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Dev kit and SMARC module run Linux on a Rockchip PX30

Feb 21, 2020 — by Eric Brown — 2291 views

Adlink unveiled an “I-Pi SMARC Dev Kit” that runs Linux on a “LEC-PX30” SMARC module with Rockchip’s quad -A35 PX30 SoC. The kit has RPi-like 40-pin GPIO and Intel’s MRAA HAL and UPM code for abstraction.

Adlink announced a maker-like Linux development kit for sensor prototyping built around a new SMARC form-factor LEC-PX30 module with Rockchip’s PX30 SoC. The Industrial-Pi (I-Pi) SMARC kit is supported by a wiki site with extensive software documentation, Linux images, and links to GitHub hosted software, but there’s no indication this is an open hardware project.

The wiki also has a teaser page for a “Neuron Pi” module, which Adlink plans to announce next week at Embedded World along with a Vizi-AI module. Both are SMARC modules equipped with an Intel Movidius Myriad X VPU.



Industrial-Pi SMARC kit board without LEC-PX30 (left) and full kit with 1) I-Pi board with pre-installed LEC-PX30; 2) 12V/2A adapter; 3) micro-USB cable; and 4) 32GB microSD card with adapter
(click images to enlarge)

Intel also plays a role in the I-Pi kit on the software side. Adlink has posted on GitHub Intel’s hardware abstraction layer (HAL) for low-speed I/O called MRAA (pronounced “em rah”), which is supported by the Raspberry Pi and Arduino Create. The company has also posted an Intel software repository called Useful Packages and Modules (UPM), as well as a Yocto meta layer for the Rockchip PX30.

The abstraction layers are intended to “streamline software development.” MRAA simplifies the logic for connecting to different sensor pins, and supports Arduino and RPi platforms, C++, Python, JavaScript, and Java, says Adlink. UPM “provides software drivers for a wide variety of commonly-used sensors and actuators, which are also available for Arduino and RPi platforms,” says the company.

The software “allows engineers who have already created prototypes using Arduino or RPi platforms to leverage those ecosystems and libraries, and quickly and easily migrate their designs into a long-lived, revision-controlled, industrial production environment,” stated Henri Parmentier, Adlink´s product manager for SMARC and Q7 product lines.

The Intel software is further explained in a rambling Embedded World introduction to the I-Pi that alerted us to the product. The story is typical of many white papers from commercial embedded firms that argue that when it comes to industrial equipment: Raspberry Pi and Arduino bad — professional commercial boards good!

The argument is not without some merit, but the Raspberry Pi bashing story goes too far when it says: “Creators of products intended for the consumer market — like the Arduino and RPi development boards — are happy to change components and make substitutions as and when circumstances dictate without such substitutions being communicated to the end users in any way.” This may be true of too many hacker board projects, but the Arduino and Raspberry Pi organizations tend to be more professional than most.

In any case, Adlink picks up the the argument in its own announcement. “Lifecycle management is another issue when developing on commercial platforms since hardware components may change without substitutions being communicated to end users,” says Adlink. “In contrast, any component or process change to an Adlink SMARC module is announced per industry-standard engineering change notice (ECN) and process change notice (PCN) practices a minimum of six months before the implementation.”

 
LEC-PX30

The “preliminary” LEC-PX30 module follows a line of Adlink “LEC” SMARC modules dating back to its TI Sitara AM3517-based LEC-3517 and including its later, i.MX6-based LEC-iMX6 and Intel Apollo Lake powered LEC-AL. The LEC-PX30 is Adlink’s first Rockchip based SMARC.



LEC-PX30 and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The quad-core Rockchip PX30 (PDF) showed up last year on an Arbor Technology SOM-RP301 module. It’s one of several new Rockchip SoC’s built on the power-sipping, 64-bit Cortex-A35, which is also found on NXP’s i.MX8X. Other -A35 based Rockchip SoCs include the dual-core RK1808 and quad-core RK3326, as well as the quad-core RK3308.

The PX30 has a 3D graphics ready Mali-G31 MP2 GPU and a dual video output processor that can support dual independent HD displays. There’s also support for 10/100 Ethernet and MIPI-DSI and CSI, among other I/O. The SoC has TrustZone TEE security and a cipher engine. It’s unclear if this is the crypto co-processor listed in the LEC-PX30’s specs or if Adlink has added another chip.

Adlink’s LEC-PX30 module is designed for IoT controllers, IoT gateways, wearable and mobile industrial devices, basic HMI, and sensor concentrators. The 82 x 50mm, SMARC short form factor module can be bought on its own with 1GB or 2GB 1066/1333MHz DDR3L “down” and up to 16GB eMMC, with 64GB available as a build option.

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There’s a 0 to 60°C or optional -20 to 85°C operating range. Shock and vibration resistance are compliant with IEC 60068-2-64 and IEC-60068-2-27, as well as MIL-STD-202 F. Heatspreaders and heatsinks are optional.

The LEC-PX30 has 2x 10/100Mbps Ethernet controllers: one native and one based on USB. Supported I/O includes 4-lane MIPI-DSI and CSI, and there’s a build option to swap out the DSI for single-channel 24-bit LVDS for up to 1280×[email protected]

The 10-year available module is further equipped with 2x UART, 4x USB 2.0, 1x USB OTG, 2x SPI, 4x I2C, and 12x GPIO plus SDIO, CAN 2.0B with FD, 2x I2S, and an audio codec. There’s also a 30-pin debug header and Adlink’s SEMA Board Controller with watchdog, etc. BSPs are available for Debian and Yocto Linux, with Android 8.1 on request.

 
I-Pi SMARC Development Kit

The documentation for the Industrial-Pi SMARC Development Kit is currently limited on the hardware side. For example, it does not say how much RAM and eMMC are available on the LEC-PX30 module. For software, however, there are instructions for installing the available Ubuntu Bionic 18.04 LTS and Yocto images. Other instructions show how to build your own OS and install the MRAA library.



I-Pi SMARC Development Kit detail view
(click images to enlarge)

The I-Pi SMARC board is equipped with 2x 10/100 Ethernet ports and single USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and micro-USB OTG ports. Other features include a microSD slot, audio jack, a speaker, mic, ADC and CAN bus headers, and a Raspberry Pi compatible 40-pin GPIO connector. You also get a 12V power jack, power and reset buttons, an RTC, and a boot switch.

The I-Pi SMARC has 2x HDMI ports with 1920 x 1080 @ 60Hz resolution. One is positioned on small acrylic plate that sits atop the LEC-PX30 and is listed as “only PX30.” The other is located on the coastline of the I-Pi board and is listed as “only Intel.” This suggests that the I-Pi will also support a current or upcoming Intel based SMARC module. (Update: As noted in an CNXSoft post that followed our original story, the PX30 HDMI port is connected to a DSI-to-HDMI adapter since the PX30 does not support HDMI directly.)

The I-Pi SMARC Development Kit provides the board with the pre-installed LEC-PX30. There’s also a 12V adapter, micro-USB cable, and 32GB microSD card.

 
Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the “low cost” Industrial-Pi SMARC Development Kit or “preliminary” LEC-PX30 module. More information on the I-Pi may be found in Adlink’s announcement and the preliminary I-Pi wiki site, as well as the GitHub page. More on the LEC-PX30 may be found on the LEC-PX30 product page and GitHub page.
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