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Sandwich-style SBC runs Linux on i.MX8M Mini

Nov 15, 2019 — by Eric Brown 2,301 views

Boardcon has launched a “EM-IMX8M-MINI” SBC built around a “SOM-IMX8M-MINI” module that runs Linux on a quad -A53 i.MX8M Mini with 2GB LPDDR4, 8GB eMMC, and WiFi/BT. The SBC adds MIPI-DSI/CSI, GbE, USB, serial, CAN, and M.2.

Boardcon has produced a lot of Samsung and Rockchip based embedded boards, such as its recent, Rockchip RK3399 based CM3399 module and Idea3399 SBC, but the EM-IMX8M-MINI SBC and its SOM-IMX8M-MINI module are its first i.MX8 family boards. The i.MX8M Mini based EM-IMX8M-MINI, which like the Idea3399 is a sandwich-style, COM-and-carrier product, follows earlier NXP-based SBCs that we missed including the i.MX7-based EINK-IMX7 and i.MX6 UL powered EM6ul. We did cover its earlier i.MX287-based MINI287 module.

EM-IMX8M-MINI (left) and front and back views of the SOM-IMX8M-MINI module
(click images to enlarge)

NXP’s i.MX8M Mini system-on-chip, which is built into the separately available, SODIMM-style SOM-IMX8M-MINI module that powers the EM-IMX8M-MINI SBC, has appeared on numerous compute modules, many of which like Ibase’s recent RM-N8MMI SMARC module, are available with a carrier board. There are fewer Mini-based SBCs, such as Seco’s SBC-C61 and Boundary Devices’ Nitrogen8M_Mini.

While the SOM-IMX8M-MINI module appears to be available with any of the 1.8GHz Cortex-A53 i.MX8M Mini models, the EM-IMX8M-MINI board is sold only with the quad-core model. The Mini SoC also provides a 400MHz Cortex-M4 MCU as well as GCNanoUltra and Vivante GC320 graphics processors. Despite the 4K claims in the Embedded Computing Design story that alerted us to the products, the Mini SoC and the SOM-IMX8M-MINI are limited to HD resolution.

(click image to enlarge)

The 67.6 x 34.3mm SOM-IMX8M-MINI module is equipped with 2GB LPDDR4, 8GB eMMC, and a wireless module with 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0. The 5V module has a PMIC and runs Linux 4.14.98 with Qt 5.10.


The 118.6 x 102.3mm EM-IMX8M-MINI board adds a microSD slot, MIPI-DSI and -CSI connectors, and analog and digital audio interfaces, including a Wolfson codec. There are 2x USB host ports and single micro-USB OTG, GbE, and RS-232 ports.

EM-IMX8M-MINI block diagram and detail view
(click images to enlarge)

The EM-IMX8M-MINI is further equipped with interfaces including UART, RS485, CAN, I2C, GPIO, SPI, and JTAG. An M.2 slot supports an optional 4G module or SSD, and a nano-SIM slot is available. No operating range was listed.

Specifications listed for the EM-IMX8M-MINI include:

  • Processor (via SOM-IMX8M-MINI module) — NXP i.MX8M Mini Quad (4x Cortex-A53 @ up to 1.8GHz); GCNanoUltra for 3D, GC320 for 2D GPUs; Cortex-M4F @ 400MHz
  • Memory (via SOM-IMX8M-MINI) — 2GB LPDDR4 RAM; 8GB eMMC 5.1; QSPI NOR flash
  • Storage — MicroSD slot; SSD available on M.2 slot (see expansion below)
  • Networking/wireless:
    • 10/100/1000 Ethernet port (Realtek RTL8211E)
    • 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0 (via SOM-IMX8M-MINI and Ampak AP6236 modules)
    • 4G available on M.2 slot (see expansion below)
  • Media I/O:
    • MIPI-DSI (4-lane) for up to 1920 x 1080p60
    • MIPI-CSI (4-lane)
    • 3.5mm audio jack
    • Speaker header
    • Wolfson WM8960 audio codec
    • 5x SAI digital audio interfaces (8-bit RX and TX)
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports
    • Micro-USB OTG port
    • RS-232 DB9 port
    • 3x UARTs
    • RS-485
    • CAN
    • 26-pin header with 2x I2C, 6x GPIO, SPI
    • JTAG debug; separate debug for Cortex-M4
  • Expansion — M.2 E-key (PCIe 2.1) slot for 4G or SSD; nano-SIM slot
  • Other features — RTC with coin cell slot; IR interface; boot mode switch
  • Power — 5V/3A DC input jack; ROHM BD71847 PMIC; power, power key, and reset switches
  • Dimensions — 118.6 x 102.3mm
  • Operating system — Linux 4.14.98 BSP with Qt 5.10

Further information

The EM-IMX8M-MINI SBC and SOM-IMX8M-MINI module are available now, with pricing undisclosed. More information may be found in the announcement and Boardcon’s EM-IMX8M-MINI and SOM-IMX8M-MINI product pages.

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