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i.MX6 hacker board features M.2 and wide-range power

Jul 29, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 2,226 views

[Updated 10:45PM] — SolidRun has launched a high-end, Linux-ready “Edge” SBC to its i.MX6-based HummingBoard line, adding M.2 and eMMC storage, wide range power, and more I/O.

SolidRun has revamped its line of sandwich-style, community-backed HummingBoard single board computers, adding a new high-end HummingBoard Edge model. Like the other HummingBoards, it runs Linux on swappable “MicroSOM” computer-on-modules running various Cortex-A9 based Freescale i.MX6 SoCs. SolidRun’s open-spec HummingBoard placed 21st out of 53 Linux- and/or Android-friendly hacker SBCs in our recent SBC reader survey.

For our survey, we posted only a single listing for the previous i1, i2, and more advanced i2eX models. SolidRun has now reorganized its HummingBoard line into three different models: the HummingBoard Base, HummingBoard Pro, and HummingBoard Edge. The Base and Pro are the same products as the previous i1 and i2 models, except they now join the HummingBoard Edge in supporting a choice of MicroSOMs based on i.MX6 Solo, DualLite, Dual, and Quad SoCs.

HummingBoard Edge front (left) and back views
(click images to enlarge)

The refreshed HummingBoard SBC line supports the following MicroSOMs: Solo (512MB RAM), DualLite and Dual (1GB RAM), and Quad (2GB RAM). Although the comparison table below shows all three supporting up to 4GB RAM, the SBCs’ product pages currently only list this option for the Edge, and only on the Quad MicroSOM.

HummingBoard SBC Specs Comparison

HummingBoard Edge HummingBoard Pro HummingBoard Base
uSOM model i.MX6 based Solo to Quad Core uSOM
Memory Up to 4GB DDR3
Storage uSD, eMMC, M.2 uSD, mSATA uSD
Connectivity 1x RJ45, 4x USB2.0, mPCIE with SIM card slot 1x RJ-45, 2x Host USB2.0, 2x USB 2.0 header, mPCIE half-size 1x RJ-45, 2x Host USB 2.0
Media HDMI-out, LVDS, analog audio, MIPI-CSI-4 and MIPI-DSI, parallel camera (on GPIO header) HDMI-out, LVDS, SPDIF, analog audio, MIPI-CSI-2 camera HHDMI- Out, SPDIF, MIPI-CSI-2 Camera
Other I/O Reset button, 36-pin GPIO header, RTC with battery, IR Reset Button, 26 pins GPIO Header, RTC, IR Reset Button, 26 pins GPIO Header
Power 7V-36V 5V, uUSB
Dimensions 102 x 69mm 85 x 56mm
OS Linux Android, Linux

We’ve seen several i.MX-based products with 4GB RAM lately, including the F&S PicaMODA9 COM, and SolidRun’s own CuBox-i mini-PC. It’s unclear how much of that RAM is actually accessible in typical applications, however.

HummingBoard Edge (left) compared to HummingBoard Pro/Base
(click image to enlarge)

Other than these changes, and the apparent boost from 10/100 to 10/100/1000 Ethernet on the Base, both the Base and Pro models appear to be only slight modifications to the i1/i2 and i2eX models, respectively. The Pro adds features like an mSATA connection in addition to the microSD slot, dual USB headers in addition to the dual USB 2.0 host ports, and a half-size mini-PCIe slot.

Both the Base and Pro offer HDMI, LVDS, SPDIF, and MIPI-CSI-2 camera ports, while the Pro adds analog audio. Other similar features include 26-pin GPIO and a reset button, while the Pro adds an RTC and an IR interface. Like the Edge, they both offer optional WiFi and Bluetooth.

HummingBoard Edge details

Unlike the 5V, 85 x 56mm Base and Pro models, the HummingBoard Edge is a larger 102 x 69mm board with a wide-range 7V to 36V power supply. The Edge is listed as being the only HummingBoard SBC to be supported by a metal enclosure option, suggesting that the enclosure options listed on the shopping pages of the other boards are plastic. Curiously, whereas the other boards support Linux and Android, the Edge is said to support only Linux.

HummingBoard Edge, seen from two angles
(click images to enlarge)

The HummingBoard Edge adds support for onboard eMMC flash, with a default value of 4GB and other options (including 0GB) available by special order. It also adds an M.2 slot, presumably for SATA 3.2 storage devices that support the tiny SATA Express based M.2 form factor.

HummingBoard Edge block diagram and carrier board without MicroSOM
(click images to enlarge)

Expanding upon the Pro’s spec list, the Edge doubles the USB 2.0 ports to four, and adds a MIPI-DSI display interface and a Parallel camera interface (via a GPIO header). The Edge also upgrades MIPI-CSI to MIPI-CSI-4, and drops the SPDIF interface.

HummingBoard Edge enclosure option
(click image to enlarge)

The HummingBoard Edge features a more expansive 36-pin GPIO header, and adds a battery to the RTC. There’s also a new SIM card holder, and you can select a full-size mini-PCIe option in addition to half size.

Further information

The HummingBoard Edge is available for pre-order, with shipments due by the end of August. The other two HummingBoards appear to be available now. Edge pricing starts at $102, which includes the i1 MicroSOM (Solo SoC, 5MB RAM) but without the wireless, microSD, power adapter, and enclosure options. At the high end, for $252 you get the Edge with the i4x4 MicroSOM (Quad SoC, 4GB RAM), along with the wireless, power adapter, 8GB microSD card, and metal enclosure options. The HummingBoard Pro ranges from $85 to $170 and the HummingBoard Base goes from $70 to $130. More information may be found at SolidRun’s HummingBoard product page.

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