Tag Archives: SOC

Linux Powered Apalis iMX8 SoM Built On NXP’s QuadMax

Toradex, a Swiss embedded technology firm announced the world’s first embedded board built on NXP’s i.MX8M QuadMax back in Mar. 2017. Recently, Toradex has opened early access for selected customers to the SODIMM-style Apalis iMX8 module. A sign-up form offers the potential for newcomers to get an early look.

Apalis iMX8 module
Apalis iMX8 module

This new Linux powered, wireless-enabled Apalis iMX8 uses the QuadMax, which is the most powerful i.MX8 Quad model. Like the Quad and QuadPlus, it offers 4x 1.26GHz Cortex-A53 cores, 2x 266MHz Cortex-M4F cores for real-time processing, one or two Vivante GC7000LiteXS/VX GPUs, and a HIFI4 DSP. The QuadPlus adds a 1.6GHz Cortex-A72 core, and the Apalis i.MX8’s QuadMax provides two -A72 cores. The module supports up to 4 GB LPDDR4 RAM.

The Cortex-A cores run a Yocto Project based Linux distribution provided via a BSP (Board Support Package). The M4F MCU cores run FreeRTOS which is also provided by the same BSP. With its dual GPUs, the Apalis iMX8 supports multiple-screen automotive installations. However, the module is designed for a broader range of cutting-edge computer vision systems, as well as signal processing and HMI applications. The module offers onboard, dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, and the dual-mode Bluetooth module is said to be Bluetooth 5.0 ready.

The module is equipped with 2x PCIe Gen 3 interfaces, 3x CAN, 4x SPI, 7x UART, and 8x analog inputs. The I2C count has increased to 7x, and the PWM count has advanced to 6x. You also get an IrDA connection, up to 133 GPIOs, and 8- and 4-bit SDIO/SD/MMC interfaces. The Apalis iMX8’s SATA interface has moved from SATA II to III. As before, there’s a GbE (Gigabit Ethernet) controller with a second RGMII. You get a USB 3.0 host interface, and 3x USB 2.0 host ports, one of which is OTG.

The module provides a quad-lane MIPI-DSI interface and offers an HDMI 2.0a interface for up to 4K UHD 2160p. There’s also a single/dual-channel LVDS interface with up to 1920 x 1200 x 24bpp resolution and 4-wire resistive touch. One new feature is a choice of DisplayPort 1.3 or eDP 1.4.  An optional 5MP camera module is supported by dual quad-lane MIPI-CSI interfaces. Analog audio I/O includes a stereo line in, mono mic in, and stereo headphone out interfaces.

Apalis iMX8 carrier boards: Apalis Evaluation Board
Apalis iMX8 carrier boards: Apalis Evaluation Board

The Apalis i.MX8 offers the same two carrier board options provided for the Apalis TK1: a 250 x 250mm Apalis Evaluation Board, as well as a less feature-rich, 125 x 90mm Ixora Carrier Board. The boards have real-time clocks and 7-27V DC input support. The Apalis i.MX8 appears to be ready to ship soon to qualified early access providers. You can sign up to apply for early access on the Apalis i.MX8 product page.

EMB-2610 Pico-ITX SBC Runs Linux and comes with Touch Panel

Ohio based company, Estone Technology (AKA Habey) has updated the product page for the new EMB-2610 Pico-ITX SBC. The EMB-2610 follows earlier Habey Pico-ITX SBCs such as last year’s i.MX6 UL powered EMB-2200 and i.MX6 based EMB-2230. This time Estone has used a 14nm Intel Atom SoC. Rather than going with Apollo Lake, they used the quad-core, 1.92GHz Atom x5-Z8350 from the Cherry Trail family that tried but failed to win market share in Android phones.

Estone EMB-2610 board
Estone EMB-2610 board

The Atom x5-Z8350 is the same SoC used by Aaeon’s UP Core. Like the UP Core, the 100 x 72mm, Pico-ITX form factor EMB-2610 supports Windows 10 and 10 IoT in addition to Android and various Linux distributions. The new EMB-2610 is available with 2GB or 4GB of DDR3L RAM and comes with a microSD slot and up to or 64GB NAND flash. WiFi/Bluetooth connectivity is available, as well as a GbE port with optional Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), enabled via an add-on board.

The EMB-2610 is further enhanced with a micro-HDMI port, as well as LVDS, eDP, or MIPI-DSI, all supported via a touch controller. There’s also an audio header and MIPI-CSI. USB 3.0 and 2.0 host ports are ready along with a micro-USB port, and there’s a smattering of serial, GPIO, and USB headers.

This board uses the same 40-pin expansion header found on the i.MX6-based EMB-2230. The connector, which supports optional Estone modules for 8x GPIO, front panel controls, PCIe, and PoE, is available with header specs and diagrams to make it easy to develop custom expansions. Although, the use of the connector PCIe disables the GbE port.

Specification summary for EMB-2610:

  • Processor : Intel Atom x5-Z8350 (4x Cherry Trail cores @ 1.44GHz / 1.84GHz burst); Intel HD 400 Graphics (200MHz/500MHz)
  • Memory & Storage:
    • 2GB or 4GB DDR3L
    • 32GB or 64GB NAND flash
    • MicroSD slot
  • Wireless: WiFi/Bluetooth module
  • Networking: GbE port with optional PoE
  • Media I/O:
    • Micro-HDMI port at 1920 x 1080
    • 24-bit LVDS, eDP, or MIPI-DSI at 1920 x 1200
    • An I2C capacitive touch controller
    • MIPI-CSI
    • Audio header with line-out, mic-in, headphone, 10W speaker
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 3.0 host port
    • USB 2.0 host port
    • USB 2.0 header
    • RS232
    • RS232/485 via terminal block
    • 4x GPIO
    • Micro-USB 2.0 port
    • RS232
    • RS232/485 via terminal block
    •  4x GPIO
    • 2x I2C (for TP and MIPI-CSI)
  • Expansion: 40-pin connector with PCIe x1, GPIO, front panel control, PoE input
  • Power: 12V/19V DC header or optional PoE
  • Operating temperature :  0 to 50°C
  • Dimensions : 100 x 72mm; Pico-ITX form factor
  • OS Support: Linux, Android 5.1, Windows 10 and 10 IoT

No pricing or availability information was provided for the EMB-2610 SBC. More information may be found on Estone Technology’s EMB-2610 product page.

Firefly’s Latest Core-PX3-SEJ COM Runs Ubuntu or Android

Firefly has launched a new SODIMM-style, 67.6 x 40mm Core-PX3-SEJ module that runs Android 5.1 or Ubuntu 15.04 on a Rockchip PX3-SE. It’s a new 1.3GHz, quad-core, Cortex-A7 SoC. The 40 USD module is available in a 1GB RAM/8GB eMMC configuration on a $120, 117 x 85mm Firefly-PX3-SE development board. Other memory configurations may also be available soon.

Firefly Core-PX3-SEJ module
Firefly Core-PX3-SEJ module

The PX3-SE SoC gives the module a sandwich-style dev board and increases the operating temperature to -20 to 80 range. The Core-PX3-SEJ module is praised for its anti-corrosion gold finger expansion connector, and the dev board for its “double stud fixed” design.

Rockchip’s PX3-SE SoC was announced in May 2017. The main target of this SoC is Linux and Android-driven “mobile vehicle interconnect solutions.” The quad-A7 SoC implements a Mali-400 GPU and supports HD video.

The Firefly-PX3-SE board’s 2.4GHz WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 are supplied separately from the compact Core-PX3-SEJ COM. Despite the lack of 4K support, there are a numerous media interfaces, including a variety of audio features. There are HDMI, CVBS, MIPI-DSI or LVDS, and a DVP camera interface. Analog, SPDIF, and I2S audio connections are available along with an onboard mic and a “phone” I/O port.

The Firefly-PX3-SE board is further provided with a GbE port, 4x USB 2.0 host ports, a micro-USB OTG port, and an 84-pin expansion header. RTC, debug, and IR are also onboard.

Specifications summary for the Firefly-PX3-SE development board with Core-PX3-SEJ module:

  • Processor : Rockchip PX3-SE (4x Cortex-A7 cores @ 1.3GHz); Mali-400 MP2 GPU
  • Memory:
    • 256MB, 512MB, 1GB, or 2GB DDR3 RAM (via Core-PX3-SEJ)
    • 4GB to 64GB eMMC flash (via Core-PX3-SEJ) with 4GB and 8GB default SKUs
    • MicroSD slot
  • Wireless:
    • 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n with antenna
    • Bluetooth 4.0 with BLE
  • Networking: Gigabit Ethernet port (Realtek RTL8211E)
  • Display & media:
    • HDMI port with audio
    • MIPI-DSI or LVDS LCD interface
    • CVBS with video and audio
    • DVP camera interface for up to 5MP
    • 3.5mm analog audio input jack
    • SPDIF optical output
    • Microphone input
    • I2S audio I/O
    • A phone I/O interface
  • Other I/O:
    • 4x USB 2.0 host ports
    • Micro-USB 2.0 with OTG
    • Serial console debug
    • 84-pin expansion header (MIPI, LVDS, PWM, SPI, UART, ADC, I2C, I2S, GPIO)
  • Other features: RTC with battery; IR receiver; power, reset, recover buttons; acrylic rack kit
  • Power: 5V, 2A (via DC jack); PMU (via Core-PX3-SEJ)
  • Dimensions: 117 x 85mm (with 67.6 x 40mm integrated COM)
  • OS Support: Android 5.1; Ubuntu 15.04; includes Linux Buildroot/Qt

The Core-PX3-SEJ module and Firefly-PX3-SE development board are available for $80 and $140 (including module), respectively, plus shipping. More information may be found at Firefly’s Core-PX3-SEJ and Firefly-PX3-SE shopping pages.

Google Reveals Four New ARM-based production Boards For Android Things 1.0

Earlier this month, Google released Android Things 1.0 and announced many consumer products that will ship in the coming months based on the stripped-down, IoT-oriented Android variant. Google uncovered four ARM-based production boards for Android Things 1.0: Innocomm’s i.MX8M based on WB10-ATIntrinsyc’s Open-Q 212A and Open-Q 624A, based on the Snapdragon 212 and 634, respectively, and the MediaTek MT8516.

The most important news with the first market-ready release of Android Things is that Google is offering free OTA security and patch updates for three years to all targeted devices. However, Google needs a licensing deal to deploy more than 100 commercial systems using the OTA updated long-term version of Android Things, and the OS itself is “managed” and tightly controlled by Google.

The modules share the same small footprints of about a 50 x 50mm. They also focus on audio features that might support integration with the Google Assistant voice agent. The first round of consumer devices using Android Things are smart speakers and automation hubs that integrate Google Assistant.

WB10-AT

InnoComm Google WB10AT COM
InnoComm Google WB10AT COM

InnoComm’s 50 x 50mm WB10-AT COM is almost identical to the WB10 module announced in March. The only difference except for the OS is that the AT version ships with 1GB LPDDR4 instead of 2GB. The WB10-AT includes a 1.5GHzCortex-A53 based NXP i.MX8M Quad SoC with a 266MHz Cortex-M4 core. It extends 8GB eMMC, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, and a GbE controller.

The WB10-AT allows HDMI 2.0 with 4K HDR support, as well as extensive audio I/O enabled by the audio-savvy i.MX8M. Audio specs include 4x SAI, DSD512, and S/PDIF.

Open-Q 212A Development Kit

Open-Q 212A board and module
Open-Q 212A board and module

Intrinsyc’s Open-Q 212A is a sandwich-style SBC designed for next-gen smart speaker and voice-controlled home hub products. There is a new 50 x 46.5mm Open-Q 212A Android Things SOM with a quad-core, Cortex-A7 Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 (SDA212) — the lowest-end SoC available for Android Things mounted on a 170 x 115mm carrier board.

The new module provides 1GB LPDDR3, 4GB eMMC, WiFi-ac, and BT 4.2. The 12V carrier board adds 2x USB host ports, a micro-USB client port, and a micro-USB debug port. It also includes a MIPI-CSI and MIPI-DSI interfaces, with the latter capable of up to 720p LCD displays. PCB antennas are also available.

Open-Q 624A Development Kit

Open-Q 624A
Open-Q 624A

This new sandwich-style kit is Google’s high-end Android Things platform. It connects a new Open-Q 624A Android Things SOM and carrier board, each of which is the same size as their Open-Q 212A counterparts.

The module extends 2GB RAM4GB eMMCWiFi-ac, BT 4.2, and a new, undocumented octa-core Snapdragon 624 SoC based on the existing Snapdragon 625. Like the Snapdragon 625, the 624 provides 8x Cortex-A53 cores at up to 1.8GHz along with an Adreno 506 GPU with support for 4K @ 30fps video. Google calls the Snapdragon 624 the SDA624, and in one place Intrinsyc refers to it as the APQ8053, which is also the name of the Snapdragon 825.

The Open-Q 624A carrier board has a feature set that is very similar to that of the similarly sized Open-Q 212A board. However, it adds a USB 3.0 Type-C port, sensor expansion and haptic output, and an optional GPS receiver, which like the module’s WiFi and Bluetooth, is available with an antenna.

MediaTek MT8516

MediaTek MT8516
MediaTek MT8516

Google refers to the MT8516 as a virtual SoM, as opposed to the other physical modules, and suggests that the module’s capabilities are directly integrated into a reference board designed for high volume applications.

Whatever the form factor, the MT8516 provides a quad-core, 1.3GHz Cortex-A35 processor with 4GB eMMC, WiFi, BT, and RF. The platform is intended for voice assistance and other audio applications and provides 4-channel I2S x2, 8-channel TDM, and 2-channel PDM input for voice input control and connected audio.

The Cortex-A35 cores draw about 33 percent less power per core and occupy 25 percent less silicon area than Cortex-A53. The -A35 design lies at the heart of NXP’s i.MX8X SoC, which is also available in two dual-core models. The i.MX8X is found on Phytec’s phyCore-i.MX 8 module.

More information may be found on this Google Android Things Supported Platforms page, as well as at these four product pages:

New Wireless VAR-SOM-MX6 Adds Supports For i.MX6 QuadPlus SoC

Variscite a leading SOC manufacturer from Israel, has released a new version of its wireless-enabled “VAR-SOM-MX6” module. It adds support for the i.MX6 QuadPlus SoC. Variscite is renovating the old COM once again with a model that adds support for NXP’s QuadPlus. It is going to be a new addition to the i.MX6 Solo, DualLite, Dual, and Quad versions. The module runs Linux 4.9.11 and Android 8.0 (Oreo).

VAR-SOM-MX6 module with QuadPlus support
VAR-SOM-MX6 module with QuadPlus support

The i.MX6 QuadPlus, which is also available on the Wandboard Reload SBCs, iWave’s i.MX6 COMs, and other boards. It has the same, 1.2GHz quad-core CPU as the Quad, but offers an enhanced Vivante GC2000+ GPU with 50 percent elevated graphics performance. The SoC also provides HD-resolution H.264 decode and encode.

The 2018 version of the VAR-SOM-MX6 is identical with the pin configuration as the earlier models. It has up to 4GB DDR3 RAM and data storage of 4GB to 64GB via eMMC and 128MB to 1GB NAND flash. There’s a GbE controller, although with the usual i.MX6 bandwidth limits. The 802.11n WiFi, which is accompanied by Bluetooth 4.1 with BLE, is available with optional 2×2 MIMO.

The 67.8 x 51.7mm module houses dual 24-bit LVDS interfaces with resistive touch, as well as an HDMI and DSI interfaces. The long list of peripherals includes dual CAN, SATA, PCIe, MIPI-CSI, and much more support. The module has a range of -40 to 85°C working temperatures.

VAR-SOM-MX6 eval kits

VAR-SOM-MX6 Development Kit
VAR-SOM-MX6 Development Kit

The $399 VAR-SOM-MX6 Starter Kit includes the carrier board with the VAR-SOM-MX6 module, an antenna, a debug cable, a microSD card, and a carrier board design package. The $499 Development Kit version adds a 12V power supply, an Ethernet cable, and a 7-inch resistive touch panel. The $549 Development Kit Pro advances to a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen.

The VAR-SOM-MX6 module with QuadPlus support is available now starting at $52 per unit in volume. The development kits start at $399. More information may be found in Variscite’s VAR-SOM-MX6 with the QuadPlus announcement and product page.

NanoPi K1 Plus – A New Open-spec SBC By FriendlyElec Powered By Allwinner H5 SoC

FriendlyElec has launched a $35 open-spec “NanoPi K1 Plus” SBC. The new NanoPi K1 Plus is a media-rich board, that switches from the Amlogic S905 SoC (found on the Odroid-C2) to an Allwinner H5 SoC, which is used in several other NanoPi boards. Both the SoCs have 4x Cortex-A53 cores and a Mali-450 GPU, but the H5 has a lower clock speed of 1.4GHz instead of 1.5GHz.

NanoPi K1 Plus front side
NanoPi K1 Plus front side

The new board has almost similar footprint to NanoPi K2, 85 x 56mm. It has an identical feature set and layout as the RPi 3 and Odroid-C2. FriendlyElec has swapped out the K2’s WiFi/Bluetooth module for a 2.4GHz WiFi-only chip and has reduced its HDMI 2.0 port to an HDMI 1.4 that has its 4K support only at 30fps max. The K1 Plus has also decreased one of the USB 2.0 host ports, leaving 3x USB 2.0 ports total along with a micro-USB OTG port with power input support. The previous DC-in jack has been removed.

On the better side, the K1 Plus add some multimedia features. There’s a new DVP camera interface, an onboard mic, and a 3.5mm audio jack that also outputs the CVBS signals. CVBS was previously available only via the continuing, Raspberry Pi-compatible 40-pin expansion connector.

There are 2GB RAM, a microSD slot, eMMC socket, and GbE port. Once again, you get an IR receiver, a heatsink, and a debug header, among other details. The open-spec board is available with schematics and other documentation, as well as images for Armbian and the Ubuntu Core based OS, FriendlyCore.

Spec list for the NanoPi K1 Plus:

  • Processor: Allwinner H5 (4x 64-bit Cortex-A53 cores @ 400MHz to 1.4GHz) with Mali-450 GPU
  • Memory/storage: 2GB DDR3 RAMMicroSD slot for up to 128GB (bootable)eMMC socket
  • Wireless: 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n; PCB antenna
  • Networking: Gigabit Ethernet port (Realtek RTL8211E)
  • Media I/O:
    • HDMI 1.4 port (4K@30fps video and audio)
    • DVP camera 24-pin header
    • 3.5mm audio jack with CVBS output
    • Onboard Mic
    • I2S/PCM via 7-pin header
  • Other I/O:
    • 3x USB 2.0 host ports
    • Micro-USB 2.0 device/OTG port with power cable
    • Serial debug 4-pin header
    • 40-pin RPi 3 compatible expansion connector (I2C, GPIO, UART, PWM, SPDIF, SPI)
  • Other features: LEDs; IR receiver; GPIO button; heatsink; optional acrylic case
  • Power: 5V2A DC input via micro-USB; PMIC
  • Operating system: Images for Armbian and FriendlyCore (based on Ubuntu Core) with Linux 4.x

The NanoPi K1 Plus is available now for only $35. More information may be found on FriendlyElec’s NanoPi K1 Plus shopping and wiki pages.

Hardkernel Launches A Single-unit Version Of Its 32-core Odroid-MC1 Cluster Computer

Hardkernel has produced a single-unit version of its four-unit, 32-core Odroid-MC1 cluster computer for running Docker SwarmBuild Farm, and other parallel computing applications. The design offers greater flexibility for users to combine Odroid-MC1 Solo units for a “single unit, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or n stackable cluster”. The octa-core Odroid-MC1 Solo costs $48. Combing one or more Solo units with the original 4-unit MC1 acts as a single cluster.

Odroid-MC1 Solo
Odroid-MC1 Solo

The Odroid-MC1 Solo and Odroid-MC1 use an Odroid-XU4S SBC that is similar to the SBC that powers the Odroid-HC2 network attached storage (NAS) device. Both boards are smaller, stripped-down, headless version of the open-spec Odroid-XU4 SBC.

Like the Odroid-HC2 board, the MC1 board has removed the XU4’s HDMI port, 2x USB 3.0 ports, optional eMMC, and 30- and 12-pin GPIO connectors. Like the Odroid-XU4, the boards are powered by the Samsung Exynos5422 SoC with four Cortex-A15, four Cortex-A7 cores, and Mali-T628 GPU.

All these boards are equipped with 2GB LPDDR3 (in a PoP configuration), as well as a GbE port, USB 2.0 host port, and a bootable microSD slot with UHS-1 support. The XU4s used on the Odroid-MC1 lacks the one additional feature found on the HC2 NAS computer that is a USB 3.0-based SATA port.

The new Odroid-MC1 Solo board, including the stacking case, measures 92 x 42 x 29mm. These boards are powered by a 5V/4A power supply. A UART, an RTC with battery connector, as well as “M3 x 8mm” self-tapping screws are also there on this board. The XU4-compatible Linux image is based on Kernel 4.14 LTS.

Key Specs:

  • CPU  Samsung Exynos5422 ARM® Cortex™-A15 Quad 2.0GHz/Cortex™-A7 Quad 1.4GHz
  • DRAM Memory  2Gbyte LPDDR3 RAM PoP (750Mhz, 12GB/s memory bandwidth, 2x32bit bus)
  • GPU  Mali™-T628 MP6 OpenGL ES 3.1 / 3.0 / 2.0 / 1.1 and OpenCL 1.2 Full profile
  • Micro-SD Slot  UHS-1 compatible micro-SD slot up to 128GB/SDXC
  • USB2.0 Host  HighSpeed USB standard A type connector x 1 port
  • LEDs  Power, System-status
  • Gbit Ethernet LAN  10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet with RJ-45 Jack ( Auto-MDIX support)
  • Power Input  DC Barrel Jack Socket 5.5/21.mm for 4.8V~5.2V input
  • Size   92 x 42 x 29 mm

The Odroid-MC1 Solo is available now for $48. More information may be found at Hardkernel’s Odroid-MC1 Solo shopping page.

ON Semiconductor RSL10 – Bluetooth® 5 System-on-Chip

Bringing the industry’s lowest power Bluetooth® low energy technology to IoT with a highly flexible multi-protocol 2,4 GHz radio RSL10 from ON Semiconductor.

RSL10 is a multi-protocol Bluetooth 5 certified radio System on Chip (SoC) which brings ultra-low-power wireless technology to IoT.

Offering the industry’s lowest power consumption, RSL10 helps provide devices like heart rate monitors with advanced wireless features while optimizing system size and battery life.

Unlike most other multi-protocol radio SoCs, RSL10 is specifically designed for applications using 1.2V and 1.5V batteries, and supports a voltage supply range between 1.1V and 3.3V without a required DC/DC converter. The highly-integrated radio SoC features a dual-core architecture and a 2.4 GHz transceiver, providing the flexibility to support Bluetooth low energy technology and 2.4GHz proprietary or custom protocols.

Features

  • Ultra-Low-Power:
    • Industry’s lowest power consumption in Deep Sleep Mode (62.5 nW) and Rx in Receive Mode (7 mW)
    • Industry’s best EEMBC® ULPMark™ scores (1090 ULPMark CP @ 3 V; 1260 @ 2.1 V)
  • Advanced Multi-Protocol Wireless Functionality:
    • Rx Sensitivity: -94 dBM
    • Transmitting Power: -17 to +6 dBm
    • Supports Bluetooth low energy and 2.4 GHz proprietary/custom protocols
    • Supports Firmware Over The Air (FOTA)
  • Flexible Voltage Supply Range (1.1 and 3.3 V): Supports devices using 1.2 and 1.5 V batteries without a required external DC/DC converter
  • Ultra-Miniature: RSL10 is offered in a 5.50 mm2 WLCSP and a 6 x 6 mm QFN. For added miniaturization, the radio SoC can be integrated into System-in-Package (SiP) solutions which combine RSL10 with a custom ASIC.
  • Sophisticated Dual-Core Architecture: Features a programmable ARM Cortex-M3 processor for clocking speeds up to 48 MHz and the flexibility to support 2.4 GHz proprietary and custom protocol stacks. An embedded Digital Signal Processor (DSP) enables signal processing intensive applications, such as wireless audio codecs.
  • On-Chip and Software Wireless Support: Features a 2.4 GHz Radio Frequency Front-End (RFFE) and a Bluetooth 5 certified baseband controller which supports 2 Mbps data rates. A wide range of supported Bluetooth low energy protocols are provided in the RSL10 development tools kit.
  • Highly-Integrated System-on-Chip (SoC): The powerful dual-core architecture is complemented by high-efficiency power management units, oscillators, flash, and RAM memories, a DMA controller, and peripherals and interfaces.
  • Other Key Technical Features:
    • 384 kB of flash memory
    • IP protection feature to secure flash contents
    • Configurable analog and digital sensor interfaces (GPIOs, LSADs, I2C, SPI, PCM)

Microchip’s New Open Source SAMA5D27 SOM Module Runs Mainline Linux

American microcontroller manufacturer company Microchip has unveiled an open source, mainline Linux ready “SAMA5D27 SOM” module. This module is based on a SiP implementation of its Cortex-A5-based SAMA5D27 SoC with 128MB RAM. The 40 x 38mm module is also compatible with a SOM1-EK1 dev board.

SAMA5D27 SOM1

SAMA5D27 SOM1
SAMA5D27 SOM1

The SAMA5D27 SOM is Microchip’s first computer-on-module based on a Linux-ready application processor, and the first SiP-based module built around a SAMA5 SoC. It is mainly designed for rugged IoT applications and the module can be soldered onto a baseboard for versatile ease of use. It offers long-term availability and supports industrial grade -40 to 85°C temperature range.

The SAMA5D27 SOM1 combines the RAM-ready SAMA5D27C-D1G SiP with 64Mb of non-volatile QSPI boot flash and a 10/100 Ethernet PHY.  The module also integrates a 2Kb EEPROM with pre-programmed MAC address. The SOM is further equipped with a PMIC and a 3.3V power supply. Typical power consumption ranges from 120mA to 160mA. There’s also a 60mA idle mode and an ultra-low 30mA mode.

This module has 128 GPIO pins including 2x USB 2.0 host, one USB device, and 2x SD/MMC interfaces with eMMC 4.51 support. There is also support for 10x UART, 7x SPI, 2x CAN, camera and audio interfaces, and much more.

Like the Xplained boards, the module is open source, from the mainline Linux support to the posting of open schematics, design, Gerber, and BoM files for both the SOM and the optional SOM1-EK1 development board.

SAMA5D2 SiP

SAMA5D2 SiP
SAMA5D2 SiP

The newly launched SAMA5D2 SiP is built around the Microchip SAMA5D2. The FreeRTOS-focused 128MB version uses a lower-end SAM5D22 model limited to 16-bit DDR2 RAM while the Linux-ready 512MB and 1GB versions use the higher end SAMA5D27 and SAMA5D28, respectively, with 16/32-bit DDR. All the models are renowned for offering CAN support, and because the SAMA5D28 also adds security features, it’s the only one that is pre-certified for PCI Security.

The SAMA5D has fewer I/O pins and slower performance (166-500MHz) compared to the earlier, 600MHz SAMA5D4, but the power consumption is significantly lower. The SAMA5D2 SoC can run at less than 150mW in active mode at 500MHz with all peripherals activated, and at less than 0.5mW in low power mode with SRAM and registers retention.

SOM1-EK1 development board

SOM1-EK1 Development Board
SOM1-EK1 Development Board

The SAMA5D27-SOM1-EK1 development kit is built around a baseboard with a soldered SAMA5D27-SOM1 module with the 128MB (1Gb) configuration. This board is enhanced with SD and microSD slots, as well as a 10/100 Ethernet port, a micro-USB host port, and a micro-USB device port with power input.

Additional I/O option for this dev board includes USB HSIC, CAN, JLINK, and JTAG interfaces. There’s a tamper connector, 4x push buttons, an LED, supercapacitor backup, and an ATECC508 CryptoAuthentication device. A Linux4SAM BSP is available with Linux kernel and drivers.

The ATSAMA5D27-SOM1 is available for $39, and the ATSAMA5D27-SOM1-EK1 development board is available for $245 each. The ATSAMA5D2 SiP starts at for $8.62 each. More information may be found in Microchip’s SAMA5D2 SiP and SOM announcement and launch page, which points to SOM and SiP pages, as well as the SAMA5D27-SOM1-EK1 dev board page.

Hardware Acronyms: SiP, SoC, SoM, CoM, SBC – What Are They?

If you are new into hardware or still familiarizing yourself to the hardware ecosystem, you will realize some common terms often appear which could sometimes sound confusing or something out of rocket science, but it’s not. Here’s a quick look at five common terms used in hardware products or boards and what they denote.

Let’s take a look at them –

System-in-a-Package (SiP)

Cross section of a SiP

A system in package (SiP) contains several ICs (chips) including a microprocessor on a single substrate such as ceramic or laminate. An example SiP can comprise several chips—such as a specialized processor, DRAM, flash memory—combined with passive components—resistors and capacitors—all mounted on the same substrate. This means that a complete functional unit can be built in a multi-chip package so that few external components need to be added to make it work.

SiP dies can be stacked vertically or tiled horizontally, unlike slightly less dense multi-chip modules, which place dies horizontally on a carrier. SiP connects the dies with standard off-chip wire bonds or solder bumps.

The appeal of a SiP is that it can be compact an otherwise complex system into a very simple package, making it easier to integrate into larger systems. It also simplifies PCB layouts.

Unlike a SOC that is based on a single silicon die, SiP can be based on multiple dies in a single package. SiP is believed to provide more interconnection in the future and possibly face out SoCs.

Package-on-a-Package (PoP)

Package on a Package

A Package-on-a-Package stacks single-component packages vertically, connected via ball grid arrays. Packages can be discrete components (memory, CPU, other logic) or a System-in-a-Package stacked with another package for added or expanded functionality.

PoP provides more component density and also simplifies PCB design. It can also improve signal propagation since the interconnects between components is much shorter.

System-on-a-Chip (SoC)

A System-on-a-chip (SoC) is a microchip with all the necessary electronic circuits and parts for a  given system, such as a smartphone or wearable computer, into a single integrated circuit (IC).

An SoC integrates a microcontroller (or microprocessor) with advanced peripherals like graphic processing unit (GPU), Wi-Fi module, or coprocessor.

Think of an SoC as a computer package inside a chip. The SoC integrates all components of a system into one. It may contain digital, analog, mixed-signal, and often radio-frequency functions – all on a single substrate. An SoC can be based around either a microcontroller (includes CPU, RAM, ROM, and other peripherals) or a microprocessor (includes only a CPU). It is also possible for SoCs to be customized for a specific application, including whatever components, memory, or peripherals necessary, ranging from digital/analog signal ICs, FPGAs, and IOs.

One of the major advantages of an SoC is that it is usually cheaper, smaller, easy to scale, and even more energy efficient. It is easier to build around a SoC for a product than to add several components individually. Despite its obvious advantages, SoC still has a significant disadvantage – you are going to be locked into that hardware configuration for life. This could be fine for consumer products, since you don’t expect any hardware upgrade or so but would limit hacking for makers related application.

A good example of an SoC is what we have in the Raspberry Pi; The Raspberry Pi uses a system on a chip as an almost fully-contained microcomputer. SoCs can help engineers speed up a product to market and even the adoption of new protocols, such as those Bluetooth 5 SoCs, that make it easier to integrate Bluetooth 5 into new products.

System on Module (SoM) / Computer on Module (CoM)

Computer on a module

A System on a Module (SoM) and Computer on Module usually refers to the same thing. A Computer-on-a-module is a step above an SoC. It means a computer or system packaged in a single module. CoMs usually provide every piece you need to build a complete system; they incorporate an SoC (most of the time), connectivity, multimedia and display, GPIO, operating system, and others into one single module.

SoM based designs are usually scalable. SoMs/CoMs are usually paired with a carrier board. These carrier boards are usually used to extend out the SoMs functionality or parts. A SoM helps system designers realize a fully customized electronics assembly, complete with custom interfaces and form factor without the effort of a ground-up electronics design. Customers can purchase an off-the-shelf SoM and marry it to an easy to develop custom baseboard to create a solution functionally identical to one that is fully custom-engineered.

CoMs provide a plug-and-play type advantage since a CoM can be replaced or upgraded within a carrier, without having to change the carrier. There are some benefits to the SoM approach vs. ground-up development. These include cost savings, reduced risk, a variety of CPU choices, decreased customer design requirements, and a small footprint.

Unlike an SBC, a computer-on-module is a type of single-board computer made to plug into a carrier board, baseboard, or backplane for system expansion.

Single Board Computers (SBCs)

A Raspberry Pi SBC

single-board computer (SBC) is a complete computer built on a single circuit board, with a microprocessor(s), memory, input/output (I/O) and other features required for a functional computer. Single-board computers were made as demonstration or development systems, for educational systems, or for use as embedded computer controllers.

Single-board computer builds on SoC to provide a full-fledged computer on small circuit board. Examples of popular SBCs are Raspberry Pi boards, Nvidia Jetson, Beaglebone, and several others.