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Adlink announces pre-certified Ubuntu and Altium Upverter design tools

Mar 3, 2021 — by Eric Brown — 293 views

Adlink and Canonical announced they will pre-certify Adlink systems with Ubuntu. Adlink also says it is offering Altium’s Geppetto-infused Upverter board customization service for its I-Pi carriers for SMARC modules based on the Rockchip PX30, i.MX8M, and i.MX8M Plus.

At this week’s virtual Embedded World 2021 Digital show, Adlink announced a deal with Canonical to offer pre-certified Ubuntu Linux on its embedded computers. Adlink also revealed an agreement with Altium to offer the Upverter board design service for customizing Adlink’s I-Pi carrier boards for selected Adlink SMARC modules including a new I-Pi SMARC IMX8M Plus kit. Altium recently integrated the drag-and-drop Geppetto board customization service into Upverter from its acquired Gumstix embedded computing unit. (see farther below)



Adlink Edge architecture (left) and Ubuntu 20.10
(click images to enlarge)

Adlink has long offered Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux distribution on many of its embedded systems, such as the Apollo Lake based NEON-1000-MDX Smart Camera and Jetson AGX Xavier powered ROScube-X robotics controller. Typically, this requires users to download and configure Ubuntu as an alternative to Windows. The new agreement with Canonical allows customers to order systems pre-installed and pre-certified with Ubuntu, removing the need for customers to install the OS or setting up licensing, support, and security update services.

The agreement with Canonical also enables Adlink to support Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) projects by enabling certification and licensing for ODM customers. The goal of the program is “to create a complete hardware and software device offering with fully supported security and operational updates for the device lifecycle,” says Adlink.


Vizi-AI

Adlink notes its increasing integration of Ubuntu with its Adlink Edge edge-to-cloud middleware platform, which is supplied, for example with its Intel Apollo Lake based Vizi-AI board. The Raspberry Pi like Vizi-AI incorporates a LEC-AL SMARC module and shares many features with Adlink’s SMARC-driven I-Pi SMARC PX30, which now offers Upverter (see farther below).

Adlink and Canonical have previously collaborated on the Robot Operating System 2 (ROS 2), which is typically deployed on top of Ubuntu. Both companies are members of the ROS 2 Technical Steering Committee.

The two companies are also working together on the Indy Autonomous Challenge, he first head-to-head high-speed autonomous vehicle race to be held in Oct. 2021 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Competitors will incorporate Adlink’s Coffee Lake based DLAP-8000 robotics controller into their vehicles.

 
Altium merges Geppetto into Upverter and signs Adlink as early customer

Gumstix, which was acquired by PCB design firm Altium, has long provided its Geppetto Design-to-Order (D2O) custom board design service for customizing carrier boards based on its own Linux-driven modules and those of selected compute module partners. Last September, Altium announced that Toradex had licensed Geppetto for its customers wanting to customize carriers for its Verdin and Colibri modules.



Upverter Modular template page (I-Pi templates not posted at publication time)
(click image to enlarge)

Last week, Altium announced that it has merged Geppetto, which it calls “Geppetto Modular,” into its higher-end Upverter Circuit Designer PCB design service. Today, Adlink followed up by announcing it is offering the integrated new Upverter Modular service for customers of Adlink’s edge AI focused I-Pi (Industrial-Pi) dev kits, which are based on SMARC modules. Upverter Modular is currently available as a trial service, and Adlink will release the tool for production later in 2021.

The Adlink announcement defines Upverter Modular as a “web-based drag-and-drop designer tool.” The Upverter tool requires minimal engineering skills, allowing customers to create their own SMARC based carrier board design within hours, and receive prototypes within weeks, says the company.

“Upverter generates the electrical design files of fully custom-defined carrier board designs on demand, as well as an instant Bill of Materials (BOM) complete with pricing, a customized device tree, documentation, and mechanical models,” says Adlink. All these descriptions are essentially the same as those Gumstix and Altium have used for Geppetto.

Adlink will offer I-Pi carrier designs as templates for customization via Upverter Modular. It is unclear if customers can also design a carrier from scratch that supports Adlink’s I-Pi related SMARC modules.

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“The Upverter tool is an innovative improvement of handling the proof-of-concept and prototyping phase for custom products,” stated Carsten Rebmann, Modules Product Manager at Adlink. “It will reduce the needed time to almost 50% in comparison to current approaches.”

 
I-Pi SMARC IMX8M Plus and I-Pi SMARC EL

In Feb. 2020, we reported on the initial, Raspberry Pi-like I-Pi SMARC Dev Kit, which is based on Rockchip PX30 based LEC-PX30 SMARC module and now goes by the name I-Pi SMARC PX30. In November, Adlink followed up with the NXP i.MX8M based LEC-iMX8M and i.MX8M Plus driven LEC-IMX8MP SMARC modules.



I-Pi SMARC IMX8M Plus

Adlink has now revealed an image for an I-Pi SMARC IMX8M Plus kit for the LEC-IMX8MP module, which provides the NPU-equipped i.MX8M Plus. Since Adlink’s Upverter announcement also mentions support for an i.MX8M based I-Pi, the same board or a similar one is probably available for the LEC-iMX8M.


Adlink’s Elkhart Lake based I-Pi SMARC EL (left) and the LEC-IMX8MP module that powers the I-Pi SMARC IMX8M Plus
(click images to enlarge)

Adlink also posted a higher-res image of an upcoming, Intel Elkhart Lake (Atom x-6000) based I-Pi SMARC EL kit, which is not currently supported by Upverter. The I-Pi SMARC EL carrier appears almost identical to the I-Pi SMARC IMX8M Plus. Both are larger than the RPi-like I-Pi SMARC PX30 board, which is available for $125. The new boards appear to share many features of the PX30 model, including an RPi-like 40-pin GPIO connector, 2x GbE, 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, and single micro-USB 2.0 OTG and HDMI 2.0b ports.

Other I-Pi SMARC PX30 features that are likely included on the i.MX8M Plus and Elkhart Lake models include LVDS, 4-lane MIPI-DSI, 2-lane MIPI-CSI, and I2S. The I-Pi SMARC PX30 runs Ubuntu on a rugged LEC-PX30 SMARC “short” module with the quad -A35 PX30 and 2GB of soldered DDR3L. The kit ships with a 32GB microSD card with pre-installed software.



I-Pi SMARC PX30 with RPi HAT
(click image to enlarge)

The I-Pi SMARC PX30 is listed in our recent catalog of 150 Linux hacker boards, which details specs that have changed since our original report. Although the I-Pi boards are not open hardware products, the PX30 model was included due to its strong community support and low price. The similar, Apollo Lake based Vizi-AI board is also in the catalog.

 
I-Pi’s MRAA and UPM software

The I-Pi boards ship with Intel’s GitHub hardware abstraction layer (HAL) for low-speed I/O called MRAA. This C/C++ library with Java, JavaScript, and Python integrations “allows software to be ported from one platform to another — even SMARC modules with different processor types,” says Adlink.



Intel MRAA and UPM architecture
(click image to enlarge)

The open source stack also includes an Intel Useful Packages and Modules (UPM) repository of software drivers for commonly-used sensors and actuators. UPM is also available for Arduino and Raspberry Pi platforms. More details on MRAA and UPM may be found in our report on the I-Pi SMARC PX30.

 
Further information

Pre-installed, pre-certified Ubuntu will soon be available on selected Adlink embedded systems. More information may be found in Adlink’s Ubuntu announcement.

Altium’s Upverter Modular customization and design service is available on a trial basis for Adlink’s I-Pi customers, with a product version ready later in the year. More information may be found in this Adlink Upverter announcement on EEJournal and on the I-Pi wiki site. Altium’s Upverter Modular may be found here.
 

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