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COM family adopts Freescale's new i.MX6 UltraLite SoC

Jun 3, 2015 — by Eric Brown 1,785 views

TechNexion expanded its EDM computer-on-module line with models based on new Freescale i.MX6 SoCs, including one with the new, IoT-oriented i.MX6 UltraLite.

TechNexion’s new EDM1-CF-IMX6UL, EDM1-CF-IMX6SX, and EDM1-CF-LS1021A COMs are implemented on the company’s ARM- and x86-compatible, SODIMM style “EDM” form factor, which uses a 314-pin MXM edge connector for plugging into carrier boards. All three modules conform to EDM’s smallest, 82 x 60mm EDM1 format, and use the standard’s Type 1 signal assignment option.

EDM1-CF-IMX6UL (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The EDM1-CF-IMX6UL debuts Freescale’s new i.MX6 UltraLite SoC, which is essentially an entirely new SoC that shifts from Cortex-A9 to the more power-efficient Cortex-A7 architecture (see our detailed i.MX6 UltraLite coverage). The 528MHz i.MX6 UltraLite is claimed by Freescale to be “the smallest and most energy-efficient ARM-based processor,” and has a stripped down WXGA display interface and new security, tamper detection, and power management features.

i.MX6 UltraLite block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The two other new EDM models are similarly focused on low-power operations. The EDM1-CF-IMX6SX features the i.MX6 SoloX, which combines a single, 1GHz Cortex-A9 core with a Cortex-M4 MCU and a Vivante GPU.

EDM1-CF-IMX6SX (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The networking and security oriented EDM1-CF-LS1021A instead takes on one of Freescale’s first ARM-based QorIQ models, the QorIQ LS1021A, which supplies dual 1GHz Cortex-A7 cores. The LS1021A is claimed to run on under 3 Watts.

EDM1-CF-LS1021A (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

TechNexion ships all three new EDM modules with Linux or Yocto Linux as the default OS. The company also offers a series of carrier boards for its EDM modules, including “Fairy” and “Goblin” models for its EDM1 COMs (see farther below), and “Elf” and “Wizard” carrier boards for its EDM2 modules.

EDM background


(click to enlarge)

TechNexion’s very first EDM (Embedded Design Modules) form factor COM, the EDM-IMX6, showed up on the community-backed Wandboard SBC in early 2013. Later that year, Avnet began distributing the company’s EDM modules in North America as standalone products, while Denx introduced them in Europe.

As illustrated below, EDM modules interface to a carrier board via a 314-pin MXM connector, and may be implemented in one of three board sizes: EDM Compact, at 82 x 60mm; EDM Standard, at 95 x 82mm; and EDM Extended, at 145 x 82mm.

EDM’s Compact, Standard, and Extended board sizes
(click image to enlarge)

Additionally, an EDM module’s MXM connector interface can support one of two signaling schemes, dubbed Type 1 and Type 2 (see illustration below). TechNexion COMs that use EDM Type 1 signaling have “EDM1” in their names, while “EDM2” in the module’s name indicates Type 2 signaling.

EDM’s Type 1 and Type 2 connector signaling
(click image to enlarge)

The new EDM1 modules being announced at this time are pin-compatible with the EDM-CF-IMX6 and the Wandboard, says TechNexion. It is unclear, however, whether plans to release new Wandboard models featuring any of the new TechNexion modules.

Inside the new EDM1 modules

Despite the different processors, the three EDM1 modules have enough in common that we were able to compile a consolidated list of specifications (see farther below). The EDM1-CF-IMX6SX and EDM1-CF-LS1021A support up to 2GB of DDR3 (ECC RAM for the latter), while the EDM1-CF-IMX6UL stops at 1GB. The IMX6SX model provides 4GB of eMMC flash, 256MB QSPI flash, and optional NAND flash, while the LS1021A model only has the optional NAND, and the IMX6UL model is limited to 256MB QSPI flash and optional NAND.

All the modules provide dual Ethernet controllers, which are gigabit Ethernet except for the 10/100Mbps controllers on the IMX6UL. The IMX6SX and IMX6UL both provide WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, and in the case of the IMX6UL, you get 802.11ac WiFi.

Display support varies considerably. LVDS is supported by all, although only as an option on the LS1021A, which also offers optional HDMI. The other two models provide 24-bit RGB, as well. Audio support is also varied (see chart below).

USB host and OTG supports are available, and the LS1021A model gives you USB 3.0 on the OTG port. Other common I/O includes pair each of UART and CAN interfaces, as well as SPI, I2C, I2S, GPIO, and JTAG. The IMX6SX model adds ADC support. The same model offers one PCIe 2.0 interface while the LS1021A has two.

All three modules support a choice of three temperature ranges, up to a -40 to 85°C option that requires turning off the WiFi. They also offer identical shock and vibration resistance.

A consolidated listing of key specifications of the EDM1-CF-IMX6SX, EDM1-CF-LS1021A, and EDM1-CF-IMX6UL modules appears farther below.

Fairy and Goblin carriers

The three new EDM1 modules, as well as the EDM1-CF-IMX6, are available with two 147 x 102mm “3.5-inch” carrier boards. The EDM1-Fairy and EDM1-Goblin appear to be almost identical except that the Fairy has one gigabit Ethernet port, while the Goblin has two.

EDM1-Fairy (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The 12 VDC boards provide dual USB 3.0 host ports, a micro-USB OTG port, a microSD slot, and audio jacks, including a 2W speaker connector. You get an HDMI port, as well as 24-bit LVDS and RGB TTL interfaces, supported by a 4-wire touch controller and touchpanel. Dual mini-PCIe slots and a 3G-ready SIM slot are also available,

EDM1-Goblin (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Other I/O includes SATA and GPMC, plus dual UART, dual SPI, dual I2C, and eight GPIO. You also get a real-time clock, a battery connector, and a variety of sensors, including 3-axis accelerometer, a light sensor, and a compass.

TechNexion also offers two carrier boards for EDM2 modules, such as the EDM2-CF-iMX6 and EDM2-XI-QM77. The EDM2-Elf has the same 3.5-inch form factor as the Fairy and Goblin, but the EDM2-Wizard is a 244 x 244mm Micro-ATX board with a larger 10 to 30 VDC power supply. I/O is mostly identical to that of the Fairy and Goblin. However, the Wizard adds a second SATA port and second HDMI port. On the other hand it lacks the sensors found on the Elf, Fairy, and Goblin.

Summary of module specifications

Combined specifications listed for the EDM1-CF-IMX6SX, EDM1-CF-LS1021A, and EDM1-CF-IMX6UL include:

  • Processor (Freescale):
      EDM1-CF-IMX6SX — i.MX6 SoloX (1x Cortex-A9 core @ 1GHz; 1x Cortex-M4 @ 200MHz; Vivante GC400T GPU)
      EDM1-CF-LS1021A — QorIQ LS1021A (2x Cortex-A7 @ 1GHz)
      EDM1-CF-IMX6UL — i.MX6UL (1x Cortex-A7 @ 528MHz)
  • Memory/storage:
      EDM1-CF-IMX6SX — 1GB to 2GB DDR3; 4GB eMMC; 256MB QSPI; optional NAND; SDIO
      EDM1-CF-LS1021A — 1GB to 2GB DDR3 with ECC; optional 512MB NAND; SDIO; SATA 3.0
      EDM1-CF-IMX6UL — Up to 1GB DDR3; 256MB QSPI; optional NAND; SDIO
  • Wireless — WiFi/Bluetooth 4.0 module on EDM1-CF-IMX6SX (Broadcom BCM4330 with 802.11b/g/n) and EDM1-CF-IMX6UL (Broadcom BCM4335 with 802.11ac) only
  • Networking — 2x gigabit Ethernet (EDM1-CF-IMX6SX and EDM1-CF-LS1021A); 2x Fast Ethernet on EDM1-CF-IMX6UL
  • Multimedia I/O:
    • 24-bit digital RGB (IMX6SX and IMX6UL only)
    • Single-channel 18/24-bit LVDS (optional on LS1021A)
    • HDMI (only on optional LS1021A SKU)
    • Audio codec — dual-channel I2S and SPDIF (IMX6SX and IMX6UL); single-channel I2S only (LS1021A)
  • Other I/O:
    • 1x USB 2.0 host
    • 1x USB 2.0 OTG (USB 3.0 on LS1021A)
    • 2x UART
    • 2x Flex CAN 2.0B
    • SPI, I2C, I2S, GPIO
    • ADC (IMX6SX only) via FPC connector
    • JTAG (via thruhole)
    • PCIe 2.0 — 1x on IMX6SX, 2x on LS1021A, none on IMX6UL
  • Power — 5 VDC +/- 5%; PMIC
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 60°C; -20 to 70°C; -40 to 85°C (w/o WiFi)
  • Shock resistance — 50G / 25ms
  • Vibration resistance — 20G / 0-600Hz
  • Weight — 20 g
  • Dimensions — 82 x 60mm; EDM1 with 314-pin MXM connector
  • Operating system — Linux; Yocto Linux; extended support for WEC7 and RTOSes

Further information

The EDM1-CF-IMX6UL is listed as “coming soon,” while the EDM1-CF-IMX6SX, EDM1-CF-LS1021A, EDM1-Fairy, and EDM1-Goblin appear to be available now at an unstated price. More information may be found at TechNexion’s EDM products page. For more background on EDM, see our earlier EDM coverage. Further information regarding Freescale’s new i.MX6 UltraLite SoC may be found in our detailed i.MX6 UltraLite report

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