[Updated May 9] — Embedian launched its first SMARC module, running Linux or Android on a 1GHz TI AM335x SoC, and available as part of two sandwich-style 3.5-inch SBC models.
Many embedded computer-on-module manufacturers have only recently begun to turn to ARM. By contrast, Embedian was something of an ARM pioneer, having launched the first MXM (Mobile PCI Express Module) form-factor ARM modules back in 2007, based on Nvidia’s earlier MXM interconnect standard‘s high density right-angle connector. The next year, Embedian released more MXM COMs, and its MXM golden finger connector was integrated into the more successful Qseven standard.
Now, with the SMARC-T335X, Embedian has launched its first module with the ARM-focused, 314-pin SMARC (Smart Mobility Architecture) form-factor. (See farther below for more about SMARC.) In addition to being sold as a component, the COM is also available pre-integrated into a pair of sandwich-style “SMART SBCs”, which add I/O baseboards that implement additional circuitry, real-world ports, and expansion connectors.
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Embedian has begun its SMARC adventure with the short (82 x 50mm) version of the SMARC form-factor, and a low-power Sitara AM3352 or 3D-accelerated AM3354 system-on-chip from Texas Instruments (TI), which have been widely used in Linux-ready ARM modules, such as MYIR’s recent MYC-AM335X COM. The press release makes a brief mention of TI’s AM3517 SoC, but this appears to be in error. Adlink used the AM3517 in its LEC-3517 SMARC module.
On the SMARC-T335X, the Cortex-A8 AM3354 processor can be configured to run at 600MHz, 800MHz, or 1GHz, while the AM3352 can run at 600MHz or 800MHz. In all cases, the power envelope is less than 2 Watts, says Embedian.
The low-power operation enables devices based on the SMARC-T335X to run without a cooled system design, says the company. The module is said to be best suited for portable and stationary embedded devices, such as industrial handhelds, control terminals, building automation, smart grid, HMI, medical, and industrial tablet devices. Mobile applications, such as an “E-bike,” are also mentioned.
Embedian’s SMARC-T335X is equipped with 512MB of DDR3 RAM and 4GB of NAND flash. The module also supports 24-bit LVDS, as well as 18/24-bit parallel LCDs with backlight PWM interfaces. Both a USB 2.0 host and OTG client port are supported, along with three serial ports, a CAN bus port, and two 100Mbit Ethernet ports. Other I/O includes SPI, I2C, I2S, and a dozen GPIO signals.
The module is available in an industrial temperature version. It ships with a Yocto Project-certified Linux Linux 3.12 or 3.2 BSP that offers a choice of several distributions, including Arago and Ubuntu. Board support packages are also available for Android 4.x and WEC7.
Specifications listed for the SMARC-T335X include:
- Processor — TI Sitara AM3352 or AM3354 (1x Cortex-A8 @ 600-, 800, or 1000MHz)
- 512MB DDR2
- 4GB NAND flash
- 4MB SPI NOR flash
- Display — single-channel, 24-bit LVDS; parallel LCD 18/24-bit
- Networking — 2x 10/100 Ethernet
- Other I/O (via 314-pin MXM SMARC connector):
- USB 2.0 host
- USB 2.0 OTG
- 3x UARTs (serial)
- CAN bus
- 2x SPI
- 3x I2C
- 12x GPIO
- 3x PWMs (supporting backlighting)
- 4x ADCs (supporting resistive touch)
- Power — 3V to 5.25V, running on fixed supply or single-level Li-Ion battery; typical 2-Watt consumption
- Operating temperature — 0 to 60°C or -40 to 85°C
- Dimensions — 82 x 50mm; SMARC “short module” format
- Operating systems — Linux 3.2 (TI EZSDK 6.0.0 Arago or Ubuntu 13.04) or Linux 3.12 (Device Tree Support, Arago, or Ubuntu 13.04) with Yocto/OpenEmbedded; Android ICS; Windows Embedded Compact 7.0 (WEC7)
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In April 2013, the Standardization Group for Embedded Technologies (SGET) ratified a standard for highly compact ARM-based COMs. Formerly known as ULP-COM, the “SMARC” (Smart Mobility ARChitecture) specification defines 82 × 50mm and 82 × 80mm formats using 314-pin MXM3 connectors, and is designed for low-power mobile and embedded device applications.
At last count, the standard had been endorsed by 45 SGET members, including top embedded competitors like Adlink, Advantech, and MSC. SMARC was the first multivendor COM standard to be built specifically for modern ARM-Cortex SoCs, aiming to efficiently pass along ARM benefits such as low power consumption to COTS designs. Despite this focus, however, SGET hopes to have SMARC also support the use of low-power x86 and other RISC processors.
Embedian’s SMARC-T335X is available now starting at $49 ranging up to $69 in 1-199 unit volume, for an 600MHz AM3352. For $54, ranging up to $74, you get an 800MHz TI Sitara AM3352x or a 600MHz, 3D-ready AM3354. Adding $3 boosts the latter to 800GHz, and adding $10 increases it to 1GHz. The SMART-BEE, sold as a two-board sandwich that includes the COM, goes for $89 to $119, depending on volume (pricing assumes 600MHz, faster speeds add $5 to $10).