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i.MX6 UL dev board targets Erlang and Elixir development

Mar 28, 2019 — by Eric Brown — 582 views

Grisp.org has gone to Kickstarter to launch a sandwich-style, $200 “GRiSP 2” board for prototyping bare-metal Erlang or Elixir based systems. The SBC runs Nerves on Linux using an i.MX6 UL SoC and offers WiFi, Ethernet, and a variety of Digilent Pmod interfaces.

Under the leadership of developer Peer Stritzinger, Grisp.org is pitching a second-gen, i.MX6 UL version of its GRiSP board on Kickstarter and the first that runs Linux. The SBC is is aimed at developers of bare metal systems based on the Erlang programming language.

Designed for building massively scalable soft real-time systems with high availability requirements, Erlang features a runtime that supports concurrency, distribution, and fault tolerance. The language is primarily used to create distributed control systems and other IoT systems.



Sketch of GRiSP 2 (left) and earlier GRiSP 1 with Pmod cards
(click images to enlarge)

Like the GRiSP 1, the GRiSP 2 “provides all the tools to build and run Erlang code on bare-metal hardware,” including a “full-blown Erlang Virtual Machine (VM) that is identical to what you would run on a normal OS, but running directly on the CPU,” says Grisp.org. The VM is compiled with a real-time abstraction layer and RTOS called Real-Time Executive for Multiprocessor Systems (RTEMS), which enables Erlang to work directly with bare-metal hardware.

Unlike the original, the GRiSP 2 supports the Nerves platform running on Linux, which “greatly widens the range of embedded applications that can be prototyped and deployed on the GRiSP 2 hardware,” says Grisp.org. Nerves is typically used with a version of Erlang called Elixir, which is fully supported by the GRiSP 2.

When we saw a Mar. 14 CNXSoft post on the GRiSP 2, we decided to wait and see. After all, how many developers could possibly be interested enough in Erlang to meet the $16,879 campaign goal? As it turned out, some 75 Erlang lovers have ponied up cash to push the project to almost $14K with 31 days left. The early birds are gone, but you can still pick up a board for 179 Euros ($201) with shipments due in October.

The GRiSP 1 (GRiSP-Base), which runs on a Microchip/Atmel ATSAME70 MCU, “is still used extensively for a wide range of applications like custom made home automation systems, teaching, European research projects, and even industrial prototyping,” says Grisp.org. The GRiSP 2 swtiches to a sandwich style configuration for future upgradability. It’s equipped with a compute module loaded with NXP’s 696MHz Cortex-A7-based i.MX6 UL SoC and is said to offer faster boot times than the original board.

The module is further equipped with 128MB of DDR3 DRAM and 4GB eMMC. It’s unclear if the 802.11b/g/n WiFi is on the module or carrier board. Unlike the first gen board, the GRiSP 2 has a 10/100 Ethernet port with IEEE 1588 compliant PoE support.

Prototyping is performed with 6x Digilent Pmod interfaces, as well as a Dallas 1-Wire connection. There are 2x Type 1 GPIO Pmod links plus single I2C, Type 2 SPI, Type 2A expanded SPI with interrupts, and Type 4 UART Pmod interfaces.

The GRiSP 2 is further equipped with a micro SD slot, 2x LEDs, 5x DIP switches, a reset key, and micro-USB based serial console, JTAG, and power ports. There’s also a JTAG/trace connector for external debuggers.

The GRiSP 2 comes with a complete toolchain to create and deploy embedded projects using Erlang or Elixir. There is also automated tooling support for creating custom builds of the Erlang VM with custom C drivers or other C code. The software stack is backward compatible with the original board.

 
Further information

The GRiSP 2 is available on Kickstarter through April 29 for 179 Euros ($201) with shipments due in October. Volume discounts are available. More information may be found on the GRiSP 2 Kickstarter page and at Grisp.org.

 

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