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SMARC carrier board and design service supports six modules

Sep 19, 2019 — by Eric Brown 1,205 views

MSC announced a compact SimpleFlex carrier board and custom manufacturing service that supports six MSC SMARC 2.0 modules with i.MX8, i.MX8M. i.MX8M Mini. i.MX6, Intel Apollo Lake, and Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+.

In 2016, Avnet-owned MSC Technologies announced a 148 x 102mm carrier board form-factor and manufacturing service called SimpleFlex with an initial MSC Q7-MB-EP5 product designed for its Qseven modules. Now, it has announced a smaller, 146 x 80mm MSC SM2S-MB-EP5 version for MSC SMARC 2.0 “short” modules. The new board adds a USB Type-C port with DisplayPort along with an M.2 M-key slot for storage.

MSC SM2S-MB-EP5 with MSC SMARC module

Six NXP i.MX8/6, Apollo Lake Atom, and Zynq UltraScale+ SMARC modules are initially supported (see farther below). The product line is “a perfect fit for modern HMI applications with displays of 7 inches and larger,” says MSC.

SimpleFlex is not only a common carrier board for different modules using the same compute module form factor, such as Congatec’s COM Express Type 6 Conga-TEVAL carrier, but also a custom board development and manufacturing service. You can go with the standard I/O or choose from more than 30 pre-validated interface combinations.


SimpleFlex “is ideally suited for series production and may be ordered in large quantities to support high-volume production runs,” says MSC. Avnet Integrated can then “assemble the application-specific platform in-house on fully automated production lines using state-of-the-art technologies and production processes for reliable implementation of customer-specific applications.”

(click image to enlarge)

SimpleFlex customers can choose different displays and touch screens to build a custom HMI system. Applications include visualization, complex display solutions, IoT gateways, medical devices, object recognition systems, professional infotainment systems, building automation systems, transportation applications, and gaming systems.

The MSC SM2S-MB-EP5 is equipped with a microSD slot, as well as the new M.2 M-key storage slot (2x PCIe) and the previously available mini-PCIe slot. There’s also a WiFi/BT/NFC module.

Coastline ports include up to 2x GbE, USB 3.0 host, USB 3.0 Type-C with DP support, and a micro-USB 2.0 OTG port. There’s also a combo mini-HDMI/DP port.

Internal I/O includes 3x USB 2.0, 4x UART/RS232/RS485, 12x GPIO, SPI, fan, PWM, CAN 2.0B, and optional isolated CAN 2.0B. There’s also a Jili30 connector that supports LVDS/eDP/DSI plus a backlight connector and a MIPI-CSI-2 camera interface. The board offers a choice of HD or I2S audio and an optional amplifier.

The MSC SM2S-MB-EP5 has a 12-36V DC input and a -40 to 85°C operating range with humidity resistance. You also get an RTC with a battery socket.

The six supported MSC SMARC 2.0 short (82 x 50mm) modules — all of which support Linux — are as follows, with the links pointing to either LinuxGizmos stories or product pages:

  • SM2S-IMX8MINI — i.MX8M Mini with 1x, 2x, or 4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.8GHz with Cortex-M4 and GCNanoUltra (3D) and GC320 (2D) graphics. Will support i.MX8M Nano in the future. Up to 4GB LPDDR4 and 64GB eMMC plus optional microSD, WiFi/BT, dual GbE, and -40 to 85°C. Supports up to HD video via LVDS or MIPI-DSI.

  • SM2S-IMX8M — i.MX8M with 2x or 4x -A53 @ 1.5GHz with Cortex-M4 and GC7000Lite 3D graphics. Up to 4GB LPDDR4 and 64GB eMMC plus GbE controller and optional soldered 802.11ac/Bluetooth. Optional -40 to 85°C support. Supports 4K video via HDMI 2.0a and DP 1.3.

  • SM2S-IMX8 — Hexa-core i.MX8 QuadMax (2x 1.8GHz -A72 with 4x 1.2GHz -A53 or QuadPlus (only one -A72) or Quad (no -A72), all with 2x Cortex-M4F and dual-core, 128 GFLOPS Vivante GC7000LiteXS/VX GPU. Up to 8GB LPDDR4 and 64GB eMMC, optional WiFi/BT, dual GbE controller, 4K video, SATA III, PCIe, and optional -40 to 85°C.

  • SM2S-IMX6 — i.MX6 (Solo, DualLite, Dual or Quad) or i.MX6 DualPlus or QuadPlus with up to 4x 1.2GHz -A9 with Vivante 3D GPU. Up to 4GB DDR3L and up to 64GB eMMC. Optional -40 to 85°C.

  • SM2S-AL — Intel “Apollo Lake” quad- and dual-core Atom 3900 up to 1.6GHz/2.0GHz Atom x7-E3950 plus dual-core Celeron N3350 and quad-core Pentium N4200. Up to 8GB LPDDR4-2400 and up to 64GB of optional, soldered eMMC. Triple simultaneous displays via dual DisplayPort 1.2a and HDMI 1.4b, etc. plus GbE controller and I/O including PCIe and USB 3.0. Optional TPM and -40 to 85°C.

  • SM2S-ZUSP — World’s first SMARC 2.0 module with Xilinx’s Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC with 4x (UltraScale+ EV) or 2x (UltraScale+ CG) 1.5GHz or 1.3GHz -A53 cores, respectively plus Mali-400 MP2 GPU and 2x 600MHz (EV) or 533MHz (CG) Cortex-R5 MCUs. Also includes low to mid-range of FPGA programmable logic. Up to 8GB soldered DDR4 and 64GB eMMC and optional WiFi/BT and -40 to 85°C. I/O include PCIe and 4K-ready DisplayPort 1.2a.

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the SimpleFlex MSC SM2S-MB-EP5 carrier board and SimpleFlex services. More information may be found in MSC Technologies’ announcement and product page.


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