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Tiny SBCs run Linux on i.MX6 ULL and i.MX6 Solo

Nov 26, 2018 — by Eric Brown 3,759 views

Garz & Fricke unveiled a compact “Nallino Core” SBC that runs Linux on an i.MX6 ULL SoC and offers LAN, USB, CAN, and serial I/O. G&F is also prepping a i.MX6 Solo based “SANTVEND Battery Core” SBC with a 4G modem.

Braunschweig, Germany based embedded vendor Garz & Fricke has posted specs for a “coming soon” Nallino Core SBC that runs a Yocto Project based stack on NXP’s i.MX6 ULL SoC. We found out about the tiny new IoT board from UK-based Crystal Display Systems (CDS), which will be distributing the board in Europe and the UK. Garz & Fricke is also working on an i.MX6 Solo based, 4G modem equipped “SANTVEND Battery Core” SBC (see farther below).

Nallino Core
(click image to enlarge)

We’ve seen a lot of Linux-driven compute modules based on the single Cortex-A7 based i.MX6 ULL or the older, but almost identical i.MX6 UL, as well as a few tiny, COM-like SBCs. These include NXElec’s 80 x 42mm Innostick 6, MYIR’s 70 x 55mm MYS-6ULX, and PolyVection’s similarly tiny, audio-focused VoltaStream Zero SBC.

At 113 x 47 x 18mm, the Nallino Core is a little bigger than these entries, but it also offers a few more features. The 55-gram board is available in a baseline M version and a more feature-rich S model. Both clock the power-sipping i.MX6 ULL to 792MHz.


The Nallino Core SBC is equipped with 4GB MLC eMMC and 512MB RAM. The M model uses DDR3 RAM while the S provides DDR3L, which can run at 1.35V in addition to the standard 1.5V. According to the datasheet, the S model also offers a 1GB DDR3L option.

Both Nallino Core models provide a microSD slot, a micro-USB OTG port, and a 24-bit RGB TTL display interface with support for backlit, I2C-based capacitive touchscreens up to 5 inches. You also get CAN, RS-485, RS-232, and buzzer interfaces, as well as a real-time clock (RTC).

Nallino Core (left) and i.MX6 ULL block diagrams
(click images to enlarge)

Both versions list a 10/100 Ethernet port, although the block diagram suggests you could optionally remove this in favor of a WiFi/Bluetooth option, which is also mentioned in the CDS announcement. The diagram shows an optional proximity, light, and temperature sensor module that is not otherwise noted.

The S version adds a USB 2.0 host port, as well as I2C, UART, SPI, and 4×4 matrix keyboard interfaces. This more fully featured model also adds a 4-wire resistive analog touch controller and a 1.5W speaker interface.

The S model supplies a wide-range 9-32V input in place of the M model’s 5V input. Both versions support an extended, 0 to 60°C operating range.

SANTVEND battery core

The only other board that Garz & Frick lists as “coming up” is the SANTVEND battery core, a follow-on to a similarly i.MX6 based SANTVEND Core SBC. The new model adds 12V battery support and a 4G modem, but has a different footprint and offers fewer interfaces.

SANTVEND battery core and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The 160 x 95 x 18mm SANTVEND battery core runs a Yocto based Linux stack on NXP’s single-core, Cortex-A9 i.MX6 Solo, clocked to 1GHz. It ships with 1GB LPDDR2, 4GB MLC eMMC, and a microSD slot.

The SANTVEND battery core is equipped with 10/100 Ethernet, micro-USB OTG, and HDMI (USB Type-C) ports. For more display options, there’s a dual-channel, 24-bit LVDS interface with PCAP and PWM backlight support.

The SBC is equipped with a 3G/4G modem with a microSIM socket. There’s also a Bluetooth 4.0 BLE module, optional GPS, and an optional Insika Smart Card interface. Antenna interfaces also appear to be onboard

The SANTVEND battery core offers CAN, RS232, SPI, MDB, 1W speaker, and mic interfaces, as well as 2x service buttons, an RTC, and 24-hour SuperCap backup. The SBC supplies a 9-17V DC input with nominal 12V operation, and it typically consumes about 3 Watts. The 115-gram board supports -20 to 60°C temperatures.

Other Linux-supported Garz & Frick SBCs include the i.MX6-based SANTARO Core, SANTINO Core, SANTINO LT Core, and SANTOKA Core. G&F also sells an older, Arm9 i.MX257 based NESO LT Core and a Cortex—A8 i.MX537 equipped VINCELL LT Core SBC.

Further information

Garz & Frick’s Nallino Core SBC is “coming soon,” and will be available from CDS in Europe and the UK at an undisclosed price. More information may be found in the CDS Nallino announcement, which offers partial specs, and the more fully detailed Garz & Fricke Nallino product page.

It’s unclear if Garz & Frick’s “coming up” SANTVEND battery core SBC will be offered by CDS. More information may be found on Garz & Frick’s SANTVEND battery core product page.


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