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Logic Supply Cincoze Crystal 15

Modular design offers large number of possible industrial Panel PC configurations
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer; photography by Carol Cotton)

Logic Supply, is located in South Burlington, a small town in the northwestern part of Vermont. The company distributes a variety of rugged/embedded systems and components, and has started developing hardware itself under their own brand. They also have an uncanny knack for coming up with unique technology, eye-catching design, and innovative solutions that make a whole lot of sense. A few months ago we examined one of their embedded Box PCs which was not also impressive, but also bright orange. In this article we're taking a look at their Cincoze Crystal system of modular Panel PCs.

And what, exactly, is a modular Panel PC? Let's take a step back and consider the different types of computers people use. Although smartphones have all but replaced conventional PCs in many circles, there are still many hundreds of millions who need a computer for work. That used to be a tower and a separate display, a laptop, or an "all-in-one" where the computer is built into the display. But computers are not just for office workers. They are also used in factories, industries and all sorts of public places. ATMs are a prime examples, as are systems used to run and control machines, and also airline check-in terminals and information kiosks. Those are all Panel PCs, i.e. touch-screen computers that don't have a keyboard, and everything except for the display is behind the panel.

While most Panel PCs are conceptually the same, they come in a bewildering variety of sizes, capabilities, and performance. Panel PC displays may measure as little as 5 inches diagonally, or as much as a big flat screen TV, although most are within 8 and 20 inches. And while some do little more than display menu systems and thus don't need much computing power, others perform complex tasks requiring considerable processing power and advanced connectivity. It's easy to see that designing and stocking a large number of different Panel PCs for every conceivable need is complex and costly for manufacturers, and having a large number of different types and models of Panel PCs is expensive and hard to maintain for customers.

So why not split the Panel PC into display modules and computing modules that can then easily be combined to form exactly the right display with exactly the right amount of computing power, but without having to design and stock all the possible permutations?

And that's exactly what Logic Supply offers with the Cincoze Industrial Convertible Display System.

Convertible Display System

The three pictures below show the idea and implementation of the Cincoze Industrial Convertible Display System. There are display modules and system modules. The displays are implemented as slender, sturdy industrial screens with standardized screw hole patterns to accommodate various types of system modules. The system modules are designed as low-profile fanless industrial Box PCs and attach to the back of the display module via a special connector.

Logic Supply offers display modules in LCD sizes ranging from 8 to 19 inches diagonal, with either the traditional 4:3 or the wide 16:9 aspect ratio, and with single or multi-touch. System modules come with different performance, functionality, and connectivity.

The review sample Logic Supply sent us for testing and evaluation included their Cincoze CV-115C 15.6-inch 4:3 aspect ratio display with 1024 x 768 pixel resolution and projected capacitive touch, and the P1001 system module. I should mention here that while the entire variety of display modules were available at the time of this review (May 2015), the P1001 was the first available on the computing side at that point, with Cincoze planning to add several more.

Bay Trail power

Having explained the idea and concept of the modular approach, now let's take a look at this first available system module. The P1001 is a full-function PC, running either the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8.1 Embedded Industry Pro in either the 32-bit or 64-bit version. The processor is a 1.91GHz quad-core Intel Atom E3845.

The E3845 is part of Intel's large "Bay Trail" family that includes Atom, Celeron and even Pentium branded chips. That's a bit confusing as Intel has traditionally used the Celeron brand largely for its barest entry level processors. That's not the case here. While all "Bay Trail" chips are based on a heavily overhauled Intel Atom architecture, they now include GPUs that use the same Intel execution units (EUs) as Ivy Bridge's HD 4000. This gives them support for most of the same APIs and features — DirectX 11, OpenGL 3.X or even 4.0 (provided the drivers support it), and OpenCL 1.2 are all present on the API side, as is dual-display support.

So the quad-core Atom E3845 processor powering Logic Supply's Cincoze Industrial Convertible Display System packs far more of a punch than earlier chips in fanless packages, even though its thermal design power is just 10 watts, less than that of even ultra-low voltage mobile Intel Core processors. In fact, this is the same chip Xplore Technologies chose for its highly acclaimed ultra-rugged Bobcat tablet computer.

It's easy to see why this chip was chosen for the initial system module. Its low heat dissipation means there's no need for a noisy and potentially troublesome fan. It costs far less than Intel's higher-end Core processors. But it's also a modern quad-core processor capable of considerable performance at a level far above any earlier Atom-based chips, and approaching and even surpassing that of many Core processors of just a few years ago.

The P1001 System Unit

At its heart, the P1001 System Unit is an industrial Box PC. Those are the unsung workhorses of the industry, seldom actually seen because they are usually mounted out of sight and in remote locations, and designed for maximum reliability and ease of maintenance.

The P1001 system box is secured to the display via six large Allen wrench screws with thick shock-absorbing rubber rings on each side. Once those are undone, the system unit can easily be slid out of its 5 x 11 pin connector.

The P1001 itself has a compact footprint of 5.8 x 8 inches and it is just an inch and a quarter tall. The image below shows the top view and all four side views of the unit. It's a modular steel case, finished in black, with its topside cover consisting of a hefty aluminum heat sink with small fins to increase the heat-disposing surface area.

The P1001, like most industrial Box PCs, is simple and straight-forward, a precision-engineered piece of computing machinery of high quality. The design is rational down to the smallest detail. Do note, though, that while the P1001 doesn't have a fan or ventilation slots, it is not a sealed unit and doesn't claim to be.

The picture below to the right shows the P1001 system open, with its heat sink top removed. Looking inside, the processor, as is usually the case in such passively cooled designs, has a heat spreader sitting on top of it, and the spreader then connects with the heat sink via a soft rectangle of thermal transfer material.

Visible on the the circuit board are the unit's single SO-DIMM RAM slot, populated in our test system with a 4GB DDR3L-1600 RAM module from Transcend. Also visible, facing the bottom, is the system's CFast slot sitting on top of the board-mounted SIM Card slot.

All onboard I/O is edge-mounted directly on the motherboard, so in terms of ports, what you see is what you get; there are no exchangeable daughter I/O boards. I/O is distributed to all four sides of the device.

Our review P1001 offered the following external ports:

  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 15-pin VGA video
  • 2 x RJ-45 gigabit LAN
  • 2 x Antenna WiFi
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • Power (9 to 48 Volt DC)
  • Audio line-out
  • Audio mic-in
From what we can tell, the P1001 can run off either a CFast card or a variety of standard 2.5-inch sold state drives. CFast — also known as CompactFast — is based on the faster Serial ATA interface rather than the Parallel ATA interface used by the original CompactFlash cards.

The unit's 2.5-inch solid state drive has its own garage on the bottom side of the board. The drive is mounted onto a steel caddy that's secured in place with two thumb screws for easy removal, but also has a small Torx screw to keep the drive safe from prying hands that don't have a Torx screwdriver in their pocket. The drive, by the way, was a Transcend SSD370, a SATA III 6Gb/s design. It's a very competitively priced SSD that gets very good reviews.

From a ruggedness standpoint, Panel PCs, be they of modular or conventional design, are different from mobile computer systems. The drop spec doesn't matter because panels are mounted. Ingress protection matters, but primarily on the front side where the display is exposed to users and the elements.

As a result, the front side of a PPC is usually well protected, and the Cincoze 15 is no exception. Its front carries an IP65 rating, which means it's totally dustproof and can also handle low pressure water jets.

The unit's operating temperature range is a very wide 14°F to 140°F (-10°C to 60°C). It can be used almost anywhere.

What to expect from the Atom E3845-powered system module

The idea of the Convertible Display System is to allow customers to pick the level of performance needed for their application. For now we can only report on the performance of the initially available Intel Atom E3845-powered P1001 system module.

To provide an idea of the relative performance of Logic Supply's Bay Trail-powered Cincoze Crystal 15 modular Panel PC, we ran our two standard benchmark suites, PassMark and CrystalMark. For comparison, we're also listing the results of three other panel systems we've recently tested at RuggedPCReview. We're providing this comparison simply to show the relative performance levels of different processor classes in such systems.

Mini-ITX Systems Benchmarks and Comparisons
PERFORMANCE COMPARISON Logic Supply Advantech Advantech GammaTech
Model Cincoze Crystal 15 PPC-3120 PPC-6170 R24
Model (click pic for review)
Type Industrial Panel PC Industrial Panel PC Industrial Panel PC All-in-One
Year tested 2015 2013 2014 2014
Intel processor Atom E3845 Atom D2550 Core i5-3610ME Core i5-4300M
Cores/threads 4/4 2/4 2/4 2/4
CPU base speed 1.91GHz 1.86GHz 2.70GHz 2.60GHz
CPU turbo speed no turbo no turbo 3.3GHz 3.30GHz
Thermal Design Power (TDP) 10 watts 10 watts 35 watts 37 watts
CPU Mark 1,951.3 553.8 2,816.4 4,369.8
2D Graphics Mark 149.0 40.1 429.0 652.9
Memory Mark 410.3 260.3 927.4 1,763.6
Disk Mark 1,417.4 548.0 291.3 2,367.4
3D Graphics Mark 134.4 70.9 291.2 516.2
Overall PassMark 921.3 320.1 1,080.7 2,124.1
CM ALU 25,575 12,391 49,581 50,160
CM FPU 21,647 9,289 47,402 50,479
CM MEM 20,400 8,502 29,696 50,732
CM HDD 31,856 9,195 7,065 34,318
CM GDI 4,856 1,878 13,496 19,142
CM D2D 3,654 853 2,643 7,288
CM OGL 3,311 9,319 7,482 14,857
Overall CrystalMark 111,299 51,427 157,365 226,976

The results are quite obvious:

  • First, the quad-core Atom E3845 chip Cincoze picked for their initial system unit for their modular panel computers is a very respectable performer. Although still based on (a heavily revised) Atom processor architecture, the E3845 provides is generally 2-3 times quicker than any older Atom-based systems.

  • Second, even compared against rather power Intel 3rd generation ("Ivy Bridge") Core based systems, this Bay Trail package isn't far behind, at much lower cost and requiring far fewer resources.

  • Third, while a very competent performer, the Bay Trail module is, of course, not at the level of a higher-end Intel Core chips, like the standard voltage 4th generation "Haswell" Core processor used in GammaTech's enterprise-oriented all-in-one. For that, Logic Supply says, there will be higher-end PC modules.

  • And fourth, the type of solid state storage chosen for a particular system can make a huge performance difference. Always keep that in mind.

The Cincoze Crystal Industrial Convertible Display by Logic Supply

The idea behind the modular Cincoze Crystal Industrial Convertible Display is to offer a far larger number of possible Panel PC configurations than would be possible if the company had to build and stock all possible permutations of display type/size, touch technology, and performance/feature levels.

The modular system is expertly conceived and executed, and assembling or reconfiguring components couldn't be simpler. The displays have sturdy aluminum die-cast front frames and the fronts are sealed to IP65 level. The PC modules are implemented as rugged fanless industrial Box PCs.

The only caveat at this point is that only one PC module is available. Logic Supply and Cincoze promise several more, and that will truly let this modular concept come into its own. -- Conrad H. Blickenstorfer, May 2015

Logic Supply Cincoze Crystal 15" Intel Bay Trail Industrial Panel PC Specs:

Status Added and reviewed 05/2015
Type Modular Industrial Panel PC
CPU Type Quad-core Intel "Bay Trail" Atom E3845 w/ 2MB L2 cache
CPU speed 1.91 GHz
Chipset Integrated
OS Windows 7 Professional (64-bit), Windows 8.1 Embedded Industry Pro 32 or 64-bit)
Memory 2GB or 4GB DDR3L 1600 SO-DIMM in 1 204-pin socket
Graphics Controller Intel HD Graphics 542MHz base frequency, 792MHz max frequency
Display type and size 15-inch LCD with 4:3 aspect ratio and 350 nits backlight/luminance
Display resolution 1024 x 768 pixel XGA
Digitizer Interface Projected capacitive touch
Expansion 1 x Full-size Mini PCIe
Storage 32GB to 256GB mSATA SSD (SATA/600 Transcend 128GB in test unit), CFast
Housing Steel case lower with finned aluminum heatsink upper, Panel-mount, VESA-mount
Vibration Unknown
Shock Unknown
Sealing Unknown
Safety IP65 (front panel only)
Operating temperature 14°F to 140°F (-10°C to 60°C)
Interface 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x VGA, 1 x DisplayPort, 2 x RS232/422/485, 2 x Intel I210-AT RJ45 Gigabit LAN, 1 x Line-out, 1 x Mic-in
Communication Optional via Mini PCIe: Realtek Wireless-N and Bluetooth, Intel Wireless and Bluetooth AC 7260, Xbee wireless Zigbee RF
DIO yes (8-bit)
Watchdog Timer yes (1~255 seconds)
Housing Display: Aluminum; PC unit: Steel/aluminum; 75x75 and 100x100 VESA mounting holes
Size Overall system: 16.0 x 12.3 x 2.7 inches (408 x 312 x 68 mm)
PC Module only: 8.0 x 5.6 x 1.25 inches (203 x 142 x 32 mm)
Weight 12.6 lbs. (5.7 kg)
Certification CE, FCC Class A
Power 9~48VDC, supports AT, ATX modes
Price Starting at US$1,320
Webpage Logic Supply Cincoze Crystal 15" page
Manual Logic Supply Cincoze Crystal 15" manual