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i.MX6 SBCs include an open-spec, Wandboard-like model

May 1, 2017 — by Eric Brown — 1,030 views
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[Updated: May 2] — Poslab’s open source “SavageBoard” SBC runs Linux or Android on an i.MX6 Solo, DualLite, or Quad. There’s also a commercial i.MX6 “HobbitBoard.”

Taiwanese embedded OEM firm and Point-of-Sale terminal maker Poslab Technology has launched an open-spec, community-backed SBC that competes directly with Technexion’s venerable, community-backed Wandboard and the new, very similar Wandboard Reload (see farther below). The SavageBoard offers a few more features than the similarly i.MX6-based Wandboard, and it’s $20 cheaper, selling in Solo ($59), DualLite ($79) and Quad ($99) packages. Poslab also offers a 3.5-inch, commercial “HobbitBoard” based on the DualLite and Quad i.MX6 that shares nothing with Wandboard.org’s old HobbitBoard except the name (see farther below).



SavageBoard
(click images to enlarge)

The SavageBoard, which was first spotted by CNXSoft in a Linux 4.11 release log, ships with 1GB of DDR3 RAM for the dual- and quad-core models and 512MB for the Solo. The eMMC count is 8GB for the DualLite or Quad and 4GB for the Solo.

These are some of several differences depending on what i.MX6 model you choose. By comparison, the Wandboard has 2GB on its Quad model, but has no eMMC on any of them. The Wandboard has dual microSD slots instead of the SavageBoard’s single slot, and the SATA interface available on both SBCs is limited to the Quad model. Note that all these comparison are valid for both the Wandboard and the newly updated Wandboard Reload).

The SavageBoard’s SDIO/UART connected WiFi and Bluetooth module is optional and adds $35, while wireless is standard on the DualLite and Quad WandBoard models. The SavageBoard lacks the Wandoard’s S/PDIF audio but it does provide MIPI-DSI in addition to HDMI and MIPI-CSI camera ports. It also appears to offer a separate Parallel camera port. In addition, there are separate LVDS and RGB interfaces, while the Wandboard includes its LVDS on the expansion interface.



SavageBoard detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The Wandboard lacks the SavageBoard’s mini-PCIe slot, although the interface appears to be shared with one of the two USB host ports. Other features are similar, including a GbE port, micro-USB OTG port, and COM and audio ports. The 125 x 95mm SavageBoard is larger than the 95 x 95mm Wandboard, and it’s a monolithic SBC in contrast to the Wandboard’s modular, sandwich-style design.

Licensed with Creative Commons ShareAlike 4.0 International, the SavageBoard ships with EAGLE schematics, gerber and mechanical files, and more. BSP downloads in binary and source code are available for Android 6.0, Yocto Linux, and Arch Linux, and Ubuntu source code is also available.

Specifications listed for the SavageBoard include:

  • Processor — NXP i.MX6 Solo, DualLite, or Quad (1x, 2x, or 4x Cortex-A9 cores @ 1GHz); Vivante CG880 GPU
  • Memory/storage:
    • 512MB (Solo) or 1GB (DualLite/Quad) DDR3 (64-bit, 400MHz)
    • 4GB (Solo) or 8GB eMMC
    • MicroSD slot
    • SATA (only on Quad model)
  • Display/multimedia:
    • HDMI port
    • MIPI-DSI
    • Dual-channel LVDS
    • TFT RGB LCD interface
    • Optional 9.7-inch, 1024 x 768 LCD display ($70)
    • Optional 9.7-inch resistive touch-panel with controller board ($40)
    • MIPI-CSI
    • Parallel camera interface
    • Optional 5-megapixel AF camera ($30)
  • Wireless — Optional 802.11a/b/g/n MIMO with Bluetooth 4.0 + HS module ($35) for SDIO/UART interface
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 2.0 (1x internal via mini-PCIe)
    • Micro-USB OTG port
    • RS-232 COM1 port (DB9)
    • Serial COM2 interface
    • SPI, I2C interfaces
    • Audio jack
    • SDIO/HCI/UART interface available for optional wireless module
  • Expansion — Mini-PCIe slot shared with USB 2.0 port
  • Power — 12V 1A input with optional 12W adapter
  • Dimensions — 125 x 95mm (ETX COM form-factor)
  • Operating system — BSPs available for Android 6.0, Yocto Project, Arch Linux; Ubuntu source code

 
HobbitBoard

Poslab also sells a HobbitBoard, which looks nothing like the sandwich-style, Brillo-on-i.MX6 UltraLite based board of the same name offered by Wandboard.org, or the identical NXP I.MX6UL Development Platform. Instead, it runs on the same DualLite and Quad i.MX6 SoCs supported by the SavageBoard. Indeed, Poslab’s HobbitBoard is derived from the SavageBoard, says the company.



Poslab’s HobbitBoard with and without heatsink
(click image to enlarge)

There’s no mention of open source hardware support for the HobbitBoard, and there’s no pricing. The SBC is larger than the SavageBoard, with a 3.5-inch form-factor 146 x 104mm footprint. Here, the Quad i.MX6 model gets 2GB DDR3 while the DualLite stays at 1GB. Both ship with 8GB eMMC and a microSD slot, but only the Quad model has SATA.

The HobbitBoard has an HDMI port and LVDS interface, but no MIPI connections. You get a a GbE port, a micro-USB OTG port, and more USB 2.0 host ports, with four. Two of those are internal ports, one of which shares mini-PCIe signaling. The HobbitBoard provides a COM port and several internal serial interfaces, as well as I2C, 8-bit GPIO, audio I/O, an RTC, a watchdog, and a CAN bus port.

The HobbitBoard offers 2x mini-PCIe slots with USB 2.0 support, with one supporting a wireless module and the other a GPRS module. The 12V board has -20 to 70°C working range. The Quad model provides optional PoE and 2500mAh battery options.

Meanwhile, Wandboard’s HobbitBoard is no longer available under that name. When Google converted the Android-based Brillo OS to Android Things, Wandboard re-released its own, very different HobbitBoard as an Android Things based PICO-IMX6UL-KIT SBC with the same NXP i.MX6 UltraLite SoC.

 
Wandboard Reload

On Mar. 30, Wandboard.org launched a Wandboard Reload version that replaces earlier Wandboards. The new models are priced the same, but offer reduced shipping costs and a few new features.



Wandboard Reload promo
(click image to enlarge)

The Wandboard Reload adds the i.MX6 QuadPlus as an alternative to the Quad, bringing along an improved Vivante GC2000+ GPU. The SBC’s WiFi has been updated to 802.11ac and Bluetooth to 4.1 BLE. There’s a new PMIC, and Wandboard.org has fixed an HDMI EDID + CEC problem.

The Wandboard Reload is available with an official Wandboard camera supported in Linux 4.1.15. The CAM-OV5645 is built around an Omnivision OV5645.

 
Further information

The SavageBoard is now available in Solo ($59), DualLite ($79) and Quad ($99) packages, although there’s no shopping page, but only a request form. The HobbitBoard appears to be available, as well, although pricing is not listed. More information may be found on the SavageBoard community site, which currently offers a download page, but no forum, as well as on Poslab Technology’s SavageBoard and HobbitBoard product pages. The latest Wandboard information is here.
 

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One response to “i.MX6 SBCs include an open-spec, Wandboard-like model”

  1. twodogs says:

    Looks like a typo on the Savageboard’s memory specification, their site only shows 1GB for the DualLite/Quad.

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