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Dime-sized IoT COM runs Linux or Android on i.MX6

Jun 23, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 3,819 views

[Updated June 24] — Freescale’s dime sized “SCM-i.MX6D” module runs Linux or Android on an 800MHz i.MX6 Dual SoC, includes a PMIC and up to 2GB of RAM, and targets IoT apps.

At the Freescale Technology Forum (FTF) in Austin, Texas, where Freescale tipped a new Cortex-A7 line of i.MX7 system-on-chips, the company also revealed a tiny, 17 x 14 x 1.7mm SCM-i.MX6D computer-on-module that runs Linux or Android on a dual-core, Cortex-A9 i.MX6 Dual SoC. When it ships in August, Freescale claims the dime-sized COM will be “the world’s smallest single chip module (SCM) for the Internet of Things.”

Freescale’s dime sized, IoT oriented SCM-i.MX6D
(click image to enlarge)

Intel Edison

The SCM-i.MX6D continues a recent trend of chipmakers introducing tiny COMs that are intended to ease the development of IoT devices using. Last year, Intel launched its Atom-based, 35.5 x 25mm Intel Edison, and last month Samsung unveiled its Artik line of modules, equipped with related Artik Cortex-A7 SoCs, including a 29 x 25mm Artik 5 module.

The considerably smaller SCM-i.MX6D similarly targets wearables and IoT devices, and ships with Linux and Android BSPs. However, it’s a simpler design, without the built-in WiFi, Bluetooth, and 4GB of eMMC flash found on the Edison or Artik.

SCM-i.MX6D block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The SCM-i.MX6D extends the much-traveled i.MX6 Dual SoC, which has been modified only slightly to disable the MLB bus. The dual-core Cortex-A9 SoC is clocked here at up to 800MHz, and is accompanied by a variety of multimedia and security coprocessors, as well as a 3D-ready Vivante GPU. There’s also 1 MB of L2 cache and 64-bit LPDDR2 support. The Dual can be found in Linux-ready COMs such as Variscite’s 68 x 33mm VAR-SOM-DUAL, which integrates WiFi, Bluetooth, and up to 64GB eMMC flash. The module interfaces to its carrier board via a 500 ball, 0.65mm pitch BGA array.

The SCM-i.MX6D provides 16MB of Micron SPI NOR flash for the OS and U-Boot, and supports 1GB to 2GB of Micron LPDDR2 RAM in PoP configurations. It also integrates a Freescale PMIC PF0100 power management chip that requires only a single 4.2V supply, and which can provide power and voltage references to the entire module. (At FTF, Freescale also announced a PF3000 PMIC optimized for the i.MX7.)

SCM-i.MX6D’s PoP RAM support, and a close-up view of the PoP combo
(click images to enlarge)

The module includes a power distribution network with 109 discrete, passive components, including capacitors, linear regulators, and resistors, says Freescale. The COM also extends the SoC’s security features, including high assurance boot, cryptographic cipher engines, random number generator, and tamper detection, as well as enhanced system-level tamper prevention, says the company.

The SCM-i.MX6D enables multimedia I/O including dual LVDS, MIPI display and camera, and HDMI v1.4. Other interfaces include FlexCAN, Ethernet, SDIO, USB, PCI Express, and SATA-2. Freescale also plans to offer a development board that incorporates the module (see farther below).

The Linux and Android BSPs includes a tool suite, boot loader, Linux kernel, and root file system. At least 10 third-party partners can assist with software customization, hardware design, and PoP assembly services.

SCM-i.MX6D Linux BSP memory footprint
(click image to enlarge)

The SCM-i.MX6D is the first of a series of SCM modules that will be released in the coming years. The module is designed for applications such as 3D gaming goggles, drones, wearables, medical devices, autonomous sensing gear, and other IoT products that require advanced graphics and user interfaces, says Freescale.

SCM-i.MX6D development board

Although the SCM-i.MX6D’s announcement did not mention it, a presentation on Freescale’s website shows preliminary details of an upcoming “SCM-i.MX6D Evaluation Board.” The evaluation board includes the SCM-i.MX6D module, pre-attached.

SCM-i.MX6D Evaluation Board
(click image to enlarge)

Specifications listed for the evaluation board include:
  • SCM-i.MX6D with 1GB RAM (via PoP)
  • eMMC NAND for
  • 2x full-size SD slots usable for boot, storage, and WiFi cards
  • 1x GbE RJ45 coastline port (with on-board PHY)
  • 1x Type A USB port
  • 1x Micro-AB USB port
  • 1x CAN connector
  • Stereo audio codec; microphone input
  • 1x Mini-PCIe socket

Options available for use with the evaluation board will include a 10.1-inch capacitive multi-touch display (MCIMX-LVDS1), HDMI card (MCIMXHDMICARD), WiFi module, and other unspecified add-ons.

Further information

The SCM-i.MX6D (i.MX 6Dual SCM) will be available in August from Freescale or Arrow Electronics at an unstated price. Much more information may be found at the SCM-i.MX6D product page.

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2 responses to “Dime-sized IoT COM runs Linux or Android on i.MX6”

  1. david says:

    it would be great if you could update us with price news once it becomes available because price of this chip will be deal-winner or deal-breaker after all

  2. Dan says:

    Dime sized – that board is a f*ckton bigger that a dime. There are many chips/COMs/SOMs the size of a dime that will get you on the internet.

    “Freescale introduces another one of thousands of ARM processors that will get you on the internet running linux”

    You must me new at marketing.

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