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SODIMM-style i.MX7 COM features dual GbE, WiFi/BT, eMMC

Sep 26, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 1254 views

Variscite’s Linux-driven “VAR-SOM-MX7” COM is shipping with an i.MX7 Dual SoC, WiFi and BLE, dual GbE, and optional eMMC and extended temp. support.

Variscite’s VAR-SOM-MX7 follows many other Linux-ready computer-on-modules based on NXP’s i.MX7 SoC, which combines one or two power-stingy, 1GHz Cortex-A7 cores with a 200MHz Cortex-M4 MCU for real-time processing. While most of these offer a choice of a Solo or Dual model, and the NXP/Element14 WaRP7 offers only the Solo, the SODIMM-style VAR-SOM-MX7 taps the dual-core Dual. Unlike most of these modules, but like the WaRP7 and the CompuLab CL-SOM-iMX7, Variscite’s entry offers onboard WiFi and Bluetooth, in this case Bluetooth 4.1 with BLE.

(click image to enlarge)

The VAR-SOM-MX7 is similarly fully featured in other areas, and it provides an option for -20 to 85° operation in addition to the standard 0 to 70°. There’s also a VAR-MX7CustomBoard carrier option offered with schematics and PCB design files (see farther below). The module ships with a Yocto Project flavored Linux distribution.

VAR-SOM-MX7 rear views with eMMC (left) and NAND flash options
(click images to enlarge)

At 68 x 39mm, the module does not compete in the footprint battle underway in this category, although it’s smaller than Variscite’s own 68 x 52mm, i.MX6-based VAR-SOM-MX6_V2. The size leader still appears to be the 37 x 27mm iMX7 Dual uCOM from Embedded Artists, followed by Phytec’s 50 x 41mm PhyCore-i.MX7. The VAR-SOM-MX7 is similar in size, however, to CompuLab’s CL-SOM-iMX7, and slightly smaller than the Toradex Colibri iMX7.

The VAR-SOM-MX7 ships with 128MB to 2GB DDR3L RAM, and flash options of either 128MB to 512MB NAND or 8GB to 32GB eMMC. At the lowest configurations, the module starts at $39 for 1,000-plus pieces.

Although the IoT oriented i.MX7 is not much of a multimedia processor, offering 2D but no 3D acceleration, the VAR-SOM-MX7 exploits the SoC’s capabilities to the max. You get a 24-bit, 1400 x 1050-pixel DSI interface, a 24-bit, 1920 x 1080 Parallel RGB, 4-wire resistive/capacitive touch, and E-ink ePDC support. There are also 24-bit dual-lane MIPI and Parallel camera interfaces. Audio I/O includes analog mic, line-in, and line-out, as well as a headphone driver and a digital audio serial (MQS) interface.

VAR-SOM-MX7 (left) and NXP i.MX7 Dual block diagrams
(click images to enlarge)

Communications are covered with the dual GbE controllers with PHY that are typical of i.MX7 COMs, as well as the less typical 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.1 BLE radios. The module provides USB 2.0 host and OTG interfaces, as well as 7x UART, 4x I2C, 4x SPI, 2x CAN, and 2x 4-channel 12-bit ADC.

Other I/O includes SD/MMC, PWM, JTAG, PCIe, Smartcard, timers, and keypad. The 3.3V module supports an RTC on the carrier board, and is supported with 10-year availability.


The VAR-SOM-MX7 is offered with an VAR-MX7CustomBoard carrier option, which is available with schematics and DXF mechanical design files. The 5VDC board ships with a 7-inch capacitive or resistive touch-panel. The dimensions are referred to variously as 148 x 87mm or 100 x 70 x 2mm.

VAR-MX7CustomBoard (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Coastline ports include dual GbE ports, USB 2.0 host and micro-USB OTG ports, and a second micro-USB port for debugging. There’s also a microSD slot, a mini-PCI expansion slot, and interfaces for all major VAR-SOM-MX7 functions, as shown in the block diagram. A coin-cell battery backup socket for the RTC function is also available.

Further information

Variscite’s VAR-SOM-MX7 module is available now starting at $39 for $1,000 units. The VAR-MX7CustomBoard also appears to be available at an undisclosed price. More information may be found at the VAR-SOM-MX7 and VAR-MX7CustomBoard product pages.

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