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$55 board runs ARM Linux on Freescale Vybrid SoC

Jul 29, 2013 — by Eric Brown 11,685 views

Phytec announced a pair of community backed single-board computers built around its PhyCore-Vybrid SOM computer-on-modules, which are based on Freescale’s Vybrid system-on-chips. The $55 Cosmic SBC uses a Vybrid SoC with a single 500MHz Cortex-A5 core, while the $65 Cosmic+ SBC provides the dual-core Vybrid SoC version, which runs Linux on its Cortex-A5 core along with Freescale’s MQX RTOS on its Cortex-M4 core.

Phytec announced its 240-pin PhyCore-Vybrid SOM modules in February. In June, Freescale announced shipment of its own Vybrid hardware/software development kits for its new Vybrid SoCs. Both the Freescale kit and the PhyCore-Vybrid SOM model used by the Cosmic+ Board, incorporate the hybrid Vybrid F series, or VF6xx, but the lower-cost Cosmic Board version uses a version of the PhyCore-Vybrid SOM with a VF5xx SoC that omits the Cortex-M4 microcontroller — and the A/D converter — and runs solely on Linux.

Phytec’s Cosmic SBC integrates its Phytec-Vybrid COM
(click image to enlarge)


Freescale targets the Vybrid SoCs at a wide range of industrial and robotics applications, with a focus on those that are directly involved with motor control. The VF6xx’s Cortex-M4 microcontroller runs the Freescale MQX real-time operating system (RTOS), and offloads processing from the Cortex-A5 for power-savings and better real-time responsiveness. Freescale also offers an entry-level VF3xx not currently supported by Phytec that is essentially a stripped-down version of the single-core VF5xx.


Phycore Cosmic SBC top (labeled) and bottom
(click images to enlarge)


The Cosmic Boards have the Phycore-Vybrid SOM modules soldered directly on-board, using Direct Solder Connect (DSC) manufacturing technology. The design removes PCB interconnects, for significant cost savings, says Phytec. Interfaces from the modules are routed to dual 60-pin I/O connectors on the Cosmic Boards.

Phycore-Vybrid SOM and its block diagram
(click images to enlarge)


Aside from the processor configuration, the only difference between the Cosmic and Cosmic+ Boards is the presence of an Open SDA debug port on the Cosmic+. Both offer 512MB each of DDR3 and NAND memory, and provide a microSD slot for expansion. A Fast Ethernet port is supplied along with micro-HDMI and serial ports. There are also three USB ports: full-sized OTG and host ports; and a micro-USB port that can be used for power. Users can also add a $10 +5V power supply.

Cosmic and Cosmic+ Board specifications are said to include:

  • Processor (via Phycore-Vybrid SOM):
    • Cosmic — Freescale Vybrid VF5xx Cortex-A5 @ 500MHz
    • Cosmic+ — Freescale Vybrid VF6xx with Cortex-A5 @ 500MHz and Cortex-M4 @ 167MHz
  • Memory (on module) — 512 MB DDR3 RAM; 512MB NAND flash
  • Memory expansion — microSD slot
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • USB OTG
    • USB Host
    • Micro-USB with cable (2x cables on Cosmic+)
    • Micro-HDMI
    • RS-232
    • OpenSDA Debug Circuit (Cosmic+ only)
  • Expansion — 2x 60-pin connectors
  • Other features — 4x user buttons; 4x user LEDs; LCD and WiFi add-ons “coming soon”
  • Power — +5V (via power jack or micro-USB); 5V power supply $10 extra
  • Operating system — Linux; MQX (Cosmic+ only); BSP with all essential drivers and board-level features supported

Both boards come with a Linux BSP with full source code, and the Cosmic+ board adds an MQX BSP. They both offer a Timesys LinuxLink Pro subscription, and the Cosmic+ tosses in an ARM Development Suite (DS-5) license (one year with a 256KB limit). The community site offers a forum, blogs, file downloads, and other typical open platform offerings. A Linux wiki and online hardware manual are said to be coming soon.

Phytec is now accepting pre-orders for the Cosmic ($55) and Cosmic+ ($65) Boards now, with prices including integrated PhyCore-Vybrid SOM modules. Shipments are expected in September. More information and links to pre-sales may be found at the Phytec Cosmic Board product page.

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