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SMARC module runs Linux on power-sipping i.MX8M Nano

Dec 3, 2019 — by Eric Brown 518 views

Congatec’s SMARC form-factor “Conga-SMX8-Nano” module runs Linux or Android on NXP’s under 2W TDP, quad -A53 i.MX8M Nano. Features include 2GB RAM, up to 128GB eMMC, a GbE controller, MIPI-CSI, LVDS, anbd optional -40 to 85°C support.

Congatec added to its line of SMARC 2.0 modules running NXP i.MX8 processors with a Conga-SMX8-Nano module featuring the i.MX8M Nano. This is only the third i.MX8M Nano-based module we’ve seen after Avnet’s SMARC compliant MSC SM2S-IMX8MINI and iWave’s SODIMM-style iW-RainboW-G34M-SM, both of which also support the pin-compatible i.MX8M Mini. Other Congatec SMARC modules with i.MX8 family SoCs include the i.MX8 QuadMax based Conga-SMX8, the i.MX8X powered Conga-QMX8X, and the i.MX8M Mini based Conga-SMX8-Mini.

Conga-SMX8-Nano, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Like the i.MX8M Mini, the i.MX8M Nano, which is not to be confused with the Jetson Nano module, offers up to 4x 14nm-fabricated Cortex-A53 cores, but they top out at 1.5GHz instead of 1.8GHz. It also similarly features a Vivante GC7000UL 3D/2D GPU with support for OpenGL, OpenCL and Vulkan. It lacks the Mini’s video processing unit (VPU), but instead of the Mini’s 400MHz Cortex-M4 MCU, there’s a more powerful, 600MHz Cortex-M7. The Nano is also touted for its under 2W TDP.

Applications include “GUIs for edge devices,” including devices with voice services, in medical and industrial equipment, home appliances and electronics, and digital signage systems,” says Congatec. Other listed possibilities are “mobile or outdoor devices, including smart city infrastructures such as small form factor digital bus time tables or headless platforms for edge gateways in smart cities as well as e-charging and free floating mobility devices.” The module also supports “headless systems with IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol support for tactile IIoT” at the “lowest power envelope and budget ever.”


The 82 x 50mm Conga-SMX8-Nano ships as a default with the quad-core i.MX8M Nano, but also supports the single and dual-core models. The standard 0 to 60°C models are all clocked to 1.5GHz while the -40 to 85°C industrial models back down to 1.4GHz.

The module is available with a “ready-to-go” boot loader implementation and pre-qualified Linux, Yocto and Android BSPs, and fully featured evaluation carrier boards.” Here, Congatec is referring to the Conga-SEVAL SMARC 2.0 carrier, which is also available with the Conga-SMX8.

Conga-SMX8-Nano (left) and i.MX8M Nano block diagrams
(click images to enlarge)

You can load up to 2GB LPDDR4 (3200 MT/s), and the default SKU is said to offer 16GB eMMC 5.1 with an option to expand to up to 128GB. The module has a GbE controller with IEEE 1588 support and an optional WiFi/Bluetooth M.2 card.

The Conga-SMX8-Nano defaults to dual-channel, 24-bit LVDS, or you can alternatively use an optional eDP 1.4 or 4-lane MIPI-DSI interface. The spec sheet lists a single USB 2.0 host or OTG interface, but the announcement says it supports up to 4x USB 2.0 ports, presumably via a hub.

You also get MIPI-CSI x2 and x4, up to 3x UART, multiple GPIOs, “high-res audio,” 2x I2S, and single SDIO 3.0, I2C, and SPI connections. Security features include cryptography, RNG, 32KB secure RAM, and High Assurance Boot. The module has a watchdog, JTAG debug, and optional RTC, and it ships with up to 15 years lifecycle support.

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the Conga-SMX8-Nano. More information may be found in Congatec’s announcement and product page.


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