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Customizable SMARC module runs Linux on i.MX8M Mini or Nano

May 13, 2019 — by Eric Brown 945 views

Avnet’s “MSC SM2S-IMX8MINI” SMARC 2.0 module runs Linux on NXP’s i.MX8M Mini and future i.MX8M Nano SoCs with up to 4GB LPDDR4 and 64GB eMMC plus optional microSD, WiFi/BT, dual GbE, and -40 to 85°C support.

We missed Avnet Integrated’s April announcement of the MSC SM2S-IMX8MINI, which is still the first i.MX8M Mini based SMARC 2.0 module we’ve seen. NXP’s i.MX8M Mini has been announced in over a half dozen embedded boards including compute modules like Variscite’s DART-MX8M-Mini and F&S Elektronik Systeme’s PicoCore MX8MM, among others. The module ships with a Linux BSP, with Android support available upon request.

MSC SM2S-IMX8MINI with microSD slot (left) and image that also shows a WiFi/BT enabled model
(click images to enlarge)

The MSC SM2S-IMX8MINI follows other Avnet SM2S-branded SMARC modules including the recent, i.MX8-based MSC SM2S-IMX8 and the Zynq UltraScale+ driven MSC SM2S-ZUSP. Both similarly use the 82 x 50mm SMARC 2.0 “short” form factor.

NXP’s i.MX8M Mini uses a more advanced 14LPC FinFET process than the i.MX8M, resulting in lower power consumption and higher clock rate for the 1x, 2x, or 4x Cortex-A53 (1.8GHz) and single Cortex-M4 (400MHz) cores. NXP’s first embedded heterogeneous multi-core SoC has lower-powered GCNanoUltra (3D) and GC320 (2D) graphics cores with video acceleration that tops out at 1080p60 resolution instead of 4K. Avnet’s module also supports “Lite” Mini variants without a VPU.


The MSC SM2S-IMX8MINI will also support the upcoming, 14nm i.MX8M Nano, which similarly offers up to 4x -A53 cores, but tops out at 1.5GHz. The Nano, which is pin-compatible with the Mini, has a Vivante GC7000UL 3D/2D GPU, but no VPU. It does, however, integrate a 600MHz Cortex-M7 chip and has an under 2W TDP.

Avnet’s MSC SM2S-IMX8MINI ships with up to 4GB of soldered LPDDR4 (3000MT/s) RAM and up to 64GB eMMC, with optional QSPI NOR flash and an optional microSD slot. There’s also an option for a soldered HD Wireless Module SPB209A with 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0. The MSC SM2S-IMX8MINI ships with a GbE controller, and you can optionally equip it with a second Intel i210 GbE controller.

I/O expressed via the 314-pin MXM3 edge connector includes 4x USB 2.0 host ports, with an option for only one USB port. You also get a USB 2.0 OTG, 4x I2C, 2x SPI, and 4x serial UARTs, two of which have 2-wire handshake support. There are also single PCI Express x1 Gen2 interface, 12x GPIO, and 2x optional CAN 2.0B connections.

Media interfaces include dual-channel, 18-24-bit LVDS, which can also be deployed as a 4-lane MIPI-DSI interface. You also get 2x I2S audio interfaces and 2x or 4x MIPI-CSI2 camera links. If the Mini’s onboard security is not enough, you can opt for a TPM 2.0 chip.

The 5V module runs at 3-6W and is available in 0 to 70°C or -40 to 85°C models, both with humidity resistance. A watchdog, RTC, and heatspreader are also available along with optional debug adapters.

(click image to enlarge)

Like Avnet’s other SMARC modules, the MSC SM2S-IMX8MINI supports the Mini-ITX form-factor MSC SM2-MB-EP1 carrier. Coastline ports include 2x GbE, 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, and a micro-USB 2.0 OTG. Side-accessible I/O also includes an SD slot, DisplayPort, HDMI port, 3x audio jacks, and RS232 and CAN 2.0B ports.

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the MSC SM2S-IMX8MINI. More information may be found in Avnet’s announcement and product page.

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