All News | Boards | Chips | Devices | Software | Archive | About | Contact | Subscribe
Follow LinuxGizmos:
Twitter Facebook Pinterest RSS feed
*   get email updates   *

Cortex-A9 SBC offers online DIY customization

Apr 27, 2016 — by Eric Brown 1,464 views

[Updated: May 24, 2017] — The Gumstix “Poblano 43C SBC” features a TI AM4378 SoC with WiFi, Bluetooth, GbE, and optional cameras, touchscreens, and Geppetto-based design customization.

The Gumstix Poblano 43C updates the two-year old Gumstix Pepper SBC, which used the TI Sitara AM335x, the same Cortex-A8 SoC used in the company’s Overo computer-on-modules. The Poblano 43C maintains the 11 x 7.5cm dimensions of the Pepper, but advances to the AM4378 SoC, a faster, but still single-core Cortex-A9 SoC from Texas Instruments.

Poblano 43C front (left) and back views
(click images to enlarge)

Customers can use the Poblano 43C out of the box, or else tweak the feature set using the company’s Geppetto Design-to-Order (D2O) DIY design service. Gumstix designed the board on the same quick-turn prototyping and manufacturing service. The company will test and validate customers’ customized board designs, and then manufacture and ship the production-ready boards within 15 working days from order. The standard price for the first Geppetto-based D2O prototype is $1,999 plus BOM costs, with additional units available at quantity discounts, says Gumstix.

Somewhat “open”


Although Poblano is not fully open source hardware, the board’s “design is available within Geppetto for anyone to take and customize using the Creative Commons license,” explained Gumstix CEO Gordon Kruberg in an email to LinuxGizmos. To create a customized board with the web-based, drag-and-drop Geppetto design tool, you select and place function blocks within an adjustable board outline, and then link the blocks to each other until all interdependencies are satisfied, as indicated by changes in the blocks’ colors along with prompts from the tool.

Once you save and submit your design, Geppetto automatically generates a technical specification that includes board dimensions, component locations and descriptions, and a fairly extensive (though seemingly not exhaustive) listing of signal and power sources and destinations among the board’s components.

Surprisingly, however, there is no “normal” board schematic diagram. Questioned about this, Kruberg responded that the drag-and-drop data that you manipulate within Geppetto “is the ‘source’ for a designer, but we don’t bother porting the schematic out of Geppetto.” Additionally, Geppetto’s PCB layout data cannot be exported for use in Mentor or other PCB design platforms. In short, Geppetto appears be an intriguing platform for sharing designs among the Geppetto Community, but somewhat of a walled garden — which is not necessarily a disadvantage, as Apple product fans are wont to assert.

Poblano details

The Sitara AM4378 is one of the higher end models in the AM437x family. Like the AM4379, it offers a PowerVR GPU with 3D acceleration, but its PRU-ICSS (Programmable Real-Time Unit and Industrial Communication Subsystem) component lacks the AM4379’s support for EtherCAT.

Gumstix does not mention a clock rate, but the Cortex-A9 core is generally clocked to 800MHz or 1GHz. Although there’s also no mention of OS support, Linux is the main focus of both Gumstix and the TI Sitara family, and the company includes verification of boot-from-Linux on all of its Geppetto D2O offerings.

Poblano 43C angled view
(click images to enlarge)

The Poblano 43C ships with 512MB DDR3L, and unlike the Pepper it offers 8GB eMMC flash in addition to the microSD slot. There’s a GbE port, as well as a TI WiLink 8 WiFi/Bluetooth/BLE module that offers an 802.11n access point mode.

The LCD interface can be populated with optional 4.3-inch Newhaven Displays touchscreens, and the parallel camera interface supports optional Caspa cameras, including the 0.3-megapixel Tiny Caspa board. Other features include dual USB host ports, a micro-USB device, a USB console port, audio I/O, and 20 pins of GPIO to extend the Sitara’s many industrial-focused interfaces. A motion sensor and RTC are also available.

Specifications listed for the Poblano 43C include:

  • Processor — TI Sitara AM4378 (1x Cortex-A9 @ up to 800MHz or 1GHz); PowerVR SGX530 GPU; PRU-ICSS subsystem
  • Memory:
    • 512MB DDR3L RAM
    • 8GB eMMC flash
    • MicroSD slot (bootable)
  • Display:
    • LCD connector with touch interface
    • Optional 4.3-inch resistive ($39) or capacitive ($79) Newhaven touchscreen
  • Wireless — TI WiLink 8 module with 802.11b/g/n WiFi (includes access point mode) and Bluetooth 4.1 with BLE; U.FL antenna connector
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports
    • Micro-USB 2.0 device port
    • Micro-USB console port
    • 27-pin parallel camera connector; optional Caspa FS or VL cameras ($75) or 0.3-megapixel Tiny Caspa board ($20)
    • Audio I/O jack
    • 20-pin GPIO header
  • Other features — 9-axis internal motion sensor; RTC with 6mm rechargeable coin cell holder; 2x LEDs; push button
  • Power — Power jack with optional ($10) 5V/3.5A adapter
  • Dimensions — 110 x 75mm
  • Operating system — Linux

Further information

The Poblano 43C is available now for $199. More information may be found at the Gumstix Poblano 43C product page.

(advertise here)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Please comment here...