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Dev kit runs Linux on 1.2GHz quad-core ARM SoC

Nov 8, 2013 — by Eric Brown 3,139 views

MSC announced a Linux-ready development kit for a new Qseven format computer-on-module (COM) featuring single-, dual-, or quad-core Freescale i.MX6 Cortex-A9 based system-on-chips clocked at up to 1.2GHz. The kit includes a 3.5-inch SBC form factor baseboard with real-world I/O connectors, Yocto-built embedded Linux on a bootable SD card, and a DC power supply, and is available with optional LCD panels.

The MSC Q7-SK-IMX6 Starterkit supports MSC’s new Qseven-compatible MSC Q7-IMX6 COMs. The modules’ Freescale i.MX6 SoCs run on as little as 4 Watts of power, and except for model with the single-core 1GHz-clocked SoC, feature 1080p video resolution, dual-stream 3D video, and up to four 3D graphics shaders for up to 200MT/s graphics. Also available are a 2D BLT engine for UI acceleration, and 2D OpenVG engine for vector-based graphics.

MSC Q7-IMX6 Qseven COM and Starterkit
(click images to enlarge)


With the help of the i.MX6 SoC, the MSC Q7-IMX6 COM can drive up to three independent graphics screens simultaneously. Display interfaces include a dual-channel LVDS interface and an HDMI 1.4 interface. The 70 x 70 x 13mm Qseven module is available with 512MB of soldered LVDDR3-1066 SDRAM, expandable up to 4GB. Up to 32GB of soldered eMMC flash is said to be optional. The dual- and quad-core models are further equipped with a SATA II (3Gbps) interface.


The MSC Q7-IMX6 COM includes a gigabit Ethernet controller, as well as both USB 2.0 host/client and host ports. Optionally, one can order a model with seven USB 2.0 ports. Other I/O includes two UARTs for serial ports, as well as I2C, SMBbus, and dual SPI interfaces. A MMC/SD/SDIO interface is available on an edge connector. Both BT.656 and MIPI_CSI-2 camera interfaces are available on feature connectors, and an AC’97/I2S audio interface is also supplied.

The module runs on +5V +/-5% power, and typically draws between 4 and 6 Watts, depending on the number of cores and other options. There’s both a standard 0 to 60° C version and an extended -40 to 85°C model, says MSC.

MSC Q7-IMX6 COM specifications

Specifications listed for the MSC Q7-IMX6 COM include:

  • Processor — Freescale i.MX6 (1x, 2x, or 4x Cortex-A9 cores at up to 1.2GHz on 2x/4x models) with 2D and 3D graphics and video acceleration
  • Memory:
    • 512MB of soldered LVDDR3-1066 SDRAM, expandable to 4GB
    • Serial EEPROM for EPI/DP extensions
    • Up to 32GB of optional soldered eMMC flash
  • Storage — 1x SATA II (3Gbps) port (except for 1-core i.MX6)
  • Display:
    • LVDS — dual-channel, 18- or 24-bit, up to 1920×1200; or 2x single-channel, up to 1366×768
    • HDMI v1.4 — up to WUXGA (1920×1200) including Full-HD @ 30fps
  • Camera interface — BT.656 and MIPI_CSI-2 (on feature connector)
  • Audio — AC’97 and I2S audio interface (must match codec on carrier board)
  • Networking — 1x gigabit Ethernet
  • USB — 1x USB 2.0 Host/Client; 1x USB 2.0 Host or 7x USB 2.0 Host (option)
  • 1x CAN bus
  • 2x UARTs — 1x on feature connector; 1x on edge connector (requires MSC Q7-Rev. 2.0 baseboard)
  • Other I/O — I2C; SPI; SMBus; 1x MMC/SD/SDIO
  • PCI Express expansion — 1x PCIe x1 channel
  • Other features — watchdog timer; RTC; ID EEPROM
  • Power — +5V @ 4-6 Watts (typical, depending on CPU)
  • Operating temperatures — 0 to 70°C (commercial); -40 to +85°C (industrial)
  • Dimensions — 70 x 70 x 13mm (with heat spreader installed)
  • Operating system BSPs — Yocto Project-based Linux; Windows Embedded Compact 7; Android in process


MSC Q7-SK-IMX6 Starterkit

The MSC Q7-SK-IMX6 Starterkit is built around a compact, 3.5-inch SBC form factor baseboard called the MSC Q7-MB-EP4. The baseboard provides an MXM socket with a Qseven-defined signal assignment, into which the user’s choice of MSC Q7-IMX6 COM plugs, and supplements the COM’s features with additional interfaces and an assortment of real-world I/O connectors. The MSC Q7-IMX6 COM is not included in the Starterkit, and must be purchased separately.

MSC’s Q7-MB-EP4 baseboard
(click images to enlarge)


As indicated in the specs listed below, the Starterkit offers dual gigabit Ethernet ports and a DVI/HDMI port. Six USB ports (five along the coastline) appear to be standard, although MSC notes that if you purchase the 7-USB port option on the module, you can get a total of seven. The SD slot would appear to be located on the flip side of the board. Other onboard features include SATA, mSATA, serial UART, CAN, and audio interfaces.

The kit also includes a heatspreader for the MSC Q7-IMX6 module, as well as a 12V power supply. A 12.1-inch XGA resistive touchscreen is optional, and other display sizes and resolutions are available upon request.

The kit ships with an 8GB SD card with either a Yocto Project based Linux or a Windows Embedded Compact 7 bootable image. An Android version is “currently in discussion,” says MSC. A CD is available with documentation, drivers, sample schematics, and technical notes.

Specifications listed for the MSC Q7-SK-IMX6 Starterkit include:

  • Processor/RAM/flash — depends on user-supplied MSC Q7-IMX6 COM (see specs above)
  • SD slot with 8GB card with bootable OS image
  • Storage — SATA II (3Gbps) port (except for 1-core i.MX6); mSATA socket
  • Display:
    • DVI port with HDMI support
    • LVDS (dual-channel) on 30-connector; backlight connector with adjustable voltage and dimming
    • 4/5-wire resistive touch controller (3x total connectors)
    • Optional 12.1-inch, 1024 x 768 touchscreen with backlight (other sizes on request)
  • Networking — 2x gigabit Ethernet (1x with LEDs from Q7 module, 1x for PCIe)
  • Other I/O:
    • Up to 7x USB ports, depending on Q7 module option:
      • 4x USB 2.0 host ports
      • Mini-USB 2.0 client port
      • USB 2.0 on pin header
      • USB 2.0 on Mini-PCIe
    • RS232C on pin header driven by USB-to-RS232 converter
    • RS232 ARM debug port
    • CAN bus (pin header)
    • AC’97 audio (pin header)
  • Other features — power, reset, beeper signals/buttons; carrying case; cables
  • Power — 110-230V AC to 12V DC supply with cable to 4-pin ATX connector; SATA power connector
  • Operating temperatures — 0 to 60°C
  • Thermal management — heat-spreader (MSC Q7-IMX6-01 HSP-001); heat-rail (MSC Q7-XXX-01 HTR-001)
  • Dimensions — 148 x 102mm (3.5-inch SBC form factor)
  • Operating systems — 8GB SD card with bootable Yocto Project-based Linux or Windows Embedded Compact 7, with accompanying resource CD

The MSC Q7-SK-IMX6 Starterkit is available immediately at an unstated price, as are the MSC Q7-IMX6 COM and MSC Q7-MB-EP4 carrier board. More details on all three are available at MSC’s product pages for the MSC Q7-SK-IMX6 Starterkit, MSC Q7-IMX6 COM, MSC Q7-MB-EP4 Carrier Board.

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