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Rugged SODIMM-style COM and SBC run Linux on i.MX7

Nov 17, 2015 — by Eric Brown 1,881 views

CompuLab announced a rugged COM and SBC dev kit based on a Freescale i.MX7 SoC, with up to 2GB RAM and 32GB eMMC, plus WiFi, BT, dual GbE ports, and PCIe.

CompuLab bills the CL-SOM-iMX7 as the world’s first computer-on-module supporting the Freescale i.MX7 system-on-chip. In September, Toradex announced plans to offer two Linux-ready Colibri branded COMs based on the SoC in early 2016, but offered few details. Although CompuLab’s CL-SOM-iMX7 won’t ship until January, we’ll give it the nod for being first, thanks to its full documentation.

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The CL-SOM-iMX7 is supported with a Linux BSP based on mainline Linux 3.14 and upstream Yocto Project filesystem and U-Boot. CompuLab promises to support the CL-SOM-iMX7 with mainline Linux and upstream Yocto Project support. There’s also an optional SB-SOM-iMX7 carrier board and EVAL-SOM-iMX7 evaluation kit (see farther below).

The SODIMM-style, 68 x 42mm module can be bought with the single-core Solo version of the i.MX7 clocked to 800MHz or the dual-core Dual running at 1GHz. The 28nm fabricated i.MX7 has a PMIC and other power management features that give it much higher power efficiency than the i.MX6. The IoT-oriented SoC includes a Cortex-M4 microcontroller unit (MCU) core supported with an asymmetric multi-core architecture somewhat similar to ARM’s Big.Little. Graphics are limited to a 2D image processor.

i.MX7D (left) and i.MX7S block diagrams
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block diagram

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The CL-SOM-iMX7 module lets you load up to 2GB of DDR3 RAM, although CompuLab’s pricing calculator for its numerous optional features tops out at 1GB. You can also choose a number of NAND and eMMC flash options ranging up to 32GB eMMC. Other onboard features include optional WiFi with or without MiMo, and optional Bluetooth 4.1. You can choose one or two GbE controllers, and if you can get by on WiFi alone, you can purchase the module with no Ethernet at all.

The 204-pin SODIMM edge connector provides Parallel 24-bit and MIPI-DSI outputs for up to 1400 x 1050-pixel resolution, as well as optional LVDS and touchscreen support. The wide variety of standard and optional interfaces include one to five USB ports, digital and parallel camera ports, plus CAN, PWM, ADC, and 124x GPIO, among others. PCI-Express expansion is also available.

The CL-SOM-iMX7 is available with shock and vibration resistance, as well as temperature support ranging up to -40 to 85°C. The device runs on 3.2V to 4.5V power, with 0.5 to 3W consumption, says CompuLab.

Specifications listed for the CL-SOM-iMX7 include:

  • Processor — Freescale i.MX7 Solo or Dual (1x or 2x ARM Cortex-A7 cores @ 800MHz or 1.0GHz, respectively); Cortex-M4 MCU @ 200MHz; 2D image processor; NEON SIMD and VFPv4 support; PF3000 PMIC
  • Memory:
    • 256MB, 512MB, 1GB, or 2GB DDR3 RAM
    • 128MB NAND, 1GB NAND, 4GB eMMC, or 32GB eMMC flash
  • Display (via 204-pin SODIMM edge connector):
    • 2x DSI up to 1400 x 1050 @60Hz
    • Parallel 24-bit display up to 1920 x 1080 @60Hz
    • Optional LVDS up to 1400 x 1050 @60Hz
    • Optional 4-wire resistive touch support (cap support via SPI and I2C)
  • Wireless — TI WiLink8 module with 2.4GHz/5GHz 802.11a/b/g/n (with optional MIMO) and optional Bluetooth 4.1
  • Networking – 0x, 1x, or 2x gigabit Ethernet controllers
  • Other I/O (via 204-pin SODIMM edge connector):
    • 2x MMC/SD/SDIO
    • USB 2.0 OTG
    • Optional 1x to 4x USB 2.0 host
    • I2S and MQS audio interfaces
    • Optional analog audio line-in, line out, electret mic-in
    • Parallel camera, up to 24-bit
    • MIPI-CSI camera (2x data lanes)
    • Up to 7x UARTs (up to 4Mbps)
    • Up to 3x I2C
    • Up to 3x SPI
    • Up to 2x CAN bus
    • Up to 4x PWM
    • Up to 124x GPIO
    • Up to 6x timers
    • 4x or 8x ADC
  • Expansion — PCIe Gen 2.1 x1; ext. local bus interface up to 32-bit
  • Other features — RTC (requires ext. battery); optional eval kit
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 70°C, -20 to 70°C, or -40 to 85°C
  • Shock resistance — 50G / 20ms
  • Vibration resistance — 20G / 0-600Hz
  • Power – 3.2V to 4.5V (3.3V digital I/O); Li-Ion battery; 0.5 to 3W consumption
  • Dimensions — 68 x 42 x 5mm
  • Weight — 14 g
  • Operating system — Linux 3.12 BSP with Yocto Project filesystem and U-Boot

SB-SOM-iMX7 carrier and EVAL-SOM-iMX7 evaluation kit

The CL-SOM-iMX7 is available with an optional EVAL-SOM-iMX7 evaluation kit featuring an SB-SOM-iMX7 carrier board. The board supports all the module’s display options, including a real-world, coastline HDMI/DVI port.

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block diagram

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The SB-SOM-iMX7 carrier is further equipped with an SD slot, two GbE ports, a micro-USB 2.0 port, and dual USB 2.0 host ports. There are onboard interfaces for most of the remaining I/O, including two serial debug connectors. The 160 x 136 x 22mm board supports the same ruggedization and optional temperature ranges as the module.

The EVAL-SOM-iMX7 kit is available with the CL-SOM-iMX7 module, WiFi antenna, cables, a 12V power supply, and a 5-inch, 800 x 480 Startec KD050C touchpanel. You also get a year’s tech support and a 45-day trial period, starting at $275 for the commercial temperature version.

Further information

The CL-SOM-iMX7 module will be available starting at $39 for volume orders, in early Jan. 2016 through CompuLab’s worldwide distribution channel and direct sales. The EVAL-SOM-iMX7 evaluation kit is available now for $275, with shipments due in January. More information may be found at the CL-SOM-iMX7 and EVAL-SOM-iMX7 product pages.

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