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ARM-based "Colibri" COMs hatch a hardware ecosystem

Jan 26, 2016 — by Eric Brown 1,263 views

Toradex launched a partner program aimed at supporting its Linux-ready, ARM based “Colibri” COMs with carrier boards, displays, enclosures, and more.

Toradex has structured a new third party hardware partner ecosystem for its Linux-ready Colibri family of ARM-based computer-on-modules. The Swiss embedded vendor is also actively recruiting partners to make third-party, general purpose and application specific carrier boards for Colibri COMs.

The initial partners include Christ Elektronik, Data Modul, Isurki, Greatcom, and Unitec. The products include carrier boards, carrier/display combos, and panel PCs. All the products that list OS support include Linux support, and many also support Windows Embedded Compact (see farther below for product details).


Colibri modules include COMs based on the NXP (Freescale) Vybrid, like the Colibri VF50 and Colibri VF61, as well as the NXP i.MX6, such as the Colibri i.MX6. There are also some new i.MX7 models coming out soon. Colibri COMs that use processors from other vendors include the Colibri T30, based on the Nvidia Tegra 3, and various Marvell PXA based COMs like the Colibri PXA270.

Colibri eval board
(click to enlarge)

Toradex continues to offer its own carrier boards, including the top-of-the-line Colibri Evaluation Board (200 x 200mm), and the Orchid (160 x 100mm), Iris (100 x 72mm), and Viola (74 x 74mm) carrier boards. Toradex also provides customized SBCs for Colibri. In addition, the company furnishes extensive free design resources and a service partner network to help create customized carrier boards. The new third party Colibri-ready off-the-shelf solutions “may be more desirable in cases where especially fast time-to-market and low development cost are required,” says Toradex.

Toradex Colibri carrier boards (left to right): Orchid, Iris, and Viola
(click images to enlarge)

Most of the new ecosystem partners can also help customers with design and manufacturing of custom carrier boards, says the company. All the products are now listed on a Hardware Partner Program web-page, and some of the vendors are also listed as service partners via Toradex’s preexisting Service Partner Program.

The third-party carriers and computers connect with the Colibri COMs via standard connectors such as SODIMM or MXM. The Colibri reference design baseboard docs are very well documented, and appear to not have any restrictions on use. They include schematics, BOMs, fab drawings, and PCB design files. You may need to spend some money on a professional design tool to take advantage the low-level PCB design files.

Toradex CTO Daniel Lang confirmed to LinuxGizmos that his company is very open on the baseboard side of things, making the development of application-oriented sandwich SBCs reasonably well supported. According to Lang, Toradex provides the complete Altium project files, as well as “specialized software tools like our pinout designer, extensive Carrier Board Design Guides, and our developer pages with over 800 articles which get updated daily.”

Most of the Colibri ready products have been around for a while, explained Lang, but “there was basically no way for our customers to find them.” Now, the website lists more than double the previous catalog of available carriers. Lang added that Toradex is also looking for new hardware partners.

In September, Gumstix announced plans to support Colibri COMs as an option with its new quick-turn expansion board design service built around its Geppetto custom design-to-order (D2O) platform. According to Lang, Gumstix is not listed as a partner because the company is offering a custom design service rather than an off-the-shelf board. He noted, however, that as soon as Gumstix offers a tested carrier board for Colibri it will likely be added as a partner. A Gumstix rep confirmed to LinuxGizmos that that the Colibri-ready carrier board wasn’t yet proven with tested prototypes.

Here are the first vendors and products listed in the Colibri Hardware Partner Program. More details are available on the Hardware Partner Program pages, which link to vendor pages with detailed specs sheets. All the products support Linux or are not listed with OS support.

    Christ Elektronik:

    • TBB200 Carrier Board — This -20 to 70°C ready board offers three USB ports, dual Fast Ethernet ports, and an SD slot. Multimedia I/O includes VGA, RGB, LVDS, and analog audio ports. Other features on this 159 x 104mm board include PWM, GPIO, CAN, and analog inputs.

      Christ Elektronik TBB200 (left) and TBB500 Colibri carrier boards
      (click images to enlarge)

    • TBB500 Carrier Board — Rated for -20 to 70°C operation, the 100 x 72 x 18.8mm Tbb500 is limited to dual USB ports, a single 10/100 Ethernet port, plus SD, LVDS and analog audio connections. However, it doubles the GPIO to four lanes, compared to the TBB200, and adds RS-485, UART, and SPI connections.
    • Touch-it CE Embedded Kit — This passively cooled kit combines a carrier board and a 7-, 10.4- or 15-inch touchscreen. Supporting Tegra or i.MX6-based Colibri modules, the board offers a microSD slot, as well as Fast Ethernet, serial, and USB host and device ports.
    • Touch-it CE Front Panel PC — Despite the photo, Linux is available on this panel PC as well as Windows Embedded. The panel PC is available in a 7-, 10.4- or 15-inch touchscreen versions, and offers the same I/O as the kit version.

    Data Modul:

    • eDM-CB-Colibri Carrier Board — The 115 x 76mm eDM-CB-Colibri is available in commercial and optional industrial temperature versions, as well as LCD and LVDS display output models.

      Data Modul eDM-CB-Colibri carrier board
      (click image to enlarge)

      Common features on this feature-rich carrier include HDMI, VGA, resistive touch, analog audio, a Fast Ethernet port, four USB ports, and dual CAN ports. Other features include serial, SPI, PWM, GPIO, I2C, SD, and analog inputs. WiFi and Bluetooth are optional. Previous eDM boards from Data Modul have included the eDM-mITX-CB-Q7-Info Mini-ITX board.


    • Iris Box PC Embedded Kit — Pop in a Colibri module of your choice to customize this 118 x 137.5 x 45mm embedded computer.

      Isurki’s Iris Box PC Embedded Kit
      (click image to enlarge)

      Isurki’s highly modular computer starts with basic I/O including USB and Fast Ethernet ports, 20 GPIO, and four analog inputs. For AV, there are DSI, resistive touch, and analog audio interfaces.


    • Greatcomm 7zoll Carrier Board — Swiss firm Greatcom makes Greatcomm boards including a 7zoll carrier. The photo shows an L-shaped board, but listed dimensions are 150 x 100 x 12mm. The 7zoll offers RGV, LVDS, resistive touch, and analog audio ports, as well as a 10/100 Ethernet port with PoE support and optional WiFi. Interfaces in single helpings include USB, SPI, I2C, PWM, SD, and an analog input. You also get a pair of UARTs, four GPIO lanes, and matrix keyboard support. Touchscreen options range from 7 to 21 inches.

      Greatcom’s 7zoll (left) and HDMI Colibri carrier boards
      (click images to enlarge)

    • Greatcomm HDMI Carrier Board — This 130 x 140 x 14mm board offers almost identical features and options as the 7zroll model, but has a standard, square 130 x 140 x 14mm shape. Additions include HDMI and SPDIF audio ports.

    Unitec Electronics

    • Unitec ENSATA Carrier Board — Japan based Unitec announced Colibri support for the ENSATA back in 2014. This feature-rich, 130 x 100mm carrier provides HDMI, VGA, RGB, LVDS, resistive touch, and analog audio ports for multimedia.

      Unitec ENSATA carrier board
      (click image to enlarge)

      Other features include a Fast Ethernet port, SD slot, three UART, two SPI, four PWM, 39 GPIOs, and I2C and USB ports. In addition, you get four analog outputs, 12 A/D inputs, four D/A outputs, and 24-way FFC.

Further information

All the Toradex Hardware Partner Program products (links listed above) appear to be available now. More information may be found at the Toradex Hardware Partner Program product page.

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