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Raspberry Pi-like boardset packs quad-core i.MX6

Apr 23, 2014  |  Eric Brown
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SolidRun revealed a Raspberry Pi-like “HummingBoard” boardset for its Linux-ready CuBox mini-PCs, based on a Freescale i.MX6 SoC located on a tiny COM.

SolidRun created the community-backed HummingBoard to serve as a modular motherboard for use in its Linux- and Android-ready CuBox mini-PCs, including the recent CuBox-i models. Like the recently announced, Allwinner A20-based Banana Pi single board computer, the HummingBoard is a faster near-clone of the Raspberry Pi. It also similarly offers Pi-like ports and layout, as well as the RasPi’s 26-pin expansion connector for add-on module compatibility. But unlike the Pi boards, the HummingBoard’s processor core resides on a tiny computer-on-module (shown below).



HummingBoard (left) and its tiny i.MX6 “MicroSOM” COM
(click images to enlarge)

The HummingBoard (formerly codenamed “Carrier-One”) has been under development for several months, judging from this Jan. 15 posting on an Element14 forum. SolidRun has yet to make the formal announcement for the unpriced SBC, but will likely do so in May when, according to CNXSoft, the HummingBoard is due to ship.


Banana Pi (left) and Raspberry Pi Model B
(click images to enlarge)

Earlier this month, SolidRun (aka “Solid-Run”) posted a wiki with preliminary specs, and announced a competition for CuBox developers. CuBox hackers are asked to send in a short video and description of their CuBox-based project by April 25. Up to 30 winners will receive free HummingBoards.

The HummingBoard will be sold as a hacker SBC, but as mentioned earlier it’s actually a Raspberry Pi-like baseboard combined with a new swappable, roughly 30 x 45mm, MicroSOM that’s equipped with the same processor/memory configurations available in SolidRun’s CuBox-i mini-PCs. The initial HummingBoard’s MicroSOM is based on a quad-core Freescale i.MX6 clocked at 1GHz.

According to CNXSoft, the MicroSOM also supports single- and dual-core versions of Freescale’s ARM Cortex-A9-based i.MX6 SoC, so these options may well become available on the HummingBoard as well. The dual- and quad-core i.MX6 models are faster than the Banana Pi’s dual-core, Cortex-A7 based Allwinner A20, and much faster than the Raspberry Pi’s ARM11-based Broadcom BCM2835 SoC.

The initial MicroSOM appearing on the debut HummingBoard will also offer 2GB of RAM, which is twice what the Banana Pi offers, and four times the 512MB on the RasPi. The module also supplies a gigabit Ethernet PHY and a Broadcom BCM4329 WiFi/Bluetooth module.

While Lemaker.org trumpets the Banana Pi’s close approximation to the world’s best-selling hacker SBC, SolidRun only mentions it in passing, when speaking of the RasPi compatibility of its 26-pin expansion connectors. No specifications were listed for the HummingBoard, but like the Banana Pi, it appears to be a near clone of the Raspberry Pi, with similar ports in similar places.

Aside from the processor, the main difference with the Banana Pi is that instead of offering a composite video port, it uses the same space for a digital S/PDIF audio port. It’s also missing the Banana Pi’s extra micro-OTG port and user buttons, and offers a microSD slot instead of an SD slot, and an mSATA connector instead of a SATA port. On the plus side, however, the HummingBoard adds a mini-PCI-Express expansion connector and 8-bit headers for FlexCAN in addition to the 26-pin RasPi expansion interface.



HummingBoard details
(click image to enlarge; numbered items are identified below)

Preliminary specifications listed for the HummingBoard/MicroSOM boardset include:
  • MicroSOM module [1]:
    • Processor – Freescale i.MX6Quad (4x Cortex-A9 cores @ 1GHz); Vivante GC2000 GPU
    • RAM — 2GB RAM
    • Wireless — WiFi and Bluetooth (Broadcom BCM4329)
  • HummingBoard carrier:
    • Storage — MicroSD slot (on bottom); mSATA interface (on bottom)
    • Networking — gigabit Ethernet port [4]
    • Multimedia I/O:
      • HDMI out [3]
      • LVDS interface [8]
      • DSI/CSI shared port with CSI camera input [6, 7]
      • Coax SPDIF digital audio [11]
      • Analog audio jack [10] (PWM-based)
    • Other I/O:
      • Dual USB 2.0 host ports [5] with optional swap for eSATA port
      • Micro-USB port for 5V DC power [2]
      • Serial UART debug port
      • 26-pin dual-row RasPi compatible expansion connector [9]
      • 8-pin headers [15] for 5V, 3.3V, FlexCAN1 TX and RX, V-SNVS for i.MX6, GND, reset, battery voltage
      • Mini-PCIe slot (on bottom)
    • Other features — LEDs [14]; RTC [13]; IR receiver [12]
  • Operating system — Linux and Android 4.4 (supports all CuBox images)

 
Further information

No pricing or availability was available for the HummingBoard, which appears to be ready to go within a month or two. More information may be found on the HummingBoard wiki and the SolidRun Cubox site.
 

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PLEASE COMMENT BELOW

One Response to “Raspberry Pi-like boardset packs quad-core i.MX6”

  1. Randolph Garrison says:

    Looks like the Raspberry has the price point.

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