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Advantech-DLoG MTC6

Ultra-rugged Intel Atom-based Vehicle Mount Terminal
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

The Advantech DLoG MTC6 is an ultra-rugged Intel Atom Z510-powered vehicle mount terminal designed for logistics applications in distribution centers, port yard container cranes, warehouses, mining vehicles, forklifts, and even in deep-freeze areas. The emphasis here is on simplicity, ruggedness and high performance wireless via DLoG's signature "Red Cap" spatially diversified WLAN antenna that ascertains safe and reliable data connections even in difficult environments and demanding roaming situations.

A closer look at the Advantech DLoG MTC6

RuggedPCReview.com had a chance to take a closer look at the 10.4-inch version of the MTC6 (there is a larger 12.1-inch version available as well) and also take a peek inside. From a design point of view, the MPC6 is self-contained vehicle-mount industrial PC. As such, it can be mounted inside a variety of vehicles with flexible mounting hardware as opposed to being flush-mounted into stationary panels.

The 10.4-inch display in our review MTC6 offered 800 x 600 pixel SVGA resolution with standard 4:3 aspect ratio, has a resistive touch panel, and measures a compact 11.2 x 9.0 x 3.1 inches. Despite its ultra-rugged aluminum construction, the MTC6 weighs just 6.6 pounds.

In terms of technology and electronics, the MTC6 is designed to perform touch-based operations and applications reliably and consistently. That task is assigned to a 1.1GHz Intel Atom Z510 processor, a gig of RAM, and a base configuration of 2GB of CFast card-based storage. Storage configurations will depend on the chosen operating system platform. The MTC6 can run Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Embedded, and Windows Embedded Standard 7. Our tester had XP Embedded installed on a 4GB industrial CFast card. The MTC6 needs no fan and the unit operates silently and without heating up at all.

The tough and rugged mechanical enclosure has the cut-outs, indents and screwholes required for mounting in numerous ways, including special brackets or flexible mounting solutions from RAM-Mounts. The picture to the right shows the MTC6 from the side using the unique RAM-Mount mounting hardware with its virtually limitless catalog of mounting options.

Note that the MTC6 originates from the DLoG side of Advantech. DLoG of Germany was acquired by Advantech in March 2010. DLoG has been around since 1985 as a specialist in industrial applications and in-vehicle computing in an extremely demanding environment. We have reviewed DLoG products in the past and came away impressed.

Unlike most consumer notebooks and tablets, the MTC6 is easy to service, with all of its components easily accessible. The design is heavily modularized, with a small and very compact system board at the center and a variety of subsidiary boards handling additional functionality—very much an embedded systems approach. Below you can see what the MTC6 looks like inside.

The overall design of the MTC6 is as neat and clean as can be. It is a clamshell with the front part consisting of a solid 4mm aluminum plate with the display mounted on it, and a very thick and sturdy aluminum backside housing. Sealing between the two halves, which are secured together with six hefty Torx screws, is with an O-ring style pressure seal.

The motherboard is a very compact affair measuring roughly 4.75 x 4.75 inches. On the right you can see the 4GB industrial CFast CF card, and next to it the unit's mini-PCIe WiFi card.

The 10.4-inch SVGA display is an AU Optronics G104SN02 with 160/140 degree viewing angles and a stated brightness of 400 nits. It has an LED backlight and is very securely mounted inside its own protective steel case.

All connectors and controls are concentrated in a single recessed downward-facing I/O block. You get two USB ports, a DB9 serial port, a VGA video port, two RJ34 LAN jacks, the power switch, and the power plug (see image to the right, with the I/O compartment's protective cover removed).

Targeted Intel Atom performance

Compared to consumer notebooks and tablets, the processor choice in embedded and industrial systems is driven by very different criteria. Such systems are usually optimized for specific tasks as opposed to providing a powerful hardware platform to run whatever software consumers desire as fast as possible. Instead, economical operation, reliability, simplicity, ruggedness and durability matter. As a result, while consumer and general purpose notebooks now come with super-fast quad core processors and approaching terabyte storage capacity, the task-oriented MTC6 makes do with much more modest, but industrial grade, hardware.

The unit's single-core and exceedingly thrifty 1.1GHz Atom Z510 processor draws barely more than four watts, and that includes its companion chipset. Power draw, of course, hardly matters since the MTC6 will always be plugged into vehicle or other external power (there is no internal battery). With such a small power draw, there is no need for a fan as the unit's heavy metal housing serves as a very effective heat sink and can easily absorb whatever heat is generated.

Running performance benchmarks on a device like the UTC6 is hardly necessary; they are simply designed to be fast enough for the job. But just to get an idea of where a device like this fits in, we ran two separate sets of performance benchmarks (Passmark and CrystalMark) anyway, and compared the results with those of a variety of other Advantech boards and systems we had benchmarked earlier. The results are as follows:

PERFORMANCE COMPARISON PASSMARK MTC6 UTC-520 PIT-1501W PPC-157T ARK-3399 ARK-DS303 SOM-6760
Intel Processor Atom Z510 Atom D510 Atom Z530 Core 2 Duo T7400 Core Duo L2400 Atom N270 Atom Z530
Product type Touch terminal Touch terminal Touch terminal Panel PC Industrial PC Digital Signage COM-Micro
Clock speed 1.10GHz 1.66GHz 1.6GHz 2.16GHz 1.4GHz0 1.6GHz 1.6GHz
Thermal Design Power (TDP) 2.0 watts 13.0 watts 2.3 watts 34.0 watts 15.0 watts 2.5 watts 2.3 watts
CPU Mark 101.3 512.9 244.4 1292.1 847.5 252.6 315.6
2D Graphics Mark 97.7 173.8 108.3 285.8 145.0 158.7 207.2
Memory Mark 111.5 245.2 215.3 552.3 264.9 227.7 191.6
Disk Mark 40.9 431.3 162.1 459.6 10.1 459.4 70.7
3D Graphics Mark 36.8 12.4 18.3 37.8 29.5 77.3 19.6
Overall PassMark 73.7 294.7 154.5 584.7 302.4 232.6 137.3

PERFORMANCE COMPARISON
CRYSTALMARK 2004R3
MTC6 UTC-520 PIT-1501W PPC-157T ARK-3399 ARK-DS303 SOM-6761
ALU 2190 11309 5323 19311 12971 5409 5376
FPU 2100 9347 4678 22560 15353 4671 4667
MEM 1360 7778 3853 10867 6407 4223 3667
HDD 10363 7087 5058 8231 3631 8221 2702
GDI 1298 2270 2321 4679 2403 2158 2427
D2D 891 3693 859 3015 2444 2230 1009
OGL 201 711 317 2272 825 684 505
Overall CrystalMark 18403 42195 22409 70935 44034 27596 20353

The scores are are really only of academic value. The Z510 produces the expected modest numbers, but it's enough for the job, just as the modest performance of the Intel Atom N270 and its successors (used in tens of millions of netbooks) or the Atom Z530 (quite popular in embedded and industrial systems) was enough for the intended job.

Note that benchmarks are notoriously confusing when used to compare different processor platforms and operating systems. However, in our experience, the overall bottomline is usually a good predictor of real world performance, and using the MTC6 once again reminded how much less power an embedded OS needs to feel quick than a full-function OS: the Z510-powered Advantech DLoG MTC6 feels quick and responsive and should have no problems handling the touch-based logistics, communications, operations, and terminal functions it is designed for.

The display

In vehicle use with its widely varying lighting conditions, display quality is very important, and the Advantech MTC6's 10.4-inch LCD is up to the task. Its strong 400 nits LED backlight (your average notebook computer has about 200 nits) makes the display crisp and bright. The wide 160 degree horizontal viewing angle means you can look at the screen from extreme angles and still see it clearly. The vertical viewing angle is also very wide (140 degrees), but there are some color shifts when you look at the screen from extreme vertical angles. Since most MTC6 panels will likely be mounted in a position conducive for easy viewing in vehicles, the vertical color shift does not impact performance.

The LCD is recessed behind a very tough protective front cover that extends flush across the entire surface. There is a black bezel around the LCD. The bezel is matte but the display surface is somewhat glossy, which can result in reflections. It is some, but not very, prone to finger prints. Overall, though, this is an excellent display. And it is break-proof, too, having been tested to survive a 500 gram steel ball dropping onto it from a height of more than a meter, a test that would shatter most displays, even industrial ones.

Ruggedness

The MTC6 is designed for use in extremely demanding applications, but here, too, Advantech DLoG concentrated on ruggedness where it matters. As a vehicle-mount computer, the MTC6 won't be dropped while it is being carried around, so drop resistance doesn't matter. What does matter, though, are shock, vibration and temperature resistance and the ability to handle dust and liquids.

As a result, the MTC6 is designed to handle a very wide operating temperature range of -22 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, making it suitable for deployment virtually anywhere, including commercial warehouse freezing rooms. According to DLoG, the EN60721-3-5 class 5M3 standard certification means the MT6 can withstand three times the shock and vibration of most military MIL-810F grade computing devices. And IP67 sealing means that the MTC6 is completely dustproof and can even handle limited immersion. In fact, DLoG says the device has been tested completely submersed in water.

Utilities

Most Advantch DLoG products come with value-added software utilities that help monitoring, configuring and securing the device, and the MTC6 is no different. Here are some of the utilities included:

The DLoG Config Tool is a password-protected summary utility for system administrators that greatly simplifies configuration and fine-tuning of the MTC6, or customizing the device for certain applications.

  • Hardware monitor: Shows basic system information and certain current data (such as inside temperature.

  • Environment:: Shows a variety of system statistics, such as total uptime, number of power-ons, counter data, number of error events, etc.

  • Automatic Switchoff: Allows configuration and settings for automatic switchoffs, and how the system interacts with vehicle ignition.

  • Front Panel: This is where the MTC6's eight front panel key functions are configured. Each key function can be set to execute a program, with parameters, or trigger another function or task.

  • System Settings: This is where a variety of system configurations can be set or fine-tuned, such as logons, locks, auto-logons, etc.

  • Network: Shows network settings and provides access to Windows network system settings.

  • Network Startup: Here administrators can determine what applications and functions should be performed once a successful network connection has been established.

  • WLAN: Allows more detailed settings and configuration of the WWLAN status dialog.

  • Software activation: This is where software activation keys of license files are entered upon loading of new software or utilities.

  • Enhanced Write Filter: The Enhanced Write Filter allows the protection of the system from unwanted modifications by setting write protections.

  • File-based Write Filter: The File-based Write Filter can be configured to prevent unwanted changes on files and partitions.

The Summit Client Utility allows system administrators a high degree of access and configuration of the device's WiFi, including profile settings and management, status lookup, diagnostics, and global variable lookups.

The Hampshire TSHARC Control Panel is used to configure and customize the touch screen. The following functions are available:

  • Screen Selection: Used to select the desired monitor in multi-screen systems.

  • Calibration:: Performs a simple 4-point calibration of the touch screen.

  • Click Settings: Allows configuration and settings for right clicks (enabling, area, delay) and double clicks (are and speed).

  • Touch Settings: In certain environments touch sounds are desirable, in others they are not. This is where the sounds are set or disabled.

  • Capacitive: Not sure why this function is here as the MCT6 does not appear to offer a capacitive option.

The Advantech DLoG MTC6

The 6.5-pound, Intel Atom-powered Advantech DLoG MTC6 has a very clear purpose, and that is to bring computing power, data collection capabilities, and communication into a variety of industrial vehicles, such as forklifts, trucks, cranes, etc. It is a simple and virtually indestructible all-aluminum device that's easy to operate via touch screen and programmable buttons. It's a sealed, fanless design that is tough enough to handle plenty of abuse. The MTC6 comes in two screen sizes (10.4 and 12.1 inches), can run a variety of standard and embedded operating systems on lean hardware, can be mounted in numerous ways, and offers a wealth of communications and data capture options including VoIP, scanning and RFID.

Advantech MTC6 Vehicle Mount Terminal Specs:

Added December 2011
Type Vehicle Mount Terminal
CPU Type Intel Atom Z510
Clock Speed 1.10GHz
Chipset Intel System Controller Hub US15W
BIOS NA
OS Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Embedded, Windows Embedded Standard 7
Memory 1GB
Graphics Controller Intel
VRAM NA
Expansion slots 1 CFast Card, 1 mini-PCIe
Display 10.4-inch TFT LCD with LED backlight, 160/140 degree viewing angle, 400 nits (MTC 6/12 model has 12.1-inch display)
Resolution SVGA 800 x 600 pixel (MTC 6/12 model has XGA 1024 x 768 pixel)
Digitizer Resistive touch screen
LAN 1 x 10/100/1000Base-T
Disk 4GB CF Card Flash
USB 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x service USB
Serial 1 x RS232 (optionally 5 Volt)
Size 11.2 x 9.0 x 3.1 inches
Weight 6.6 lbs.
Operating Temp. -22° to 122° Fahrenheit (-30° to 50° Celsius)
Vibration Class 5M3 according to DIN EN 60721-3-5 and MIL-STD-810F (US Highway Truck)
Humidity 10-90% non-condensing
Sealing IP67
Price inquire
Datasheet Advantech DLoG MTC 6 data sheet
Datasheet Advantech DLoG MTC 6 dproduct page

Advantech Corporation
38 Tesla, Suite 100
Irvine, CA 92618
Toll Free: 1-800-866-6008
Ph: 949-789-7178
Fax: 949-789-7179
ECGInfo@advantech.com
www.advantech.com

Advantech Co. Ltd.
No.1, Alley 20, Lane 26, Rueiguang Road
Neihu District, Taipei Taiwan 114, R.O.C.
Tel: 886-2-2792-7818
Fax: 886-2-2794-7301
www.advantech.com