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Congatec unveils i.MX8M Plus SMARC COM and COM-HPC starter kit

Mar 4, 2021 — by Eric Brown 341 views

Congatec announced a “Conga-SMX8-Plus” SMARC 2.1 module with dual GbE support that runs Linux on an i.MX8M Plus. The company also offered new details on a COM-HPC starter kit for its Tiger Lake based Conga-HPC/cTLU module.

Congatec unveiled a Conga-SMX8-Plus SMARC 2.1 module with an NPU-equipped NXP i.MX8M Plus. As part of its virtual Embedded World roll-out, the company also added some new details on a COM-HPC starter kit for its 11th Gen Conga-HPC/cTLU module that was previewed back in November (see farther below). Finally, Congatec re-announced a COM Express Type 6 Conga-TCV2 module featuring with AMD’s Ryzen Embedded V2000 that we covered in November.

Conga-SMX8-Plus (left) and COM-HPC starter kit (Conga-HPC/EVAL client carrier)
(click images to enlarge)



The Conga-SMX8-Plus is Congatec’s first product based on the i.MX8M Plus. It follows earlier Congatec i.MX8-family SMARC modules such as the i.MX8M Mini based Conga-SMX8-Mini, the i.MX8X powered Conga-SMX8X, the i.MX8M Nano based Conga-SMX8-Nano, and the i.MX8 QuadMax driven Conga-SMX8. Like the i.MX8M Plus based Adlink LEC-IMX8MP and Seco SM-D18, the Conga-SMX8-Plus adopts the 82 x 50mm “short” SMARC 2.1 form factor.

The i.MX8M Plus is like a faster version of the i.MX8M Nano, but with an optional 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 with support for 1920 x 1080 @ 60fps encoding and decoding. There is also an 800MHz Cortex-M7 MCU and 800MHz HiFi4 DSP.

Thanks to the SoC’s 2.3-TOPs NPU and dual, 12-megapixel ready ISPs, the Conga-SMX8-Plus “enables industrial embedded systems to see and analyze their environment — for situational awareness, visual inspection, identification, monitoring and tracking as well as for gesture-based, contactless machine operation and augmented reality,” says Congatec. The company also touts the module for its low 2-6W power consumption.

The Conga-SMX8-Plus runs standard Linux, Yocto Project Linux, or Android with U-Boot on the quad-core Plus model with NPU. You can load up to 6GB LPDDR4 (4000 MT/s), including inline ECC RAM and store data on up to 128GB eMMC 5.1, which can be operated in secure pSLC mode. By comparison, the Adlink and Seco modules give you 8GB RAM, but without ECC support, and they limit eMMC to 64GB eMMC.

Conga-SMX8-Plus block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The module offers dual GbE controllers with IEEE 1588 (Precision Time Protocol) support, and one of the ports goes a step further by supporting TSN (Time-Sensitive Networking). An optional M.2 card with WiFi/BT LE can be soldered to the module.

The Conga-SMX8-Plus provides PCIe Gen 3, 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, and USB 2.0 OTG. Other interfaces include 4x UART (2x with handshake), as well as 2x CAN FD, 2x I2C, 14x GPIO, and single SDIO 3.0 and SPI.

Display I/O includes HDMI 2.0a, dual-channel, 24 bit LVDS, and 4-lane MIPI-DSI, which co-lays with the second LVDS. There are also 2x MIPI-CSI 4-lane interfaces, and 2x I2S.

The Conga-SMX8-Plus includes a watchdog, RTC, optional JTAG, and a “Cortex-A53 Console.” The module supplies a PMIC and comes in 0 to 60°C and -40 to 85°C SKUs. Congatec is providing up to 15-year longevity support.

There is an encryption module (CAAM) for hardware-accelerated ECC and RSA and Arm TrustZone with Resource Domain Controller (RDC) for the isolated execution of critical software. A High Assurance Boot Mode is also available.

Options include a Basler camera, a heatspreader, and active and passive cooling solutions. The module supports Congatec’s recently introduced, 3.5-inch Conga-SMC1 SMARC 2.0 carrier board, as well as the earlier, 294 x 172mm Conga-SEVAL. AI software stack support is also available.

Conga-HPC / EVAL client

As noted above, last November Congatec previewed the Conga-HPC/EVAL client for its 11th Gen, Tiger Lake based Conga-HPC/cTLU module and future, high-end COM-HPC modules, but offered only limited details. The company has now fully documented the carrier as part of a COM-HPC starter set

Conga-HPC/EVAL client (left) and Conga-HPC/cTLU module
(click images to enlarge)

After announcing the Conga-HPC/cTLU module in September, Congatec announced new industrial temperature versions of the module with “E” and “GRE” Tiger Lake variants (see Conga-HPC/EVAL preview story above). The Conga-HPC/cTLU module adopts the 120 x 95mm COM HPC Client Size A form factor.

The Conga-HPC/cTLU supports up to 64GB ECC and non-ECC DDR4-3200 and provides dual 2.5GbE controllers with TSN. Other highlights include support for up to 4x 4K or 2x 8K independent displays plus dual MIPI-CSI, 4x PCIe Gen4, 8x PCIe Gen3, 2x USB 4.0, 2x USB 3.2, 8x USB 2.0, and 6x SATA III.

The Extended ATX-compliant, 330.2 x 304.8mm Conga-HPC/EVAL client board supports COM-HPC sizes A, B and C. The board features dual PCIe Gen4 x16 and 3x PCIe Gen4 x4 expansion interfaces, as well as PCIe x1 link for BMC and M.2 B-key and E-key slots.

The Conga-HPC/EVAL client supplies 2x 10GbE ports on the coastline. The announcement also notes LAN configurations options including 8x 1GbE switched ports and 2x 2.5GbE ports with TSN. A dual-lane KR connector supports mezzanine cards of up to 2x 25GbE ports.

The Conga-HPC/EVAL client offers media interfaces including 3x DP++ ports plus eDP or optional LVDS, 2x MIPI-CSI, an audio jack, and I2S and DMIC. Other coastline ports include 2x USB 2.0 and 4x high-throughput USB 4.0 ports.

There are dual SATA interfaces with a SATA power connector and “Disk Drive Power” interface. Additional I/O includes 4x COM and single GPSPI, I2C, SMBus, GPIO, fan, and feature headers.

The -40 to 85°C tolerant carrier provides 24-pin and 12V 4-pin ATX inputs plus a 8-21VDC AT input via 4x banana jacks. Other features include 4x 7-segment Postcode LEDs. Options include Basler cameras and more.

“Our new COM-HPC starter set — which can be put together individually from the components of our COM-HPC ecosystem — puts developers in the fast lane towards Gen4 interface technologies and other ultra-fast connectivity,” stated Martin Danzer, Director Product Management at Congatec. “PCIe Gen4 doubles the throughput per lane compared to Gen3, which has a massive impact on system designs. Developers now have the option of doubling the number of connected expansion devices.”

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the Conga-SMX8-Plus and COM-HPC starter set (Conga-HPC/EVAL client). More information may be found in Congatec’s Conga-SMX8-Plus announcement and product page. More on the COM-HPC starter set may be found in the COM-HPC starter set announcement and product page.

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