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Tiny solder-down module and eval kit run Linux on an STM32MP1

Jun 26, 2020 — by Eric Brown — 975 views

Ka-Ro’s 27 x 27mm, soldered-down “QSMP” module runs Linux on a Cortex-A7 based STM32MP1 with up to 512MB DDR3L, 4GB eMMC, and an optional dev kit. A recent i.MX8M Mini and Nano based QS8M with the same QFN form factor ships with an RPi-style devkit.

German embedded vendor Ka-Ro Electronics has launched a QFN-style, solder-down module with industrial temperature support that is available from Direct Insights in the UK and Mouser in the US starting at $30. The 27 x 27 x 3mm QSMP Series module runs Linux on a single-or dual-core, Cortex-A7 ST32M1 clocked at 650MHz with a 209MHz Cortex-M4 CPU. Other tiny ST32M1 modules include Kontron’s 25.4 x 25.4mm SOM-STM32MP157 and Octavo’s 18 x 18mm OSD32MP15x SiP module.



QSMP and pinout
(click images to enlarge)

The QSMP Series, which follows a SODIMM-style, ST32M1-based TXMP Series module that we summarize farther below, is available with a Linux BSP and optional development kit. The module is built into a QFN package designed for direct soldering to a carrier board. Ka-Ro uses the same form factor on a recent i.MX8M Mini or Nano based QS8M module released earlier this year, which we cover farther below.

The QSMP supports three of the six variants of ST’s STM32MP1. The high-end model uses the dual-core STM32MP157C with a 533MHz Vivante 3D GPU, hardware crypto acceleration, secure boot, and support for MIPI-DSI and dual FD-CAN ports. The module ships with 512MB DDR3L and 4GB eMMC. A mid-range model with a dual-core STM32MP153A with dual CAN, but no 3D GPU, DSI, or crypto, supplies 256MB RAM and 4GB eMMC.



QSMP models and features
(click image to enlarge)

There is also a single-core STM32MP151A based model without the CAN interfaces or other extras that ships with 256MB RAM and 128MB SLC NAND flash. Like the STM32MP153A SKU, it offers 24-bit RGB in lieu of DSI. This is the only model with a -40 to 85°C range — the others support -25 to 85°C. As noted in the CNXSoft report where we found the module, Direct Insights misspells the SoC names.

The QFN packaging has a 1mm pitch with 100 edge-located pads and a base that doubles as a ground pad and a thermal conductor. The design avoids crossed wires or loop areas and provides “unparalleled miniaturization, thermal efficiency and EMI minimization,” says Direct Insights in its announcement.

The 3.3V module includes a PMIC and a GbE controller. I/O includes USB 2.0, SD, 3x UART, 2x I2C, 2x SPI, PWM, SAI, and on the dual-core models, dual FD-CAN. An LCD controller supports up to 1366 x 768 displays. Power consumption is listed at around 500mW or 640mW “at U-Boot.”



QSMP Evalkit and detail view
(click images to enlarge)

The optional, 90 x 60mm QSMP EvalKit features the soldered-down module with the high-end STM32MP157C SoC. The carrier board adds GbE and USB 2.0 host ports, as well as a micro-USB for power. There is also a microSD slot, an RGB TFT connector for a touchscreen, and a debug UART. The Linux BSP that ships with the kit is based on ST’s OpenSTLinux distribution, which includes STM32CubeIDE tools for programming the Cortex-M4.

 
TXMP Series

The QSMP Series follows Ka-Ro’s SODIMM-style, 68 x 26mm TXMP Series module, which similarly offers the ST32M1 with up to 512MB DDR3L, 4GB eMMC, and industrial temperature support. The module is available with a STM32MP153A SoC at Mouser for $35.93.



TXMP and development kit
(click images to enlarge)

The TXMP is available with a TX Mainboard 7 devkit with 10/100 Ethernet, USB host, micro-USB OTG, RGB, LVDS, and an audio codec and headphone jack. Other features include microSD, CAN, 2x serial headers, JTAG and serial debug, and a 5V DC input.

 
QS8M Series

Ka-Ro’s QS8M Series module, which is available at Mouser for $131.41 and in a 10-pack for £624 ($786.24) at Direct Insight, is a QFN-style alternative to the company’s i.MX8M Mini based TX8M module. Unlike the SODIMM-style TX8M, the 27 x 27mm QS8M adds support for NXP’s similarly Cortex-A53 based i.MX8M Nano.



QS8M and Evalkit
(click images to enlarge)

Two SKUs are available: a quad-core, 1.6GHz i.MX8M Mini SKU with 1GB RAM and a dual-core i.MX8M Nano model with 512MB DDR3L. The solderable, Yocto Linux supported modules provide 4GB eMMC and -25 to 85°C operating ranges.


QS8M Evalkit detail view (left) and mounted on a Raspberry Pi 7-inch Touchscreen
(click images to enlarge)

The QS8M is available in a Raspberry Pi like QS8M Evalkit with GbE, 4x USB, micro-USB OTG, MIPI-DSI and -CSI, and a 40-pin connector. You can mount the board directly onto the back of the Raspberry Pi 7-inch touchscreen.

 
Further information

The QSMP is available from Direct Insights at £24 ($30) to £44 ($54) in single units or in discounted 10-packs. The high-end STM32MP157C model is also available for $68.41 at Mouser. More information may be found in Direct Insight’s announcement and shopping page and the Ka-Ro product page.

 

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