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System-on-Modules

Written by Sam Wallace

For When Ease-of-Design Is Key

System-on-modules (SoMs) continue to offer numerous cost and design advantages, to the consumer and the embedded developer, both. This month’s gallery focuses on a range of SoMs, from the niche to the broad.

  • System-on-Modules
  • Tungsten700 SMARC
  • Sona MT320 Wi-Fi 6
  • BLUETOOTH 5.3
  • LPDDR4 RAM
  • DIGI International ConnectCore 93 SoMs 
  • ConnectCore 93 
  • Cortex-A55 cores
  • Cortex-M33 core
  • i.MX 8XLite
  • LGA Module
  • MYiR’s RZ/G2L 
  • NetBurner Ethernet System-on-Module
  • Portwell’s i.Core MX8M
  • quad-core Arm Cortex-A53
  • RELOC Brick-ML
  • VAR-SOM-AM62
  • Xilinx Kria K26

I reckon not a few of our readers might fashion themselves “tinkers,” although doubtless prototyping an embedded design at home is significantly more complicated than mending utensils. I’ve read enough articles in Circuit Cellar at this point to understand, if only vicariously, the joys (and pains) of hand-wiring a prototype, trying out different components, throwing in some solder for good measure, and test-running your humble device before returning, inevitably, to the drawing board. The do-it-yourself quality—the mess of it all, so to speak—is a part of the fun. But there are also times when “sleek,” “easy,” and “professional” are good things. For those times, we might well turn to the every-ballooning field of system-on-modules (SoM). 

The name just about says it all. But for those who are returning to civilization after having lived for a few decades under a rock, a SoM (also known as a computer-on-module, or CoM, depending on who you ask), integrates all or most of a system’s functions into a single module. Unlike their cousin the system-on-a-chip (SoC), SoMs are board-level circuits.

Their advantages are many. When your team is seeking design simplification, faster time-to-market, modularity, scalability, adaptability, cost efficiency, resource optimization, easier hardware and software integration, longevity, reduced risk, or all of the above, the right SoM can save the day (and save you a dozen or so headaches). 

And so we bring you this month’s gallery. In it, you’ll find SoMs geared for applications in industrial settings, vision systems, network control, wireless connectivity, automotive systems, machine learning, and IoT. You’ll see a few familiar names, and some that were new to me. As always, I attempted to hint at the breadth of options available, while keeping my focus on products released approximately within the last 12 months. This column necessarily only reflects a small corner of the wealth of choices on the market today.

PUBLISHED IN CIRCUIT CELLAR MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2024 #403 – Get a PDF of the issue


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Editor-in-Chief at KCK Media Corp. | + posts

Sam Wallace - became Circuit Cellar's  Editor-In-Chief in August 2022.
His experience in writing, editing, and teaching will provide a great perspective on the selection, presentation, and clarity of editorial content. The Circuit Cellar audience will benefit from his strong academic background encompassing a Master of Fine Arts in Writing and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with honors. His passion for learning and teaching is a great fit for Circuit Cellar's continuing mission of Inspiring the Evolution of Embedded Design.

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System-on-Modules

by Sam Wallace time to read: 2 min