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SODIMM-style module runs Linux on Apollo Lake

Mar 10, 2017 — by Eric Brown 540 views

The MSC SM2S-AL SMARC 2.0 “short” COM offers an Apollo Lake SoC, triple display and industrial temp support, and an optional, Linux-driven starter kit.

Avnet-owned MSC Technologies has launched a Linux-ready computer-on-module that runs on Intel Apollo Lake SoCs, and complies with the new SMARC 2.0 standard in the “short” form factor. The MSC SM2S-AL measures 82 x 50mm compared to 82 x 52mm for the short-size, Bay Trail Atom based Aaeon μCOM-BT. The only other Apollo Lake based SMARC 2.0 module we’ve seen is Congatec’s standard sized, 82 x 80mm Conga-SA5.

MSC SM2S-AL, front and back
(click image to enlarge)

The default OS is said to be Windows 10, with a Linux BSP available upon request. Yet the featured MSC SM2S-SK-AL-EP1 starter kit ships with a bootable Linux installation pre-loaded in flash (see farther below).

Like the Conga-SA5, the MSC SM2S-AL supports all three Apollo Lake quad-core and dual-core Atom 3900 parts, as well as the dual-core Celeron N3350 and quad-core Pentium N4200. These SoCs have TDPs ranging from 6W for the Celeron and Pentium to 12W for the 1.6GHz/2.0GHz Atom x7-E3950. As a result, MSC can claim that its module offers 7-14W power dissipation.


The MSC SM2S-AL is aimed at IoT, smart factory automation, medical, building automation, and digital signage. Both 0 to 60°C and -40 to 85°C models are available.

You can load up to 8GB of quad-channel LPDDR4-2400 SDRAM, and add up to 64GB of optional, soldered eMMC flash. An SD interface and 6Gbps SATA III connection are also available.

Triple simultaneous displays are available via dual DisplayPort 1.2a interfaces at up to 4096 x 2160 @ 60Hz, HDMI 1.4b at up to 3840 x 2160 @ 30Hz, and either dual-channel, 18/24-bit LVDS at up to 1920 x 1200 @ 60Hz or dual optional eDP 1.3 ports at 4096 x 2160 @ 60Hz. Dual MIPI CSI-2 camera interfaces are also onboard.

The MSC SM2S-AL provides a Gigabit Ethernet controler, four PCIe x1 Gen 2 lanes, 2x USB 3.0 host, and 6x USB 2.0 host interfaces, one of which also provides device support. The 5V module is further equipped with HD and I2S audio, 4x UARTs, plus I2C, SPI, and SMBus interfaces.

Other features include a watchdog, fan interface, and support for an external RTC, system monitoring. Options include a TPM 1.2 security chip and various heatsinks and heatspreaders.

MSC SM2S-SK-AL-EP1 SMARC 2.0 Starter Kit

The MSC SM2S-AL can be purchased with an MSC SM2S-SK-AL-EP1 SMARC 2.0 Starter Kit that combines a Mini-ITX MSC Q7-MB-EP4 carrier board and 12V power supply and cable kit. As noted, it ships preloaded with Linux.

MSC SM2S-SK-AL-EP1 SMARC 2.0 Starter Kit
(click image to enlarge)

The carrier is equipped with SATA II, GbE, 2x USB 3.0 host, 2x USB host, and a micro-USB 2.0 OTG port. Another USB 2.0 interface is available from the mini-PCIe slot, which can be optionally swapped for a PCI x4 slot. There’s also an SD socket.

Connectors are available for DP, DVI, LVDS, eDP, and MIPI-CSI-2. The LVDS is available with a backlight connector, and TFT display kits are optional. Three audio jacks are provided, along with DB9 ports for CAN 2.0B and RS232. Additional CAN and RS232 interfaces are available on headers, as are the SPI, SMBus, I2C, and GPIO I/Os.

There’s also an eSPI connector, an SPI boot flash socket, RTC and fan connectors, and various buttons, switches, and jumpers. The board can operate at 0 to 70°C.

Further information

The MSC SM2S-AL module and starter kit are available at undisclosed prices. More information may be found on the MSC SM2S-AL and MSC SM2S-SK-AL-EP1 SMARC 2.0 Starter Kit product pages. MSC Technologies will be at Embedded World 2017 in Nuremberg, Hall 2, Booth 238.

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