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Advantech continues its Arm push with QuadMax based Qseven module

May 14, 2018 — by Eric Brown — 636 views

Advantech’s “ROM-7720” Qseven module runs Linux or Android on a hexa-core i.MX8 QuadMax with 4K, USB 3.0, PCIe, and SATA. The company is also partnering with Timesys on security services for its Arm-based boards and is co-hosting a Timesys webinar on the topic.

We missed Advantech’s announcement about the NXP i.MX8 QuadMax based ROM-7720 module in the flurry of embedded news coming out of Embedded World show in late February. Full specs have now been posted for the 70 x 70mm Qseven 2.1 form-factor module, which is expected to ship in Q4. In related news, Timesys recently announced it is partnering with Advantech on security solutions for its Arm-based boards, and will host a webinar series on the topic starting May 17 (see farther below).



ROM-7720

This ROM-7720 is the third COM we’ve seen to support NXP’s high-end i.MX8 QuadMax SoC. The two others are Toradex’s soon-to-ship, SODIMM-style Apalis iMX8 and iWave’s upcoming iW-RainboW-G27M SMARC module. Like both modules, the ROM-7720 runs Linux, and like the iWave module it also supports Android. The supported Linux platforms include Ubuntu, Debian, and Yocto.

Like the i.MX8 Quad and QuadPlus, the QuadMax 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 platform differs from the lower-end, single-GPU i.MX8M, a quad -A53 SoC that has already seen widespread adoption.



i.MX8 Quad block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The ROM-7720 is designed for multi-display human–machine interfaces, advanced driver assistance systems, robotic vision, precision advertising systems, and medical image processing, as well as other surveillance and video analytics applications. Advantech’s WISE-PaaS/Edgesense software is built in, providing support for RMM and OTA for remote monitoring and management and over-the-air updates, says Advantech.

The ROM-7720 is equipped with 2GB LPDDR4, with an option to expand to 4GB. You also get a 64MB SPI flash boot loader, as well as 8GB of eMMC. There’s a GbE controller, plus options for WiFi, 3G, or 3G/GPS with antenna support.

The ROM-7720 supports 4K @ 30fps video via an HDMI interface, and offers dual 24-bit LVDS connections with 1366 x 768 and 1920 x 1080 resolution, respectively. Like the Toradex and iWave modules, the COM is touted for the QuadMax SoC’s dual failover-ready display controllers.

The module provides a SATA III interface plus 2x PCIe Gen2, 3x USB 3.0, 3x USB 2.0, and a USB OTG connection. Other features include 8x GPIO, 2x I2C, and 2x PWM/fan, plus I2S, SDIO, SPI, and CAN interfaces.

In addition to the 2x UART interfaces available via the MXM edge finger connector, there’s an onboard UART for console use. The 5V module has a watchdog and RTC support, and operates at 0 to 60°C.

 
Timesys partners with Advantech on Arm boards and launches webinar series

On May 3, Timesys, which hosts the web-based LinuxLink embedded Linux development platform, announced a partnership with Advantech to provide a “Reduce Risk with RISC” security service for Advantech’s Arm-based boards. On May 10, the companies announced a webinar series on the subject starting on May 17.

The Reduce Risk with RISC program will add a secure IoT stack called the Security Services Solution to Advantech’s Arm-based (i.e., RISC based as opposed to x86) boards. The Timesys Security Services Solution is built around is Security Vulnerability and Patch Notification Services. This “complete development solution” enables device developers to “bring open source-based products to market that are ‘Secure by Design’ and that ‘Stay Secure’ throughout the product lifecycle,” says Timesys.


RSB-4411

Customers of three older, i.MX6-based Advantech Arm-based systems will receive a complimentary three-month subscription to the Timesys Security Vulnerability Notification Service. It appears, however, that this and other elements of the Security Services Solution will be available for other Advantech Arm systems as well. The three systems are the Advantech UBC-DS31 signage computer, the EPCR6410 embedded computer, and the RSB-4411 3.5-inch SBC.

The five-part, bi-weekly webinar series is called “Reduce Risk with RISC: Designing and Maintaining Secure Embedded Linux Devices with Advantech RISC Platforms.” The free webinars run from May 17 through July 12 on Thursdays at 11:00 AM PDT.

NXP is also a co-sponsor, and the i.MX6 will be the target platform. Although Advantech has a few TI Sitara and Qualcomm Snapdragon boards, most of its Arm boards are i.MX-based. Most of Advantech’s embedded modules and SBCs are still built on x86 processors, but like most other traditional embedded vendors, it is increasing its output of Arm offerings.

Topics include:

  • Meeting customers’ security expectations and compliance requirements in the ongoing product lifecycle.
  • Security vulnerability monitoring and notification, patch notification and update management.
  • Designing secure products from the outset, including secure boot, chain of trust, and firmware verification.
  • Device hardening and auditing.
  • Protection against device counterfeiting.
  • Maintaining device security in production

The Advantech/Timesys partnership appears to be related to Advantech’s Embedded Linux & Android Alliance (ELAA), an Advantech-led consortium of vendors including Timesys, Retronix, ThunderSoft, and Canonical. ELAA intends to build standards around a few common reference boards and BSPs that support Advantech hardware, starting with several i.MX6 based Advantech boards.


ROM-7421

One of the ELAA reference platforms is a sandwich-style ROM-DK7421 kit built around an i.MX6-based ROM-7421 Qseven module. In its announcement of the new i.MX8 QuadMax based ROM-7720 Qseven module, Advantech noted that it will provide ELAA members with “complete ROM-7720 software offerings, including featured OS as well as security and image recognition technologies.”

 
Further information

The ROM-7720 will be available in Q4 2018. More information may be found in Advantech’s ROM-7720 announcement and product page.

More on the Timesys webinar series may be found here.

 

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