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Linux-friendly i.MX6 dev board gains 1080p camera

Jul 1, 2013  |  Eric Brown
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E-con Systems has launched a 5-megapixel 1080p autofocus camera board, designed to integrate with a Linux- and Android-friendly $199 Boundary Devices development board for Freescale’s quad-core i.MX6 system-on-chip. E-con’s camera board connects to Boundary’s i.MX6 single-board computer via a CSI-2 MIPI interface, and is supplied with a V4L2-compliant Linux driver and source.

E-con’s e-CAM50IMX6 camera board is aimed at developers working on i.MX6-based devices that require a camera, including handhelds, automotive infotainment, industrial and medical HMI, multimedia navigation, and automation equipment. Over the years, India-based E-con Systems has developed numerous cameras modules and add-in boards with Linux support.



E-con’s camera module connected to Boundary’s i.MX6 SBC
(click image to enlarge

 


E-con camera module
(click to enlarge)

The e-CAM50IMX6 (shown at right) is designed to integrate with Boundary’s entry-level version of Freescale’s $399 and up SABRE development platform, called the BD_SL_i.MX6 (formerly SABRE Lite). The single board computer (SBC) runs Linux or Android on Freescale’s 1GHz, quad-core Cortex-A9-based i.MX6 SoC, which includes support for dual cameras.

Boundary’s BD_SL_i.MX6 starts at $199 without a 7-inch touchscreen panel or other add-ons. The latter include a $75 Nit6X_5MP 5-megapixel camera module from Truly, available with either a parallel or MIPI interface. (See farther below for more on the BD_SL_i.MX6 /SABRE Lite.)

E-con’s e-CAM50IMX6 also plugs into the BD_SL_i.MX6 via a MIPI interface. The 101.8 x 23.38mm add-on board is equipped with a dual-lane CSI-2 MIPI interface that connects to the SBC via an interface board using a 24-pin FFC connector and flex cable. The interface board is offered free by E-con.

At the heart of the e-CAM50IMX6 is E-con’s e-CAM57_MI5640_MOD camera module, attached to the orange flex-pc in the photo above. The 8.5 x 8.5 x 5.15mm module (without cable) ships with a 70mm flex-pc cable that E-con is willing to customize into any form or shape.

E-con’s e-CAM57_MI5640_MOD module provides a 5-megapixel autofocus camera, with support for 1080p@30fps or 720p@60fps video. The module features a 60° viewing angle, 3.42mm focal length, a 36dB signal-to-noise ratio, a 68dB dynamic range, and YUV422 output. It can support temperatures ranging from -30 to 70° C, and runs on 150mA of power.

Like Truly’s Nit6X modules, the e-CAM57_MI5640_MOD is based on Omnivision’s OV5640 CMOS image sensor, which offers an embedded image signal processor. Omnivision’s sensor is said to provide automatic image control functions including automatic exposure control (AEC), automatic white balance (AWB), automatic band filter (ABF), 50/60Hz automatic luminance detection, and automatic black level calibration (ABLC).

The e-CAM50IMX6 board ships with the pre-integrated e-CAM57_MI5640_MOD, as well as full schematics and V4L2-compliant Linux driver support with source code. There’s also a sample application for image capture at different resolutions. Android support is said to be coming soon.
 

Boundary Devices i.MX6 dev board

Freescale and Boundary Devices announced the SABRE Lite in Sept. 2012 for $299, but the board now goes for $199. In February of this year, Boundary Devices announced the unfortunate name change to BD_SL_i.MX6, which was said to be done in accordance with Freescale’s wishes. It’s possible the name change came from customer confusion between the SABRE Lite, and the “Lite” version of the dual-core i.MX6 model, which has a less capable Vivante GC880 GPU. The BD_SL_i.MX6 SBC uses the i.MX6 Quad with the full Vivante GC2000 GPU, which offers a quad-shader 3D unit, as well as separate 2-D and OpenVG Vertex acceleration engines.



Boundary Devices i.MX6 development board
(click images for larger views including connector callouts

 

Although the 3.25 x 3.25-inch SBC does not appear to be supported with an open source community, it is supported with full schematics and BOM material, as well as a wide variety of Linux and Android builds. The BD_SL_i.MX6 can be roughly compared with other open-platform Cortex-A9 development boards like the $129, i.MX6-based Wandboard Quad, the $181, dual-core OMAP4460-based PandaBoard ES, or the $199 and up Origen 4 Quad board, based on the Samsung Exynos 4 Quad SoC.

Boundary Devices also sells a larger, 4.5 x 3.0-inch Nitrogen 6X SBC with Linux and Android support, featuring the same quad-core i.MX6. Specs are quite similar, with differences including the addition of dual serial ports, as well as optional WiFi and Bluetooth, and available industrial temperature versions. It appears to offer the same add-on boards as the BD_SL_i.MX6 , including a variety of 10.1- and 7-inch touchscreens, a JTAG adapter, an Android button board, a PCIe daughter board, and various cables. It’s unclear whether Boundary will feature the e-CAM50IMX6 along with the previously mentioned Truly camera add-on boards.
 

Specifications listed for the BD_SL_i.MX6 include:

  • Processor — Freescale i.MX6 (4x Cortex-A9 cores at 1GHz) with Vivante GC2000 3D/2D graphics and video acceleration
  • Memory:
    • 1GB DDR3 RAM @532MHz
    • 4GB microSD card with Linux image
    • microSD slot
    • SD 3.0/SDXC slot
  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet port
  • Display:
    • HDMI
    • LVDS
    • Parallel RGB
  • Camera — Parallel and CSI-2 MIPI interfaces
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 2.0 HS host
    • USB 2.0 HS OTG
    • CAN 2.0
    • 2x SATA 2.5 (3Gbps)
    • Analog audio headphone and mic jacks
    • I2C
    • 10-pin JTAG
    • GPIO
  • Expansion — PCIe x1
  • Power — 5V DC power jack; typical 5 W consumption
  • Dimensions — 3.25 x 3.25 inches
  • Operating systems — Linux; Android

On June 29, Boundary Devices announced a polished Android 4.2 (“Jelly Bean”) build without the earlier “big fat warnings,” according to this announcement on the company’s blog. In addition, the i.MX6 SBC ships with other builds including several LTIB (Linux Target Image Builder) builds, two Freescale Ubuntu images, Linaro, and a Timesys Linux demo.

E-con’s e-CAM50IMX6 is available now for $69 at the E-con webstore. More information may be found at the E-con e-CAM50IMX6 product page.

More on Boundary’s $199 BD_SL_i.MX6 (aka SABRE Lite) SBC may be found at the company’s BD_SL_i.MX6 product page.
 

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