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Compact i.MX8M Plus module ships with full Linux BSP and Starterkit

Jan 19, 2021 — by Eric Brown 1,408 views

F&S announced a “PicoCore MX8MP” module that runs Linux on NXP’s NPU-equipped, quad -A53 i.MX8M Plus and offers up to 8GB RAM and 32GB eMMC plus 802.11/ac with BT 5.0, support for dual GbE ports, and Starterkit.

F&S Elektronik Systeme posted three press releases regarding its line of Linux-driven modules built around NXP’s i.MX8 processors. One announces a new PicoCore MX8MP module featuring NXP’s i.MX8M Plus, which we will focus on here. There is also an announcement promoting F&S’ already available, i.MX8M Mini based PicoCore MX8MM module. Since we covered the product in early 2019, it has become available with a 360-Euro ($436) Starterkit PicoCore MX8MM Linux. The Starterkit layout and feature set is much like the Starterkit PicoCore MX8MP Linux, which we cover farther below.

PicoCore MX8MP (left) and Starterkit PicoCore MX8MP Linux
(click images to enlarge)

The third announcement promotes the German company’s i.MX8X-based efus MX8X module. When we covered the efus MX8X back in early 2019, there were only preliminary details. The product has shrunk in size and offers its own 360-Euro starter kit, which we cover farther below.

Last year we covered F&S’ 40 x 30mm, i.MX8M Nano based PicoCore MX8MN and a 30 x 30mm OSM-MX8MM spin of the i.MX8M Mini. The latter adopts the SDT.05 Open Standard Module form factor.


PicoCore MX8MP

The PicoCore MX8MP has the same 40 x 35mm dimensions and dual 100-pin Hirose B2B connectors as the PicoCore MX8MM. There are three variants. The -20 to 85°C tolerant V3I-LIN and -40 to 85°C V3XI-LIN models provide 4-lane DVI interfaces and consume a typical 4W. The -20 to 85°C ready V4I-LIN instead has a 4-lane LVDS interface and runs at 3W. All three variants appear to be available in 0 to 70°C versions, as well.

PicoCore MX8MP rear view (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The module supports the dual- and quad-core models of the iMX8M Plus, which is like a faster version of the i.MX8M Nano, but with a 2.3-TOPs NPU and more coprocessors. The 14nm-fabricated SoC offers up to 4x 1.8GHz Cortex-A53 cores plus Vivante GC7000UL 3D and GC520L 2D GPUs and support for 1920 x 1080 @ 60fps encoding and decoding.

The i.MX8M Plus is further equipped with an 800MHz Cortex-M7 MCU that can be configured to boot first and independently of the -A53 cores. Other features include an 800MHz HiFi4 DSP and 2x ISPs for stereo vision or a single 12-megapixel camera.

iMX8M Plus based compute modules include SolidRun’s iMX8M Plus CoM and the SMARC form-factor Adlink LEC-IMX8MP and Seco SM-218. Variscite offers its VAR-SOM-MX8M-PLUS and DART-MX8M-PLUS modules and TechNexion its EDM-G-IMX8M-PLUS and AXON-E-IMX8M-PLUS.

The PicoCore MX8MP is equipped with up to 8GB LPDDR4 and up to 32GB eMMC. A wireless module offers 802.11 ac/a/b/g/n with Bluetooth 5.0 LE, and there is support for up to 2x GbE ports or optional RGMII.

In addition to the DVI or LVDS interfaces, media features include 4-lane MIPI-DSI, 2x MIPI-CSI, and resistive and capacitive touch support via I2C. Audio features include analog line-in/out/mic/headphone plus digital audio including I2S, SPDIF, ESAI, and SAI.

The PicoCore MX8MP enables 2x USB 3.0, USB OTG 3.0, PCIe, SSI, QSPI, and RMII. You also get up to 2x CAN, 4x UART, 4x I2C, 2x SPI, 4x PWM, and 2x SD. An RTC is enabled via the CPU or an external IC. The 10-gram module accepts 3.5-5.5VDC power.

The module ships with an F&S Linux BSP with Builtdroot/Yocto, UBoot, Qt, Gstreamer, drivers, source code, OTA, and more. There is also support for FreeRTOS for the Cortex-M78. Secure boot is available along with an optional security chip.

Starterkit PicoCore MX8MP Linux detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The Starterkit PicoCore MX8MP Linux is available with the LVDS-equipped V4I-LIN version of the PicoCore MX8MP. The compact baseboard includes dual GbE ports, dual USB host ports, a micro-USB OTG port, a microSD slot, and an audio I/O jack.

The baseboard is further equipped with a mini-PCIe slot and SIM card slot on the bottom of the board, as well as display, MIPI-DSI and -CSI, GPIO, and other interfaces as shown in the detail view above. The kit also includes a 7-inch PCAP touchpanel and multiple cables.

efus MX8X update and Starterkit

As noted, the efus MX8X has changed a bit since our 2019 efus MX8X report. As detailed in the new announcement, the efus MX8X has shrunk to 62.1 x 47 x 11mm compared to an earlier square form factor.

efus MX8X (left) and Starterkit efus MX8X Linux
(click images to enlarge)

The efus MX8X is equipped with a dual- or quad-core i.MX8X with Cortex-A35 cores clocked to up to 1.2GHz. The low-power SoC also offers a GC7000 Lite GPU and Cortex-M4 core.

As before, the module ships with up to 2GB RAM, up to 512MB SLC NAND flash, and up to 64GB eMMC. Other major features also appear to be the same, including WiFi-ac/BT and dual GbE controllers.

Starterkit efus MX8X Linux detail views
(click images to enlarge)

There is now a 360-Euro ($436) Starterkit efus MX8X Linux. Although it has the same 7-inch touchscreen and cable kit as the Starterkit PicoCore MX8MP Linux, this is a larger, more feature-rich board.

Starterkit features include 2x GbE, 3x USB host, micro-USB OTG, and HDMI ports plus an audio jack and microSD and SD slots. Onboard I/O includes SATA, mini-PCIe with SIM, digital RGB, MIPI-DSI/LVDS, and analog, digital, and MIPI camera interfaces. Other I/Os and features are shown above.

Further information

The PicoCore MX8MP will begin sampling later this month. The Starterkit PicoCore MX8MM Linux is available for preorder at 360-Euro ($436) with delivery later this quarter. More information may be found in the PicoCore MX8MP announcement, as well as the PicoCore MX8MP product page and Starterkit product and shopping page.

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