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TI’s AM64x powers three modules and two new HummingBoard SBCs

Jun 17, 2021 — by Eric Brown 2,272 views

TQ’s TQMa64xx, Phytec’s phyCore-AM64X, and SolidRun’s AM64x SOM modules run Linux on TI’s new FuSa-enabled Sitara AM64x with up to 6x GbE, 4x of which support TSN and fieldbus. The AM64x SOM also powers two new HummingBoard-T SBCs.

Yesterday, we explored Texas Instruments’ new functional safety (FuSa) oriented Sitara AM64x SoC along with a pair of TI eval kits. Here we look at the first compute modules to showcase the AM64x: TQ Embedded’s TQMa64xx, Phytec’s PhyCore-AM64X, and SolidRun’s AM64x SOM. SolidRun’s AM64x SOM is also appearing on HummingBoard-T AM64X Base and Pro SBCs (see farther below).

The headless, 16nm FinFET fabricated AM64x runs Linux on 1x or 2x 1GHz Cortex-A53 cores and offers up to 4x 800MHz Cortex-R5F cores for real-time duty. The SoC also supplies up to 2x programmable real-time units (PRUs) for managing up to 4x GbE ports with time-sensitive networking (TSN) and fieldbus protocols.



HummingBoard-T AM64X Pro (render)

There is also a 400MHz Cortex-M4F, which along with other components enables FuSa capabilities that meet SIL 2 (IEC 61508) requirements, with potential support for SIL 3. As noted by Phytec on the phyCore-AM64X page: “The completely isolated Cortex-M4 MCU can be to monitor, test for, and manage faults.”

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The AM64x offers security functions, as well as tightly-coupled memory (TCM) cache banks and SRAM partitioning of up to 2MB of on-chip ECC RAM. Peripheral support includes PCIe Gen2, USB 3.1, 2x CAN, and much more. The SoC runs at a low 1-2W.

Interestingly, documentation for all three of the modules mention or allude to an AM6424 variant with 2x Cortex-A53 and 2x Cortex-R5F cores that is not among the five models listed in TI’s documentation. We can only speculate that TI has yet to announce the AM6424.

 
TQ TQMa64xx

The TQMa64xx is a 38 x 38mm LGA (Land Grid Array) tentatively planned to have 240 I/O pins. The module runs Linux and a similarly “TBD” RTOS on five AM64x variants (AM6442, AM6441, AM6421, AM6412, AM6411). Note, however, that the starter kit listed below lists a model with 2x -A53 and 2x -R5F cores, which would appear to be the AM6424 mystery variant described in the paragraph above.



TQMa64xx block diagram (left) and 5x AM64x models (note: there also appears to be a AM6424 variant not listed here)
(click images to enlarge)

TQ’s module supports automation, robotics, industrial IoT, headless gateways, medical technology, and fieldbus applications. Other listed scenarios include servo motor controls for CNC machine tools or medical surgical robots.


TQMa64xx concept

The module offers up to 2GB SDRAM, 256MB NOR flash, and 64GB eMMC. The 5V module integrates a SE050 secure element, RTC, and a temperature sensor and supports a -25 or 85°C or -40 to 85°C range.

I/O specs for the TQMa64xx are all listed in “up to” quantities. These include 2x standard GbE, 4x PRU-driven real-time GbE with TSN and fieldbus support, and a PCIe interface that is shared with the single USB 3.0. Other “up to” specs include USB 2.0, 2x CAN FD, 2x SDIO, 6x I2C, 7x MCSPI, single OSPI or QSPI, and single ADC.

The TQMa64xx will be available with a STKa64xxL eval board and starter kit with 3x GbE ports, 2x of which are real-time GbE ports driven by the PRU chips. Other features include USB 2.0 OTG, 2x CAN FD, GPIOs, temp sensor, RTC, reset, power supply, cables, and an SD slot with a 4GB card.

 
Phytec phyCore-AM64X

We saw no announcement for the phyCore-AM64X, but Phytec has posted a product page and a render image. The 50 x 37mm module is designed for industrial control and smart manufacturing. It supports 5x AM64x models, but with an AM6424 listed instead of the single -A53 and -R5F AM6421 (see explanation in intro). Phytec has previously released TI modules including the AM65x based phyCore-AM65x SOM



phyCore-AM64X block diagram (left) and TI’s block diagram for high-end AM6442
(click images to enlarge)

The phyCore-AM64X supplies 1GB or 2GB DDR4 and 4GB to 32GB eMMC. There is also 64MB to 256MB NOR flash (octal and dual SPI). The 5V module supports -40 to 85°C temperatures and integrates an RTC and security accelerators plus optional secure boot and other security features.

Like the TQ module, Phytec’s entry offers 2x standard GbE and 4x PRU-driven real-time GbE with TSN and fieldbus. However, like the other listed interfaces, these are not designated as “up to.”



phyCore-AM64X renders, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

I/O expressed via the 2x 140-pin connectors includes PCIe 2.0, USB 3.1 dual role, and USB 2.0 dual-role. Other interfaces include 9x UART, 6x I2C, 7x SPI/SSP, 9x PWM, 8x ADC, and 3x eQEP plus eCAP, JTAG, and GPIOs.

 
SolidRun AM64x SOM

SolidRun’s AM64x SOM is initially available in two configurations, both running Linux on the high-end, 2x -A53/4x -R5F AM6442: the Sitara AM6442R SOM and more feature rich Sitara AM6442A SOM. The modules also support the other AM64x variants. Confusingly, however, the two new HummingBoard-T AM64X carrier boards and SBCs (see below) both list the AM6424 mystery variant mentioned in the intro, but with specs that apply only to the AM6442. Yet, in the overview section, SolidRun lists the AM6421 instead of the AM6424 among the five available models.



AM64x SOM render, front and back

The AM64x SOM has the same 47 x 30mm footprint as SolidRun’s i.MX8 family modules, such as the recent iMX8M Plus CoM. This appears to be SolidRun’s first Sitara based product.

The main difference between the AM6442R SOM and AM6442A SOM is the addition of a second, PRU-driven GbE port with TSN and fieldbus, as well as a standard GbE port. The AM6442A SOM adds optional QSPI flash, but appears to lack the up to 9x UARTs of the AM6442R SOM.



AM64x SOM block diagram (left) and enclosure version of AM64x SOM based HummingBoard-T AM64X Pro
(click images to enlarge)

The AM6442A also adds a TI WiLink8 WiFi/BT module with 802.11n and BT 4.2 and an option for a CC1312 SimpleLink sub-1GHz wireless MCU. This appears to be similar to the CC1310 SimpleLink sub-1GHz MCU found on Amber Wireless’ Amber Pi wireless RF add-on board for the Raspberry Pi and the TI SimpleLink Dual Band CC1350 LaunchPad board found on Newark Element14’s SimpleLink Sub-1GHz Sensor to Cloud Linux Industrial Gateway.

Otherwise, the two models appear to be identical. They offer 1GB or 2GB DDR4 with inline ECC and 8GB to 64GB eMMC and support for external NOR flash storage.

Interfaces expressed via the 3x Hirose DF40 connectors include 1x (R) or 2x (A) TSN-ready GbE controllers plus a standard GbE on the A model. Other features include USB 3.0, PCIe Gen2 with SSD support, SPI, GPIO, PWM, and JTAG. Additional I/O’s include 4x I2C, 2x CAN, and 2x SD/MMC.

The AM64x SOM modules have 5V inputs with 3.3V I/O voltage. They support -40 to 85°C operation with 10%-90% non-condensing humidity tolerance.

 
SolidRun HummingBoard-T AM64X Base and Pro

As noted, the AM64x SOM has the same form factor as SolidRun’s iMX8M modules. The module similarly provides the brainpower for one of SolidRun’s open-spec, sandwich-style SBCs, in this case two new HummingBoard-T AM64X boards. Earlier HummingBoards include the HummingBoard Mate i.MX 8M Plus.



HummingBoard-T AM64X Base (left) and Pro block diagrams
(click images to enlarge)

As noted, the carrier board/SBC ships with the AM6424 mystery SoC, but is listed with specs that only fit the AM6442. The HummingBoard-T AM64X Base uses the AM6442R SOM while the Pro model uses the higher-end AM6442A SOM. The Pro adds the 2x additional GbE ports, WiFi/BT module, and optional SimpleLink Sub-1GHz module, as well as an optional 802.3af PoE PD function.

Otherwise, the HummingBoard-T AM64X Base and Pro appear to be the same. They both provide an optional Quectel 4G LTE module with micro-SIM card holder via a USB 2.0 interface. There is also an M.2 slot, which is presumably intended for storage.

Standard features include the 1x (Base) or 3x (Pro) GbE ports, a USB 3.0 port, and 2x RS485/RS232 ports. Judging from the images shown above, these serial ports are available via the same terminal block that the block diagrams say is used for 2x CAN-FD connections.

The HummingBoard-T AM64X is further equipped with an internal serial debug console port and a GPIO header, although we see no evidence of a 40-pin RPi GPIO. Other features include an RTC with battery backup, LEDs, and user buttons.

The 150 x 85 x 40mm dimensions listed for the HummingBoard-T AM64X appear to refer to the enclosure version shown in the AM64x SOM section farther above. The -40 to 85°C tolerant SBCs and enclosure version have a 9-36V terminal plug input and an optional battery charger.

 
Further information

The TQ TQMa64xx module will ship in 1Q 2022 and the Phytec phyCore-AM64X is currently in alpha stage and due in Q4 2021. No ship date was listed for SolidRun’s AM64x SOM models (AM6442R SOM and AM6442A SOM), but the HummingBoard-T AM64X Base and Pro are said to be “coming soon.”

More information may be found in TQ’s TQMa64xx announcement and product page, as well as Phytec’s phyCore-AM64X product page and SolidRun’s AM64x SOM product page. There is also a separate product page for the HummingBoard-T AM64X SBCs.
 

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