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Tiny module runs Android or Linux, drives dual displays

Oct 23, 2013  |  Eric Brown
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Artila Electronics announced the release of an 80 x 50mm computer-on-module (COM) that runs Linux or Android on an ARM Cortex A8-based Freescale system-on-chip. The M-5360A module plugs into application baseboards via three bottom-side headers carrying numerous I/O interfaces including dual LVDS, VGA, SATA, Fast Ethernet, SD, USB 2.0, serial, and CAN bus.

The credit card-sized M-5360A COM is built around Freescale’s i.MX537, an industrial HMI-focused SoC based on an ARM Cortex-A8 core clocked here to 800MHz. Also found on COMs including the SODIMM-style Denx M53, the i.MX537 SoC integrates a 2D/3D graphics accelerator as well as accelerators for OpenGLE 2.0 and OpenVG 1.1 multimedia standards. The SoC can drive 1080p video decode and 720p encode. The key difference from the similar i.MX535 SoC is that the i.MX537 adds a CAN bus interface.



Artila M-5360A COM, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

 

The module’s built-in memory includes 1GB DDR3 RAM and 4GB eMMC flash, says Artila. Also onboard is a 10/100 Ethernet controller and three “reliable” 2.0mm header connectors, which collectively provide 128 pins worth of I/O. Display support includes a VGA port and dual LVDS interfaces, plus a 4-wire touch interface. Both USB 2.0 host and OTG ports are provided, along with 1-Wire, I2C, I2S, SPI, CAN bus, GPIO, and multiple UARTs for serial communications. Storage interfaces include SATA and SD.



Block diagrams: M-5360A COM and i.MX537 SOC
(click images to enlarge)

 

Artila also offers an M-5360-ST baseboard (shown below) for use in evaluating the COM and developing custom baseboards compatible with it. As shown above, this baseboard features coastline ports including a Fast Ethernet port, a microSD slot, a VGA port, an RS-232 port, and USB 2.0 host and OTG ports. Two more USB 2.0 ports are onboard, along with interfaces including SATA, dual CAN bus ports, SPI, I2C, LVDS, GPIO, and both RS-232 and RS-485 connections.



M-5360A evaluation board
(click image for larger annotated view)

 

Users have a choice of Ubuntu Linux, Android, or Windows CE pre-installed, as well as “plenty of software utilities and device drivers,” says Artila. These are said to include GNU C/C++ tool chain for Linux and Windows.

Specifications listed for the M-5360A COM include:

  • Processor — Freescale i.MX537 (1x Cortex-A8 core @800MHz) with 2D/3D graphics acceleration (1080p video, OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0, OpenVG 1.1)
  • Memory — 1GB DDR3 RAM; 4GB eMMC flash
  • Display (via CN connectors):
    • 2x 24-bit LVDS channels, supporting up to 1600 x 1200 pixels
    • Analog VGA out (sync with LVDS)
    • Dual-independent display capability
    • 4-wire touchscreen interface
  • Networking — 10/100Mbps Ethernet with PHY
  • Other I/O ports (via CN connectors):
    • SD (for up to 32GB)
    • SATA
    • 2x USB — USB 2.0 host (480Mbps); USB 2.0 OTG
    • 4x UART — COM1, COM2 (8-wire); COM3 (5-wire); COM4 (3-wire serial console)
    • CAN bus
    • Misc– I2C; I2S; SPI; 1-wire; 8 GPIOs
  • Other features — RTC; watchdog
  • Power — 5VDC and 3.3VDC supply; [email protected] input
  • Dimensions — 80 x 50mm
  • Operating system support — Ubuntu Linux 10.04; Android; Windows Compact 7.0

The M-5360A module appears to be available now at an unstated price. More information may be found at Artila’s M-5360A product page.
 

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