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SMARC and Qseven modules run Linux on i.MX8M and QuadMax

Nov 6, 2019 — by Eric Brown 500 views

Advantech has released a “ROM-5720” SMARC module with a i.MX8M SoC and a “ROM-7720” Qseven module with an i.MX8 QuadMax plus a new SMARC carrier board. The modules support Linux and Android with Timesys’ Vigiles security service.

Advantech has begun shipping two NXP i.MX8 family compute modules with Timesys’ new Vigiles security service. We covered the Qseven 2.1 form-factor ROM-7720 with its up to hexa-core Cortex-A72 and -A53 i.MX8 QuadMax after Advantech announced it back in at Embedded World in early 2018. There’s also a new SMARC 2.0 form-factor ROM-5720 module equipped with NXP’s mid-range, quad-core Cortex-A53 based i.MX8M.

ROM-5720 (left) and ROM-7720

Both modules provide Linux (Yocto 2.5) and Android (TBD) BSPs, as well as Advantech’s cloud-connected WISE-PaaS/Edgesense IoT platform for remote management and OTA. Advantech has also partnered with Timesys to provide the Timesys Vigiles Security Monitoring & Management Service for embedded Linux systems. In addition to ROM-5720 and ROM-7720 customers, any Advantech customer “engaging in i.MX processor-based projects” will receive a free three months of Vigiles Prime, the top tier of the Vigiles service.

Vigiles summary report screen
(click image to enlarge)

Vigiles continuously monitors and identifies vulnerabilities in open source software components and Linux distributions. It provides automated vulnerability monitoring, filtering, and patch notification to enable vulnerability detection, investigation, and mitigation.

Developers can use Vigiles “to address any security issues rapidly and efficiently, cutting security maintenance time and cost,” says Advantech. Also available is a Timesys BSP Lifecycle Maintenance service, which handles security updates, patching, and other tasks throughout the product lifecycle.



The ROM-5720 joins other i.MX8M-based SMARC modules including Ibase’s recent RM-N8M plus Axiomtek’s SCM180, Embedian’s SMARC-iMX8M, and Seco’s SM-C12. The ROM-5720 supports embedded applications including transportation, infotainment, vending, and medical systems.

ROM-5720 and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The 82 x 50mm module can be purchased with dual- or quad-core Cortex-A53 based i.MX8M models clocked to up to 1.5GHz. The 4K-ready SoC also provides a Cortex-M4 microcontroller and a 3D GC7000Lite GPU.

The ROM-5720 ships with 2GB LPDDR4-1866, 16GB eMMC, and 8MB QSPI NOR flash for the Advantech bootloader. You can purchase the module with dual Gigabit Ethernet controllers or optionally with one GbE and one additional PCIe x1 lane to join the existing PCIe 2.0 interface.

Media I/O includes HDMI 2.0 at up to 4096 x 2160 at 60Hz with HEVC/H.265 decoding and HDR support. A 4-lane MIPI-DSI interface can drive up to 1920 x 1080 @ 60Hz displays and there are 4- and 2-lane MIPI-CSI camera and dual I2S audio interfaces.

Other features include 2x USB 3.0, 4x USB 2.0, and a single USB 2.0 OTG plus 4x UART (3x 2-wire, 1x 1-wire). You also get 12x GPIO, 4x I2C with interrupt, and single SPI and SDIO.

The ROM-5720 supports fixed 5V DC input as well as 3.3V to 5.25V input from Lithium Ion batteries. There’s also an onboard PMIC with watchdog timer, an RTC, and a TPM 2.0 security chip. The module is available in 0 to 60°C or -40 to 85°C models with 5 ~ 95% relative humidity, non-condensing support. Options include a heatspreader, semi heatsink, debug adapter and cable, and power cords and adapters.

ROM-DB5901 SMARC carrier

The 305 x 244mm ROM-DB5901 ATX carrier board option for the ROM-5720 and future SMARC 2.0 modules has a -40 to 85°C operating range and runs on 12V DC or a Li-Ion battery. Its coastline ports include USB 3.0 Type-C, micro-USB 2.0 OTG, USB 3.0 and 2.0 host, 2x GbE, and 2x RS-232/422/485 DB9 ports. There are also DisplayPort and HDMI 2.0 ports, an SD slot, and dual audio jacks.

ROM-DB5901 and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Internal features include SATA III, 2x CAN, MIPI-DSI or LVDS, MIPI-CSI, an M.2 E-key slot, and a PCIe slot listed as “3x PCIe by 1.” Additional interfaces can be seen in the block diagram above.

ROM-DB5901 portside view
(click image to enlarge)

The ROM-DB5901 carrier offers LTE/HSPA+/GPRS and WiFi/BT M.2 modules, which Advantech somewhat confusingly lists as mini-PCIe modules due to using M.2’s PCIe interface. Other accessories include antennas, cables, and a 7-inch touchscreen.


The 70 x 70mm, Qseven 2.1 form-factor ROM-7720 module is designed for multi-display human–machine interfaces, advanced driver assistance systems, robotic vision, precision advertising systems, medical image, surveillance, and video analytics. Its i.MX8 QuadMax SoC integrates 2x 1.6GHz Cortex-A72 cores, 4x 1.26GHz Cortex-A53 cores, and 2x 266MHz Cortex-M4F cores. There are also dual Vivante GC7000LiteXS/VX GPU cores and a HIFI4 DSP.

ROM-7720 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The ROM-7720 is still the only QuadMax based Qseven module we’ve seen, and there may not be many more, as Qseven continues to give way to SMARC in the Arm compute module business. Other modules based on the i.MX8 QuadMax include Toradex’s SODIMM-style Apalis iMX8, Variscite’s VAR-SOM-MX8 and SPEAR-MX8, and three SMARC modules: iWave’s iW-RainboW-G27M, Congatec’s Conga-SMX8, and Avnet/MSC’s MSC SM2S-IMX8.

i.MX8 QuadMax block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

Although the ROM-7720 was announced with 2GB LPDDR4 or optional 4GB back in early 2018, it’s now available only with 4GB RAM. You also get a 64MB SPI flash boot loader, as well as 8GB of eMMC. A single GbE controller is on board.

The ROM-7720 supports 4K @ 30fps video via an HDMI interface, and offers dual 24-bit LVDS connections with 1366 x 768 and 1920 x 1080 resolution, respectively. You also get 4- and 2-lane MIPI-CSI connections and an I2S audio interface.

The module provides a SATA III interface plus 2x PCIe, 3x USB 3.0, 3x USB 2.0, and a USB OTG connection. Other features include 8x GPIO, 2x I2C, and 2x PWM/fan, plus SDIO, SPI, and CAN interfaces.

In addition to the 2x UART interfaces available via the MXM edge finger connector, there’s an onboard UART for console use. The 5V module has a watchdog and RTC support.

The ROM-7720 is available in 0 to 60°C and -40 to 85°C models with humidity resistance. A thermal solution is optional along with debug and power accessories. The datasheet mentions an optional ROM-DB7503 carrier board for Qseven 2.1 modules, but we saw no further documentation.

Further information

The ROM-5720 and ROM-7720 are available now, says Advantech, and the same appears to be true for the ROM-DB5901 SMARC carrier for the ROM-5720. More information may be found in Advantech’s announcement, as well as the ROM-5720 and ROM-7720 product pages.


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