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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.

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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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