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Pico-ITX SBC jump-starts the mighty i.MX8 QuadMax

Jan 13, 2020 — by Eric Brown 4,751 views

iWave’s “iW-Rainbow-G27S” Pico-ITX SBC runs Linux or Android on an i.MX8 QuadPlus or QuadMax with up to 8GB LPDDR4, 2x GbE, 2x USB 3.0, 802.11ac/BT, M.2, HDMI in and out, and -40 to 85°C support.

iWave produces a lot of compute modules, such as last year’s i.MX8M Mini or Nano based iW-RainboW-G34M-SM, but single board computers are far less common. The last one we covered was the COM-like, Snapdragon 820 based iW-RainboW-G25S, which followed an earlier, NXP i.MX6 driven iW-RainboW-G15S and older products built around Freescale/NXP’s Vybrid, i.MX50, and i.MX27. The new iW-Rainbow-G27S Pico-ITX form-factor SBC showcases NXP’s i.MX8 QuadPlus/QuadMax. This is only the second i.MX8 Quad based SBC we’ve seen, following Seco’s 3.5-inch SBC-C43.

(click image to enlarge)

The i.MX8 Quad/Plus/Max is the most powerful of the growing number of i.MX8 variants. These include the upcoming, NPU-enabled i.MX8M Plus, which is sort of like a hybrid of the i.MX8 Quad and low-power i.MX8M Nano. iWave previously used the i.MX8 QuadMax on its iW-RainboW-G27M SMARC module, but the module is not used on the iW-Rainbow-G27S.

Designed for high-speed networking, edge computing, industrial automation, 4K imaging, e-cockpit, and intelligent data centers, iWave’s latest SBC supports the two higher-end models: the QuadMax with 2x Cortex-A72 cores and 4x Cortex-A53 cores and the QuadPlus with a single Cortex-A72 and 4x -A53. Like the quad -A53 Quad model, the SoCs offer 2x Cortex-M4F real-time cores, 2x Vivante GPU/VPU cores, and a HiFi4 DSP.


The QuadMax features the GC7000XSVX GPU while the QuadPlus has a “Lite” version. Video support is the same, however, with 4K@30 decoding and the ability to drive up to 4x HD displays.

On the iW-Rainbow-G27S, You can configure the i.MX8’s power management system, managed by dual PF8100 PMICs, so that the Cortex-A cores can be deactivated while the Cortex-M4F cores stay alert to monitor the system in low power mode. The main cores can be activated either using a predefined wake-up time or from a user-defined interrupt.


The iW-Rainbow-G27S is supported with Linux 4.14.98 and Android Pie 9.0.0 for the Cortex-A cores and QNX 7.0.0 for the Cortex-M4 cores. The company also supplies the open source type 1 Xen hypervisor to enable a virtualized, multi-OS implementation. This Xen stack enables an environment in which “generated domains are fully secure and independent from others, ensuring a multi-application platform running on independent displays, offering failover safe performance,” says iWave. The same Xen implementation is also available on its QuadMax based iW-RainboW-G27M module.

iWave’s SBC adds a Security Microcontroller (SECO) that verifies the authenticity of the U-Boot, Linux, and RTOS binaries. The binaries are signed with a certificate stored in “immutable” storage. The SECO also contains a Cryptographic Acceleration and Assurance Module (CAAM). Other security features on the SBC include High Assurance Boot (HAB), encrypted keys, and secure firmware OTA (Over the Air) updates.

The feature set is much like that of Seco’s larger SBC-C43. The iW-Rainbow-G27S offers a second USB 3.0 host port while the SBC-C43 features soldered memories. The main difference is in expansion. The SBC-C43 provides M.2 E- and B-key slots plus more separate, dedicated interfaces for I/O like MIPI-CSI and LVDS while iWave’s board instead gives you 3x proprietary expansion connectors and limited dedicated connectors (see spec list below).

Highlights for both SBCs include dual GbE, WiFi-ac, HDMI 2.0a in and out, and CAN support. While the SBC-C43 provides commercial and industrial models, iWave’s SBC provides only an industrial -40 to 85°C SKU.

Specifications listed for the iW-Rainbow-G27S include:

  • Processor — NXP i.MX8 with VPU and HiFi4 DSP:
    • i.MX8 QuadMax — 2x Cortex-A72, 4x Cortex-A53, 2x Cortex-M4F, 2x Vivante GC7000 / XVSX GPU/VPU
    • i.MX8 QuadPlus — 1x Cortex-A72, 4x Cortex-A53, 2x Cortex-M4F, 2x GC7000Lite / XVSX GPU/VPU
  • Memory/storage:
    • 4GB or 8GB LPDDR4
    • 8GB eMMC (expandable)
    • MicroSD slot
    • SATA via M.2 B-key (see expansion below)
  • Networking:
    • 2x GbE ports
    • 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 5.0
    • M.2 with nano-SIM (see expansion below)
  • Media I/O:
    • HDMI 2.0a output port up to 4K
    • Micro-HDMI 2.0a input port
    • 40-pin eDP connector up to 4K
    • MIPI-DSI/CSI, LVDS, SAI via expansion connectors (see farther below)
    • Quadruple display support
    • Audio I/O jack with I2S audio codec
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 3.0 host ports
    • Micro-USB 2.0 OTG port
    • RS-232 interface
    • CAN interface
    • Serial debug with optional JTAG and anti-tamper headers
  • Expansion:
    • M.2 B-key slot — 2x PCIe, USB 3.0 and 2.0, SATA, I2S, I2C, and HSIC with nano-SIM slot
    • Expansion Connector 1 — 4 lane MIPI-DSI and -CSI/I2C, SAI, CAN, QSPI, DMA/I2C, UART, M40
    • Expansion Connector 2 — 4 lane MIPI-DSI, 4-lane LVDS, CAN/SPDIF, DMA/I2C, SPI
    • Expansion Connector 3 — 4 lane MIPI-CSI, MIPI-CSI/I2C, 2x 4-lane LVDS, PWM, SPI, M41
  • Other features — RTC with battery connector
  • Power – 12/2A DC input via external adapter
  • Operating temperature — -40 to 85°C
  • Dimensions — 100 x 72mm (Pico-ITX)
  • Operating system — Linux 4.14.98; Android Pie 9.0.0; QNX 7.0.0; Xen

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the iW-Rainbow-G27S. More information may be found in iWave’s announcement and the iW-Rainbow-G27S product page.


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