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First i.MX8M Mini SBC has PCIe and optional PoE

Feb 11, 2019 — by Eric Brown 1,859 views

Boundary Devices is prepping a “Nitrogen8M_Mini” SBC that runs Linux on an up to 2GHz, quad -A53 i.MX8M Mini, and offers 2GB RAM, up to 128GB eMMC, PCIe, MIPI CSI/DSI, GbE, and optional WiFi/BT and PoE.

The Nitrogen8M_Mini is the first SBC we’ve seen that’s based on NXP’s new i.MX8M Mini SoC, and the second embedded board after Variscite’s DART-MX8M-Mini module, which was pre-announced back in September. In keeping with the Mini meme, this is a smaller, less feature rich board than Boundary Devices’ i.MX8M based Nitrogen8M SBC, with a footprint of 114.3 x 88.9mm instead of 136.7 x 87mm.

Nitrogen8M_Mini, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

NXP announced the i.MX8M Mini a year ago with a goal of 1Q 2019 production. NXP still lists the SoC as “preproduction,” and the Boundary Devices announcement is for a “pre-release” without pricing, suggesting it’s currently available only for favored customers.


Boundary Devices SBCs appear to meet our definition of community-backed, open-spec SBCs. You need to register to gain access to full documentation, 3D files, and schematics, but the process is free and easy.


The company offers extensive customization services: “The Nitrogen8M_Mini series of SBCs will include a robust set of attribute options, allowing them to be scaled up or down to fit any embedded project,” says the company. For example, on special request you can buy the board as a sandwich-style COM/carrier product, suggesting that a COM-only product is in the works.

The Nitrogen8M_Mini, which we found out about from a CNXSoft post earlier today, will likely come in at under $200. The more feature rich, and currently out of stock Nitrogen8M sells for $170.

i.MX8M Mini (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

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 both the Cortex-A53 and Cortex-M4 parts. Whereas the i.MX8M tops out at 1.5GHz for the two to four -A53 cores and 266MHz for the -M4 MCU, the i.MX8M Mini can reach 1.5GHz to 2GHz and 400MHz, respectively.

The Mini also offers a GCNanoUltra GPU for 3D graphics and GC320 for 2D. These appear to be variations on the Vivante GC7000Lite GPU found on the i.MX8M. An optional VPU, which is likely not yet available, is not used by the Nitrogen8M-Mini or Variscite’s module. In any case, both boards top out at HD resolution.

The Nitrogen8M_Mini supports Yocto, Ubuntu, Buildroot, and Debian on the Cortex-A53 cores and FreeRTOS on the Cortex-M4 chip. The datasheet also lists Android support.

Compared to the Nitrogen8M, the Nitrogen8M_Mini has a reduced feature set. The product page lists only 2GB LPDDR4, although the datasheet says 4GB is optional. You also get 8GB eMMC with options for up to 128GB. A microSD slot is also available.

Nitrogen8M-Mini portside view
(click image to enlarge)

Media interfaces are limited to MIPI-DSI and -CSI with optional touchscreens and a 5MP camera. There’s also a pair of audio jacks and a 2W amp. A 10/100 Ethernet port has a PoE option, and there’s an option for a WiFi-ac module with BT 4.1.

The Nitrogen8M_Mini is further equipped with USB 2.0 and micro-USB OTG ports and a smattering of onboard interfaces. There’s a PCIe expansion slot and an optional second slot via a daughter card. Other features include an RTC and a PMIC.

Specifications listed for the Nitrogen8M_Mini include:

  • Processor — NXP i.MX8M Mini Quad (4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.5GHz to 2.0GHz); Cortex-M4F @ 400MHz; GCNanoUltra for 3D, GC320 for 2D GPUs; 1080p60 H.264, VP8/1080p60 H.265, H.264, VP8, VP9 video
  • Memory/storage:
    • 2GB LPDDR4 RAM (possible option for 4GB)
    • 8GB eMMC (expandable to up to 128GB)
    • MicroSD slot
  • Media I/O:
    • MIPI-DSI (4-lane) for up to 1080p60
    • Optional 7-, 8-, 10.1-inch PCAP touchscreens
    • MIPI-CSI (4-lane)
    • Optional 5MP MIPI camera (OV5640 sensor)
    • Headphone and analog mic jacks
    • 2W amp
  • Wireless — Optional WiFi/BT module (QCA9377 BD-SDMAC) with
    802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.1

  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet port with optional PoE (802.3af) daughter card
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 2.0 host port
    • Micro-USB 2.0 OTG port
    • 3x I2C
    • SPI, GPIO
  • Expansion — PCIe slot (second PCIe via optional daughter card)
  • Other features — RTC with battery; optional conformal coating
  • Power –- Power jack (probably 5V DC) input; PF8100 PMIC
  • Operating temperature — standard temp unstated; optional industrial temp
  • Dimensions — 114.3 x 88.9mm
  • Operating system — Yocto, Ubuntu, Buildroot, Debian, Android; FreeRTOS supported on Cortex-M4F

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the Nitrogen8M_Mini SBC (Nit8MQ_Mini_2r8e). More information may be found on the Boundary Devices Nitrogen8M_Mini product page.


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