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Linux-ready COM taps 1.2GHz Cortex-A9 SoC

Jun 19, 2014 — by Eric Brown 1,675 views

Technologic unveiled a Linux-ready COM with a single- or quad-core Freescale i.MX6 SoC and optional wireless and industrial temperature support.

The Technologic Systems “TS-4900” COM reverses the formula of the company’s recently announced TS-4740 computer-on-module, which combined a relatively low-end Marvel PXA168 ARM system-on-chip with a fairly powerful, 25K-LUTs Xilinx Spartan-5 FPGA. Here, we get a relatively high-end Freescale i.MX6 ARM Cortex-A9 SoC with 3D graphics acceleration, along with a low-power Lattice ICE40 FPGA with 4K LUTs. Both modules are designed to plug into Technologic’s carrier boards via its proprietary “TS-Socket” connectors.

TS-4900 with i.MX6Quad (left) and i.MX6Solo
(click images to enlarge)

The 2.95 x 2.17-inch TS-4900 supports a wide variety of embedded applications, including digital signage, kiosks, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Not only is the COM available with single-core (“Solo”) or Quad versions of the 1.2GHz i.MX6, but there are different models available with options including a WiFi and Bluetooth module, and extended (20 to 70°C) and industrial (-40 to 85°C) temperature support. Prices range from $134 to $272 in single quantities.

The TS-4900 is available with 1GB (Solo) or 2GB (Quad) DDR3 RAM, and boots from the 4GB of onboard flash or a microSD card. A gigabit Ethernet port is also available.


Interfaces available via the expansion connectors include SATA 2, USB host and OTG ports, five serial ports, and 70x DIO. You get PCIe expansion, as well as I2C, I2S, SPI, and CAN interfaces.

You have to dig into the manual before you come across any mention of a display interface to showcase the i.MX6 SoC’s respectable video and 3D graphics capabilities. The manual mentions an LCD interface and touchscreen backlight control, but no details are supplied.

TS-4900 side (left) and rear views
(click images to enlarge)

The COM is available now with an i.MX6-optimized Yocto Project-based Linux distribution preloaded on a bootable microSD card that is said to boot to a shell prompt in under 6 seconds. A QNX Neutrino stack is also supported, and the TS-4900 will soon be available with Android and Windows Embedded Compact, as well. Users should be able to easily load Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Slackware, and other Linux distros, says Technologic.

TS-8150 carrier board
(click image to enlarge)

The COM ships with U-Boot, and Linux GUI development is supported with Qt, GTK, DirectFB, and other applications. User space utilities for controlling DIO, SPI, and UARTs are also available. As usual with Technologic’s boards, this is an open spec platform, with schematics and documentation posted on the product page. The company also offers an optional TS-8150 carrier board (shown above), which aims to jump-start hardware and software development based on the TS-4900 COM.

Technologic says it currently uses a small amount of the board’s ICE40 FPGA for “glue logic,” and that it isn’t currently available for user programming. However, details for programming the FPGA may be offered in the future, depending on customer requirements.

Specifications listed for the TS-4900 include

  • Processor — Freescale i.MX6 Solo or Quad (1x or 4x Cortex-A9 cores @1.2GHz)
  • FPGA — Lattice ICE40 FPGA (4K LUTs)
  • Memory:
    • 1GB (Solo) or 2GB (Quad) DDR3 RAM
    • 4GB eMMC flash (with DoubleStore support)
    • MicroSD slot (with DoubleStore support)
  • Networking:
    • Gigabit Ethernet (external magnetics required)
    • Optional onboard 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0+EDR module
  • Other I/O (via TS-Socket connectors):
    • SATA-II
    • PCI Express
    • USB Host
    • USB OTG
    • 70x DIO
    • 4x I2C
    • I2S audio
    • 2x SPI
    • 2x CAN bus
    • 4x RS-232 COM (TTL)
    • RS-485 (external transceiver required)
    • LCD with touchscreen backlight
  • Other features — watchdog; 2x temperature sensor; temp. compensated RTC
  • Power — 5VDC; 1W min. consumption, 6W typical
  • Operating temperature — Commercial (0 to 70°C), extended (20 to 70°C), and industrial (-40 to 85°C)
  • Dimensions — 2.95 x 2.17 in.
  • Operating system — Yocto Project-based Linux (kernel 3.10) and QNX Neutrino RTOS; Android and Windows Embedded Compact coming soon

Further information

The TS-4900 will be available June 30, limited to between 10 and 20 pre-screened companies. The general public product release will follow in 4 to 8 weeks, says Technologic.

Prices range from $134 to $272 in single quantities, with tiered discounts on the way to quantity 100 pricing, which starts at $99 for the single-core version with commercial temperature support and no wireless radios. More information may be found at the Technologic Systems TS-4900 product page.

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