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Low-power COMs run Linux and Android on Cortex-A5 SoC

Dec 16, 2014 — by Eric Brown — 1,213 views

MYIR introduced a pair of Linux- and Android-ready COMs and baseboards featuring Atmel’s low-power, 536MHz SAMA5D3 SoC, with LCD, GbE, and dual CAN ports.

MYIR’s MCC-SAMA5D3X-C and MYC-SAMA5D3X computer-on-modules both feature Atmel’s Cortex-A5 based SAMA5D3 system-on-chip, but are implemented on two different form factors, and with different mixes of I/O. The soon-to-ship 82 x 55mm MCC-SAMA5D3X-C plugs into a baseboard via pin-headers on its underside, while the currently-available 68 x 45mm MYC-SAMA5D3X uses edgecard fingers to slot into a 200-pin SODIMM connector. Both COMs are supported by ready-to-use development baseboards.

MCC-SAMA5D3X-C (left) and smaller MYC-SAMA5D3X
(click images to enlarge)

Atmel SAMA5D3 SoC

Atmel’s SAMA5D3 offers a claimed 850DMIPS performance with 200mW power draw, and provides 1328MB/s transfer rates at 166MHz bus speed. The SoC’s performance is aided by the inclusion of an embedded FPU, and its LCD TFT controller includes a graphics accelerator.

Atmel SAMA5D3 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

Other Linux-ready modules that have incorporated the SAMA5D3 include the Acme Systems Acqua A5 and ShiraTech’s SODIMM-style AT-501. In October, Atmel announced a SAMA5D4 family that adds NEON media processing, L2 cache, 720p video decode, and security features to the SAMA5D3 feature set.

MCC-SAMA5D3X-C COM and MYD-SAMA5D3X-C baseboard

MYIR’s MCC-SAMA5D3X-C module is available with all five Atmel SAMA5D3 SoC variants: the SAMA5D31, SAMA5D33, SAMA5D34, SAMA5D35, and SAMA5D36. Differences between the models can affect the I/O mix. (See the chart farther below, as well as Atmel’s Atmel product page, for more details.)

MCC-SAMA5D3X-C (left) with block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The MCC-SAMA5D3X-C backs up the 536MHz Atmel SAMA5D3 with 256MB to 512MB of DDR2 SDRAM, as well as 256MB NAND flash. The module also incorporates a gigabit Ethernet controller. All I/O is expressed via pins on the bottom of the COM that connect to the baseboard.

MCC-SAMA5D3X-C feature differences based on SAMA5D3X SoC model
(click image to enlarge)

The module provides three USB 2.0 ports, a pair each of I2C and CAN ports, and up to seven serial ports. Other I/O includes SPI and a dozen ADC signals. The module supports industrial temperatures and is configured for Linux 3.6.9 or Android 4.0.4.

MCC-SAMA5D3X-C detail view
(click image to enlarge)

Specifications listed for the MCC-SAMA5D3X-C include:
  • Processor — Atmel SAMA5D3 (1x Cortex-A5 core @ 536MHz); VFPv4 FPU
  • Memory:
    • 256MB or 512MB DDR2 SDRAM
    • 256MB NAND flash
    • 4MB data flash
    • 64KB EEPROM
  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet PHY
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB host
    • Mini-USB host/device
    • Up to 7x serial
    • 2x I2C
    • 2x CAN
    • SPI
    • 12x ADC (12-bit)
    • BUS (can be extended to 16-bit data and 8-bit address buses)
  • Other features — 2x LEDs
  • Operating temperature — -40 to 85°C
  • Power — +3.3V/2A
  • Dimensions — 82 x 55mm (8-layer PCB)
  • Operating system — Linux 3.6.9; Android 4.0.4

MCC-SAMA5D3X-C plugged into MYD-SAMA5D3X-C baseboard

The MCC-SAMA5D3X-C plugs piggyback-style into the MYD-SAMA5D3X-C development board. The baseboard provides a microSD slot, and offers coastline ports including gigabit Ethernet, USB host, USB device, audio I/O, and a serial debug port. A 5V power input and power switch are also available.

MYD-SAMA5D3X-C baseboard detail
(click image to enlarge)

Additional MCC-SAMA5D3X-C I/O extended by the MYD-SAMA5D3X-C board includes an LCD interface, dual CAN ports, an RS485 port, and a debug port. You will also find a pair of user keys and two expansion interfaces, as shown in the diagram above. Both Linux 3.6.9 and Android 4.0.4 are supported.

MYC-SAMA5D3X COM and MYD-SAMA5D3X baseboard

MYIR also offers a similar, but smaller SODIMM-style MYC-SAMA5D3X COM and MYD-SAMA5D3X baseboard combo. Instead of using pins to express its I/O signals, the tiny 67.6 x 45mm module has edgecard fingers that insert into a 200-pin SODIMM connector on the carrier board. Both the module and baseboard support the full range of SAMA5D3X SoCs (see table farther below), as well as Linux and Android. They also share some common features with the MCC-SAMA5D3X-C I/O and MYD-SAMA5D3X-C, but offer some notable I/O differences.

(click image to enlarge)

Memory allotments are identical except the MYD version adds 16MB NOR flash, and makes no mention of the MCC version’s EEPROM. Gigabit Ethernet, USB, CAN, and ADC interfaces are the same, but the I/O allotment diverges after that.

MYC-SAMA5D3X feature differences based on SAMA5D3X SoC model
(click image to enlarge)

You get two SPI interfaces instead of one, and instead of providing up to seven serial ports, you get up to six. The MYC-SAMA5D3X is further equipped with an LCD interface, dual MMC/SD interfaces, and three timer counters.

Three 2-wire interfaces support I2C and SMBus, and you get four 16-bit PWM interfaces, a JTAG port, an image sensor interface, and up to 122 GPIOs. The module is provided in both commercial and industrial temperature versions.

MYD-SAMA5D3X baseboard
(click image to enlarge)

The MYD-SAMA5D3X baseboard differs from the MYD-SAMA5D3X-C in that it provides a 10/100 Ethernet port in addition to a 10/100/1000 port. It also adds an HDMI port, camera interface, and a telephone jack, among other differences (see diagram above).

Further information

The MCC-SAMA5D3X-C module is available starting at $75 in single units, and the MYD-SAMA5D3X-C baseboard starts at $159. More information may be found on the MYIR MYD-SAMA5D3X-C product page.

The SODIMM-style MYC-SAMA5D3X COM starts at $95, or $115 for the industrial temperature version. There was no pricing for its associated and MYD-SAMA5D3X baseboard. More information may be found on the MYC-SAMA5D3X product page.

Earlier this year, MYIR released five MYC-SAM9X5-V2 series COMs and a compatible baseboard built around Atmel’s ARM9-based AT91SAM9X5 SoC.

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0 responses to “Low-power COMs run Linux and Android on Cortex-A5 SoC”

  1. simon says:

    What is with the bullshit prices?

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