Variscite Unveils Two i.MX8 QuadMax Modules

By Eric Brown

Variscite announced Linux-powered “VAR-SOM-MX8” and “SPEAR-MX8” modules with an up to an i.MX8 QuadMax SoC plus up to 8GB LPDDR4 and 64GB eMMC. It also previewed a VAR-SOM-6UL COM.

At Embedded World in Nuremberg, Germany, Variscite showcased its Linux and Android driven i.MX8-family computer-on-modules, including new VAR-SOM-MX8 and SPEAR-MX8 modules that feature NXP’s highest-end i.MX8 SoC up to a QuadMax model (see farther below). We have already covered most of the other showcased products, including the 14nm fabricated, quad -A53 i.MX8M Mini based DART-MX8M-Mini. When we covered the DART-MX8M-Mini in September, Variscite didn’t have an image or product page, but both are now available here


 
VAR-SOM-MX8 (left) and previously announced DART-MX8M-Mini
(click images to enlarge)
Other showcased COMs that we covered in recent months include the quad -A35 i.MX8X based VAR-SOM-MX8X and the quad -A53 i.MX8M based DART-MX8M. Variscite also announced a VAR-SOM-6UL module with support for the i.MX6 UL (UltraLite), ULL, and most recent ULZ low-power IoT SoCs. The board has yet to be fully documented, but we’ve listed what’s available farther below.



Variscite’s VAR-SOM and DART families
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 VAR-SOM-MX8

Due to ship with the similar, but more advanced, SPEAR-MX8 (see farther below) in the second quarter, the 67.6 x 51.6mm VAR-SOM-MX8 is pin-to-pin compatible with other VAR-SOM modules, including the new wireless-enabled version of the circa-2014 VAR-SOM-MX6.

The VAR-SOM-MX8 ships with the high-end i.MX8 QuadMax or the mid-range QuadPlus models. The i.MX8 QuadMax features 2x Cortex-A72 cores, 4x Cortex-A53 cores, 2x Vivante GC7000XSVX GPUs, and 2x Cortex-M4F real-time cores. The QuadPlus is identical except that it only has one Cortex-A72 core.


 
VAR-SOM-MX8 rear view and block diagram
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Other i.MX8 SoCs that support both the QuadMax and QuadPlus include Congatec’s Conga-SMX8 SMARC module, which also offers the DualMax variant. The others focus on the QuadMax, including the Toradex Apalis iMX and iWave iW-RainboW-G27M.

The VAR-SOM-MX8 runs Yocto Project based Linux (Sumo release) or Android 9.0 “Pie,” both with Linux kernel 4.14.78. The module ships with 2GB to 8GB LPDDR4 and 4GB to 64GB eMMC. It supports 2x GbE ports and offers a wireless module with certified 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.2 BLE.

Media I/O includes HDMI v2.0a, eDP 1.4, and DP 1.3, all with resolution up to 4Kp60. There are also MIPI-DSI and dual-channel LVDS connections for up to 1920 x 1080 pixels with resistive or capacitive touch support. For audio, you get analog I/O, a headphone driver, digital and analog stereo mic support, and I2S/SAI digital audio.

The module supports USB 3.0 OTG and USB 2.0 host ports, as well as 5x UART, 4x I2C, 4x SPI, and 2x CAN/CAN-FD (FlexibleData-Rate). Other I/O includes PCIe Gen 3.0, SD/MMC, and optional JTAG. The 3.3V module supports 0 to 70°C, -20 to 85°C, and -40 to 85°C temperature ranges. There’s a product longevity guarantee through 2033.

SPEAR-MX8

The SPEAR-MX8 is only slightly larger than the VAR-SOM-MX8, at 68 x 55mm, but it packs in a lot more features. On the other hand, it lacks the pin-to-pin compatibility with other VAR-SOM models. The module offers only the high-end i.MX8 QuadMax.


 
SPEAR-MX8 and block diagram
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The SPEAR-MX8 appears to have all the features of the VAR-SOM-MX8 with several key additions. These include support for SATA III storage, an HDMI 1.4 input, and dual MIPI-CSI2 camera links. It adds a third USB connection, which is variably listed as a second USB 3.0 and a second USB 2.0 OTG. You also get a second PCIe link and a third CAN port. The module has a heftier 3.4-4.5V DC input.

VAR-SOM-6UL

Variscite did not have much to say about the upcoming VAR-SOM-6UL module, which like the smaller, 50 x 25mm DART-6UL, uses a slightly stripped down i.MX6 ULZ SoC in addition to the UL and ULL models. All these single Cortex-A7 SoCs, which are here clocked to 900MHz, are notable for their low power consumption.



VAR-SOM-6UL
The VAR-SOM-6UL will ship with certified dual-band WiFi 802.11ac, Bluetooth/BLE, and support for dual Ethernet ports, dual USB ports, and serial interfaces. Media interfaces include 24-bit Parallel LCD, 18-bit LVDS up to WXGA, audio I/O, and a camera input.

Further information

The VAR-SOM-MX8 and SPEAR-MX8 modules are available in eval kits for “early partners” and will launch in Q2. There’s no ship date for the VAR-SOM-6UL, which is now open for pre-orders for eval kits and samples.

More information may be found in Variscite’s i.MX Embedded World announcement, as well as the VAR-SOM-MX8 product page and wiki and the SPEAR-MX8 product page.

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on February 22.

Variscite | www.variscite.com

Congatec Doubles RAM Support for Server-on-Modules

Congatec has announced that its Intel Atom C3000 processor-based conga-B7AC Server-on-Modules now support up to 96 GB DDR4 SO-DIMM memory on 3 sockets. This is twice the previously supported capacity. The company is touting this as a new milestone for COM Express Type 7 based designs, because memory is one of the most important performance levers for embedded edge server technologies. This increase was possible because the Intel Atom C3000 family supports the newly available 32 GB SO-DIMMs. The new Server-on-Modules with a high-speed memory bandwidth of 2400 MT/s are available now and can be ordered with and without ECC support.

High memory capacity is essential for server applications, because the fastest way to read and write values from a database is to fully load them into memory, according to Congatec. The larger the databases, the more memory capacity is needed. There are many database applications in the field of embedded edge computing, such as network appliances for content delivery in video surveillance applications, IoT gateways or OPC UA servers in automation.

A large RAM is also a good intermediate buffer for Big Data analytics on the fly so that only smaller results need to be stored. Servers that host many virtual machines also benefit immensely from the doubled memory capacity. With 96 GB RAM, 12 virtual machines now have 8 GB RAM available on each partition, making them well-suited for standard Linux or Windows installations.

The conga-B7AC Server-on-Modules with up to 96 GB RAM can be ordered in the following configurations and include personal integration support for OEMs off the shelf:

Processor Cores Cache [MB] Clock [GHz] TDP [W]  Temperature range
Intel Atom C3958 16 16 2.0 31 0 to +60 °C
Intel Atom C3858 12 12 2.0 25 0 to +60 °C
Intel Atom C3758 8 16 2.2 25 0 to +60 °C
Intel Atom C3558 4 8 2.2 16 0 to +60 °C
Intel Atom C3538 4 8 2.1 15 0 to +60 °C
Intel Atom C3808 12 12 2.0 25 -40 to +85 °C
Intel Atom C3708 8 16 1.7 17 0 to +60 °C
Intel Atom C3508 4 8 1.6 11.5 -40 to +85 °C
Intel Atom C3308 2 4 1.6 2.1 0 to +60 °C

Congatec | www.congatec.com

SMARC SOMs Used for Walmart Robotic Retrieval System

Axiomtek has announced its ongoing collaboration with Alert Innovation. Alert Innovation has been tapped by Walmart to use its robotics technology to automate their grocery operations. The company has developed the Alphabot system, an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) that is also an Automated Each-Picking System (AEPS). Axiomtek’s embedded computers and SMARC System on Modules (SOMs) are used in the system.
For a period of almost two years prior to the announcement of the Alphabot pilot test in a Walmart Supercenter, the Axiomtek team worked alongside Alert Innovation’s engineering team, helping to identify and customize products for Alert’s use, participating in schematic reviews and supporting driver development to ensure seamless integration. Since then, Axiomtek has continued to invest in and support the Alert Innovation Alphabot system’s mission.

A number of products have been tailored to balance performance and cost effectiveness, mitigate the challenges associated with refrigerated and frozen environments by adding conformal coatings and integrate application-specific interfaces. According to Alert Innovation, said Matthew Coady, Senior Director of Electrical Engineering and Controls. “We chose them because their products and team consistently met our stringent project requirements, delivering quality, performance, support, and all the features our applications required,” said Matthew Coady, Alert Innovation’s Senior Director of Electrical Engineering and Controls, “The SMARC SOM that we selected fits in our space-constrained application and helped us come to market quickly. If (and when) our application needs more processing power, memory or storage, Axiomtek has a range of products in their portfolio and roadmap that will help keep our hardware platform viable for many years to come. Axiomtek was quick to provide us with a BSP for our QNX operating system, and carrier integration support.”

Axiomtek | us.axiomtek.com

Zynq SoC SOM Module Enabled With HSR/PRP IP

iWave Systems has partnered with SoC-e for enabling HSR/PRP IP on iWave’s Zynq 7000 SoC SOM Module. iWave has rigorously validated SoC-e’s High-availability Seamless Redundancy (HSR) and Parallel Redundancy Protocol (PRP) IP Protocol on our Zynq 7000 SoC based SOM module. iWave’s Zynq 7000 SoC SOM and SoC-e’s HSR/PRP Switch IP Core reduce the time-to-market and simplifying design complexity. SOC-e develops IP portfolios for leading-edge networking and synchronization technologies for time critical systems.The Zynq-7000 programmable SoC family integrates the software programmability of an Arm-based processor with the hardware programmability of an FPGA, enabling key analytics and hardware acceleration while integrating CPU, DSP, ASSP and mixed signal functionality on a single device. The iW-RainboW-G28M (Zynq 7000 Board) is a featured-full and ready to-operate embedded software and advanced circuit development kit built around the smallest member from the Xilinx Zynq-7000 family, the Z-7010.

The Zynq-7000 SOM / Development Kit is based on the Xilinx All Programmable System-on-Chip architecture, which firmly incorporates a single / Dual Cortex A9 with Xilinx 7-series FPGA logic. At the point when combined with the rich set of media and connectivity peripherals accessible on the Zynq 7000 SOM, the Zynq Z-7007S, Z-7014S, Z-7010, Z-7020, can host an entire design system.

Memories, 512 MB DDR3 (Expandable to 1 GB) or 512 MB NAND Flash (Expandable), that are on-board, video and sound I/O, USB 2.0 OTG, Gigabit Ethernet and SD (4-bit) will have your board up-and-running with no extra hardware required. Moreover, PMIC with RTC bolster connectors is accessible to put any design on a simple development way.

The iW-RainboW-G28M gives an ultra-cost to embedded designers that don’t require the high-thickness I/O of the FMC connector yet at the same time wish to use the enormous preparing force and extensibility of the Zynq AP SoC architecture.

iWave Systems | www.iwavesystems.com

MPU-Based SOM Meets Industrial IoT Linux Needs

Microchip Technology has unveiled a new System on Module (SOM) featuring the SAMA5D2 microprocessor (MPU). The ATSAMA5D27-SOM1 contains the recently released ATSAMA5D27C-D1G-CU System in Package (SiP). The SOM simplifies IoT design by integrating the power management, non-volatile boot memory, Ethernet PHY and high-speed DDR2 memory onto a small, single-sided printed circuit board (PCB). There is a great deal of design effort and complexity associated with creating an industrial-grade MPU-based system running a Linux operating system. Even developers with expertise in the area spend a lot of time on PCB layout to guarantee signal integrity for the high-speed interfaces to DDR memory and PHY while complying with EMC standards.

The SAMA5D2 family of products provides an extremely flexible design experience no matter the level of expertise. For example, the SOM—which integrates multiple external components and eliminates key design challenges around EMI, ESD and signal integrity—can be used to expedite development time. Customers can solder the SOM to their board and take it to production, or it can be used as a reference design along with the free schematics, design and Gerber files and complete bill of materials which are available online. Customers can also transition from the SOM to the SiP or the MPU itself, depending on their design needs. All products are backed by Microchip’s customer-driven obsolescence policy which ensures availability to customers for as long as needed.

The Arm Cortex-A5-based SAMA5D2 SiP, mounted on the SOM PCB or available separately, integrates 1 Gbit of DDR2 memory, further simplifying the design by removing the high- speed memory interface constraints from the PCB. The impedance matching is done in the package, not manually during development, so the system will function properly at normal and low- speed operation. Three DDR2 memory sizes (128 Mb, 512 Mb and 1 Gb) are available for the SAMA5D2 SiP and optimized for bare metal, RTOS and Linux implementations.

Microchip customers developing Linux-based applications have access to the largest set of device drivers, middleware and application layers for the embedded market at no charge. All of Microchip’s Linux development code for the SiP and SOM are mainlined in the Linux communities. This results in solutions where customers can connect external devices, for which drivers are mainlined, to the SOM and SIP with minimal software development.

The SAMA5D2 family features the highest levels of security in the industry, including PCI compliance, providing an excellent platform for customers to create secured designs. With integrated Arm TrustZone and capabilities for tamper detection, secure data and program storage, hardware encryption engine, secure boot and more, customers can work with Microchip’s security experts to evaluate their security needs and implement the level of protection that’s right for their design. The SAMA5D2 SOM also contains Microchip’s QSPI NOR Flash memory, a Power Management Integrated Circuit (PMIC), an Ethernet PHY and serial EEPROM memory with a Media Access Control (MAC) address to expand design options.

The SOM1-EK1 development board provides a convenient evaluation platform for both the SOM and the SiP. A free Board Support Package (BSP) includes the Linux kernel and drivers for the MPU peripherals and integrated circuits on the SOM. Schematics and Gerber files for the SOM are also available.

The ATSAMA5D2 SiP is available in four variants starting with the ATSAMA5D225C-D1M- CU in a 196-lead BGA package for $8.62 each in 10,000 units. The ATSAMA5D27-SOM1 is available now for $39.00 each in 100 units The ATSAMA5D27-SOM1-EK1 development board is available for $245.00.

Microchip Technology | www.microchip.com

Qseven Card Sports Renesas RZ/G1M

iWave has announced a System-On-Module (SOM) based on Renesas RZ/G1M embedded processr. RZ/G1M SOM is Qseven R2.0 compatible industrial grade CPU module. Called the iW-RainboW-G20M, this SOM module supports 1 GB DDR3 RAM, 4 GB eMMC Flash and 2 MB SPI NOR Flash. Expandable memory is optional. The module also includes on SOM Gigabit Ethernet PHY, Micro SD slot and USB HUB.

renesas-rz-g1-mpu-embedded-boardRenesas’s RZG1M processor supports dual cortex A15 core operating at 1.5 GHz core and includes 64-bit DDR3 interface at 800 MHz. These features provide higher performance for applications such as image processing of multiple video streams and video sensing. The high-speed on-chip integrated USB 3.0, PCIe, Gbit Ethernet and SATA peripherals allows easy expansion of functionality without the need for external components. The RZ/G1M processor supports full HD hardware encode and decode processing up to 1,080 at 60 frames/s, dual display and three channel video input ports. The built-in PowerVR SGX544MP2 Graphics core at 520 MHz allows the user to develop highly effective user interfaces.

The RZ/G1M SOM is supported Linux 3.10 LTSI with Android BSP support to come. To enable quick prototyping of RZG1M SOM, iWave systems supports RZ/G1M development kit with comprehensive peripheral support. This will help customers to save up to 60% of new product development cycle using the RZ-G1M MPU.

iWave Systems Technologies | www.iwavesystems.com

Technical Preview of Windows 10 IoT Core on ARM Platform

Toradex recently announced the availability of a technical preview of the Windows 10 IoT Core on an ARM-based System on Module (SOM). The technical preview enables embedded developers to evaluate the new features of Windows 10 IoT Core on an industrial-grade embedded computing platform. According to Toradex, a starter kit—available for a limited time at a promotional price—is available with a Colibri T30 SOM and Iris carrier board with required accessories.

The technical preview is based on Colibri T30 powered by NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 ARM Cortex-A9 Quad Core embedded processor. Part of the Azure IoT Certified Program, the Colibri T30 supports accelerated DirectX graphics and provides low-level hardware access.

Although the technical preview’s has a limited number of features, Toradex announced that it intends to gather customer feedback and later extend features and add Windows 10 IoT Core support for its other ARM-based SOMs.

Source: Toradex

Embedded SOM with Linux-Based RTOS

National Instruments has introduced an embedded system-on-module (SOM) development board with integrated Linux-based real-time operating system (RTOS).NIsom

Processing power in the 2” x 3” SOM comes from a Xilinx Zync-7020 all programmable SOC running a dual core ARM Cortex-A9 at 667 MHz. A built-in, low-power Artix-7 FPGA offers 160 single-ended I/Os and Its dedicated processor I/O include Gigabit Ethernet USB 2.0 host, USB 2.0 host/device, SDHC, RS-232, and Tx/Rx. The SOM’s power requirements are typically 3 to 5 W.

The SOM integrates a validated board support package (BSP) and device drivers together with the National Instruments Linux real-time OS. The SOM board is supplied with a full suite of middleware for developing an embedded OS, custom software drivers, and other common software components.

The LabVIEW FPGA graphical development platform eliminates the need for expertise in the design approach using a hardware description language.

[Via Elektor]