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$99 SBC runs Linux on 1GHz dual-core ARM SOC

Apr 3, 2013 — by Rick Lehrbaum 9,207 views

Embest is accepting pre-orders for a $99 single-board computer (SBC) based on a 1GHz dual-core Freescale i.MX6 ARM Cortex-A9 system-on-chip (SOC). The compact “MarS Board” provides interfaces for Gig-Ethernet, high-speed USB, HDMI, camera, and more, and it’s supported with ready-to-use embedded Linux and Android OS images.

The MarS Board’s small size (100 x 65 mm) precludes fitting “real-world” style connectors for all interfaces directly on-board. Consequently, it provides a pair of 24-pin female header connectors topside, into which various adapters can be plugged in order to access all the board’s features (see photo and block diagram down below).

Embest’s $99 MarS Board, top and bottom

Embest lists these features and specifications for the MarS Board:


  • Processor — Freescale i.MX6 Dual ARM Cortex-A9 SOC containing:
    • 2 ARM cores, clocked at 1GHz
    • NEON SIMD media accelerator
    • HD-class 1080p encode/decode video engine
    • 2D+3D hardware graphics accelerators (3 GPUs)
  • Memory:
    • 1GB DDR3 SDRAM
    • 4GB eMMC flash
    • 2MB SPI flash
  • Onboard connectors for…
    • TF card interface
    • Video outputs — HDMI 1.4a; LVDS; 24-bit RGB LCD I/F
    • USB — 1x USB2.0 OTG (480Mbps); 2 x USB2.0 Host (480Mbps)
    • Serial Port — 1x RS232 debug port
    • Ethernet — 10M/100M/1G bps
  • Functions available via dual 24-pin expansion headers:
    • Camera interface
    • Audio — SP/DIF; AUDMUX (Digital Audio Multiplexer); GPMI (General Purpose Memory I/F); ESAI (Enhanced Serial Audio Interface)
    • Keyboard port
    • USDHC1 (Ultra Secured Digital Host Controller)
    • Misc. serial I/O — SPI; 2x I2C; PWM, 4x UARTs; 2x Canbus
  • Dimensions — 65 x 102 mm
  • Power — 5VDC @ 4A
  • Operating temp — 0 to 70° C


The board’s block diagram appears below.

Embest MarS Board block diagram
(click to enlarge)


For more detail on what’s inside the SBC’s Freescale dual-core i.MX6 Cortex-A9 SOC, have a look at the SOC’s block diagram, below.

Freescale i.MX6 Dual Cortex-A9 SOC block diagram
(click to enlarge)


Software and hardware options

Embest will support the MarS Board with ready-to-use embedded Linux 3.0.15 and Android 4.0.4 OS images. Additionally, the company says it can supply a demo version of uC/OS-II V2.92.05 for the SBC.

Hardware add-ons for the MarS Board will include a series of expansion options, including a USB WiFi module, an HDMI-to-VGA converter module, and 4.3- and 7-inch TFT LCD touchscreen displays.

For additional information or to pre-order a MarS Board, visit Embest’s website, here.

(advertise here)

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7 responses to “$99 SBC runs Linux on 1GHz dual-core ARM SOC”

  1. X says:

    The first paragraph says it has SATA, but later on it is not listed. I think it is not wired to expansion or onboard connectors, so the board does not have SATA, even if the SOC supports it (I haven’t checked). You may want to check and correct the first paragraph if needed. Thanks.

  2. Anachronda says:

    In what world is a mini USB port attached to an FT232 an “RS232 port”?

  3. chris says:


    Do you know if the electronic schematic will be available for everyone?

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