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Toughened up i.MX6 SBC offers NimbleLink cellular expansion

Feb 25, 2019 — by Eric Brown 425 views

VersaLogic’s rugged, Linux-friendly “Swordtail” SBC is equipped with a dual- or quad-core i.MX6 with up to 4GB RAM plus eMMC, GbE, HDMI, LVDS, USB, WiFi/BT, and a NimbleLink socket for cellular expansion.

VersaLogic has posted preliminary specs for a $239 and up Swordtail SBC that runs Linux and other Arm-friendly operating systems on a Cortex-A9 based NXP i.MX6. There’s an optional 8GB microSD card with a Yocto Project configured Linux image. The rugged SBC is designed for industrial machine automation, transportation, medical, kiosk, and industrial IoT applications.

The Swordtail has the same COM Express Compact-like 95 x 95mm footprint and many of the same features of the Zebra SBC that VersaLogic announced last May. Like the Zebra, the Swordtail supports the dual-core DualLite version of the i.MX6, but the second option is the quad-core model rather than the single-core Solo.

Swordtail (left) and earlier Zebra
(click images to enlarge)

Unlike the Zebra, the Swordtail features a WiFi/Bluetooth module and a NimbleLink socket for cellular and other wireless expansion modules. In place of the Zebra’s audio jack, the HDMI 1.4 port now offers audio support. The SBC also adds an LVDS interface with touch support.


The Swordtail offers single CAN and I2C interfaces instead of two apiece, and it lacks the Zebra’s UART and MikroBus interfaces. Instead of a 5V input, however, you get a wide-range 8-17 VDC input.

Like the Zebra, the SBC supplies up to 4GB soldered DDR3L, as well as a microSD slot and eMMC socket that can be filled to up to 32GB. Other similar features include a GbE port, 2x USB 2.0 host ports, an RS-232 debug interface, GPIO, 3x PWM, and a 6-axis IMU.

Swordtail (left) and detail view
(click images to enlarge)

The Swordtailh’s ruggedization features are the same as with the Zebra. These include -40 to 85°C support and MIL-STD-202G compliant shock/vibration resistance.

VersaLogic also offers a rugged, 125 x 95mm Tetra SBC based on the i.MX6 Quad. Earlier this month, the company announced an Android Eval Kit that combines the Tetra with a 7-inch HDMI touchscreen, adapters and hubs, and pre-loaded Android 8.0.

The following specifications were listed for the Swordtail SBC:

  • Processor — NXP i.MX6 Quad or DualLite (4x or 2x Cortex-A9 cores @ up to 800MHz); Vivante GC2000 GPU
  • Memory/storage:
    • 1GB (DualLite) or 2GB (Quad) DDR3L SDRAM soldered, with up to 4GB optional
    • MicroSD slot (bootable) with optional 8GB card containing Linux
    • eMMC (MLC) socket with up to 32GB optional bootable storage
  • Wireless:
    • Single-band 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.2
    • NimbleLink Skywire socket (20-pin) for cellular and other wireless expansion
    • Optional antennas
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port with network boot, latching connector
  • Media I/O:
    • HDMI v1.4 port with audio
    • 24-bit LVDS for up to 1366 x 768 with backlight and I2C touch (with interrupt input)
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports
    • CAN 2.0B
    • RS-232 debug
    • 8x GPIO/DIO (3.3V)
    • I2C
    • Up to 3x PWM (reduces GPIO lanes)
  • Other features — 6-axis accelerometer/magnetometer; 10-year lifecycle support; optional cables
  • Operating temperature — -40 to 85°C with 0.5 linear meters per second airflow
  • Shock/vibration resistance — per MIL-STD-202G (vibration Method 204/214A; shock Method 213B)
  • Altitude resistance — to 4,570 meters
  • Power — 8-17 VDC input (12V nominal); consumption: 2.2W idle,; 2.7W (DualLite) or 3W (Quad) typical operating
  • Dimensions — 95 x 95 x 21.4mm; compatible with COM Express Compact footprint and mounting holes
  • Weight — 68 g
  • Operating system — bootable Yocto 2.1 Linux OS; compatible with other-friendly OSes

Further information

The Swordtail will be available in Q2 from VersaLogic and Digi-Key, with OEM pricing starting at $239. More information may be found in Versalogic’s Swordtail announcement and product page. You can check out the SBC this week at Embedded World, Feb. 26 -28, at Hall 3, booth 3-257.

(advertise here)

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