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Tiny foldable i.MX7 module squishes into 30 x 27 x 8mm

Jun 1, 2017 — by Eric Brown 2,161 views

Compulab’s rugged, 30 x 27mm “UCM-iMX7” module runs Linux on a low-power NXP i.MX7, and includes up to 64GB eMMC, WiFi, BT, GbE, USB, and touch-ready LCD.

In late 2015, Compulab introduced one of the first computer-on-modules built around NXP’s power-sipping, Cortex-A7-based i.MX7 with its SODIMM-style CL-SOM-iMX7, but it was quickly eclipsed in a race to the bottom with increasingly smaller i.MX7 COMs. Now, Compulab is back to take the lead again in the size race with its tiny, 30 x 27 x 8mm UCM-iMX7. The Yocto Linux-driven module edges out the Embedded Artists iMX7 Dual uCOM, which has a footprint of 37 x 27mm.

UCM-iMX7 compared to a US Quarter
(click image to enlarge)

Compulab achieved the tiny footprint of the UCM-iMX7 by using what it calls “Ultra-compact Multilevel Module” (UCMM) miniaturization technology, which combines multiple printed circuit boards (PCBs) with one or more flex-PC layers that route signals between the PCBs. This lets you fold the assembly into a sandwich, to save footprint area “at the cost of slightly increased height,” says Compulab.

UCM-iMX7’s UCMM technology
(click image to enlarge)

NXP’s 1GHz, Cortex-A7 i.MX7 SoC is known for its low power consumption and tightly integrated 200MHz Cortex-M4 MCU, which provides real-time support. You can choose between single- or dual-core models, with a Yocto Project BSP with U-boot coming soon.

UCM-iMX7 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The UCM-iMX7 module provides 256MB DDR3L-1066, expandable to 2GB. You can add 128MB to 1GB of SLC NAND and 4GB to 64GB eMMC. Unlike the Embedded Artists iMX7 Dual uCOM, Compulab’s UCM-iMX7 features optional onboard WiFi-n and Bluetooth 4.1 LE.

Standard features via the UCM-iMX7’s dual 100-pin connectors include a 24-bit Parallel display interface for up to 1920 x 1080 @60Hz, and dual-lane MIPI-DSI for up to 1400 x 1050 @60Hz. Capacitive touch support is enabled via SPI and I2C interfaces, or you can go for an optional 4-wire resistive touch controller. Dual-lane MIPI-CSI and up to 24-bit Parallel camera interfaces are also available.

UCM-iMX7 angle view

The module provides a USB 2.0 OTG port, as well as options that add support for 1x or 3x USB 2.0 host ports. Additional interfaces include “up to” the following standard interface counts: 7x UART, 2x CAN, 2x MMC/SD/SDIO, 3x SPI, 3x I2C, 4x PWM, 4x ADC, 6x timers, and 112x GPIO.


I2S and MQS based digital audio is standard, and an analog audio codec with support for stereo input and electret microphone is optional. Other options include PCIe Gen 2.1 and a GbE controller, which is available in either MAC+PHY or MAC-only configurations.

The UCM-iMX7 requires 0.5 to 2.5W of power from a 3.2 to 4.5V input or a Li-Ion battery, and offers an RTC and 3.3V DIO voltage. The module is available in commercial (0 to 70°C), extended (-20 to 70°C), and industrial (-40 to 85°C) versions, weighs just 6gm, and is rated for 50G/20ms shock and 20G/0-600Hz vibration resistance. Unsurprisingly, Compulab says the tiny module targets space constrained, portable, and wearable systems, including drones.

UCM-iMX7 based technology demonstration gadget
(click image to enlarge)

Compulab’s UCM-iMX7 announcement includes a photo of a “miniature open frame smartwatch-like gadget” based on UCM-iMX7 module. The device includes a lithium-ion battery, a 1.5-inch LCD, and a thin interconnect board — all sandwiched into the module’s 27 x 30mm footprint. “The gadget is intended only for technology proof demonstration and CompuLab’s UCM-iMX7 module does not target the smartwatch market,” states the company.

An evaluation kit is available built around a currently undocumented SB-UCM carrier board. The kit includes various cables, a WiFi antenna, an LCD panel, and a 12V power supply.

Further information

The UCM-iMX7 is available starting at $39 for 1K units in the minimal configuration, and the EVAL-UCM-iMX7 evaluation kit runs $475. As usual, Compulab offers a handy table to calculate your final cost based on options. More information may be found at Compulab’s UCM-iMX7 product page.

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