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i.MX7 module features eMMC, dual GbE, extended temps

Jul 13, 2017 — by Eric Brown 844 views

Kontron’s “SMARC-sAMX7” module runs Yocto Linux on an i.MX7 SoC with up to 64GB eMMC, dual GbE controllers, -20 to 85°C support, and an optional eval board.

The last time we checked in on Kontron’s SMARC computer-on-modules, it was to report on the Atom E3800-based SM-20 to 85°C ARC-sXBTi, billed as the “world’s first x86-based SMARC COM.” With its new SMARC-sAMX7, the company has once again tapped the 82 x 50mm “short” version of the SMARC form factor, but this time with a low-power, ARM Cortex-A7 NXP i.MX7 SoC. The device runs a Yocto Project based Linux distribution with U-Boot bootloader, and is available with a new SMARC Evaluation Carrier 2.0 designed to support SMARC 2.0 (see farther below).

SMARC-sAMX7 (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The only other i.MX7 based SMARC module we’ve covered is Embedian’s SMARC-FiMX7, although there have been several full-sized models. Farther below, we also summarize Kontron’s Intel Apollo Lake based, and similarly SMARC 2.0 compliant SMARC-sXAL model, which we missed when it was announced last November.



The new SMARC-sAMX7 is available with i.MX7 SoCs in either dual- (1GHz) or single-core (800MHz) configurations. In either case, the SoC integrates a 200MHz Cortex-M4 MCU. The dual core version offers a single PCIe expansion interface and up to 2x additional PCIe connections upon request.

SMARC-sAMX7 rear view (left) and SMARC Evaluation carrier 2.0

The i.MX7 lacks 3D graphics, but the 2D ePxP engine supports up to 1080p resolution. This is supported on the SMARC-sAMX7 via a dual-channel 24-bit LVDS interface, with the latter supported for the first time in the SMARC 2.0 spec. The LVDS can be swapped out for eDP, and there is also a dual-channel MIPI-CSI camera input.

The SMARC-sAMX7 ships with up to 2GB DDR3 and gives you a choice of 2GB to 64GB eMMC 5.0. The COM features dual GbE controllers, as well as 4x serial (2x RX/TX only) interfaces and 4x USB 2.0 ports. A fifth USB port appears to be optional if you don’t want the optional Kontron Security Solution Approtect security chip.

The SMARC-sAMX7 is further equipped with 4x I2C, 2x SPI, 12x GPIO, and SDIO and I2S interfaces. The module supports 3V to 5.25V input, and can operate on single level Lithium Ion cell. The SMARC-sAMX7 features a -20 to 85°C temperature range.

SMARC Evaluation carrier 2.0
(click image to enlarge)

SMARC Evaluation carrier 2.0

Announced in March, the optional 210 x 200mm SMARC Evaluation carrier 2.0 board accepts both short and standard sized SMARC modules. The 12V board features dual GbE ports, an SD slot, and two USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports apiece, with one of the 2.0 ports assigned as OTG. The board offers an mSATA interface, as well as dual mini-PCIe slots with SIM card and USB support. You also get dual PCIe connections.

SMARC Evaluation carrier 2.0 portside views

The SMARC Evaluation carrier 2.0 provides HDMI and DP++ ports, as well as an LVDS interface. A dual-purpose audio codec serves up I2S (ARM) and HDA (x86) audio. Additional features include 4x UART, 2x CAN, 2x MIPI-CSI, and 12x GPIO.

SMARC-sXAL with Apollo Lake

The SMARC-sXAL, which was announced in November, but which is still listed as “New,” may have preceded some other short SMARCs with Intel Apollo Lake SoCs such as the MSC SM2S-AL. The 82 x 50mm module is available with the quad-core Pentium N4200 and dual-core Celeron N3350, and an almost identical E2 SKU supports the three quad- and dual-core Atom-branded Apollo Lake models.

SMARC-sXAL (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The SMARC-sXAL supports up to 8GB DDR3, and as a build option, up to 64GB eMMC SLC 5.0. The module features a GbE controller and SATA 3.0 interface, as well as 3x PCIe x1, 2x USB 3.0, 4x USB 2.0, and 4x serial interfaces. Triple displays are supported with HDMI, DP++, and dual-channel LVDS.

Other features include HD audio, 5x I2C, 2x SPI, 2x MIPI-CSI, 12x GPIO, and I2S, with build optional TPM 2.0. The 3V to 5.25V module is available in 0 to 60°C and -40 to 85°C models. OS support includes Linux, VxWorks, and Windows versions including Windows 10 IoT.

The SMARC-sXAL follows the earlier, Bay Trail Atom based SMARC-sXBTi. Other Kontron SMARC COMs include the SMARC-sA3874i, SMARC-sAMX6i, and SMARC-sAT30, which build on TI’s AM3874, NXP’s i.MX6, and Nvidia’s Tegra 3 SoCs, respectively. We missed an earlier, Intel Quark-based SMARC-sXQU. Details on all these boards may be found on the Kontron SMARC page.

Further information

The SMARC-sAMX7 module is said to be “available now,” but the product page says “coming soon.” More information may be found on Kontron’s SMARC-sAMX7 and SMARC Evaluation carrier 2.0 product pages.

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