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TechNexion reveals i.MX8M Mini modules and SBCs

Mar 7, 2019 — by Eric Brown — 762 views

TechNexion unveiled three i.MX8M Mini modules: a 40 x 37mm PICO-IMX8M-Mini with an Raspberry Pi-like carrier, a low-cost, FLEX-IMX8M-Mini SODIMM, and a highly customizable AXON-IMX8M-Mini. There’s also an AXON-IMX6 COM and an RPi-like AXON-Pi SBC.

Longtime NXP partner TechNexion, which supports the Wandboard.org community site, has announced three compute modules based on the i.MX8M Mini SoC. The modules, which are supported with open source Linux, Yocto, Ubuntu, and Android images, include a new PICO module and the debut of two new module families: a SODIMM-style FLEX family and an AXON family that enables feature customization.

The SODIMM-style FLEX-IMX8M-Mini starts at only $77.50. It comes in a variety of models with different combinations of RAM, eMMC, and wireless features. The new AXON modules include AXON-IMX8M-Mini and an i.MX6-based AXON-IMX6, each with the same customization capability and 58 x 37mm footprint. Both modules will also be available in a sandwich style, Raspberry Pi-like AXON-Pi SBC as well as an AXON-Neuron Mini-ITX board.



PICO-IMX8M-Mini (2GB with WiFi) and FLEX-IMX8M-Mini
(click images to enlarge)

The PICO-IMX8M-Mini continues the PICO line of modules including the PICO-iMX6 and PICO-IMX6UL. It’s more closely based on the i.MX8M driven PICO-IMX8M module, which powers the PICO-PI-IMX8M, an open-spec, sandwich-style replacement for the Wand-Pi-8M SBC. Two versions of a PICO-IMX8M-Mini based PICO-PI-IMX8M-Mini dev kit are available starting at $289 (see farther below).

The i.MX8M Mini’s 14LPC FinFET process enables a smaller footprint, lower power consumption, and faster clock rates than NXP’s similarly Cortex-A53 based i.MX8M. The PICO-IMX8M-Mini and AXON-IMX8M-Mini support the Solo, Dual, and Quad versions while the FLEX-IMX8M-Mini only supports the Quad. All models are clocked at up to 1.8GHz.

The Mini SoC also offers a 2D/3D Vivante GC7000Lite GPU and a 400MHz Cortex-M4 chip. There’s hardware video encoding, but it tops out at HD video resolution instead of the i.MX8M’s 4K.

Other Mini-based compute modules include Ka-Ro’s 68 x 26mm TX8M, CompuLab’s 38 x 28mm UCM-iMX8M-Mini, F&S’ 40 x 35mm PicoCore MX8MM, and Variscite’s 55 x 30mm DART-MX8M-Mini.

 
AXON-IMX8M-Mini

The AXON-IMX8M-Mini and AXON-IMX6 are the only new models here without product pages, so unlike the PICO and FLEX modules, they don’t appear to be shipping anytime soon. TechNexion did post an overview document with specs for the two modules as well as two upcoming sandwich-style SBCs that can use either.



AXON-IMX8M-Mini detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The 58 x 37mm AXON modules incorporate AXON Fabric programmable logic, which is defined as “a specialized IC that provides additional functions including nearly infinite pinmuxing, allowing for true pin-to-pin compatibility between SoC versions.” The architecture also facilitates OEM customer customization in collaboration with TechNexion. The customization service will be of particular interest to developers of automation, robotics, and drone devices, says the company. The overview shows four potential configurations with optional features, which are also indicated in the block diagram (see diagram below).


AXON-IMX8M-Mini block diagram (left) and custom versions
(click images to enlarge)

The standard AXON-IMX8M-Mini model offers up to 4GB LPDDR4 and 64GB eMMC. There’s a GbE controller and optional, precertified 802.11a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.1. Media features are limited to 4-lane MIPI-DSI and -CSI and 2x I2S for audio.


AXON Fabric architecture (left) and AXON-IMX8M-Mini and AXON-IMX6 features
(click images to enlarge)

Additional AXON-IMX8M-Mini I/O includes 2x USB 2.0 OTG, 2x CAN, 3x UART, 2x SPI, 4x I2C, and 90x GPIO. You also get SDIO, PCIe, JTAG, and a PMIC.


AXON-IMX6

 
AXON-IMX6

The AXON-IMX6 offers AXON-style customization features built around the venerable, Cortex-A9-based i.MX6. The module supports Solo, DualLite, and Quad models clocked to 1GHz with up to 2GB DDR3 and 64GB eMMC.

The feature set is identical to the AXON-IMX8M-Mini with a few exceptions. Surprisingly, the AXON-IMX6 generally offers more I/O. Unlike the Mini model, you get SATA, although at the usual slow i.MX6 transfer rates. The AXON-IMX6 also adds HDMI, LVDS, and RGB. The MIPI interfaces have fewer lanes except for the Quad model’s 4-lane CSI implementation.

 
AXON-Pi and AXON-Neuron SBCs

TechNexion makes no mention of the AXON-Pi or AXON-Neuron SBCs except to list a combined feature table below the modules. It appears these are sandwich-style boards that can be powered by either AXON module.



AXON-Pi

The AXON-Pi is the only one with a photo, which reveals a Raspberry Pi-like form factor. The 85 x 56mm SBC has a 40-pin “PI” HAT connector, as well as HDMI, Ethernet, USB Type-C for 5V power, 2x USB 3.0, and 2x micro-USB ports with USB-to-serial interfaces.

The AXON-Pi is further equipped with a microSD slot, JTAG, RTC, MIPI-DSI and CSI2, and something called a CLIX slot. Audio features include an audio jack, speaker, and voice HAT.



AXON-Pi and AXON-Neuron feature comparison
(click image to enlarge)

The AXON-Neuron is a 170 x 170mm Mini-ITX board that also has an RPi 40-pin connector. As shown in the spec table above, it offers everything the AXON-Pi has and more, including 2x LAN, 2x mini-PCIe, 2x LVDS, 3x sensors, and SATA.

 
FLEX-IMX8M-Mini

This i.MX8M Mini Quad driven module is the first of a line of SODIMM-connected, 69.6 x 35mm FLEX modules. Eight FLEX-IMX8M-Mini modules are available now, starting at $77.50 for an R10 model with 1GB RAM and 16GB eMMC and ranging up to a $137.50 R40 with 4GB RAM, 16GB eMMC, WiFi-ac and Bluetooth 4.1. There are also 2GB and 3GB RAM versions with and without wireless.



FLEX-IMX8M-Mini R40 model, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The FLEX-IMX8M-Mini features a GbE controller (Atheros AR8035), a MIPI-DSI interface, 4-lane MIPI-CSI interface, and an I2S audio interface that requires an audio codec on a carrier. The 5V module supports 1080p240 H.264 video decode and 1080p120 H.264 encode. Additional I/O includes PCIe, USB, USB OTG, SDIO, CAN, UART, SPI, I2C, PWM, and GPIO. So far, no FLEX carrier board has been announced.

 
PICO-IMX8M-Mini

The rugged, 40 x 37mm PICO-IMX8M-Mini brings the i.MX8M Mini Solo, Dual, and Quad SoC to TechNexion’s PICO family. There’s a shopping page showing the module starting at $77.50 with up to 4GB LPDDR4 and a default capacity of 8GB eMMC, with the suggestion that you could add more. There’s also an optional Qualcomm Atheros QCA9377 module with 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.1 (BR+EDR+BLE). At publication time, the pricing configurator and the datasheet link were not working, and it does not appear the shopping ink is actually working, so it’s unclear how much these options cost.



PICO-IMX8M-Mini (2GB with WiFi) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The PICO-IMX8M-Mini is available in commercial, extended, and industrial temp models, and offers 15G half-sine 11ms shock and 1Grms random 5-500Hz hr/axis vibration resistance. The module runs on 4.2-5.25V DC power.

The PICO-IMX8M-Mini appears to have all the features and I/O of the FLEX-IMX8M-Mini. Like earlier PICO modules, it adds an Edison compatible 70-pin Hirose connector. Intel’s Edison module is long gone, but it appears there are still Edison add-on boards you can use.

 
PICO-PI-IMX8M-Mini dev kit

Although not mentioned in the announcement, Technexion has posted product and shopping pages for a PICO-IMX8M-Mini based PICO-PI-IMX8M-Mini dev kit in 1GB RAM and 2GB RAM versions. These Raspberry Pi-like boards appear to be Mini-based variants of the open-spec, PICO-IMX8M based PICO-PI-IMX8M SBC. Presumably, these boards will be open source, as well, and will join the i.MX8M versions on the Wandboard.org site.



PICO-PI-IMX8M-Mini dev kit (2GB version) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The specs are incomplete, but the block diagrams and photos show very similar features. The big differences include the processor and memory allotments of the modules and the lack of an HDMI port and a second MIPI-CSI interface on the new PICO-PI-IMX8M-Mini. The Mini-based SBC, however, adds a Voice HAT that connects to its 40-pin GPIO connector.

Common features include GbE, USB 2.0 host, USB Type-C, and micro-USB debug ports, as well as MIPI-DSI, I2S audio, and 40-pin connections. You also get WiFi-ac and Bluetooth 4.2 The board supports 0 to 50°C temperatures and offers shock and vibration resistance like the PICO-IMX8M-Mini module that powers it.

Like the Dev Kit version of the 85 x 56mm PICO-PI-IMX8M, the kit includes a 5-inch 1280 x 720 capacitive touchscreen, a camera module, an external antenna, and cables. Unlike that model, it also appears to offer more GPIO pins and other gizmos.

 
Further information

The PICO-IMX8M-Mini will be available soon starting at $77.50. (There’s a shopping page, but it was not operational at publication time.)

The PICO-PI-IMX8M-Mini-1G-Dev and PICO-PI-IMX8M-Mini-2G-Dev SBC kits with the PICO-IMX8M-Mini module are available now starting at $289 and $299, respectively.

The FLEX-IMX8M-Mini module is available ranging from $77.50 to $137.50.

No pricing or availability information was provided for the various AXON products. More information may be found in the AXON overview (PDF).

More information may be found in TechNexion’s Embedded World announcement.
 

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