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Linux-on-NXP boards from Kontron and SolidRun gain Arm SystemReady compliance

Nov 19, 2021 — by Eric Brown 317 views

Kontron and SolidRun have each announced several NXP-based embedded products that have achieved Arm SystemReady certification for interoperable Linux stacks and boot systems.

Following Arm’s formal announcement of its Arm SystemReady initiative in Oct. 2020, support for the interoperability program has begun to accelerate. Yesterday, Kontron announced three embedded Linux products based on NXP processors that have received Arm SystemReady certification for standardized firmware and hardware running on Arm-based CPUs. The products include its pITX-iMX8M Pico-ITX SBC and sandwich-style BL i.MX8M Mini, as well as a new KBox A-203-LS networking box with an NXP LS1028A.



Kontron’s Arm SystemReady IR compliant products (l-to-r): its pITX-iMX8M, BL i.MX8M Mini, and new KBox A-203-LS
(click image to enlarge)

Earlier this month, SolidRun announced that its NXP LX2160A powered HoneyComb LX2K board was certified for Arm SystemReady, and late last year, Eurotech vowed general support. Earlier this year, NXP achieved SystemReady ES certification for its LX2160RDB dev platform and is working on certification for two LS104x boards. (See farther below for brief summaries of the Kontron, SolidRun, and NXP products.)

Arm SystemReady is a compliance certification program for enabling interoperability with standard, off-the-shelf operating systems and hypervisors. The program emerged as the principal offering of Arm’s Project Cassini, an “open, collaborative, standards-based initiative to deliver a seamless cloud-native software experience for devices based on Arm Cortex-A.” Last month, Arm announced a similar Project Centauri project targeted at Cortex-M MCUs as part of its Arm Total Solutions for IoT initiative.



Arm SystemReady specs (left) and an NXP chart showing SystemReady BSA and BBR specifics
(click images to enlarge)

Kontron’s SystemReady certified products all use the SystemReady IR spec for 32- and 64-bit Linux and BSD driven IoT edge devices. SolidRun’s HoneyComb LX2K complies with the 64-bit SystemReady ES (Embedded Server) spec for deploying server workloads running Linux, Windows, BSD, and other OSes on edge compute platforms.

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In addition to SystemReady IR and SystemReady ES, there is also a SystemReady LS (LinuxBoot Server) variant that ensures a server platform is suitable for deployment on the LinuxBoot firmware stack. Project Cassini has also defined a similarly 64-bit SystemReady SR spec for cross-platform Arm servers based on the earlier Arm ServerReady spec.

There are two major components to Arm SystemReady: the base system architecture (BSA), which defines the minimum hardware requirement to deploy an OS, and the base boot requirement (BBR), which provides a standard firmware interface to the OS for booting firmware. The architecture compliance suite validates BSA at the hardware level and includes many tests that cover the various aspects of the BBR, which is available in EBBR and SBBR variants.

The SystemReady LS and SystemReady SR specs also define a Server Base System Architecture (SBSA). Finally, Project Cassini has developed an Arm SystemReady security interface extension that certifies that UEFI secure boot, secure firmware update, and TPM interfaces are implemented, as prescribed by the Arm Base Boot Security Requirements specification.

 
Kontron’s pITX-iMX8M, BL i.MX8M Mini, and KBox A-203-LS

All three Kontron products with Arm SystemReady IR compliance run a Yocto Project based Linux stack. Earlier this week, we reported that Kontron’s pITX-iMX8M would be offered in a pITX-iMX8M-AI-H8 version with a preinstalled Hailo08 NPU. The Pico-ITX board runs Yocto Linux on the quad -A53 i.MX8M Mini and offers 4GB of soldered LPDDR4 and up to 64GB eMMC 5.1.


pITX-iMX8M

The pITX-iMX8M provides Mini-DisplayPort and HDMI ports for 4K video. There are also 2x GbE and 2x USB 3.0 ports and an M.2 slot with micro-SIM.

Kontron’s SoM SL i.MX8M Mini compute module and the sandwich-style BL i.MX8M Mini SBC powered by it appear to have launched in 2020. The 30 x 30mm SoM SL i.MX8M Mini deploys the i.MX8M Mini with 1GB to 4GB LPDDR4, 2MB NOR flash, and 8GB to 128GB eMMC.

The BL i.MX8M Mini extends the module with GbE and 10/100 Ethernet ports plus 2x USB 2.0 host, micro-USB 2.0 OTG, and HDMI ports. There is also an LVDS touchscreen interface, a microSD slot, and internal I/O including MIPI-CSI, PCIe, USB, serial, CAN, DIO, and more. The 105.5 x 67mm board has a 24VDC terminal plug interface, a crypto chip, and 0-70°C support. The SystemReady certification appears to apply only to the BL i.MX8M Mini board, not the module.

We could find no product page for the apparently new KBox A-203-LS, an IoT gateway with NXP’s dual-core, Cortex-A72 LayerScape LS1028A, which is found on products such as TQ’s MBLS1028A-IND SBC. The compact KBox A-203-LS has 5x GbE ports with TSN (Time Sensitive Networking). The image at top also shows a WAN port, 2x USB, 2x COM, and a DisplayPort.

 
SolidRun’s HoneyComb LX2K and NXP LayerScape boards

SolidRun’s Arm SystemReady ES compliant HoneyComb LX2K Mini-ITX board is equipped with a CEx7 LX2160A COM Express module with up to 64GB DDR4 that runs Linux on NXP’s 2.0GHz, 16-core, Cortex-A72 LX2160A. The networking board has dual 10GbE SFP+ ports and a GbE port.



HoneyComb LX2K detail view (left) and NXP’s SystemReady compliant boards
(click images to enlarge)

The HoneyComb LX2K is further equipped with a microSD slot, 4x SATA III, 3x USB 3.0, 3x USB 2.0, and a micro-USB serial debug port. There is an optional M.2 slot for SSDs and an open PCIe x8 Gen 3.0 slot for x16 boards, among other features.

NXP announced its SystemReady ES compliance for the LX2160RDB reference design board in May. The board showcases the same 16-core LX2160A as the HoneyComb LX2K. Offered in a rackmount form factor, the LX2160RDB offers multiple 10GbE, 25GbE, and 40GbE ports plus PCIe and SATA III interfaces and much more.

In May, NXP said that SystemReady ES compliance testing was underway for two more LayerScape networking boards running the quad -A72 LS1046A and quad -A53 LS1043A. The compact, LS1046A based LS1046A-RDB Freeway board (FRWY-LS1046A) offers up to 4GB DDR4 and 4GB NAND flash plus a microSD slot, 4x GbE ports, 2x M.2 slots, and 2x USB 3.0 ports. There is also a MikroBus header and Google’s Coral TPU AI chip.

NXP’s LS1043A-RDB reference design board (LS1043A-RDB) offers 6x GbE, a 10GbE SFP cage, mini-PCIe, and PCIe. Other features include 2x USB 3.0, 2x COM, and more.

 
Further information

Two of Kontron’s three Arm SystemReady IR compliant products are currently available — the pITX-iMX8M and BL i.MX8M Mini — while the KBox A-203-LS appears to be under development. SolidRun’s HoneyComb LX2K and NXP’s three LayerScape boards, all with SystemReady ES compliance, also appear to be available.

More information may be found in the Kontron and SolidRun announcements, as well as on Arm’s Arm SystemReady product page.
 

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