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Dev kit runs Linux on quad-core Cortex-A9 SoC

Aug 19, 2013 — by Eric Brown 2,270 views

Direct Insight has launched a $200 development kit built around its Linux- and Android-ready Triton-TX6Q computer-on-module based on Freescale’s quad-core i.MX6Quad ARM Cortex-A9 system-on-chip. The kit combines the COM with a baseboard that adds an SD slot and connectors for Ethernet, dual USB, audio, serial ports, and optional capacitive touchscreens.

U.K.-based Direct Insight announced the Triton-TX6Q module last December and shipped it earlier this year along with a StarterKit-5 baseboard that costs 855 U.K. Pounds (about $1,335) including the module and a four-inch touchscreen. The new Triton-TXEK carrier board is intended as a far more affordable evaluation kit solution. It starts at 130 Pounds ($203) including the Triton-TX6Q COM, with an additional 125 Pound cost for either a 5.7-inch (640 x 480) or 7-inch (800 x 480) capacitive touchscreen, bringing the total bill to about $400 total.

Triton-TX6Q COM and TXEK baseboard
(click images to enlarge)


The Triton-TXEK kit is priced along the lines of a community-backed hacker board, but offers the advantage of easier conversion to a final commercial product, says Direct Insight. “You simply replace the TXEK development base-board with a production-ready carrier,” says the company on the product page. “This is typically a simple custom breakout board, or even something off the shelf.”


The Triton-TX6Q COM that forms the heart of the Triton-TXEK kit is aimed at medical devices, digital signage, and industrial multimedia products, among other embedded applications. It ships with a free Linux 3.x board support package, including sources and toolchain. Extra-cost BSPs for Android 4.1 and Windows Compact 7 are said to be in the works.

The module is equipped the quad-core i.MX6Quad version of Freescale’s ARM Cortex-A9-based i.MX6 SoC family. The 1GHz processor includes video accelerators, as well as Vivante GC2000, GC355 and GC320 GPUs.

Freescale i.MX6Quad block diagram
(click image to enlarge)


The module ships with 1GB of DDR3 RAM, expandable to 2GB, as well as 128MB of flash. The SODIMM-200 form-factor module provides an LCD controller for up to dual 1920 x 1080-pixel images, and offers a 10/100 Ethernet controller and a PCI Express expansion lane.

I/O available via the Triton-TX6Q COM’s SODIMM connector and other headers includes USB host and OTG ports, two to three RS232 serial UARTs, and two each of SD card, I2C, SPI, camera, CAN, and SSP interfaces. Additional I/O in single digits includes 1-Wire, PWM, JTAG, SATA, and an 8×8 keypad. The 68 x 31mm module supports operating temperatures ranging from -20 to 85°C, says Direct Insight.

The Triton-TXEK evaluation kit ships with the Triton-TX6Q module, connected via a SODIMM-200 socket, but it can also be purchased with other ARM-based Triton-TX modules. It ships with the module’s standard 1GB of RAM and 128MB of flash.

The carrier board is equipped with an SD slot, as well as an Ethernet port and dual USB 2.0 ports. A 3.5mm audio port is available, along with a serial header. An LCD header is also onboard for adding one’s own display, or you can buy the 5.7- or 7-inch touchscreens. (A 4.3-inch option appears to be sold out.) The board is powered by a single 5V DC supply.

Specifications listed for the Triton-TXEK evaluation kit include:

  • Processor (via Triton-TX6Q COM) — Freescale i.MX6Quad (4x Cortex-A9 cores @ 1GHz) with Vivante GC2000, GC355 and GC320 GPUs; also supports other ARM-based Triton-TX modules
  • Memory (via Triton-TX6Q) — 1GB DDR3, expandable to 2GB; 128MB NAND flash
  • Memory expansion — SD socket
  • Display:
    • 40-pin LCD flat cable header
    • Optional 5.7-inch, 640 × 480 capacitive touchscreen
    • Optional 7.0-inch, 800 × 480 capacitive touchscreen
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 2.0 host
    • USB 2.0 host/device
    • RS232 (via header)
    • 3.5mm headphone port
  • Power — 5V DC connector
  • Operating temperature — -20 to 70°C
  • Operating system — Linux 3.x BSP standard with source, toolchain, and schematics; extra-cost Android 4.1; Windows Embedded Compact 7 BSPs coming soon

Those who are looking for a more robust evaluation kit can move up to the StarterKit-5 for Triton-TX6 (pictured below). This adds a second SD slot, a VGA connector, and JTAG and serial ports, among other extras. It also provides more display options, including resistive touchscreens.

Triton-TX6 StarterKit-5 and optional LCDs
(click images to enlarge)


The Triton-TXEK for i.MX6 is available for £130 (150€ or $203) plus the cost of the £125 5.7- or 7-inch touchscreen. More information and sales may be found on the Direct Insight Triton TXEK evaluation kit page. More on the module may be found on the Triton-TX6Q COM page, and more on the more expensive StarterKit may be found on the StarterKit-5 for Triton-TX6 page.

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