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Mini-PCIe sized COM runs Linux on ARM9 SoC

Mar 12, 2014  |  Rick Lehrbaum
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Ukraine-based Evodbg announced an extremely small, Linux-ready COM based on Freescale’s i.MX287 ARM9 SoC, and matching the form-factor of a mini-PCIe card.

Although Evodbg’s 51 x 30mm “EV-iMX287-NANO” computer-on-module adopts the dimensions and connector style of common mini-PCIe cards, it does so with an entirely unique pinout. The module is based on Freescale’s several years-old i.MX28x SoC, famous for its miserly half-Watt power consumption and Linux support. The SoC combines a 454MHz ARM9 core along with an assortment of memory and interface controllers.



Evodbg’s tiny mini-PCIe sized i.MX28 COM
(click images to enlarge)

Evodbg says the tiny i.MX287 module targets applications ranging from vending machines, to industrial control, to mobile assets tracking. In addition to its i.MX287 SoC, the COM integrates 128MB of DDR2 RAM, 256MB of NAND flash, and a pair of 10/100 Ethernet PHYs. On its solder side, there’s also an SD/MMC socket, but it’s not clear whether the socket is standard or a special-order option.


Block diagrams: Evodbg EV-iMX287-NANO COM; Freescale i.MX287 SoC
(click images to enlarge)

Over the past few years we’ve run across several SODIMM-style COMs built around Freescale’s i.MX28x SoCs. These have included Ka-Ro’s TX28, DENX’s M28, and the relatively recent Crystalfontz CFA10036x with an optional on-board display.


Other tiny i.MX28 COMs: Digi ConnectCard (left) and Silex SX-580
(click images to enlarge)

Only Digi’s 51 x 35mm ConnectCard for i.MX28 and Silex Technology’s 55 x 30mm SX-580 COM come close to matching this new Evodbg module’s diminutive size, but in both cases they lose the match by about 5mm in one dimension or another. To their credit, however, both Silex’s and Digi’s similarly teeny-weeny COMs add wireless and other interfaces to the basic i.MX28 mix.

 
EV-i.MX28-NANO COM specifications and baseboard

Specifications listed by Evodbg for the EV-i.MX28-NANO include:

  • Processor — Freescale i.MX287; 1x ARM9 core @454MHz
  • RAM — 128MB DDR2
  • Storage — 256MB NAND flash
  • Signals provided on 52-finger edgecard connector:
    • 2x 10/100 Ethernet (2x PHY included onboard)
    • 2x USB high-speed ports (one supports OTG)
    • 6x UARTs
    • 2x CAN bus
    • 2x I2C
    • 1x SPI
    • SD/MMC interface (4-bit)
  • Power — 5V @1W typical
  • Operating temperature — -40 to 85°C
  • Dimensions — 51 x 30 x 4mm; mini-PCIe form-factor

As with all COMs, Evodbg’s EV-iMX286-NANO module needs to be plugged into some sort of baseboard for operation. To this end, the company offers the optional 100 x 100mm “EV-iMX287-NANO-MB” development platform, which provides a mini-PCIe socket for the COM, along with various interface components and connectors.



EV-iMX286-NANO-MB baseboard
(click image to enlarge)

Features listed for the EV-iMX286-NANO-MB baseboard include:
  • 2x RJ-45 Ethernet connectors (with built-in magnetics)
  • USB Type A connector
  • Serial connector (RS-232)
  • microSD card socket
  • 2x CAN connectors
  • 3x I/O interface connectors
  • 3G/HSDPA + GPS wireless module (SIM Technology SIM5320)

Additionally, the EV-iMX286-NANO is supported by a complete embedded Linux BSP. The board’s Linux BSP currently comprises a virtual machine image that includes u-boot-2013.4, linux-3.9.11, buildroot-2013.11, Openwrt, and ltib. Linux kernel 2.6.35 and u-boot 2009 are available as options.

 
Larger, SODIMM-style COM and baseboard

Evodbg also offers an SODIMM-style superset model, the “EV-iMX287-SODIMM,” which sells for about $10 more than the mini-PCIe sized “NANO” version and includes a superset of its features. Like its smaller sibling, the SODIMM-style board is accompanied by an optional 100 x 100mm baseboard, the “EV-iMX287-SODIMM-MB,” and it also is supported with a similar Linux BSP.



EV-iMX286-SODIMM COM, block diagram, and baseboard
(click images to enlarge)

Specifications listed by Evodbg for the EV-i.MX28-SODIMM computer-on-module include:
  • Processor — Freescale i.MX287; 1x ARM9 core @454MHz
  • RAM — 128MB DDR2
  • Storage — choice of 512MB NAND, 4GB eMMC flash, or 8GB eMMC flash
  • 200-pin connector edge-card connector containing “all” SoC signals, which would appear to include: 2x 10/100 Ethernet; 2x CAN; LCD controller with touchscreen inputs; 2x high-speed USB (1x Host, 1x OTG); 2x ADC (1x high-speed 12-bit, 1x low-speed 8-bit); 6x UART; SSP; SDIO; SPI; I2C; I2S; PWM
  • Power — 5VDC @1W (typical)
  • Operating temperature — -40 – 85°C with NAND flash; -25 – 85° C with eMMC flash
  • Dimensions — 68 x 30mm

 
Further information

The mini-PCIe sized EV-iMX287-NANO module is sampling now, priced at $40 for a single unit and discounted to less than $20 in OEM quantities above 1,000, says the company. The module’s EV-iMX287-NANO-MB baseboard will ship later this month for $87 (does not include COM). The larger SODIMM-style EV-iMX287-SODIMM COM is also currently sampling, priced at about $50 with discounts to below $22 in OEM volumes; its baseboard will also ship later this month, priced at $53 (not including the COM). Further details on all these boards are available from Evodbg’s online store at Otladka.com.ua.
 

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