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Tegra 3 and Linux power tiny computer module

Mar 7, 2013 — by Rick Lehrbaum 3,404 views

Toradex will soon ship the first member of a new SODIMM-like COM (computer-on-module) family. The 82x42mm Apalis T30 is powered by a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3, and supported with an embedded Linux OS.

The company sees ARM as a growing alternative to x86 CPUs, in applications such as digital signage and high-end multimedia, thanks the increasing integration of interfaces such as 3D graphics engines, PCI-Express, gigabit Ethernet, and HDMI within ARM chipsets.

Toradex’s Apalis COM family members will each include two categories of interfaces: standard and specialized. Standard interfaces, i.e. the ones most commonly used, will be compatible across all Apalis family COMs. Specialized interfaces, such as MIPI CSI or DSI “can be valuable additions, but are less commonly used in industrial applications, and usually suffer from very short product lifespans in the mobile and consumer markets,” says the company.


Apalis T30 snaps into a baseboard’s MXM3 connector


According to Toradex, the Apalis T30 is based on a 1.4 GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, containing four ARM Cortex-A9 cores. Additionally, the module integrates 2GB each of DDR3 SDRAM and NAND flash memory, a x1 and a x4 PCI Express channel, and the following extensive list of I/O and bus interfaces:

  • A/V-related interfaces:
    • LCD interface controller (RGB 24bit)
    • Single/dual channel LVDS interface
    • HDMI output with 1080p and 3D video support
    • Analog video output (up to 1920×1200 px)
    • Freescale SGTL5000 audio CODEC
    • Up to 2x dual lane Display Serial Interface
    • Touch (4 wires)
    • Analog audio I/O
    • 1x HDA/I2S
    • 2x S/PDIF (1x in + 1x out)
    • 1x 8/10bit parallel camera Interface
    • 2x dual lane camera serial interface
  • Serial interfaces:
    • 3x I2C
    • 2x SPI
    • 4x UART
    • 2x SDCard/MMC (1x8Bit + 1x4Bit)
  • Other interfaces:
    • Up to 127 GPIO lines
    • 1x USB 2.0 high speed OTG and x USB 2.0 high speed host
    • 5x PCIe lanes (2 ports: x1 + x4)
    • 1x SATA port
    • Gigabit Ethernet
    • One-wire interface
    • Keypad interface
    • 4x PWM
    • 4x analog inputs

Apalis T30 block diagram
(click to enlarge)


Toradex says it will be supporting its Apalis COMs with embedded Linux and Windows Embedded/Compact operating systems, and Android may be added given sufficient customer demand. Certain cloud-based services and development tools will also be provided in support of the products.

Apalis modules plug into custom carrier boards by means of MXM3 edgecard connectors. They can be secured to the carrier board with either M3 screws or via the retention mechanism provided by an “MXM Snaplock” connector. The latter is best for a project’s development phase, or for use in non-rugged applications.

A whitepaper detailing the new Apalis standard can be downloaded here (PDF file).

Toradex plans to start shipping the Apalis T30 module later this month. More information is available on the company’s website.

(advertise here)

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2 responses to “Tegra 3 and Linux power tiny computer module”

  1. asdf says:

    OK, I’m a dummy, so please explain to me:
    * where do I put this board? Into a PC?
    * what do I use it for?
    * how do I use it / talk to it?

    • LinuxGizmos says:

      These computer-on-module boards make it possible for companies to develop application-oriented specialized systems and devices that have embedded computers, without having to design the embedded computers. They’re an embedded computer on an SODIMM-like component.

      For example, they might be used in a medical diagnostic instrument, or a portable data logger, or an automated teller machine, or… (depending on capabilities). As the article says, “Apalis modules plug into custom carrier boards by means of MXM3 edgecard connectors.”

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