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Congatec shows off Qseven and SMARC modules with new i.MX8X

Nov 15, 2018 — by Eric Brown — 350 views

Congatec announced two industrial, Linux-ready modules equipped with NXP’s dual- or quad-A35 i.MX8X SoC: the Conga-QMX8X (Qseven) with optional PoE and the Conga-SMX8X (SMARC 2.0) with optional WiFi.

When either Variscite or Congatec announces a computer-on-module based on a new processor, the other company typically follows suit shortly thereafter. After Variscite announced its NXP i.MX8X-based VAR-SOM-MX8X module on Nov. 13, Congatec followed up with a pair of i.MX8X Qseven and SMARC 2.0 modules: the Conga-QMX8X and Conga-SMX8X. None of these COMs have announced ship dates (or prices), so it’s unclear which will arrive first, or whether they’ll be beaten to market by the phyCORE-i.MX 8X module, announced back in March.



Conga-QMX8X
(click image to enlarge)

The Conga-SMX8X reprises the similarly SMARC 2.0 form-factor use on its i.MX8 based Conga-SMX8, which we covered in July. The Conga-QMX8 is loosely based on the Qseven- and i.MX8-based Conga-QMX8.

We missed the earlier Conga-QMX8 module’s announcement, perhaps because Congatec is downplaying its Qseven modules in favor of the newer SMARC 2.0 form factor: “Congatec advises its customers to start new designs with SMARC 2.0, as this form factor enables a higher packing density and more graphics than Qseven,” Congatec says in today’s announcement. “Existing designs or solutions with lower graphic requirements are still well served with Qseven.”

The dual or quad-core, 1.2GHz i.MX8X uses the Cortex-A35 design, which is slower, but more power efficient than the i.MX8’s Cortex-A53 design. The i.MX8X is also limited to a single Cortex-M4 core instead of two on the i.MX8.

Like the VAR-SOM-MX8X, the Congatec modules support all three i.MX8X models: You can get the quad-core i.MX8X QuadXPlus, the dual-core i.MX8 DualXPlus, or the dual-core i.MX8 DualX. The DualX Plus model has a 4-shader Vivante GT7000Lite GPU compared to the 2-shader GT7000UltraLite version on the DualX.

The higher-end i.MX8 family is led by a i.MX8 QuadMax model that adds dual Cortex-A72 cores to the quad-A53 block. There’s also a QuadPlus that adds one -A72 core and a dual-core DualMax that has dual -A72 cores, but no -A53 cores.

All three of the new i.MX8X models run at 1.2GHz and support 4K H.265 video decode and 1080p H.264 encode/decode with dual display support. They can all run Android, as well as Yocto Project and standard Linux distributions. U-Boot is also available.

Congatec notes that the i.MX8X is limited to one instead of two PCIe Gen 3.0 lanes and MIPI-CSI camera inputs on the i.MX8. However, it can run with lower 2-4W consumption, says the company. Other differences and additional background on the i.MX8X may be found in our VAR-SOM-MX8X report.

Both Congatec modules offer 15-year longevity, and are available in either 0 to 60°C or -40 to 85°C models. They both support multiple domains with hardware virtualization, resource portioning, multiple OS support, and “system MMU.”

The Congatec COMs also offer AES-128 encryption and High Assurance Booting (HAB) to authenticate both boot loader and OS image by private and public key cryptography. These are listed both as features and as optional services, which also include customer specific BSP adaption and long-term software maintenance. Congatec can also help select components for carrier boards and conduct compliance tests for high-speed signals, thermal simulations, MTBF calculations, and debugging services.

We’ll start with the Conga-QMX8X, which appears to be further along than the Conga-SMX8X. There’s no available image of the latter, which has a “coming soon” tag.

 
Conga-QMX8X

The Conga-QMX8X has been substantially redesigned compared to its Conga-QMX8 sibling, no doubt to take advantage of the greater real estate enabled by the smaller i.MX8X package. The 70 x 70mm, Qseven 2.1 form-factor module offers half the maximum RAM (4GB LPDDR4), but similarly supplies up to 64GB eMMC (updated to 5.1).

The Conga-QMX8X lacks the earlier model’s microSD slot and SATA III interface, and it has only one PCIe interface instead of two. In place of the HDMI 2.0a interface (or optional DP or eDP), you can swap out one of the two 24-bit LVDS interfaces for an optional HDMI 1.3 connection. The Conga-QMX8X offers 2x MIPI-CSI and 1x 4-lane MIPI-DSI, which is the opposite of the Conga-QMX8.

True to the i.MX8X’s lower-end IoT focus, the Conga-QMX8X adds GPIOs to the I/O list and has more instances of interfaces like I2C (2x), SPI (2x), UART (3x), and CAN (2x FlexCAN). In addition, the GbE interface can be optionally fitted with IEEE 1588 compliant PoE, and the I2S interface can be enhanced with the i.MX8X SoC’s Tensilica HiFi 4 DSP, which is not found on the i.MX8.

Common features on both modules include single SDIO and USB 3.0 interfaces and 5x USB 2.0, one of which can be used as an OTG client port. You similarly receive watchdog, JTAG, and RTC support.

 
Conga-SMX8X

The 82 x 50mm, SMARC 2.0 compatible Conga-SMX8X module still has no image except a faded shot that appears to reproduce the earlier, i.MX8-based Conga-SMX8. Like the Conga-QMX8X, the module has half the maximum RAM (4GB LPDDR4) compared to its predecessor. Like the Conga-SMX8, it offers up to 64GB eMMC (updated to 5.1), as well as an optional M.2 based WiFi module soldered to the COM.



Conga-SMX8X placeholder image, which appears to show the earlier Conga-SMX8
(click image to enlarge)

The Conga-SMX8X lacks the earlier model’s microSD slot and SATA III interface, and it has only one PCIe interface instead of two. The media interfaces are the same as the Conga-QMX8X, with a mix of LVDS, MIPI-DSI, and MIPI-CSI.

Like the Conga-SMX8, the new model provides 2x GbE controllers, single SDIO and USB 3.0 interfaces, and 5x USB 2.0, one of which can be an OTG client. You similarly receive 4x UART, 2x FlexCAN, and single I2C, SPI, watchdog, JTAG, and RTC support.

The Conga-SMX8X adds some GPIOs and switches the QSPI interface to an ESPI link. The 2x I2S audio interfaces can be enhanced with the i.MX8X SoC’s Tensilica HiFi 4 DSP.

 
Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the Conga-QMX8X or Conga-SMX8X. More information may be found on Congatec’s Conga-QMX8X and Conga-SMX8X product pages.

 

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