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HAT-compatible SBC runs Linux on i.MX6 ULL

Sep 30, 2019 — by Eric Brown — 1082 views

Seeed’s “NPi i.MX6ULL Dev Board” runs Linux on NXP’s low-power ULL SoC with 512MB RAM, dual 10/100 LAN, USB host and Type-C, dual 40-pin GPIO, and either 8GB eMMC ($44) or 256MB NAND ($39).

Seeed, which has produced Linux hacker boards such as the RK3229-based, voice-control oriented ReSpeaker Core v2.0, has returned with a Raspberry Pi HAT compatible model for IoT that taps NXP’s power-sipping, Cortex-A7-based i.MX6 ULL. The 100 x 60mm NPi i.MX6ULL Dev Board has opened pre-orders for $39 or $44 depending on whether you choose 256MB NAND or 8GB eMMC flash.



NPi i.MX6ULL Dev Board
(click images to enlarge)

NPi i.MX6ULL Dev Board comprises a Core Module, which appears to use a highly integrated System-in-Package (SiP) form factor, and the main board, which Seeed refers to as Breakout Board. The Core Module includes the up to 800MHz i.MX6 ULL, a close variant of the i.MX6 UL (Ultra Lite), plus 512MB DDR3L and the selected flash storage. The module supports -20 to 80℃ temperatures while the Breakout Board has a “narrower” range, says Seeed.

The Breakout Boards adds 2x Fast Ethernet ports plus USB 2.0 host and Type-C ports. There’s also a touch-enabled 24 bit RGB LCD interface and dual 40-pin GPIO headers, one of which is said to be compatible with most Raspberry Pi HATs. These include Seeed HATs such as its Grove Base Kit for Raspberry Pi.

A DIP switch lets you shift boot mode between the flash memory, USB, and the microSD slot on the back of the board. There’s a 5V DC input with voltage protections plus an RTC with battery holder, 3x LEDs, 4x multifunction keys, and reset and user buttons.

Documentation is currently limited, and there are no guarantees of open hardware support. Seeed offers a GitHub repository where you can build Ubuntu, Debian, or Yocto images from scripts.



NPi i.MX6ULL Dev Board detail views and pinouts
(click images to enlarge)

Other i.MX6 ULL- or UL-based SBCs include Garz & Fricke’s 113 x 47mm Nallino Core, NXElec’s 80 x 42mm Innostick 6, MYIR’s 70 x 55mm MYS-6ULX, and PolyVection’s similarly tiny, audio-focused VoltaStream Zero SBC. According to the CNXSoft report that alerted us to the SBC, Seeed is planning an NPi-branded board built around ST’s dual Cortex-A7 with Cortex-M4 STM32MP1.

Specifications listed for the NPi i.MX6ULL Dev Board include:

  • Processor (via Core Module)– NXP i.MX6 ULL (1x Cortex-A7 @ up to 800MHz); 2D GPU
  • Memory/storage:
    • 512MB DDR3L (via Core)
    • 8GB eMMC or 256MB NAND (via Core)
    • MicroSD slot
  • Networking — 2x 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports
  • Other I/O:
    • FPC LCD with 24-bit RGB and I2C touch
    • USB 2.0 host port
    • USB 2.0 Type-C port
    • UART
  • Expansion — 2x 40-pin GPIO headers (1x with RPi HAT support)
  • Other features — RTC with battery holder; 3x LEDs; reset and user buttons; 4x multifunction keys; DIP switch for boot control
  • Power — 5V DC input jack
  • Operating temperature — -20 to 80°C for Core Module only
  • Dimensions — 100 x 60mm
  • Operating system — Ubuntu, Debian, or Yocto Linux image builders

 
Further information

The NPi i.MX6ULL Dev Board is available for pre-order with 8GB eMMC ($44) or 256MB NAND ($39). Shipments are due starting Oct. 26. It is unclear if the Core Module will be available separately. More information may be found on Seeed’s NPi i.MX6ULL page.
 

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