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SMARC module taps high-end i.MX8 SoC with Linux BSP

Feb 11, 2019 — by Eric Brown 1,274 views

The MSC SM2S-IMX8 is a Linux-supported SMARC module with a hexa-core i.MX8 SoC, up to 8GB LPDDR4 and 64GB eMMC, optional WiFi/BT, a dual GbE controller, plus 4K video, SATA III, PCIe, and optional -40 to 85°C.

Avnet-owned MSC Technologies offers a variety of SMARC modules including the Intel Apollo Lake based SM2F-AL, the i.MX6 driven MSC SM2S-IMX6, and the more recent, i.MX8M based MSC SM2S-IMX8M. Now it has posted a product page for a similar MSC SM2S-IMX8, which uses NXP’s more powerful i.MX8.

(click image to enlarge)

This 82 x 50mm SMARC short-size module provides a standard Linux BSP, with Android support available on request. The MSC SM2S-IMX8 supports “demanding applications like industrial automation and visualization systems, robotics, infotainment systems and building automation,” says MSC. Other 82 x 50mm SMARC modules with the i.MX8 include IWave’s iW-RainboW-G27M and Congatec’s Conga-SMX8.

Like the red-hot Rockchip RK3399, the top-of-the-line QuadMax version of the i.MX8 offers 2x 1.8GHz Cortex-A72 cores and 4x -A53 1.2GHz cores. You can also order the MSC SM2S-IMX8 with the lower-cost QuadPlus version, which is configured with 1x -A72 and 4x -A53 cores or the Quad, which is limited to 4x -A53. The i.MX8 enables hardware virtualization for asymmetric multiprocessing and provides relatively low power consumption, leading to a typical 7-14W draw on the MSC SM2S-IMX8.


Unlike the RK3399, the i.MX8 variants all include 2x Cortex-M4F MCUs clocked to 266MHz. The SoC includes a dual-core, 128 GFLOPS Vivante GC7000LiteXS/VX GPU that supports OpenGL 3.0, OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.0, Open VG 1.1 and Vulkan. There’s also a HIFI4 DSP and a VPU that supports 4K H.256 decode and 1080p H.264 encode/decode.

The MSC SM2S-IMX8 module supports up to 8GB 3200MT/s LPDDR4 SDRAM soldered to the module for better durability. You also get up to 64GB eMMC and optional QSPI NOR flash. The standard engineering sample configuration available for order now includes 4GB RAM and 16GB eMMC.

A LAN controller supports dual GbE ports. There’s also an optional, soldered wireless module with 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, and NFC.

Media I/O that can be expressed via a carrier board such as the optional MSC SM2-MB-EP1 includes 4K ready HDMI 2.0a and DisplayPort 1.3, as well as HD-enabled, 4-lane MIPI-DSI and dual-channel 18/24-bit LVDS. You also get 2x MIPI CSI-2 (4- and 2-lane) and dual I2S audio interfaces.

The module supports SATA III and MMC/SD/SDIO storage, as well as 2x USB 3.0 host, 2x USB 2.0 host, and USB 2.0 OTG. Alternatively you can configure the module with single USB 2.0 host and OTG ports.

The MSC SM2S-IMX8 further supports 4x UART (2x with handshake), 2x CAN 2.0B, and 2x PCI Express x1 Gen.3. Additional I/O includes 2x SPI, 6x I2C, 12x GPIO, and optional serial and JTAG debug adapters. There’s also a watchdog timer, optional TPM security, and a heatspreader. You can choose between 0 to 70°C or -40 to 85°C tolerances.

(click image to enlarge)

We reported on the optional, Mini-ITX form factor MSC SM2-MB-EP1 carrier in 2017 as part of our SM2F-AL story. Coastline ports including 2x GbE, 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, and a micro-USB 2.0 OTG. Side-accessible I/O also includes an SD slot, DisplayPort, HDMI port, 3x audio jacks, and RS232 and CAN 2.0B interfaces, both of which use DB9 ports. For more details, see the two links directly above.

Further information

The MSC SM2S-IMX8 is available now as an engineering sample from MSC and Avnet Integrated. No pricing or volume shipping information was supplied by MSC. More information may be found on the EENews Europe announcement and MSC SM2S-IMX8 product page.


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