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Tiny Cortex-A8 COM runs Linux and Android, goes for $27

Jun 11, 2013 — by Eric Brown 11,613 views

CompuLab announced a tiny Linux- and Android-ready Cortex-A8 computer-on-module (COM) starting at $27 in volume. The industrial-focused, SODIMM-style CM-T335 COM extends the Texas Instruments 600MHz Sitara AM335x SoC with up to 512MB RAM and 1GB flash, WiFi and Bluetooth wireless, plus interfaces like CAN-bus, gigabit Ethernet, and USB expressed via its 204-pin edgecard connector.

CompuLab aims the 68 x 30mm CM-T335 at “high-volume, cost-sensitive industrial applications.” The other CompuLab COMs we’ve covered have used more powerful processors. The dual-core, 1.65GHz AMD G-Series, for example, fuels the company’s CM-iGT COM, while the CM-FX6 builds upon the 1.2GHz, Cortex-A9 based Freescale i.MX6 SoC (system-on-chip). But with low-cost open source hacker boards like the Raspberry Pi ($25-$35) and BeagleBone ($45) worming their way into industrial applications, the pressure is on for commercial COM and SBC vendors to go low.

CompuLab CM-T335 top and bottom
(click images to enlarge)


For the CM-T335, CompuLab is tapping TI’s low-cost Sitara AM335x SoC. Clockable to 600MHz, the SoC’s modest Cortex-A8 core is paired with a robust, OpenGL-ready PowerVR SGX530 GPU (graphics processing unit), but offers no programmable real-time unit (PRU) like the BeagleBone’s 1GHz Sitara AM3359 SoC. The AM335x does, however, provide a lot of the industrial interfaces one expects from a Sitara SoC, including the CAN, I2C, and SPI connections offered via the CM-T335’s SODIMM-style 204-pin connector.


CM-T335 COM and TI AM335x SoC block diagrams
(click images to enlarge)


Other COMs that use the AM335x include Critical Link’s MityARM-335x modules and Phytec’s PhyCore-AM335x. Like both of these Linux-ready competitors, CompuLab’s offering is quite small, barely beating them both with a 68 x 30mm footprint. Together with its wireless interfaces and claimed low power consumption — CompuLab makes no claims as of yet, but the AM335x ranges from 1.1-3.3 Volts — the COM is said to be suitable for portable devices as well as fixed designs.

CompuLab calls the CM-T335 “the most cost effective Cortex-A8 computer-on-module on the market.” It’s darned cheap, alright, although the $27 figure is for orders of at least 1,000 units on the lower-end model running the 275MHz AM3352, which lacks a GPU, while the option using the 600MHz, GPU-equipped AM3354 costs $34.

Because CompuLab quite admirably offers a high degree of customization on interfaces, these prices are for barebones models with 128MB each of DDR3 RAM and NAND flash. To get the maximum allotment of both (512MB RAM and 1GB flash) you add $9. The barebone models also omit gigabit Ethernet, audio, WiFi, and Bluetooth, and supply only a single USB 2.0 OTG port instead of four additional USB 2.0 host connections.

To get a fully-loaded 600MHz AM3354 model with maximum memory (RAM and flash) and ports, but with the standard commercial temperature range instead of the extra-cost extended ($15) or industrial-range ($50) options, it would cost $73, or $53 without the wireless option. That’s still quite affordable, although it’s unclear if other interface options add to that. As seen in the specs-list below, almost all the interface options such as CAN or I2C are listed as “up to” a certain quantity.

Note that all these interfaces except for the wireless module are available through the 204-pin connector. The connections include a parallel 24-bit display interface for up to 1366 x 768 resolution. Resistive touchscreen support is built in, and capacitive support is available via the SPI interface.

Specifications listed for the CM-T335 include:

  • Processor — Texas Instruments Sitara AM335x:
    • Choice of AM3352 (275MHz) or AM3354 (600MHz)
    • Cortex-A8 CPU with 32KB L1 and 256KB L2 cache
    • PowerVR SGX530 GPU
  • Memory:
    • 128MB to 512MB DDR3 RAM
    • 128MB to 1GB NAND flash
  • Display:
    • Parallel 24-bit interface for up to 1366 x 768 pixels
    • 4/5/8-wire resistive touchscreen support
    • Capacitive touch support via SPI
  • Networking:
    • gigabit Ethernet
    • WiFi 802.11b/g/n (TI WL1271 chipset)
    • Bluetooth 4.0 (TI WL1271 chipset)
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 2.0 OTG
    • 4x USB 2.0 host
    • Up to 5x UART
    • Up to 2x CAN bus
    • Up to 2x MMC/SD/SDIO
    • Up to 2x I2C
    • Up to 2x configurable SPI
    • Up to 70x multifunction GPIO
    • Audio codec with stereo line-out, line-in, mic
    • I2S audio
    • Up to 8x general-purpose ADC channels
  • Power — 3.3V DC
  • Operating temperature — commercial (0 to 70° C), extended (-20 to 70° C), and industrial (-40 to 85° C) options
  • Shock — 50G / 20ms
  • Vibration — 20G / 0, 600Hz
  • Dimensions — 68 x 30mm; 204-pin SODIMM edge connector
  • Operating systems — Linux, Android and Windows Embedded Compact 7

The CM-T335 is available with documentation and support packages for Linux, Android, and Windows Embedded Compact 7. In addition, an evaluation kit is available that adds a year of technical support and a 130 x 93mm “SB-T335” carrier board.

The carrier board offers a choice of processors (AM3352 or AM3354) and memory allotments, and features DVI-D, LVDS, LCD connections and a capacitive touchscreen of unstated size. Other features are said to include WiFi/Bluetooth with antenna, a gigabit Ethernet port, four USB 2.0 ports, two serial ports, plus SDIO and CAN connections. In addition, you get analog audio, a 12V power supply, and various cables and adapters.

The combined carrier board and module can also be purchased as a separate SBC-T335 single board computer (SBC). Pricing starts at $59 in volume.

The CM-T335 is available now, through CompuLab’s worldwide distribution channel and via direct sales. Pricing starts at $27 for volume orders, ranging up to $73 fully loaded, or up to $123 for a maxed-out module with industrial temperature support. More information and direct sales may be found at the CompuLab CM-T335 product page.

(advertise here)

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2 responses to “Tiny Cortex-A8 COM runs Linux and Android, goes for $27”

  1. zhang jiawei says:

    We need CM-335 .am3359?

  2. zhang jiawei says:

    We need it with AM3359?How much(1,000 units)?

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