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BeagleBone-like SiP package adds eMMC and an oscillator

Sep 27, 2018 — by Eric Brown — 1200 views

Octavo unveiled a 27 x 27mm OSD335x C-SiP package that builds on its previous Sitara AM335x based SiP by adding up to 16GB eMMC and an oscillator along with 1GB DDR3, PMIC, LDO, and EEPROM.

Octavo Systems unveiled the OSD335x C-SiP, which is its most highly integrated System-In-Package (SiP) module yet. Like its earlier models, the OSD335x C-SiP integrates the Cortex-A8 based Texas Instruments Sitara AM3358 SoC with RAM and other core features, and for the first time adds eMMC and an oscillator.



OSD335x C-SiP detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The argument for SiPs is that they take up less space and greatly ease and speed development, among other benefits. “We’ve taken on the tedious part of system design for the embedded developers — how to get the processor, memory, PMIC, and other components to work together nicely,” said Octavo Systems CTO Gene Krantz in an interview with LinuxGizmos. “All you need to do is add power and a few resistors to get a basic Linux computer.”

Octavo unveiled its first OSD335x SiP module in 2016, packing TI’s AM3358 and the other core functions of a BeagleBone Black SBC into a 27 x 27mm BGA (400 Ball) form factor. Features included 512MB or 1GB DDR3 RAM, a power management IC, a low-dropout (LDO) regulator for DC voltage regulation, and 140 passive components, including resistors, capacitors, and inductors. The product was tapped by BeagleBoard.org for the BeagleBone Black Wireless and BeagleBone Blue SBCs.

A year ago, Octavo launched the 256 Ball OSD335x-SM. At 21 x 21mm, the module is 40 percent smaller version than the original while still adding a 4KB EEPROM. The -SM SiP was featured in the tiny PocketBeagle SBC as well as Octavo’s own BeagleBone-like OSD3358-SM-RED development board, which is the official dev board for the C-SiP.

The new OSD335x C-SiP (Complete System-In-Package) reverts to the original module’s 27 x 27mm package. However, it adds up to 16GB eMMC and a 24MHz MEMS oscillator in addition to the EEPROM and the -SM version’s other components.



OSD335x C-SiP feature comparison with earlier SIP models
(click image to enlarge)

Like the earlier packages, the OSD335x C-SiP offers a TPS65217C PMIC and TL5209 LDO, both from TI. It will similarly be available in 0 to 85°C and -40 to 85°C models.

The OSD335x C-SiP ships with the usual Debian stack and offers open source files including schematics. The design is said to enable full access to AM335x features, including the PowerVR SGX GPU and programmable PRU chips. The module is backward compatible to the extent that you can develop using the OSD3358-SM-RED, various BeagleBone boards, and other Sitara AM335x hardware.



OSD335x C-SiP (left) and OSD3358-SM-RED dev board
(click images to enlarge)

The initial model that has just opened up for pre-order integrates the higher-end AM3358 version of the SoC, as well as 512MB of DDR3 and 4GB eMMC. Other models will follow in 2019 with greater memories.

In addition to simplifying embedded designs, the OSD335x C-SiP is about 50 percent smaller than an equivalent system built with individual components, claims Octavo. As a result, designers can create more compact devices, save on PCB costs, or add processing power or other features that would not previously fit.

The C-SiP may be a bit more expensive than buying the different components separately, but Octavo’s SiP packages are claimed to not only reduce development cost, but also potentially, manufacturing costs. For example, it can reduce the need to add multiple PCB layers or print double-sided boards.

In an IoT-crazed era in which there are not enough qualified embedded engineers to meet demand, SiP designs can avoid the time and money spent on power sequencing and laying out DDR3 memory interfaces. It also removes the risk of Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) caused by an inexact layout of the oscillator, says the company.



OSD335x C-SiP simplified (left) and detailed block diagrams
(click images to enlarge)

Erik Welsh, Application Engineering Manager of Octavo Systems, estimated that with the OSD335x C-SiP, designers can get a system working in half the time required to design a discrete solution. Another benefit is that “you don’t need to source any of the memories or manage the supply chain,” Welsh told LinuxGizmos.

Although Octavo has large industrial customers, its main focus is on “bringing SiP technology that was only available to the Apples of the world to smaller manufacturers,” said Welsh.

Octavo’s Krantz said the company will continue to try to integrate more components onto SiP modules on future products. “We’re going down path toward adding wireless,” said Krantz. “Our ultimate goal is to create a SiP device that can communicate wirelessly with no pins, no power, and no problems — just plug it in and forget it. We’re also looking at the possibility of three-dimensional integration — but only if we can keep it simple. Our customers are concerned more about reliability than they are size.”

When we asked how long the Sitara AM335x with its aging Cortex-A8 core would be viable in the market, Krantz noted the continuing widespread popularity of the SoC in both the BeagleBone community and the larger industrial market. “TI will continue to support this product for a long time,” he said. If the SoC ever goes EOL, Krantz said Octavo is prepared to do die banking — purchasing a lot of die for its customers ahead of time.

While Krantz and most of the other key members of the Octavo team are former TI employees and continue to maintain close relationships with the chipmaker, he noted that the company is independent of TI. “We are looking at other silicon partners.”

 
Further information

The OSD335x C-SiP is available for pre-order at $35 (commercial temperature) or $39.65 (industrial) in 1K units, with shipments due by the end of the year. More information may be found in Octavo Systems’ OSD335x C-SiP product page.
 

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