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Tiny module runs Linux on i.MX8M Mini

Feb 12, 2019 — by Eric Brown — 1360 views

F&S unveiled a 40 x 35mm “PicoCore MX8MM” module that runs Linux on an up to quad-A53, 1.8GHz i.MX8M Mini with up to 8GB LPDDR4 and 32GB eMMC plus WiFi/BT, a GbE controller, PCIe, and optional -40 to 85°C support.

F&S Elektronik Systeme pre-announced a tiny PicoCore MX8MM compute module featuring NXP’s new i.MX8M Mini — an i.MX8M variant with lower video resolution, but a faster clock rate. In September, Variscite announced a slightly larger (55 x 30mm) DART-MX8M-Mini COM with the Mini SoC, and Boundary Devices recently revealed details on a Nitrogen8M-Mini SBC. None of these boards appear to have shipped in volume.



PicoCore MX8MM, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The PicoCore MX8MM has the same 40 x 35mm footprint as other F&S PicoCore models such as the i.MX7-based PicoCore MX7ULP. There are also i.MX6 and i.MX6 UL based PicoCore modules, which like the PicoCore MX8MM feature a Yocto Project based Linux BSP. The stack includes Buildroot and UBoot. Windows 10 IoT Core will be available by the end of the year, and the i.MX8M Mini’s real-time, Cortex-M4 core supports FreeRTOS.

F&S is also known for its armStone SBCs, including an i.MX8M driven armStone MX8M announced a year ago. The i.MX8M Mini uses a more advanced 14LPC FinFET process than the i.MX8M, resulting in lower power consumption and higher clock rate for both the Cortex-A53 (clocked here to 1.8GHz, but with a future potential of 2.0GHz) and Cortex-M4 (400MHz compared to 266MHz) cores. This is NXP’s first embedded heterogeneous multi-core SoC, says F&S.

The i.MX8M Mini offers lower-powered GCNanoUltra (3D) and GC320 (2D) graphics cores with video hardware acceleration that tops out at 1080p60 resolution (HEVC H.265, VP9, H.264, VP8). Nevertheless, this is the first PicoCore to support HD video.



PicoCore MX8MM (left) and i.MX8M Mini block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The PicoCore MX8MM module supports 1, 2, and 4-core Cortex-A53 configurations of the Mini. The module ships with up to 8GB LPDDR4 RAM, compared to 1GB LPDDR3 on the PicoCore MX7ULP. You also get up to 512MB SLC NAND flash and up to 32GB eMMC flash. A GbE controller is on board along with 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0.

Dual 100-pin connectors include a subsection of “Interfaces-FIX” pins that are identical to those of other PicoCore modules, thereby providing some backward compatibility. The PicoCore MX8MM supports either LVDS or 4-lane MIPI-DSI with analog resistive and PCAP touch available via I2C. There’s a variety of analog and digital audio I/O, including I2S and S/PDIF, as well as two features missing from earlier PicoCore modules: PCIe expansion and a MIPI-CSI camera input.

Th PicoCore MX8MM supports USB 2.0 host and OTG ports and enables 4x UART, 4x I2C, 4x SPI, and 8x PWM. Power is listed as “+3.8V bis 5.5VDC,” and the module runs at a typical 3 Watts. The under 10-gram module integrates an RTC and is available in both 0 to 70°C and -40 to 85°C versions. Long-term availability extends to 2029.

 
Further information

No pricing or availability was provided for the PicoCore MX8MM, which should be further revealed Feb. 26-28 at the Embedded World conference in Nuremberg. Meanwhile, more information may be found at F&S Elektronik Systeme’s PicoCore MX8MM product page.

 

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