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$60 Raspberry Pi mimic showcases i.MX8M

Sep 27, 2019 — by Eric Brown 4,823 views

Embest’s $60 “MaaxBoard” SBC runs Yocto Linux or Android 9.0 on a quad -A53 i.MX8M with 2GB to 4GB DDR4, 4K playback, and a Raspberry Pi-like layout and 40-pin header. There’s also an upcoming i.MX8M Mini based model.

Embest, a Chinese manufacturer that flipped over to Avnet when it acquired Premier Farnell, has begun selling a Raspberry Pi-like SBC with the key difference that it features NXP’s i.MX8M SoC. The $60 MaaxBoard has a 40-pin GPIO header with “partial” HAT compatibility as well as a mostly Pi-like layout.

MaaxBoard, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Although most individually price SBCs under $100 ship with open hardware specs and community support features, that does not appear to be the case with the MaaxBoard. Still, Embest supplies hardware and software documentation, as well as an image and source code for a Yocto Project based distribution based on Linux 4.14.78. There’s also support for Android 9.0.

It’s unclear whether the lone $60 package gives you the i.MX8M Dual, QuadLite, or Quad model. The up to 1.5GHz Cortex-A53 i.MX8M also includes a Cortex-M4F real-time core and a 4K-ready Vivante GC7000Lite/GC7000VLX GPU. Embest clocks the SoC at 1.4GHz.


The $60 price appears to include 2GB RAM and an empty eMMC socket. The product page mentions “up to” 2GB DDR4 SDRAM and “0 ~ 64GB” eMMC while Embest’s SlideShare preview presentation from June lists a default of 2GB RAM but no specific eMMC listing.

MaaxBoard detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The MaaxBoard is further equipped with a microSD slot, an 802.11ac/Bluetooth 4.x module, and a GbE port. You also get 2x USB 3.0 ports, a power-only USB Type-C port, MIPI-DSI and CSI connectors, and some high-end SPDIF and SAI digital audio interfaces.

The MaaxBoard will be joined by the end of the year by a very similar MaaXBoard Mini SBC equipped with NXP’s i.MX8M Mini SoC. Embest has posted a teaser page with some photos but no details. The image shows that the HDMI port has been removed and replaced with one of the dual USB 3.0 ports. The i.MX8M Mini has up to four faster, 1.8GHz Cortex-A53 cores with lower power consumption but is limited to HD video.

MaaXBoard Mini

We found out about the MaaxBoard from CNXSoft, which discovered it while researching a story on Technexion’s similarly i.MX8M based PICO-PI-IMX8M SBC. (We included the PICO-PI-IMX8M in our last two Linux hacker board catalogs.)

Other i.MX8M based SBCs we have covered include Ibase’s IBR210, Seco’s SBC-C20, Boundary Devices’ Nitrogen8M, Arrow’s 96Boards CE Extended Thor96, SolidRun’s HummingBoard Pulse, and the armStone MX8M from F&S. There are also sandwich-style carrier boards sold as SBCs such as the PICO-PI-IMX8M, CompuLab’s SBC-iMX8 Evaluation Kit and Variscite’s VAR-DT8MCustomBoard SBC.

MaaxBoard and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Specifications listed for the MaaxBoard include:

  • Processor — NXP i.MX8M Dual, QuadLite, or Quad (2x or 4x Cortex-A53 @ up to 1.4GHz); Vivante GC7000Lite GPU; VPU on all but QuadLite; Cortex-M4F @ 266MHz
  • Memory/storage:
    • 2GB to 4GB DDR4
    • eMMC socket for up to 64GB
    • MicroSD slot
  • Networking/wireless:
    • 10/100/1000 Ethernet port
    • 802.11ac with Bluetooth 4.x with ant. connector
  • Media I/O:
    • HDMI 2.0a port with audio for up to 4k@60
    • MIPI-DSI
    • MIPI-CSI
    • SPDIF/UART and SAI audio connectors plus SAI/I2S on 40-pin
    • Supports more than 20 audio channels each @384KHz with DSD512
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 3.0 host ports
    • USB Type-C port with 5V power input only
    • 7x and 8x GPIO connector
  • Expansion — 40-pin GPIO connector (“partially” RPi HAT compatible) with I2C, SPI, UART, I2S, etc.
  • Other features — Power and user buttons; 2x LEDs
  • Power — 5V/3A via USB Type-C
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 70°C with 20% ~ 90% humidity resistance
  • Dimensions — 85 x 56 x 12mm
  • Operating system — Yocto image with Linux 4.14.78 and source code; Android 9.0 support

Embest, which will soon rebrand as “Avnet Manufacturing Services,” has long specialized in TI Sitara based boards, including BeagleBone Black replicas produced for its former parent Farnell Element14 and its own Embest EVK-PH8700 Evaluation Kit for its AM335X-based SOM-PH8700 module. It also produced Element14’s Lark Board based on Altera’s ARM/FPGA Cyclone V SX SoC and its own i.MX6-based MarS Board. Embest’s product overview page lists a variety of TI Sitara based compute modules and evaluation boards.

Further information

The MaaXBoard is available for $60, presumably with 2GB DDR4 and WiFi/BT, but with an empty eMMC socket. The unpriced MaaXBoard Mini will ship later this year. More information may be found in the Embest (Avnet Manufacturing Services) MaaXBoard announcement, MaaXBoard shopping page and Dropbox wiki, as well as the MaaXBoard Mini teaser page.

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2 responses to “$60 Raspberry Pi mimic showcases i.MX8M”

  1. Radek X says:

    1.4GHZ. I think they show 1.5ghz. But there is no info about emmc module size, and how many cores it has. There is only yocto linux to download but documentation is very poor

  2. Jeff Child says:

    May I ask what you mean by the “they show 1.5GHz.”? Not seeing anything to support that.

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