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Modules and dev kits run Linux on 2.3-TOPS equipped i.MX8M Plus

Sep 16, 2020 — by Eric Brown 791 views

Variscite’s “VAR-SOM-MX8M-PLUS” and smaller “DART-MX8M-PLUS” modules run Linux or Android on NXP’s AI-enabled i.MX8M Plus with up to 4GB LPDDR4, 64GB eMMC, WiFi/BT, and optional dev kits.

Variscite has launched some of the first embedded boards to support NXP’s i.MX8M Plus, an up to quad-core, Cortex-A53 SoC running at 1.8GHz and equipped with a 2.3-TOPs Neural Processing Unit (NPU). Variscite’s VAR-SOM-MX8M-PLUS and DART-MX8M-PLUS modules join TechNexion’s Wandboard IMX8M-Plus SBC and the Wandboard IMX8M-Plus EDM SOM module that powers it. Toradex, meanwhile, has teased an upcoming Verdin iMX8M Plus module.

VAR-SOM-MX8M-PLUS, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The 67.8 x 33mm VAR-SOM-MX8M-PLUS and 55 x 33mm DART-MX8M-PLUS use Variscite’s well-established VAR-SOM and DART form factors. Pin compatibility is offered for other modules that share their respective formats including the i.MX8M Mini and Nano based VAR-SOM-MX8M-MINI and VAR-SOM-MX8M-NANO and the Mini driven DART-MX8M-Mini

DART-MX8M-PLUS, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

NXP’s i.MX8M Plus is like a faster version of the i.MX8M Nano, but with a 2.3-TOPs NPU and more coprocessors. The 14nm-fabricated SoC features Vivante GC7000UL 3D and GC520L 2D GPUs, an 800MHz Cortex-M7 MCU, and an 800MHz HiFi4 DSP. The models available here also supply dual ISPs with support for stereo vision or a single 12-megapixel camera.

The new Variscite modules appear to offer identical features and interfaces. They run Yocto, Debian, or Android on single, dual, and the default quad-core i.MX8M Plus models. The modules are available with 1-4GB LPDDR4 and 8-64GB eMMC and offer built-in “DSI certified” single-band 802.11b/g/n or dual-band 802.11ac, both with Bluetooth 4.2 with BLE.


Both modules provide H.265 HD video encode/decode and HDMI 2.0a interfaces at up to 4Kp30. The modules default to 2x LVDS at up to 24-bit 1920 x 1080, with one of them optionally switching to MIPI-DSI with the same resolution. Resistive and capacitive touch is supported.

Audio features include “high-quality voice processing” with digital and analog stereo mics. There is a headphone driver and analog line-in and -out plus digital audio I/Os including 6x I2S (SAI), S/PDIF RX TX, and 8-channel PDM.

The modules provide 2x GbE controllers, one of which supports TSN. Other interfaces include 2x USB 3.0 OTG, 4x up to 5Mbps UART, 4x I2C, 3x SPI, 2x CAN/CAN-FD, and PCIe 3.0. You also get single SD/MMC, JTAG, and QSPI plus support for an RTC on the carrier.

The VAR-SOM-MX8M-PLUS runs on 3.3V power and the DART-MX8M-PLUS on 3.4V-5V. They offer 3.3V and 1.8V/3.3V digital I/O voltage, respectively. The modules are available in 0 to 70°C, -25 to 85°C, and -40 to 85°C models, all with 5% to 95% humidity tolerance and expected availability of 15 years.

Evaluation kits

The VAR-SOM-MX8M-PLUS and DART-MX8M-PLUS are available with the VAR-SOM-MX8M-PLUS Evaluation Kit and the DART-MX8M-PLUS Evaluation Kit, respectively. Each kit is available in either a carrier-only Starter Kit (STK) or a Development Kit (DVK) that adds a 7-inch capacitive, WVGA touchscreen, power supply, and Ethernet cable.

VAR-SOM-MX8M-PLUS (left) and DART-MX8M-PLUS Development Kits
(click images to enlarge)

The VAR-SOM-MX8M-PLUS Evaluation Kit uses the same Symphony-Board carrier that is detailed in our VAR-SOM-MX8M-MINI report. The DART-MX8M-PLUS Evaluation Kit uses the VAR-DT8M Custom Board, which is detailed in our report on the i.MX8M based DART-MX8M. The DART-MX8M-PLUS Evaluation Kit offers an option for a camera board.

Further information

The VAR-SOM-MX8M-PLUS and DART-MX8M-PLUS modules are initially available only in single units of the VAR-SOM-MX8M-PLUS Evaluation Kit and the DART-MX8M-PLUS Evaluation Kit. Pricing appears to be unavailable. More information may be found in Variscite’s announcement, as well as the VAR-SOM-MX8M-PLUS and DART-MX8M-PLUS product pages.


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8 responses to “Modules and dev kits run Linux on 2.3-TOPS equipped i.MX8M Plus”

  1. Sam says:

    Another great setup. However, i am again concerned about how time sensitive and energy efficient this would be. Would like some comparative studies for the same.

  2. James Rodriguez says:

    you explain very well about the products ,it’s really very easy to understand, thanks for your informative article.

  3. Chris D says:

    Extremely informative, are you posting an update when the prices become available?

  4. James says:

    Would definitely be keen to get my hands on these and have a play!

  5. Rono Michel says:

    This would be a great module if it can perform better compare to other devices available on the market. And how accurate the NXP’s AI-enabled i.MX8M Plus would be ? I heard it would process through NPU. Also, the power consumption is a great deal here.

  6. Jackson Hell says:

    Thank you for the useful information. I’m not entirely sure if ISPs with support for stereo vision or a single 12 megapixel camera will actually work. Do you think this is possible?

  7. Liam Jones says:

    Thanks for the information, I’m looking for an upgrade.

  8. Dylan says:

    Looks great, we always need further improvements

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