asked to take a second stab at this. But we can see already that neither IEGD or EGMD support the N2000/D2000 systems.
So a few questions:
(1) We're new to a lot of this, so we don't quite know if we should be asking this question - but will IEGD or EGMD be targetted to support the N2000/D2000 systems in the future? If so is there a roadmap timeline? Or do we need to look elsewhere for customizations of this nature?
(2) If we look into the D2700/N2800 Development Kit, would it be a system fully supported by IEGD/EGMD - or will we be caught out as before with the 945GC not being supported?
(3) What is the mainboard used in the Embedded Development kit? If our R&D outcome is positive, is this board available from standard resellers? The D2700 board in the development kit manual is clearly not the D2700DC or D2700MUD that I can see easily available at places like mini-itx.com.
(4) One of the items that we wanted to test was setting the Bios startup mode to the right resolution with the IEGD utilities so that we had the right modes during boot as well - something we just could not do due to the 945GC. Is this something we might be likely to do with IEGD/EMGD if it released with N2000/D2000 support? Or do we need to move to the BIOS Development systems I see promoted elsewhere in the Embedded Community site?
I know that the Development Kit is shipped with Linux support, but we'll be prototyping on either Windows 7 embedded, with a view to moving to Windows 8, so research using the Win8 Customer Preview build would also be an objective.
Cedar Trail is planned to be a supported Embedded Platform. I believe the announcement has been made, but I am not sure about the launch- I know the drivers are still being worked on. The dual launch (once from the netbook guys, then from embedded) is a bit confusing.
The plans are to have a full EMGD embedded focused driver for WEC7 and XP, and adopt the GMA driver with added embedded features for Win 7 and Linux. I am not aware of plans to do Win 8 from the embedded side but that could change.
The "RGB" display is a bit concerning from the Win 7 perspective. Typically all full Windows platforms have a minimum resolution of 800 x 600 which is violated by the 640 x 400 display. Your display is also below the "fall-back" minimum resolution of 640 x 480 so you may experience an inability to access some windows controls (i.e. "cancel" or "OK" buttons). You are also below the minimum validated resolution that we guarantee
I am a bit unclear on how one might connect an "RGB" display to a Cedar Trail as there is no "TV OUT" that would be the most obvious interface to use but I am not very familiar with the display you are mentioning- is there a pointer to a spec sheet online someplace? . Does the panel connect to the VGA port, then you just need to run at 640 x 400 from there? If so, that might work but we do get into other problems such as BIOS wanting to use 640 x 480 and/or 700 x 400 (magic mode) for BIOS dispaly and setup. That will require a custom BIOS to avoid those issue. You will also need to make the BIOS set your custom mode at boot to at least see DOS or pre-boot prompts. Next we run into a problem with the Win7 startup as again it assumes a minimum capability of at least 640 x 480 being supported and 800 x 600 even better. It is likely you will not be able to see Win7 start up - that may be a blind start up.
Once you get into Win7 GUI, there are ways to get it to run at the lower resolutions but then we do run into the whole controls off the bottom of the screen problem,
Have you done the calculation on the video timing to make sure the 640 x 400 at 15.7KHz can be handled with a dot clock within spec? I believe again 640 x 480 at 15.7KHz is as low as the dot clock can go although with padded blanking, you might be able to squeak into the validated range.
For the timeline, you will need to contact your Intel field rep and get access to the NDA versions of the embedded roadmaps. Cedar Trail is definitely on there and supported by embedded. The Dev Kits use the Marshall Town (MT) board, but we would recommend using the Mount Union board (MUD) so that would be the D2700MUD board however since we are replacing the D2700 with the D2550 it will likely be the D2550MUD board. These are being shipped as Intel labeled motherboards and there are other providers as well (check out Habey Inc. as I know they have one).
Getting the BIOS started up in the "right: mode will require a customized system BIOS so you will probably need to work with AMI or Phoenix Technologies to change their setup and startup screens to the lower resolution.
Hope this helps.
Looking at my past notes I can see that the 640x480x30i @15.7Khz mode did work for us, although it slightly overscanned, so that's still possible. With the off-the-shelf hardware we'd hoped to build a solution focussed on touch screen user operation, with something like Centrafuse, which I've seen work on 640x480 on earlier versions, but I'll have to check that it works in more current versions. Our interest in Windows 8 was only to explore the touch-screen element. So in general operation, limited on-screen access to OS dialog buttons is an acceptable risk.
The RGB output from the VGA port is the goal, yes. This is what we have had working before. With the right timing on the RGB pins via the IEGD settings, the only extra thing we have to do is combine the VGA Hsync and Vsync signals into a common Csync line, and we have a working system. We're aware of VGA to RGB post-processing conversion boxes, but this presents an additional cost to the solution that we're trying to avoid.
My comment regarding BIOS setup was from IEGD documentation and the VBIOS settings. As we understood it, there was provision to use vga/vesa modes or create custom video modes in the hopes of seeing the POST or do a Custom splash screen in the mode we wanted. This was specifically one of the elements we could not test with IEGD and the 945GC, but we were hoping to give it a good go.
Do you have any references that the 2700/2550MUD boards will be supported by EMGD? I'd like to avoid a repeat of our 945GC experience, but then doing the R&D on the MT board to find they can't be sourced from anyone is also pointless. I take it that you are not from Intel Kirk, if you are recommending me away from the Embedded Development Kit....;-)
Regarding the sourcing of off-the-shelf boards, please check out the Intel Intelligent Systems Alliance, which is Intel's embedded ecosystem. The link below will take you to a search form where you can filter by processor type, form factor and other criteria.
I hope this helps.
J. Felix McNulty
Community Moderator (Intel contractor)
Would I be correct in saying that that site shows mostly 3rd party vendors? I couldn't find any Intel hardware solutions there.
Looking around, the Extended Life Intel 2500CCE Mainboard looks to be the most attractive option, since they will be around for the next 3 years, and it has the features we are after.
So will this 2500CCE be supported by the upcoming EGMD? Or do I stand a chance of it not being supported - like the 945GC. (It was a 945GCLF/2 by the way. And yes, OK, I'll stop harping on about it!)
The graphics driver supports a particular graphics engine in the chipset/processor, NOT a specific board. D2xxx and N2xxx are both supported on the embedded roadmap and the specifics of the processor versions can be seen on that roadmap. For example, the D2700 was recently replaced on the roadmap with a new D2550 chip and that support is being comprehended by the driver release. SO, if you ues a processor on the embedded roadmap, it WILL be supported by the embedded drivers such as EMGD, or embedded supported GMA drivers as may be the case with the Cedar Trail product familly.
You should be able to see that roadmap on the processor roadmaps here on EDC, or at worst case, you can work with your Intel Field Representative to get the latest roadmap.
The 945GC was NEVER on the embedded processor roadmap, so that explains your difficulties with that particular part. In this case D/N2xxx are on the roadmap!! I am the assigned PAE for Cedar Trail graphics drivers so I am fairly confident in this information. Otherwise all the support processes, documentation, planning, etc I am doing is being wasted!
Hope that helps.
Brilliant! Thank you Felix.
I feel confident enough now that we have a positive chance of success this time around, you guys have been a fantastic help. Thankyou.