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Allwinner SoC-based COMs run Linux and Android

Nov 7, 2013 — by Eric Brown 4,860 views

AW-SoM Technologies has begun shipping the first of five Linux- and Android-ready computer-on-modules based on Allwinner’s ARM-based SoCs, including SODIMM and Coreboard models with Allwinner A10 and dual-core A20 SoCs, and a Coreboard with a quad-core A31 SoC. AW-SoM also offers a baseboard developer kit for the modules, and has launched an “open” baseboard development service in partnership with Upverter.

Ohio-based AW-SoM is a spinoff — or perhaps more like a split-off — from BDD Group. One of its COMs, the AW-SoM A10 SODIMM, appears to be almost identical to the BDD A10 COM we covered back in March, and which is now being promoted on Allwinner’s website.

AW-SoM’s A10 SODIMM-style COM
(click images to enlarge)


In response to our query, BDD CEO Rowdy VanCleave said only that in the coming weeks, BDD planned to release modules based on the Allwinner A20 and A31, as well as two new carrier boards.


Robert Ings of AW-SoM Technologies, meanwhile, informed us that the Coreboard (CB) versions (shown below) are not their designs, but are being resold to customers who want to solder Allwinner-based COMs directly to PCBs. The CB models will be supported in the new baseboard development service (see farther below), but the company’s ongoing focus is instead on the SODIMM modules.

AW-SoM’s A10, A20, and A31 Coreboard COMs
(click images to enlarge)


Although we’re a bit confused as to the relationship between the companies, the five products listed here will be available by next week from AW-SoM, and it appears that similar SODIMM-style products may also be forthcoming from BDD Group. All the products from both companies run Linux and Android, and support fanless designs. Extended operating temperature ranges are not offered at this time.

AW-SoM A10 Coreboard and SODIMM COMs

The 68 x 40 x 2.8mm AW-SoM A10 CB model places all components on a single side, so it can be soldered directly onto a carrier board. In contrast, AW-SoM’s A10 SODIMM module uses edgecard fingers to plug into a baseboard’s SODIMM connector. Both models are based on Allwinner’s 1GHz, Cortex-A8-based A10 processor, combined with an ARM Mali-400 GPU.

The $43 CB model ships with 512MB of DDR3 RAM and with a choice of 4GB to 32GB of NAND flash. The SODIMM model starts at $50 with 1GB DDR3 RAM AND 4GB NAND flash, but can also be purchased with DDR3 RAM and NAND flash pairings including 512MB/2GB, 2GB/4GB, 1GB/8GB, and 2GB/8GB. The SODIMM-style COM also adds a power management system and RTC with battery backup.

Both modules offer 10/100 Ethernet PHY, as well as dual display support with HDMI, VGA and LVDS. I/O includes three USB 2.0 OTG/host ports, as well as I/O including GPIO, SPI, I2C, TWI, SDIO, CAN bus, RS485, RS232, and SATA. For more on the SODIMM module, refer to AW-SoM’s A10 SODIMM COM product page, or to our previous coverage of BDD’s seemingly identical A10 COM.

AW-SoM A20 and A31

The $54 AW-SoM A20 CB is the same size as the A10 CB model, but moves up to 1GB of DDR3 RAM and 4GB to 32GB of NAND flash. The $60 A20 SODIMM module, meanwhile, offers similar memory configurations as the A10 SODIMM, as well as power management and RTC support.

Both COMs move up to Allwinner’s dual-core, Cortex-A7 A20 SoC, once again clocked at 1GHz and matched with a Mali-400. Like the A10 models, the A20 models provide 10/100 Ethernet as well as the same I/O options.

The AW-SoM currently only offers A31 SoC support in the CB form-factor. The $85 CB COM incorporates Allwinner’s quad-core, Cortex-A7 A31 SoC, which is clocked to 1GHz, but has a PowerVR SGX544 MP2 GPU instead of the Mali-400. The AW-SoM A31 CB module ships with 2GB of DDR3 RAM and 8GB to 32GB of NAND flash. It’s larger than the other Coreboards, measuring 85 x 62 x 2.8mm.

Developer kits and a baseboard development service

The AW-SoM Allwinner A-Series SODIMM modules are available with an optional $30 COM baseboard, as well as an $88 developer’s kit that combines the baseboard with a module of one’s choice, and various cables. There’s a special deal this month on the developer kit, which is available for a limited time with a free OV7670 VGA Camera Module (shown at the right).

AW-SoM SODIMM COM baseboard
(click images to enlarge)


The main board includes an Ethernet port, SATA and HDMI ports, and USB OTG and host ports. There’s also a microSD slot, JTAG and debug interfaces, and onboard I/O including UART, RS232, RS485, and CAN. Expansion ports offer selectable functions for GPIO, I2C, SPI, SDIO, and more. The board also includes “prototyping areas,” says AW-SoM.

Coming soon is an “Upper Deck” expansion board that provides GPS, RGB LCD, LVDS LCD, and VGA ports. The expansion board also offers resistive and capacitance touchscreen options (a 5-inch touchscreen option is shown below), as well as IR TX and RX, G-Sensor, audio I/O, and mini-PCIe expansion. Assignable buttons and LEDs are also said to be available. The Upper Deck board provides one expansion option for WiFi and Bluetooth, and another that also adds 3G support.

AW-SoM “Upper Deck” expansion board
(click images to enlarge)


AW-SoM offers a variety of customization and prototyping services, and is now launching an open source baseboard development service in collaboration with Upverter. All of the company’s products are now supported on Upverter, which lets you prototype your own designs online, somewhat similarly to what Gumstix is doing with its Geppetto service. Upverter is designed for open source collaborative projects, but for more private projects, AW-SoM offers its own development services.

Further information

The AW-SoM modules are available now at the prices mentioned above, while the Upper Deck development kit will ship by the end of the month. To order the developer’s kit with the free camera module, click here. More information on the other modules may be found at the AW-SoM Technologies website.

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