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Raspberry Pi Lookalike Showcases I.MX8M Mini

Written by Eric Brown

Avnet’s $72.50 “MaaxBoard Mini” SBC offers Linux and Android images to run on an i.MX8M Mini with 2GB DDR4, GbE, 4x USB 2.0, MIPI DSI- and -CSI, WiFi/BT, and 40-pin GPIO.

A year ago, Avnet’s Embest unit launched a $60 MaaXBoard SBC featuring NXP’s i.MX8M. We missed the company’s July announcement of the promised, i.MX8M Mini based MaaxBoard Mini, but since the board did not receive wide coverage, we figure better late than never.

Available for $72.50, the MaaxBoard Mini is even more like the Raspberry Pi than the MaaxBoard due to its 4x USB 2.0 versus 2x USB 3.0 ports. Compared to the MaaxBoard, the Mini model is said to add a hardware video encoder “to power versatile video applications such as monitoring, visual inspection and video conferencing.” Yet, we saw no details on the encoder or the encoding resolution.

MaaxBoard Mini
(click images to enlarge)

Thanks to its 14nm fabrication process, NXP’s 1.8GHz i.MX8M Mini SoC is faster and more power-efficient than the earlier i.MX8M. However, it’s limited to 1080@60 instead of the 4K@60 resolution found on the i.MX8M. The i.MX8M features a Vivante GC7000 Lite GPU while the Mini has GCNanoUltra (3D) and GC320 (2D) graphics cores. A 400MHz Cortex-M4 MCU is also built into the SoC.

The MaaxBoard Mini ships with 2GB DDR4 but lacks the 4GB option available on the original. It similarly supplies an empty eMMC socket and a microSD slot. It removes the HDMI port, leaving you with the earlier MIPI-DSI interface, which is available with an optional $51 LCD display.

Other media features include a MIPI-CSI camera connector with an optional $27 camera module. The SPDIF/UART and SAI audio connectors have been removed, but you can still get SAI and I2S via the Raspberry Pi compatible 40-pin connector, which also offers features like UART, SPI, I2C and GPIO.

You can use the UART pin from the GPIO to gain USB terminal access to an optional, $21 Microchip USB-to-UART evaluation and debug board. Other 40-pin options include a Sequans Monarch Go LTE cellular modem HAT that costs more than the SBC at $73.

MaaxBoard Mini detail view and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

There do not appear to be open hardware files associated with the project, but there are images for Yocto, Debian 10, and Android 9.0. Open-spec SBCs built on the i.MX8M Mini include Boundary Devices’ Nitrogen8M_Mini and SolidRun’s more recent HummingBoard Ripple. Commercial boards include Compulab’s dual-LAN SBC-IOT-iMX8, iWave’s Pico-ITX form-factor iW-RainboW-G34D, and Garz & Fricke’s 159 x 80mm Tanaro.

Specifications listed for the MaaxBoard Mini include:

  • Processor — NXP i.MX8M Mini Quad (4x Cortex-A53 @ up to 1.8GHz); Vivante GCNanoUltra (3D) and GC320 (2D) graphics with VPU; Cortex-M4F @ 400MHz
  • Memory/storage:
    • 2GB DDR4
    • eMMC socket for up to 64GB
    • MicroSD slot
  • Networking/wireless:
    • 10/100/1000 Ethernet port
    • 802.11ac with Bluetooth 4.2 with ant. connector
  • Media I/O:
    • MIPI-DSI
    • MIPI-CSI
  • Other I/O:
    • 4x USB 2.0 host ports
    • USB Type-C port with 5V power input only
  • Expansion — 40-pin GPIO connector (RPi HAT compatible) with I2C, SPI, UART, I2S, SAI, GPIO, etc.
  • Other features — 2x user buttons; 2x LEDs; passive heatsink
  • Power — 5V/3A via USB Type-C; PMIC; voltage regulators; power button; BYO power supply
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 70°C
  • Dimensions — 85 x 56mm
  • Operating system — Yocto and Debian 10 images (Linux 4.14.98), Android 9.0 image; supports Windows 10 IoT Core

Further information


Advertise Here

The MaaxBoard Mini is available in the Americas, Europe, and China for $72.50. The URL to the shopping link from the product page is broken, but we found the board for sale on the Avnet shopping site as the AES-MC-SBC-IMX8MINI-G and also found it selling for the same price on this Embest page, which offers more details than the Avnet pages. More info may also be found in Avnet’s announcement.

This article originally appeared on on September 15, 2020.

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Raspberry Pi Lookalike Showcases I.MX8M Mini

by Eric Brown time to read: 3 min