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Rugged Cortex A9/M4 hybrid module runs Linux at 2W

Sep 9, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 1124 views

F&S has launched a 50 x 40mm “PicoCOMA9X” COM with an NXP Cortex-A9 and -M4 based i.MX6 SoloX SoC, available with a Linux BSP and an optional starter kit.

The PicoCOMA9X computer-on-module uses F&S Elektronik Systeme’s 50 x 40mm PicoCOM form-factor, which features an 80-pin plug connector. It is pin-compatible with other F&S PicoCOM modules such as the NXP Vybrid-F based PicoCOMA5 module. Like the German firm’s larger, 62 x 47mm Efus A9X COM, it incorporates NXP’s i.MX6 SoloX system-on-chip.

PicoCOMA9X, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The i.MX6 SoloX combines a 1GHz Cortex-A9 core, much like the i.MX6 Solo, and adds a 200MHz ARM Cortex-M4 MCU. The cores are coordinated with asymmetric multiprocessing technology and connected to the internal bus fabric, enabling both cores to access all peripherals. The Cortex-M4 offers advantages like real-time, deterministic performance, and fast power-up, says F&S.

The PicoCOMA9X is available with 10+ year support, and is designed for “applications in medicine and industry,” says the company. Both commercial 0 to 70°C and extended -25 to 85°C versions are available. The 15-gram, 10mm thick module has a 3.3V power supply with typical power consumption pegged at a low 2 Watts.

The PicoCOMA9X ships with 256MB or 512MB DDR3 RAM, up to 1GB NAND flash, and 2GB to 32GB of onboard eMMC. The module provides a Fast Ethernet controller, and the models with the maximum memory allotments support a second 10/100 port, but at the expense of the audio I/O.

PicoCOMA9X block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The COM provides 16/18-bit RGB/LCD for displays up to XGA (1024 x 768) resolution, and all but the lowest-memory SKUs add 4-wire, analog resistive PCAP touch support via I2C. The press release notes capacitive touch support, but this is not mentioned by the product page.

Another view of the PicoCOMA9X
(click image to enlarge)

The 80-pin expansion interface supports USB 2.0 host and OTG ports, as well as I2C, SPI, SD-Card, and audio I/O. You can order the module with 1x or 2x CAN interfaces and either 2x UART/serial interfaces or 3x serial ports assigned as RS232/RS485 with 3.3V levels. Up to 48 digital I/Os are also available, along with a JTAG connector and support for an external RTC.

The PicoCOMA9X is available with either Buildroot or Yocto project based BSPs with customized kernel, UBoot, GStreamer, drivers, source code, and a cross compiler toolchain. Android is also supported, along with WEC 2013 or WEC7. F&S offers support features like a workshop, extensive documentation, a user forum, and free support.

PicoCOMA9X-V2-LIN Starter Kit

The PicoCOMA9X is available with a PicoCOMA9X-V2-LIN Starter Kit that combines a PicoCOMA5 baseboard, cables, and a 7-inch WVGA resistive touch panel. The feature set of the PicoCOMA5 board is fairly similar to that of the 80 x 50mm, sandwich style PCOMnetA5 SBC, which integrates the Vybrid-based PicoCOMA5 COM. However, it appears to be larger and has a different layout.

PicoCOMA5 baseboard
(click image to enlarge)

The PicoCOMA5 board includes a microSD slot, 2x Fast Ethernet ports, 2x USB host ports, and a micro-USB device port. Onboard interfaces include DVI, SATA, I2C, SPI, and audio line-in and line-out. You also get 2x RS232 interfaces, as well as “E/ A-Ports.” A variety of PicoCOM compatible accessories are available including display and debug adapters.

Further information

The PicoCOMA9X module is available now from F&S Elektronik Systeme in sample quantities. Although pricing for the module alone is not currently shown, a PicoCOMA9X-V2-LIN Starter Kit that includes the PicoCOMA9X-V2 module, carrier board, cable kit, 7-inch color TFT resistive touchscreen, cables, and access to documentation and software is available for 360 Euros ($404). More information may be found at the F&S PicoCOMA9X product page.

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