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ST’s new Cortex-A7 SoC to get the SiP treatment

Feb 25, 2019 — by Eric Brown — 762 views

Octavo unveiled an “OSD32MP1” System-in-Package (SiP) version of ST’s new dual -A7 STM32MP1 SoC. It matches the SoC’s 18 x 18mm footprint while adding 1GB DDR3, a PMIC, EEPROM, oscillators, and passives.

Octavo Systems, which is known for its System-in-Package implementations of TI Sitara SoCs used by several BeagleBone SBC models, announced a SiP package for the Linux-powered STM32MP1 SoC from STMicroelectronics. Just as the STM32MP1 aims to ease the transition for developers moving from STM32 MCUs to a Linux powered platform, the highly integrated OSD32MP1 SiP package is designed to help them master the more complex embedded design process required with Cortex-A SoCs.

At only 18 X 18mm — the same size as the standard STM32MP1 — the OSD32MP1 is Octavo’s smallest SiP product yet. The 302-Ball BGA SiP, which is also referred to more specifically as the OSD32MP15x, is up to 64 percent smaller than an equivalent STM32MP1 based system made from discrete components, claims Octavo.



OSD32MP1 detail view
(click image to enlarge)

In addition to integrating the STM32MP1 with its 650MHz dual Cortex-A7 cores and 209MHz Cortex-M4 core, the SiP adds:

  • Up to 1GB of DDR3
  • 4K non-volatile EEPROM
  • STPMIC1 PMIC with 5.2V Boost, Buck, 4x LDOs, 2x power switches
  • 2x MEMs oscillators (Main and RTC)
  • Over 100 passive components
  • Available in 0 to 85°C and -40 to 85°C versions

This is Octavo’s first SiP module without a Texas Instruments Sitara processor. Octavo’s first OSD335x SiP module, which had a 27 x 27mm BGA (400 Ball) design, powered the BeagleBone Black Wireless and BeagleBone Blue SBCs. It combined the TI AM3358 SoC circuitry with up to 1GB RAM, a PMIC, an LDO regulator, and 140 passives.

In 2017, Octavo launched the 21 x 21mm, 256-Ball OSD335x-SM, which offered similar features plus a 4KB EEPROM. The OSD335x-SM went on to power BeagleBoard.org’s PocketBeagle, as well as Octavo’s own OSD3358-SM-RED development board.

Last September, Octavo followed up with an OSD335x C-SiP implementation of the same AM3358 SoC. It expanded back up to a 27 x 27mm, 400-Ball package, but added up to 16GB eMMC and an oscillator along with 1GB DDR3, PMIC, LDO, EEPROM, and passives.

The argument for SiPs is that they take up less space and also ease product development. For example, embedded vendors can avoid the time and money spent on power sequencing and laying out DDR3 memory interfaces, says Octavo.

SiPs slso reduce the need to add multiple PCB layers, print double-sided boards, or use complicated manufacturing processes like Laser Vias or Via-in-Pad, says the company. In addition, a SiP design can simplify the task of sourcing components. The OSD32MP1 integrates over 100 devices from multiple vendors.



OSD32MP1 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

Ease of development is particularly important for the primary audience for the STM32MP1: STM32 (Cortex-M) developers attempting their first Cortex-A based SoC designs. “The OSD32MP1 lets developers easily migrate MCU designs to a Linux-based processor,” said Greg Sheridan, Marketing Manager at Octavo Systems, in a briefing with LinuxGizmos.

ST is helping on the software side by extending its STM32Cube development platform to cover the Linux-powered Cortex-A7 cores in addition to the Cortex-M4. But there are still challenges on the hardware side. “There is a lot of complexity in moving up to a Cortex-A processor, such as dealing with DDR memory and more complex power domains,” said Sheridan. “We package the hardware so it looks as easy as working with an MCU.”

The OSD32MP15x supports all the signals on the STM32MP1 and is compatible with the SoC’s OpenSTLinux distribution and STM32CubeMP tools. Starting in April, developers can begin prototyping using one of ST’s STM32MP1 development kits. There are entry-level DK kits and more advanced EV kits, all of which provide GPIO connectors for the Raspberry Pi and Arduino Uno V3. Eventually, Octavo plans to release its own development board specifically for the OSD32MP1.

 
Further information

The OSD32MP1 is available for pre-order at an undisclosed price. Design resources for the OSD32MP1 are available today and samples will ship in Q3. Full production is scheduled for Q4. More information may be found in the Octavo Systems OSD32MP15x announcement and on the OSD32MP15x product page.
 

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