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i.MX6 module and Pico-ITX sized carrier run Buildroot Linux

Jul 28, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 1,006 views

F&S has launched an 80 x 50mm COM that runs Linux on a Freescale i.MX6, and offers optional industrial temperature support and a Pico-ITX sized baseboard.

Germany’s F&S Elektronik Systeme, which has previously released Linux-ready computer-on-modules such as the Freescale i.MX6 SoloX-based Efus A9X and Freescale Vybrid driven PCOMnetA5, has again selected Freescale with its new i.MX6-based “PicoMODA9” COM. The 80 x 50mm module runs the company’s own Buildroot-based “BRIX” Linux distribution in addition to Windows Embedded Compact. The PicoMODA9 plugs into the bottom of an optional Pico-ITX form factor Starterkit carrier board in a sandwich-style configuration via a “robust” 140-pin plug connector, says F&S.

PicoMODA9 computer-on-module, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The PicoMODA9, which is pin-compatible with all of the company’s other PicoMOD COMs, can support Freescale’s Solo, DualLite, and Quad i.MX6 SoCs of the i.MX6, clocked at up to 1.2GHz, and can be populated with a maximum of 4GB of DDR3 RAM and 1GB of SLC flash memory, according its product page. However, the only versions that available as off-the-shelf products are Solo and DualLite SoCs, and equipped with 512MB RAM and 256MB flash, with other configurations are restricted to volume OEM orders.

For displays, the PicoMODA9 provides DVI, RGB, and LVDS, although the latter is not available on boards built with the i.MX6 Solo. In any case, you can run [email protected] videos and WXGA displays, as well as 3D graphics, and an input is provided for resistive touch-input signals.

Unlike some i.MX6 boards, there’s no SATA, PCIe, or gigabit Ethernet here, but you get a 10/100 Ethernet PHY and optional WiFi. Other I/O includes four serial interfaces, a USB device port, one or two USB 2.0 host ports (depending on configuration), GPIO, CAN bus, and a digital camera interface. A variety of operating temperature ranges are available, including -40 to 85°C.

Diagrams: PicoMODA9 COM (left) and BRIX embedded Linux
(click images to enlarge)

The Buildroot-based BRIX Linux distribution includes Linux source, bootloader and kernel binaries, root file systems, toolchain, and development tools. There’s also a technical support forum and a training workshop. There are no fees for license, support, or maintenance, says F&S. A new version 2.0 BSP arrived in May, with improved NAND support among other improvements.

Specifications listed for the PicoMODA9 include:

  • Processor — Freescale i.MX6 Solo, DualLite, or Quad (1x, 2x, or 4x Cortex-A9 cores @ up to 1.2GHz); up to 1MB L2 cache; 2D/3D graphics acceleration
  • Memory/storage:
    • 256MB to 4GB DDR3 RAM
    • 128MB to 1GB SLC flash
    • MicroSD slot up to 64GB
    • Optional SSD up to 32GB
  • Display/camera:
    • DVI (HDMI)
    • LVDS (18/24-bit) up to1280 x 800 (WXGA); not available on Solo models
    • RGB (18-bit) up to1280 x 800 (WXGA)
    • 4-wire analog resistive touch
    • MIPI-CSI camera interface
  • Wireless — Optional WiFi
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet PHY
  • Other I/O:
    • 1-2x USB 2.0 host
    • USB 2.0 device
    • SPI, I2C, CAN 2.0
    • 3-4x serial (1x with RTS/CTS)
    • DIO (up to 64x)
    • Audio in, out, mic
  • Other features — long term availability; optional Pico-ITX carrier board
  • Power — 3.3V or 5V supply
  • Operating temperature — Commercial (0 to 70°C; extended (0 to 85°C or -25 to 85°C); or industrial (-40 to 85°C)
  • Dimensions — 80 x 50 x 10mm
  • Weight — about 20g
  • Operating system — Buildroot “Brix” Linux; Windows Embedded Compact 6/7


The optional PicoMODA9-Starterkit comes with the baseboard, cable kit, and a USB stick with either BRIX or WEC preloaded.

Pico-ITX form factor PicoMODA9-Starterkit top view (left), and bottom view showing PicoMODA9 placement
(click images to enlarge)

Optional display
(click to enlarge)

The board itself features an SD slot and standard connectors for Ethernet, four USB host ports, and what appears to be a micro-USB device port. There’s also an optional real-world DVI/HDMI port accessory, and optional, four-port UART extension card. Additional interfaces are available via pin rows, including audio, CAN, touch, I2C, and SPI. A battery holder is provided for the RTC supply. Optional 7-inch display kits include RGB or LVDS displays with or without resistive touch. A capacitive LVDS model is also available.

Further information

The PicoMODA9 module and PicoMODA9-Starterkit appear to be available now starting at 299 Euros ($332) apiece. All other options are also priced out and available via direct sales at F&S Elektronik Systeme. More information may be found at the PicoMODA9 and PicoMODA9-Starterkit product pages.

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