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SBC Runs Linux on Dual -A72 LS1028A

Written by Eric Brown

TQ-Embedded’s “MBLS1028A-IND” SBC and box PC run Linux on a module with a dual-core -A72 LS1028A and supply 6x GbE with TSN. TQ also has a “TQMLX2160A” module with NXP’s 8-16-core Cortex-A72 LX2x CPU.

While reporting earlier this week on TQ-Embedded’s TQMa8Xx and TQMa8XxS modules, based on an i.MX8X, and TQ’s TQMa8MxML module based on the i.MX8M Mini/Nano, we noticed several TQ products we missed from earlier this year built on NXP’s networking focused Layerscape processors. In March, TQ launched a MBLS1028A-IND networking SBC and LBoxLS1028A box PC built around its LS1028A based TQMLS1028A module, which we covered in March 2019. The single or dual-core, Cortex-A72 based module was announced along with modules based on Intel’s Whiskey Lake and NXP’s T1022.

MBLS1028A-IND SBC and LBoxLS1028A box PC
(click images to enlarge)

Since then, the promised, Mini-ITX form-factor STKLS1028A starter kit for the TQMLS1028A has been detailed. Unlike that evaluation and prototyping product, which is also called the MBLS1028A, the smaller new MBLS1028A-IND and the LBoxLS1028A that incorporates it are marketed as separate SBC and box-PC products ready for deployment.

In January, TQ-Embedded announced a TQMLX2160A module with NXP’s 8-16-core Cortex-A72 LX2x CPUs, which we cover farther below. All these Layerscape products run Linux, and the TQMLX2160A also supports VxWorks on request.

 
TQMLS1028A module recap

The new MBLS1028A-IND SBC and LBoxLS1028A computer are built around TQ’s 55 x 44mm TQMLS1028A, which features the LS1028A SoC with 2x -high-powered Cortex A72 cores clocked to 1.3GHz. The module, as well as the MBLS1028A-IND SBC, the earlier STKLS1028A starter kit, and the LBoxLS1028A system, also support the related, single-core LS1017A and LS1018A parts, as well as the dual-core LS1027A. The LS1018A and the LS1028A are the only LSx SoCs that feature a 3D graphics capable GPU with 4K support.

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TQMLS1028A block diagram and LS1028A block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The LS1028A and its siblings integrate a four-port TSN switch and two separate TSN Ethernet controllers. Like NXP’s other LSx SoCs, it supports NXP’s EdgeScale suite of secure edge computing device management tools. Other products built around the LS1028A include Kontron’s SMARC-sAL28 module and Microsys’ miriac MPX-LS1028A module and miriac SBC-LS1028A-TSN SBC

The TQMLS1028A module ships with up to 8GB DDR4 with ECC support, as well as up to 512MB Quad SPI NOR flash and up to 64GB eMMC. The module supports the SoC’s four-port TSN switch and offers dual GbE controllers, with one of them capable of 2.5Gbps throughput.

 
MBLS1028A-IND

The TSN switch enables the 6x GbE ports on the new MBLS1028A-IND SBC and LBoxLS1028A system, as well as the earlier STKLS1028A (MBLS1028A) Mini-ITX starter kit. There are two standalone GbE ports, one of which supports TSN, in addition to the 4x switched TSN ports.

MBLS1028A-IND block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The 160 x 100mm MBLS1028A-IND SBC and LBoxLS1028A system are aimed at TSN switch, edge server, Ethernet gateway, and industrial router applications. Like the 170 x 170mm STKLS1028A board, it supports all the memory configurations provided by the module.

The STKLS1028A has some additional features compared to the MBLS1028A-IND, including more USB and debug ports and a DisplayPort instead of eDP. In either case you get 4K support when using the LS1018A or LS1028A. (For more details, see the block diagram below and the link at the end of the story.)

STKLS1028A Mini-ITX board and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

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The MBLS1028A-IND is equipped with USB 3.0 host and OTG ports plus a serial micro-USB debug port. You also get a microSD slot, an SD slot, 2x CAN ports, and an M.2-based SATA 3.0 card. A mini-PCIe slot with SIM slot is available for cellular expansion.

The MBLS1028A-IND is further equipped with 2x SPI and single I2C interfaces, as well as a real-time clock, a 16-28VDC input, and a temperature sensor. The board supports a -40 to 70°C range.

The 170 x 103 x 35mm LBoxLS1028A box PC expands upon the MBLS1028A-IND with an enclosure, but TQ lists no additional features. The system appears to use a heatsink.

 
TQMLX2160A

The TQMLX2160A module is built around NXP’s highest-end LX2 module, the headless, 16-core, Cortex-A72 Layerscape LX2160A. The module also supports the pin-compatible, 8-core LX2080A and 12-core LX2120A, which similarly offer an up to 2.2GHz clock rate.

The LX2160A is found on Nexcom’s rackmount NSA 6310 edge computer and SolidRun’s CEx7 LX2160A COM Express module, which powers its HoneyComb LX2K Mini-ITX board. (For more details on the processor’s extensive networking and security features, see the HoneyComb story.)

TQMLX2160A and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The 126 x 78mm TQMLX2160A module is designed for high-end networking, servers, edge computers, transport, and traffic engineering applications. The module supports up to 64GB DDR4 via dual slots and up to 64GB eMMC. You also get up to 512MB QSPI NOR flash. All memories are soldered.

The TQMLX2160A has 560 board-to-board pins and supports up to 2x 100-GbE and 16x 25-GbE ports via 24x SerDes lanes at up to 25GHz. The SerDes lanes can alternatively be used for up to 4x SATA 3.0 and up to 6x PCIe Gen3.

The module is further equipped with 2x GbE controllers plus up to 2x USB 3.0, 2x CAN FD, and 2x UART interfaces. Other I/O includes up to 6x I2C, 3x SPI, 32x GPIO, and QSPI.

The 5V module provides a PMIC with voltage monitoring, as well as RTC, JTAG, a temperature sensor, and an optional secure element. The board supports a -25 to 85°C range.

A STKLX2160A-AA carrier due in Q2 2020 provides a single 100-GbE, 2x 10GbE, and up to 10x GbE ports. Other features include 2x USB 3.0 and 2x isolated CAN FD ports, as well as 2x PCIe Gen3 x4 slots, mini-PCIe with SIM, M.2 SATA, and a standard SATA interface. You also get an SD slot with 8GB card, power supply, cables, and a heatspreader.

 
Further information

The MBLS1028A-IND networking SBC and LBoxLS1028A box PC are available now with pricing undisclosed. More information may be found in TQ-Embedded’s announcement and the MBLS1028A-IND and LBoxLS1028A product pages.

No pricing or availability information was provided for the TQMLX2160A. More information may be found in the TQMLX2160A announcement and product page.

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This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on May 7, 2020.

TQ-Embedded | www.tq-group.com


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