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x86 SBC maker hops on ARM bandwagon

Apr 29, 2013  |  Eric Brown
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WinSystems has introduced its first ARM-based single-board computer (SBC), based on Freescale’s 800MHz i.MX6 processors. The SBC35-C398 series SBCs are available in single-, dual-, and quad-core versions with varying display, expansion, and I/O capabilities, feature extended temperature operation, and are supported with embedded Linux and Android OS builds.

The SBC35-C398 matches the modern Freescale i.MX6 Cortex-A9 SOC with the venerable 3.5-inch SBC form factor. (So-called 3.5-inch boards actually adopt 5.75 x 4.5-inch, 146 x 102mm dimensions.) The SBCs are designed for security, transportation, and medical applications where graphics and industrial control are required, says WinSystems.

There has been a deluge of i.MX6-based SBCs and COMs (computer-on-modules) lately, but this is one of the first SBCs we’ve seen based on the i.MX6 SOC, which comes with one, two, or four cores. The SBC35-C398 series is available in different models based on the number of cores, all clocked to 800MHz. These include the quad-core SBC35-C398Q-2-0, the dual-core SBC35-C398DL-2-0, and the single-core SBC35-C398S-1-0.

The number of cores makes for some substantial differences in I/O and other capabilities, but they’re close enough to share the common specs listed below, with exceptions noted.

All models offer 2GB of soldered-on DDR3 RAM plus SD/SDIO slots, while the quad-core SBC35-C398Q-2-0 adds CFast and microSD slots, with all storage options being bootable.



WinSystems 3.5-inch form-factor SBC35-C398 SBC
(click image to enlarge)

The quad- and dual-core models also supply mini-PCI Express slots, and debut a new expansion connector type called the “IO60,” said to carry I2C, SPI, TTL-UART, and PWM signals. WinSystems offered few details on this presumably 60-pin connector except to say it supports stackable expansion via “off-the-shelf 72 x 50mm modules or application specific designs.”

All three models offers HDMI support, with the number of active displays available indicated by the number of cores. The quad- and dual-core models also provide dual LVDS channels as well as CMOS camera support, and the quad-core board also adds MIPI/DSI image capture and display.

Each model supplies a gigabit Ethernet port and software-configurable, 24-pin GPIO with 30V tolerances. They all offer at least two USB 2.0 ports, while the quad- and dual-core models add four more, plus an OTG port, for a total of seven USB ports. They all provide at least one RS-232/422/485 port, while the SBC35-C398Q-2-0 offers two, and also adds three RS-422/485 ports for a total of five serial ports. Audio I/O and dual CAN ports are also available except on the single-core SBC35-C398S-1-0.



WinSystems SBC (left) and Freescale SOC block diagrams
(click images to enlarge)

The SBC35-C398 series supports 10-50V DC input or Power over Ethernet (PoE) input, as well as industrial operating temperatures of -40 to 85°C, says WinSystems. Linux support is ready from day one, while Android and Windows Compactd 7 kits will be ready by the end of June.

Specifications listed for the SBC35-C398 series SBCs include:

  • Processor — Freescale i.MX6 @ 800MHz with four cores (SBC35-C398Q-2-0), two cores (SBC35-C398DL-2-0) or one core (SBC35-C398S-1-0)
  • Memory — 2GB soldered DDR3 RAM; 256KB (SBC35-C398Q-2-0) or 128KB embedded SRAM
  • Storage expansion — SD/SDIO socket; microSD and CFast (SATA 2.0 channel) available only with SBC35-C398Q-2-0
  • Display:
    • SBC35-C398Q-2-0 — HDMI 1.4 (1080p60); 2x LVDS up to 2048×1536; MIPI/DSI; OpenVG 1.1 support; up to 4x active displays
    • SBC35-C398DL-2-0 — HDMI 1.4 (1080p30); 2x LVDS up to 1366 x 768; up to 2x active
    • SBC35-C398S-1-0 — HDMI 1.4 (1080p30); 1x active
  • Expansion — MiniPCIe (SBC35-C398Q-2-0 and SBC35-C398DL-2-0); IO60 connector (SBC35-C398Q-2-0 and SBC35-C398DL-2-0) with I2C, SPI, TTL-UART, and PWM signals
  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet with Wake-on LAN
  • Camera — CMOS 8-bit (SBC35-C398Q-2-0 and SBC35-C398DL-2-0); MIPI (SBC35-C398Q-2-0)
  • Other I/O
    • 6x USB 2.0 + OTG (SBC35-C398Q-2-0 and SBC35-C398DL-2-0); 2x USB 2.0 (SBC35-C398S-1-0)
    • 2x RS-232/422/485 (SBC35-C398Q-2-0); 1x RS-232/422/485 (SBC35-C398S-1-0)
    • 3x RS-422/485 (SBC35-C398Q-2-0 only)
    • 2x CAN (SBC35-C398Q-2-0 and SBC35-C398DL-2-0)
    • Audio stereo line-in, line-out, mic, head (SBC35-C398Q-2-0 and SBC35-C398DL-2-0)
    • 24x GPIO (to 30V)
  • Other features — watchdog; timers; RTC, optional external battery
  • Power — 10-50V DC; PoE (up to 25W)
  • Dimensions — 146 x 102mm; 3.5-inch form-factor
  • Operating system — Linux, Android, Windows Compact 7, and other OSes, bootable from CFast, SD/SDIO, or MicroSD sockets

The quad-core SBC35-C398Q-2-0 will ship in May. The dual-core SBC35-C398DL-2-0 and single-core SBC35-C398S-1-0 will ship in June. Linux sample OS images are available at release, with Android and Windows Compact 7 support due by the end of June. Pricing was not available, but more information may be found at the company’s SBC35-C398 series product page. (Note: At publication time, only the PDF datasheet was correct, not the product page version.)
 

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