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Rugged ARM SBC offers FPGA, dual LANs, stereo cams

May 27, 2015 — by Eric Brown 1,965 views

Micro/sys’s compact, rugged “SBC1654” SBC runs Linux on an i.MX515 SoC and offers a Spartan-6 FPGA, dual MIPI-CSI camera inputs, and dual 10/100 Ethernet.

Last November, when Micro/sys announced its EPIC-sized SBC4661 combining a Freescale i.MX6 Quad system-on-chip with a Xilinx Kintex-7 FPGA, the company said it was prepping a new single board computer based on Freescale’s Cortex-A8-based i.MX515 SoC. The company had previously turned to the i.MX51x with its earlier SBC5651 and SBC1651, which added a Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA.

(click image to enlarge)

As promised, the new SBC1654 focuses on enhanced vision technology, which is one of the company’s specialties along with FPGAs. The 3.8 x 3.6-inch SBC adopts the footprint and mounting holes of the PC/104 form-factor, but lacks a PC/104 expansion interface.

Like the SBC4661, the SBC1654 integrates a Xilinx FPGA, in this case a less powerful Spartan-6. The FPFA connects with the i.MX51 using a Freescale-defined WEIM bus, and can offload “heavy vision processing and algorithm calculations” from the ARM SoC, says Micro/sys. The FPGA offers a four-fold improvement in applications such as edge detection compared to an ARM-based program, claims the company. Between 80 and 95 percent of the FPGA’s functions are said to be user programmable, dependent on other options. You can use Xilinx ISE tools, or instead choose Micro/sys or third party IP cores.


The SBC1654 is designed for new enhanced vision applications or upgrading legacy x86-based PC/104 systems to add vision capability, says Micro/sys. The SBC1654 supports two front/back configured MIPI CSI-2 CMOS cameras that can operate simultaneously at 30 frames per second. Camera modes include front facing, back facing, stereo vision, or a configuration in which a single camera uses 12- or 8-bit parallel or serial sensors.

The CMOS sensor modules attach to an interface board with a user configurable pinout selector. Users then select their CMOS camera sensor pinout and plug the interface board onto the back of the SBC1654.

SBC1654 details
(click image to enlarge)

The SBC1654 is equipped with 512MB of DDR2 SDRAM, 2GB to 4GB of flash, and dual SD/MMC slots, which jut out slightly to extend the underlying footprint. Coastline ports include dual 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports, a micro-USB OTG port, and either an optional SATA port or one of the three available USB 2.0 host ports. You can also add an optional, internal StackableUSB connector that supports I/O boards featuring DAC and ACD.

Multimedia I/O includes the dual MIPI CSI-2 camera ports, as well as a TV-out connection and optional 24-bit LVDS. There’s also a 4-wire touchscreen controller and optional audio connections.

In addition to the three standard RS232 interfaces, the SBC1654 offers four optional RS485 half-duplex ports and four optional serial ports devoted to the FPGA. Other I/O includes up to 64x FPGA-dedicated DIO lanes, plus dual CAN ports and 1-wire, PWM, and other I/O.

The board ships with a Linux BSP stocked with open source vision development tools, says Micro/sys. The BSP’s vision integration layer includes command line access to Gstreamer for developing media components such as audio playback, recording, streaming, and editing functions. It also has access to OpenCV, which today boasts some 2,500 pre-tested vision processing algorithms, according to Micro/sys. An SD card includes the Linux image, integrated firmware layer, CMOS camera drivers, and build-time libraries to produce an application file that can run from NAND flash or SD.

An optional Vision Development Kit (DKV1654) for the SBC1654 ships with a preconfigured OmniVision 3640 CMOS sensor, as well as an LCD display, cables, and a power supply. The package includes Eclipse for editing and debugging directly on the target or from a network-attached PC.

Specifications listed for the SBC1654 include:

  • Processors:
    • Freescale i.MX515 (1x Cortex-A9 core @ 600-800MHz); with NEON, floating point, and HW accelerated OpenGL ES 2.0 and OpenVG 1.1
    • Xilinx Spartan-6 (XC6SLX16 ) FPGA with configurable options
  • Memory/storage:
    • 512MB DDR2 RAM
    • 4MB SPI NOR flash
    • 2GB or 4GB NAND flash
    • 2x SD/MMC slots
    • Optional SATA port
  • Display/camera:
    • TV out
    • Optional 24-bit LVDS
    • 4-wire touch
    • MIPI CSI-2 (12-bit)
    • MIPI CSI-2 (8-bit)
    • Optional mic/headphone, audio line in/out
  • Networking — 2x 10/100 Ethernet ports
  • Other I/O:
    • 3x USB 2.0 host ports (1x coastline if no SATA option)
    • Mini-USB 2.0 OTG port
    • 3x RS232
    • Optional 4x serial ports for FPGA (16C550 compatible)
    • Optional 4x RS485 half-duplex
    • 2x CAN Bus with standard and ext. data and remote frames, 2x receive, 3x transmit buffers
    • 1-wire
    • I2C, SPI, RTS/CTS (modem)
    • 2x PWM outputs
    • Up to 64x TTL programmable DIO for FPGA
  • Expansion interface — optional StackableUSB connector
  • Other features — RTC with battery; watchdog; reset headers; optional Vision Development Kit with 1x OmniVision 3640 cam plus LCD display, cables and power supply
  • Power — +5v ± 5%; 500mA typical, 850mA max consumption
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 85°C @ 800MHz; -40 to 85°C @ 600MHz
  • Dimensions –3.775 x 3.55 (plus I/O region) x 0.6 in. (PC/104 footprint)
  • Operating system — Linux BSP; also supports Windows CE

Further information

The SBC1654 is available now at $698 in single quantity. The turnkey Vision Development Kit, which also supports Windows CE, starts at $1,295. Significant OEM discounts are available for quantity purchases, and customization services are available. More information may be found at the SBC1654 product page.

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