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Tiny, wireless enabled module offers OTA updates for Linux on Allwinner H5

Feb 27, 2018 — by Eric Brown — 897 views

Emlid’s 41 x 29.5mm “Neutis N5” module runs OTA-updated mainline Linux on a quad-A53 Allwinner H5, and offers a crypto chip, 8GB eMMC, WiFi with BT 4.0/BLE, extended temp support, and an optional development board.

Emlid, which is known for its ArduPilot compatible, Linux-driven drone controllers such as the Navio2 autopilot HAT for the Raspberry Pi and more recent, standalone Emlid Edge, is dipping its toes into the mainstream embedded market with a Neutis N5 computer-on-module.



Neutis N5 front and rear views
(click images to enlarge)

We found out about the Neutis N5 from a Hackaday post. At publication time, Emlid had yet to announce the module, but had posted specs on a new Neutis.io website, which suggests the spinoff of a separate operation. The rugged, tiny (41 x 29.5 x 3.3mm) module is expected to launch in April for $49, targeting “pro makers and hardware startups.”


Neutis N5 profile rendering
(click image to enlarge)

The Neutis N5 is the first COM we’ve seen that runs on the quad-core, Cortex-A53 Allwinner H5 SoC, which includes a Mali-450 MP4 GPU. Clocked here to 1.3GHz, the H5 has been a popular choice on Linux/Android hacker SBCs, having appeared on five of the 103 boards in our most recent hacker board roundup. These include FriendlyElec’s NanoPi Neo2 and NanoPi Neo Plus2, as well as Shezhen Xunlong’s Orange Pi PC 2, Orange Pi Prime, and Orange Pi Zero Plus 2.

Thanks to the work of open source groups such as Linux-Sunxi in expanding open source Linux support on Allwinner SoCs, Emlid is supporting the Neutis N5 with a “modern Linux kernel based on the mainline version,” updated with built-in OTA. The Debian stack includes a Yocto build system. “Unlike other modules that are stuck with old legacy kernels without updates, Neutis will get security fixes and new features on time,” says the company.



Rear view of Neutis N5 (center) and pinout
(click image to enlarge)

The Neutis N5 ships with only 512MB DDR3 RAM, which seems low for a 64-bit SoC. The module is further equipped with 8GB eMMC and a secure element: a “tamper-resistant dedicated crypto chip for storing cryptographic keys, unique ID, random number generation and more.” You also get 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 with BLE, along with an onboard antenna and a U.FL connector for an optional external antenna.

Dual 80-pin expansion connectors provide signals including Ethernet, 3x USB host, and USB OTG. Media interfaces include HDMI, CVBS, 2x I2S/PCM, 2x mic-in, and audio line-in and line-out.

Additional I/O, some of which is multiplexed, includes SDIO, IR-in, 4x UART, 2x SPI, 3x I2C, 2x PWM, and 38x GPIO. The module runs on 3.3V (1.1-1.3V for the “core”) power, and supports a temperature range of -25 to 85°C.



Optional Neutis N5 development kit
(click image to enlarge)

A compact development board is available that extends the COM with a microSD slot, 10/100 Ethernet port, 2x USB 2.0 host ports, and a micro-USB 2.0 OTG port. There’s also an HDMI port and a 3.5mm audio out jack. Other interfaces are expressed via 2.54mm pitch pins “for quick prototyping,” says Emlid.

The module features additional features for “hassle-free manufacturing,” says Emlid. These include expected (pending) FCC and CE certification, serial numbers supported with a tracking tool, and the lack of an import duty for China. Emlid also includes a time-saving parallel flashing tool.

 
Further information

The Neutis N5 will be available in April for $49 for single units, with volume discounts available. More information may be found at Emlid’s Neutis-io website, and more may eventually appear at the Emlid website. Emlid is also at Embedded World this week at booth 3A-545 (Hall 3A).
 

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One response to “Tiny, wireless enabled module offers OTA updates for Linux on Allwinner H5”

  1. Mike says:

    This looks real great. Has everything I have been looking for, and size is perfect. Lets hope all the software is fully tested and docs are good when its released.

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