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Pico-ITX SBC runs Linux on i.MX8M with 8GB LPDDR4

Feb 27, 2018 — by Eric Brown 3,317 views

F&S unveiled an “armStone MX8M” Pico-ITX SBC that runs Linux on NXP’s dual- or quad-A53 i.MX8M SoC with 8GB LPDDR4, 32GB eMMC, GbE, WiFi, BT, CAN, MIPI-CSI, and more.

A year ago, F&S Elektronik Systeme announced an armStone A53SD Pico-ITX SBC with a Snapdragon 410E. Now it has returned to Embedded World to show off its latest Pico-ITX entry, this time based on the NXP i.MX8M. The layout of the new armStone MX8M is almost identical to the A53SD, and the feature set is very close, as well.

armStone MX8M
(click image to enlarge)

Note that the board won’t ship until Q2, and the specs are preliminary. Product page tabs for “Starterkit” and “Accessories” remain empty. The earlier armStone A53SD was available with an optional armStone Extension add-on board that routed signals from the board’s 66-pin feature connector to standard connectors. Like the armStone A53SD and other armStone SBCs, this board implements a 66-pin expansion connector, but in this case there’s no mention of support for any off-the-shelf armStone add-on boards.

Technexion’s announced the first SBC based on NXP’s i.MX8M SoC in November with its open source Wand-Pi-8M. Since then, we’ve seen a Compulab SBC-iMX8 Evaluation Kit and CL-SOM-iMX8 module, as well as a Variscite DART-MX8M module and sandwich-style VAR-DT8MCustomBoard SBC.


The new armStone MX8M is available with dual- or quad-core versions of the 1.5GHz, Cortex-A53 i.MX8M. The SoC incorporates a Vivante GC7000Lite GPU and VPU, enabling 4K HEVC/H265, H264, and VP9 video decoding with HDR. It also provides a 266MHz Cortex-M4 core for real-time tasks, as well as a security subsystem.

This is the first i.MX8M based board we’ve seen that supports up to 8GB LPDDR4 instead of 4GB. Like most of the specs, this matches the armStone A53SD.

Other major differences include the addition of an Ethernet port to join the WiFi/BT radios, and the addition of a PCIe interface with SIM card. There’s also a fourth USB host port, an RS232 interface, and extra SPI and I2C signals.

The board will ship with a BSP that includes Linux 4.9.x, U-Boot, Yocto Project 2.2 or optional Buildroot build system and documentation and sample code. In addition: “Configurations for standard cases (minimal, X11, Qt5, Wayland/Weston, Framebuffer) make the start of an own configuration as easy as possible,” says F&S. “The BSP release also includes precompiled binary images that can directly be downloaded to the board.”

Specifications listed for the armStone MX8M include:

  • Processor — NXP i.MX8M (2x or 4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.5GHz); Vivante GC7000Lite GPU; Cortex-M4 @ 266MHz
  • Memory/storage:
    • Up to 8GB LPDDR4 RAM
    • Up to 32GB eMMC
    • Up to 1GB SLC NAND
    • Optional SD slot
  • Multimedia I/O:
    • 2x 24-bit LVDS
    • DVI
    • Analog resistive and PCAP touch via I2C
    • MIPI-CSI
    • Audio line-in/out/mic
  • Wireless:
    • 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
    • Bluetooth 4.1 LE (with BT 2.1+EDR support)
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • 4x USB 2.0 host ports
    • Micro-USB 2.0 OTG port
    • CAN
    • RS232
    • 2x TTL UART
    • 4x I2C
    • 2x SPI
    • 32x DIO
  • Other features — RTC with coin battery slot
  • Power — 5V DC input
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 70°C; optional -20 to 85°C
  • Dimensions — 100 x 72mm; Pico-ITX form factor
  • Weight — 60 g
  • Operating system — BSP with Yocto 2.2/Buildroot, Linux 4.9.x, U-boot, etc.

Further information

The armStone MX8M will be available in Q2 2018 at an undisclosed price. More information may be found at F&S Elektronik Systeme’s armStone MX8M product page

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One response to “Pico-ITX SBC runs Linux on i.MX8M with 8GB LPDDR4”

  1. kylegordon says:

    With LVDS support does that mean it can plug straight into salvaged LCD panels?

    Many HDMI/VGA to LVDS suppliers request data about your panel in advance so the firmware can be ‘programmed’. Is that issue irrelevant now?

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