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Tiny rugged Linux COM jumps on TI Sitara AM57x

Oct 20, 2015 — by Eric Brown 2,690 views

Phytec’s 55 x 45mm, “PhyCore-AM57x SOM” supports the TI Sitara AM57x SoC, and offers a Linux BSP, -40 to 85°C operation, and an optional carrier board.

The PhyCore-AM57x SOM is the second computer-on-module we’ve seen after the CompuLab CL-SOM-AM57x to tap TI’s newly announced Sitara AM57x SoC. The AM57x also appears on the BeagleBoard-X15 single-board computer.

Germany-based Phytec is targeting the PhyCore-AM57x SOM at industrial human machine interface (HMI), factory automation, machine vision, building automation, networking, test and measurement, and medical imaging applications. The company previously employed a Texas Instruments Sitara SoC — the Cortex-A8 based Sitara AM335x — in its PhyCore-AM335x COM and PhyBoard SBC.

PhyCore-AM57x SOM, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Sitara AM57x equipped with one or two 1.5GHz Cortex-A15 CPU cores, as well as one or two Power VR SGX544 3D GPU cores, and one or two of its C66x DSP cores. (The AM5716 and AM5718 models have one core of each, while the AM5718 and AM5728 have two.) All the models have the same quad-core programmable real-time unit (PRU) found on the Cortex-A9-based Sitara AM437x. They also have dual Cortex-M4 MCU cores, as well as video and cryptography coprocessor cores.


While the CompuLab module supports only the single-core AM5718 and dual-core AM5728, the Phytec offering lets you choose from all four models, including the AM5716 and AM5718, which lack the Vivante 2D graphics accelerator. The block diagrams below show the differences among the SoCs, which are further detailed in the spec listing.

Sitara AM57x block diagrams for dual- and single-core parts
(click image to enlarge)

The 55 x 45mm PhyCore-AM57x is fairly similar to the larger 68 x 60mm CompuLab CL-SOM-AM57x, but offers a slightly more limited feature set, especially in multimedia. The PhyCore-AM57x expresses its I/O via an interesting pair of relatively rugged, 320-pin high density (0.5mm pitch) connectors, while the CompuLab module uses a 204-finger SODIMM edge connector.

Both products offer industrial temperature support, but unlike the CompuLab module, there’s no claim here for shock and vibration resistance. There’s also no onboard wireless functions, although the optional hardware development kit has a TI WiLink 8 option along with other options for touchscreens and cameras (see farther below).

PhyCore-AM57x SOM (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The PhyCore-AM57x SOM ships with a BSP featuring the most current TI selected mainline long term stable (LTS) Linux kernel, as well as a Linaro tool chain and a Yocto Project compatible file system. Phytec also provides local software and hardware technical support and design services. Hardware customization is available for customers with “low minimum” order quantities.

Specifications listed for the PhyCore-AM57x SOM module include:

  • Processor — TI Sitara AM57x:
    • 1x (AM5716 or AM5718) or 2x (AM5726 or AM5728) Cortex-A15 CPU cores @ 1.5GHz
    • 1x (AM5716 or AM5718) or 2x (AM5726 or AM5728) C66x DSP cores @ 700MHz
    • 1x (AM5716 or AM5718) or 2x (AM5726 or AM5728) Imagination Power VR SGX544 3D GPU cores @ 533MHz
    • Vivante GC3230 2D BTBLT accelerator (AM5728 or AM5718)
    • 2x Cortex-M4 microcontroller cores @ 167MHz
    • PRU-ICSS programmable subsystems (4x cores)
  • Onboard memory/storage:
    • 2GB to 4GB (with 2GB ECC) DDR3 RAM
    • 512MB to 2GB NAND flash
    • 4GB to 32GB eMMC flash
    • Up to 16MB QSPI NOR flash
  • Networking — 2x gigabit Ethernet controllers (1x PHY)
  • Display/multimedia I/O (via 320-pin, 0.5mm pitch expansion connectors):
    • HDMI up to 1920 x 1080
    • 3x DPI/LCD outputs
    • 8x audio (including 6x I2S)
    • 3x CPI camera
  • Other I/O (via 320-pin, 0.5mm pitch expansion connectors):
    • USB 3.0 host/client
    • USB 2.0 host/client
    • SATA 2.0
    • 2x CAN
    • 2x MMC/SD/SDIO
    • 4x SPI/SSP
    • 5x I2C
    • 8x UART
    • 2x PCIe Gen 2
    • GPIO, PWM, JTAG, keyboard, McASP
  • Other features — RTC; watchdog
  • Power — 3.3V to 5V
  • Operating temperature — -40 to 85°C
  • Dimensions — 55 x 45mm
  • Operating systems — BSP with Linux kernel v3.14, Yocto Linux and Linaro toolchain

A PhyCore-AM57x Rapid Development Kit (RDK) is available that combines a carrier board with the PhyCore-AM57x SOM running a dual-core AM57x SoC. TI WiLink 8 WiFi/Bluetooth modules and 7-inch VGA LVDS 4-wire resistive or capacitive touchscreens are optional. You can also add a breadboard-like bare PCB expansion board, and Phytec’s PhyCam industrial cameras.

Standard RTK features include dual GbE ports, a USB 3.0 host port, a USB 2.0 host port, and a mini-USB 2.0 OTG port. The kit is further equipped with an SD slot, LCD and micro-HDMI ports, dual CAN ports, dual audio jacks, and a Parallel camera interface. You also get two serial debug ports, a JTAG connector, and PCIe and SATA connectors. Battery backup is provided for the RTC.

Further information

The PhyCore-AM57x SOM is available for early access program sampling, with general availability expected in Q1 2016. The PhyCore-AM57x RDK is planned for Q4 2015. More information may be found at the PhyCore-AM57x SOM product page.

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