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Eight new compute modules feature i.MX8M Plus

Mar 22, 2021 — by Eric Brown — 1471 views

The i.MX8M Plus seems to be everywhere these days. Here are eight new Plus-ified compute modules — in most cases, with new eval kits — from Avnet, Boundary Devices, CompuLab, Engicam, iWave, Ka-ro, Phytec, and Toradex.

NXP has churned out so many i.MX8 flavors in recent years that there has been no single dominant model that could match the earlier ubiquity of the i.MX6. At first, the i.MX8M was more widely adopted than the more powerful, up to hexacore i.MX8 Quad/QuadPlus/QuadMax. Then the i.MX8M Mini had its day in the sun, bringing a more advanced 14LPC FinFET process and faster 1.8GHz clock rate than the similarly, up to quad-core, Cortex-A53 i.MX8M, but without its support for 4K. The more power-efficient i.MX8M Nano, a variant of the Mini without a VPU but with a faster, 600MHz Cortex-M7, has yet to see the same level of adoption, nor has the even more power-efficient, Cortex-A35 based i.MX8X.

Now the i.MX8M Plus, featuring a 2.3-TOPS NPU, looks like it could eclipse them all. Here we look at eight i.MX8M Plus based compute modules, most of which have been fully revealed over the last month: Avnet’s MSC SM2S-IMX8PLUS, Boundary Devices’ Nitrogen8M Plus SOM, CompuLab’s UCM-iMX8M-Plus, Engicam’s i.Core MX8M Plus, iWave’s iW-RainboW-G40M, Ka-Ro’s QXSP Series, Phytec’s PhyCore-i.MX 8M Plus, and Toradex’s Verdin iMX8M Plus.


Toradex’s Verdin iMX8M Plus (left) and Phytec’s PhyCore-i.MX 8M Plus
(click images to enlarge)

Most of these Linux-driven modules are also available with new carrier boards. We discovered some of these mostly unannounced modules in a CNXSoft post.

The new modules join other Plus-equipped modules we have covered including Adlink’s LEC-IMX8MP, Congatec’s Conga-SMX8-Plus, F&S Elektronik Systeme’s PicoCore MX8MP, SolidRun’s iMX8M Plus CoM, and Seco’s Seco SM-218. In addition, Variscite offers its VAR-SOM-MX8M-PLUS and DART-MX8M-PLUS modules and TechNexion its EDM-G-IMX8M-PLUS and AXON-E-IMX8M-PLUS.

The i.MX8M Plus shares the same 14nm foundation as the Mini, providing 2x or 4x 1.8GHz -A53 cores plus Vivante GC7000UL 3D and GC520L 2D GPUs. Unlike the i.MX8M, the SoC is limited to 1920 x 1080 @ 60fps encoding and decoding. However, it is the only i.MX8 to feature an optional, but almost universally adopted, 2.3-TOPs NPU. There is also an 800MHz Cortex-M7 MCU, an 800MHz HiFi4 DSP, and 2x ISPs for up to a 12-MP camera.

All the modules here provide the Quad model as the default, although some offers QuadLite (no VPU) or dual on request. They all offer at least 10 years availability.

Avnet MSC SM2S-IMX8PLUS

Avnet Integrated’s MSC SM2S-IMX8PLUS is a SMARC module like its i.MX8M Mini based MSC SM2S-IMX8MINI and i.MX8 Quad driven MSC SM2S-IMX8. The 82 x 50mm SMARC 2.1 “short” module has a 0 to 70°C range and ships with a Linux BSP, with Android on request.



Avnet MSC SM2S-IMX8PLUS (left) and MSC SM2S-MB-EP5 carrier
(click images to enlarge)

The MSC SM2S-IMX8PLUS supports up to 8GB of soldered LPDDR4 with inline ECC support and offers up to 256GB eMMC and 64MB of optional QSPI NOR flash. The GbE controller enables dual GbE ports, one of which supports TSN. There is also an optional 802.11ac / Bluetooth 5.0 module.

Media I/O includes a choice of 2x LVDS or 2x MIPI-DSI (or one of each) plus HDMI 2.0a for up to 3840×2160 @ 60fps. You get a choice of dual 4-lane MIPI-CSI or 2- and 4-lane CSI, and dual I2S interfaces enable audio.

There are plenty of options with USB configuration, which defaults to 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, and USB 2.0 OTG. Other interfaces include 4x UART (two with handshake), 5x I2C, 2x CAN-FD, 2x SPI, 14x GPIO, SD, and PCIe Gen3 x1. The module supplies a watchdog, and optional RTC, TPM 2.0, heatspreader, heatsink, and debug adapter. The 5V module operates at a typical 2-7W.

The module is available with three carrier board options: two versions of the 146 x 80mm MSC SM2S-MB-EP5, as well as the Mini-ITX form-factor MSC SM2-MB-EP1, which is detailed in the earlier SMARC module reports above. The smaller MSC SM2S-MB-EP5 is supported by Avnet’s SimpleFlex program, which enables a custom board development and manufacturing service. You can opt for the standard I/O or choose from more than 30 pre-validated interface combinations. (See our earlier SimpleFlex/MSC SM2S-MB-EP5 report for more details.)

No pricing or availability information was provided for the MSC SM2S-IMX8PLUS. More information may be found on Avnet’s announcement and product page.

Boundary Devices Nitrogen8M Plus SOM

Whereas Boundary Devices’ earlier, i.MX8M Mini based Nitrogen8M_Mini SOM was a SODIMM module, the Nitrogen8M Plus SOM has a more compact, 48mm x 38mm form factor. The module ships with Android and Yocto based Linux images plus FreeRTOS for the Cortex-M7. Lake Forest, Calif. based Boundary Devices supports both the module and eval kit with schematics and other open hardware resources.



Boundary Devices Nitrogen8M Plus SOM (left) and Nitrogen8M Plus Evaluation Kit
(click images to enlarge)

The Nitrogen8M Plus SOM ships with 2GB or 4GB LPDDR4 and 16GB to 128GB eMMC. There is a certified module with 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0 plus a GbE PHY with support for dual Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Media I/O includes HDMI 2.0a, 4-lane MIPI-DSI, dual LVDS, and dual 4-lane MIPI-CSI. The module supports a carrier-supplied Cirrus Logic WM8960 audio codec with audio I/O and speaker support.

The Nitrogen8M Plus SOM I/O includes up to 2x FlexCAN and up 5x I2C. Carrier board I/O support includes SPI, SD, RTC, PCIe Gen2 x1, up to 2x USB 3.0, and up to 4x UART. The 5V module is available in 0 to 70°C or -40 to 85°C models.

The Nitrogen8M Plus Evaluation Kit for the module is based on a new Nitrogen8M Plus EVK carrier that differs from the layout of the Nitrogen8M_Mini Carrier Board. The 165.1 x 127mm carrier provides a microSD slot and 2x GbE ports, including one with TSN. Other major ports include 3x USB 3.0 host, USB 3.0 OTG, and HDMI.

The eval kit provides connectors for multiple serial, I2C, SPI, MIPI-DSI and -CSI, LVDS, and audio, including a 1W amp. Other features include an RTC with battery, JTAG, and a mini-PCIe slot with SIM slot. The kit also includes a Basler camera, 7-inch display, a 5V power supply, and more.

The Nitrogen8M Plus SOM sells for $89 in volume and the eval kit goes for $649. You can alternatively buy the carrier board on its own for $175 and add a camera, display, cell modem, etc. a la carte. More information may be found on the Nitrogen8M Plus SOM and Nitrogen8M Plus Evaluation Kit product/shopping pages.

Compulab UCM-iMX8M-Plus

The rugged UCM-iMX8M-Plus has the same 38 x 28mm footprint as Compulab’s i.MX8M Mini based UCM-iMX8M-Mini. The module ships with a BSP with mainline Linux support, a Yocto Project file-system, an RTOS BSP, and U-Boot.



Compulab UCM-iMX8M-Plus and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Like the UCM-iMX8M-Mini, the new module expresses I/O via dual 100-pin connectors and has a 3.45V to 4.4V DC input. It is similarly available in 0 to 70°C, -20 to 70°C, and -40 to 85°C models, all with 50G/20 ms shock and 20G/0-600Hz vibration resistance.

The UCM-iMX8M-Plus provides 1GB to 8GB LPDDR4 and 16GB to 64GB of eMMC. The device supports 1x or 2x GbE ports and offers 1x USB 3.0 dual-role and PCIe Gen3 x1.

Media I/O includes HDMI 2.0a, 4-lane MIPI-DSI and LVDS with touch support, and 2x 4-lane MIPI-CSI. Audio interfaces include 2x I2S/SAI, S/PDIF I/O, and eARC. Other “up to” I/O counts include 4x UART, 2x CAN, 2x SDIO, 2x SPI, 5x I2C, 4x PWM, and 75x GPIO. The device has an RTC and JTAG interface.

No image or specs were available for the UCM-iMX8M-Plus Evaluation Kit. The kit combines a SB-UCMIMX8PLUS carrier with a 5-inch WXGA touchscreen, WiFi antenna, cables, and 12V supply.

The UCM-iMX8M-Plus module starts at $54 in volume. More information may be found on Compulab’s UCM-iMX8M-Plus product page.

Engicam i.Core MX8M Plus

Last year, Italian OEM manufacturer Engicam, whose partners include Avnet, introduced an RK3399-based SmarCore RK3399 SMARC module. Its new i.Core MX8M Plus adopts the company’s SODIMM-style, 67.6 x 32.1mm EDIMM form factor.



Engicam i.Core MX8M Plus (left) and C.Touch 2.0 carrier
(click images to enlarge)

The i.Core MX8M Plus ships with up to 4GB LPDDR4 and up to 32GB eMMCand offers a GbE controller and PCIe 3.0 support. Media I/O includes HDMI, 18/24-bit LVDS or optional 4-lane MIPI-DSI, dual 4-lane MIPI-CSI, and I2S for audio.

The i.Core MX8M Plus can drive interfaces including USB 3.0 host and OTG and unspecified quantities of UART, I2C, SPI, JTAG, CAN, SDIO, SPI, and GPIO. The 5V module has an “industrial” operating range and support for Linux and Android.

Engicam provides an EDIMM-compliant, industrial temperature carrier board called the C.Touch 2.0 that offers a 10/100 Ethernet port, a microSD slot, and USB host and micro-USB OTG ports. There is also a WiFi/BT module and an audio output.

The C.Touch 2.0 carrier is further equipped with a single-channel (or optionally dual-channel) LCD/LVDS connector that also appears to carry signals for I2C driven capacitive touch support, PWM for backlight, LCD power supply, and USB. Other interfaces are available via terminal plugs, including RS485, RS232, RS232 console, and CANBus. There is an expansion connector for I2C, SDIO, SPI, and up to 10 GPIO, as well as an optional dual USB expansion link.

Engicam also offers a 10.1-inch, capacitive open frame touch-panel for deploying the i.Core MX8M Plus. The EDIMM compliant, 1280 x 800 touch-panel has 350 Cd/m2 backlight luminance. Other I/O and features appear to be the same as the C.Touch 2.0, which likely powers the display.

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The i.Core MX8M Plus is available for pre-order at an undisclosed price. More information may be found on Engicam’s i.Core MX8M Plus, C.Touch 2.0, and 10.1” Open Frame product pages.

iWave iW-RainboW-G40M

The iW-RainboW-G40M, which also goes by the name of the i.MX 8M Plus SMARC SOM, follows iWave’s earlier, SMARC form-factor iW-RainboW-G27M, based on the i.MX8 QuadMax, and its SODIMM-style iW-RainboW-G34M-SM with the i.MX8M Mini or Nano. The module supports Linux 5.4.24, Ubuntu 20.04, and Android 10



iWave iW-RainboW-G40M (left) and detail view of i.MX 8M Plus SMARC Development Platform
(click images to enlarge)

The iW-RainboW-G40M ships with 4GB to 8GB LPDDR4, 16GB to 128GB eMMC, and an optional microSD slot. There is also a standard 802.11ac/BT 5.0 module and an optional GNSS module.

The module enables dual GbE ports, one of which supports TSN, and offers media I/O including HDMI 2.0a, LVDS, 4-lane MIPI-DSI or a second LVDS, and 2x I2S. You also get 2- and 4-lane MIPI-CSI and an optional camera connector with 4-lane CSI, I2C, and GPIOs.

The iW-RainboW-G40M’s I/O includes PCIe Gen3 x1, USB 3.0, 4x USB 2.0, 4x I2C, 2x CAN FD, 2x SPI, and 3x or 4x UART. You also get 2x PWM and SD 3.01. The 5V, 82 x 50mm module has a -40 to 85°C operating range and is available with optional heatsink and heat-spreaders.

The module is available with a 120 x 120mm, Nano-ITX form factor i.MX 8M Plus SMARC Development Platform. The carrier board offers 2x GbE, PCIe or mini-PCIe, USB 3.0 host, USB 3.0 Type-C OTG, 2x USB 2.0 host, and an optional micro-USB 2.0 OTG port.

The carrier board is further equipped with HDMI, DP, 20-pin LVDS, and MIPI-CSI, as well as a DSI-driven, 5.5-inch 1080p capacitive touchscreen. Other features include audio in and out jacks, dual CAN headers, UART, and an RTC with battery.

One expansion connector supports SPI, UART, I2S, and I2C, and an A&V connector expresses LVDS, CSI, SAI/I2S, I2C, and GPIO. The 12V board has a 0 to 60°C range.

The iW-RainboW-G40M and i.MX 8M Plus SMARC Development Platform appear to be available for order at an undisclosed price. More information may be found on iWave’s product page.

Ka-Ro QXSP Series

The QXSP Series adopts the same soldered-down QFN form factor Ka-Ro used for its i.MX8M Mini and Nano based QS8M Series, although at 29 x 29 x 2.6mm, it measures 2mm larger on each side. The QFN type lead style has a 1mm pitch with 108 I/O pads, a design Ka-Ro claims eases visual solder joint inspection.



Ka-Ro QXSP Series (left) and QSXP QSBASE3 Evalkit
(click images to enlarge)

The QXSP module runs Linux on the i.MX8M Plus, which is limited to 1.6GHz. The module ships with 2GB LPDDR4 and 8GB eMMC and offers a -30 to 85°C operating range.

The module provides a GbE controller with TSN support and offers USB 3.0, USB 2.0, PCIe Gen3 x1, and up to 69x GPIO. Additional I/O includes 2x 4-lane MIPI-CSI, 4-lane MIPI-DSI, 2x CAN-FD, 3x UART, 2x I2C, 2x SPI, and single PWM and SAI. There is a 3.3V-5V input.

The Raspberry Pi like QSXP QSBASE3 Evalkit is almost identical to the carrier used by the QS8M Series. Features include GbE, 4x USB 3.0, USB Type-C for power, MIPI-DSI and -CSI, serial debug, and a 40-pin connector. The key difference is the addition of an M.2 expansion connector. You can similarly mount the board directly onto the back of the Raspberry Pi 7-inch touchscreen.

No pricing or availability information was provided for the QXSP Series or QSXP QSBASE3 Evalkit. More information may be found on the QSXP product page.

Phytec PhyCore-i.MX 8M Plus

The 40 x 37mm PhyCore-i.MX 8M Plus is larger than Ka-ro’s QSXP or Compulab’s UCM-iMX8M-Plus, but smaller than Phytec’s earlier, 55 x 40mm PhyCore-i.MX 8M, which is powered by the i.MX8M. The -40 to 85°C tolerant module connects to the optional new PhyBoard-i.MX 8M Plus Development Kit with dual 120-pin and a single 60-pin connector for 300 I/O pins overall.



Phytec PhyCore-i.MX 8M Plus (left) and PhyBoard-i.MX 8M Plus Development Kit
(click images to enlarge)

The PhyCore-i.MX 8M Plus ships with a Yocto “Zeus” based Linux BSP and a 3D model. The module incorporates 256MB to 8GB LPDDR4, 8GB to 64GB eMMC, and 4MB to 256MB Quad SPI flash.

The Ethernet controller supports dual GbE ports with TSN. Media interfaces include HDMI, MIPI-DSI-2, and 2x LVDS along with 2x MIPI-CSI-2 and digital audio I/O including SAI, SPDIF, I2S, AC97, and TDM.

The PhyCore-i.MX 8M Plus is further equipped with 2x USB 3.0, 4x UART, 2x CAN FD, 3x I2C, 4x PWM, 3x ECSPI, 2x free SD/SDIO/MMC, PCIe Gen3, and GPIO. The 3.3V module also supplies JTAG and RTC.
The 160 x 77mm PhyBoard-i.MX 8M Plus Development Kit integrates a 2GB/8GB PhyCore-i.MX 8M Plus module along with a microSD slot. The carrier board provides 2x GbE, 2x USB 3.0, micro-USB debug, and HDMI ports plus 802.11ac with Bluetooth BLE 4.2.
The PhyBoard-i.MX 8M Plus supplies headers for RS-232, RS-485, UART, fan, ECSPI, 2x I2C, and 2x CAN. Expansion features include a mini-PCIe slot and a 60-pin interface that provides MIPI-DSI, SAI audio, UART, and JTAG.
Other features include 2x LVDS and 2x MIPI-CSI interfaces. The latter support Phytec’s optional VM-016-COL-M12 HD camera with 12mm lens. This “Pollux Polaris Imaging Kit” configuration also offers the option of a free face recognition demo app.

The carrier board also provides a 12V/2A Phoenix input, SuperCap backup, TPM 2.0, and an LED. Reset and boot buttons are also on board.

The PhyCore-i.MX 8M Plus module is sampling at an undisclosed price with production due by the end of the month. The PhyBoard-i.MX 8M Plus Development Kit will soon be available for 185 Euros ($221) or 274 Euros ($327) with the camera. More information may be found on Phytec’s PhyCore-i.MX 8M Plus product page and PhyBoard-i.MX 8M Plus product page.

Toradex Verdin iMX8M Plus

Toradex was one of the first companies to preview an i.MX8M Plus based module last July when it briefly mentioned an upcoming Verdin iMX8M Plus module in conjunction with the launch of an open-spec Dahlia carrier for its recent i.MX8M Mini and Nano based Verdin modules. The Verdin iMX8M Plus, which is pin compatible with those similarly 69.6 x 35.0mm modules, is now fully detailed and available for pre-order.



Toradex Verdin iMX8M Plus (left) and detail view of Verdin Development Board with HDMI Adapter
(click images to enlarge)

Shipping with Yocto Project, Android, and Toradex’s own Torizon Linux distribution, the module also supports FreeRTOS for the Cortex-M7 MCU. Crank, Qt, and TotalCross are available for GUI development.

The Verdin iMX8M Plus provides 2GB or 4GB LPDDR4 and 16GB eMMC. The 4GB RAM model adds 802.11ac with BT 5.0.

The module provides a GbE controller and supplies media I/O including HDMI 2.0a, dual-channel LVDS, 4-lane MIPI-DSI, and dual 4-lane MIPI-CSI. I2S and S/PDIF are available for audio.

The module is further equipped with USB 3.1 Gen1 host and OTG, USB 2.0 host and OTG, PCIe Gen3, SPI, QSPI, 1x or 2x SPI, and 4x UART. Other I/O includes 4x or 5x I2C, 3x or 4x PWM, 2x CAN, 4x ADC, SD/SDIO/MMC, JTAG, and up to 85 GPIO.

The Verdin iMX8M Plus is available with the Dahlia board, which is linked to above, as well as a larger Verdin Development Board with HDMI Adapter (see detail view above. Altium/Gumstix board customization tools based on Geppetto are available for the Verdin family.



Illustration of upcoming Modular AI Vision Kit (left) and Dahlia carrier
(click images to enlarge)

Toradex is also collaborating with Au-Zone on a compact, product-ready Modular AI Vision Kit for the module based on an Au-Zone Carrier Board. The kit includes an AI toolkit based on NXP’s eIQ DeepView platform, which supports the i.MX8M Plus’ 2.3-TOPS NPU. The toolkit also supports the Arm Ethos-U65 microNPU, which will be built into NXP’s upcoming i.MX9.

Modular AI Vision Kit features, which are detailed in the video below, include 2x MIPI-CSI, optional PoE, and an M.2 slot. There are also a variety of optional camera modules from Vision Components. The kit will run Torizon Linux along with eIQ DeepView.

The “coming soon” Verdin iMX8M Plus is available for pre-order in packages that include $92.40 with 2GB RAM or $125.25 or $141.85 (WiFi/BT) with 4GB RAM (all prices for 500+ orders). The Dahlia carrier sells for $148.90, and the newer Verdin Development Board sells for $318. More information may be found on Toradex’s Verdin iMX8M Plus product page, which links to shopping pages, as well as product/shopping pages for the Verdin Development Board and Dahlia Carrier Board.


Overview of Toradex’s Modular AI Vision Kit

(advertise here)


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PLEASE COMMENT BELOW

2 responses to “Eight new compute modules feature i.MX8M Plus”

  1. True says:

    The PHYTEC i.MX8M Plus module is about half the size of the Toradex module in reality. The image used in this blog is very misleading.

  2. Jeff Child, Chief Editor- LinuxGizmos says:

    True
    Thank you for your comment. You make a valid point. We have adjusted the size of the PHYTEC module image to be more proportional with the Toradex module.

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