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MXM COM runs Linux on new Freescale i.MX 6SoloX SoC

Feb 24, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 1,694 views

[Updated 4PM] — F&S Elektronik Systeme debuted a COM based on Freescale’s new MCU-enabled “i.MX6 SoloX” SoC, and offering dual GbE, multimedia, serial, and PCIe interfaces.

The Efus A9X module is based on F&S’s earlier, i.MX6 Solo-based Efus A9 COM, its first product to use the company’s 62 x 47mm Efus computer-on-module form factor. The new Efus A9X COM, in turn, builds upon Freescale’s new i.MX6 SoloX system-on-chip, which integrates a single 1GHz Cortex-A9 core, much like the i.MX6 Solo, but supplements it with a 200MHz ARM Cortex-M4 MCU.

F&S Efus A9X computer-on-module
(click image to enlarge)

In addition to adding an MCU for real-time, deterministic performance, the i.MX6 SoloX SoC offers several features not available on other i.MX6 SoCs. Of particular note is a Resource Domain Controller that makes it “easier to protect the cores from each other,” as F&S succinctly puts it. This is particular useful for Freescale’s main focus for the SoC: automotive. The SoloX is also aimed at home automation and other consumer and industrial Internet of Things applications.

i.MX6 SoloX block diagram (left) and how it fits into Freescale’s i.MX lineup
(click image to enlarge)

Other key new features of the i.MX6 SoloX SoC include security functions such as cryptography and secure boot, as well as dual-port gigabit Ethernet audio video bridging (AVB) “for quality-of-service with enhanced traffic shaping and packet prioritization,” according to Freescale. Like the i.MX6 Solo, the SoloX has a 3D-ready Vivante GPU, which Freescale says is optional, allowing headless applications.

Inside the Efus A9X computer-on-module

F&S’s “Efus” form-factor uses the same 230-pin MXM card-edge connector as the popular Qseven COM standard, but is designed more specifically for ARM processors, says the company. One key advantage is said to be the ability to be used with baseboards designed with “four layers only.” The Qseven community has come up with its own way of supporting ARM on an MXM-style COM standard, called SMARC, but it uses the newer 314-pin MXM3 connector and is 83mm in width.

Another view of the F&S Efus A9X computer-on-module
(click image to enlarge)

In addition to its i.MX6 SoloX SoC, the F&S COM offers up to 1GB onboard DDR3 RAM, up to 32GB eMMC flash, and up to 1GB NAND flash. The COM’s display outputs includes both 18-bit RGB and 24-bit single-channel LVDS interfaces, usable at up to WXGA resolution, and resistive and capacitive touch input is supported by means of 4-wire and PCAP via I2C interfaces.

Networking capabilities are provided by a pair of gigabit Ethernet interfaces, as well as with an an optional WiFi and Bluetooth module, along with either a chip antenna or antenna socket.

Efus A9X block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The board’s serial I/O include four UARTs, a pair of CAN 2.0 interfaces, two each I2C and SPI buses, and one each USB 2.0 Host and USB 2.0 Host/Device ports. Other interfaces include support for both digital and analog cameras, I2S audio, GPIO, PWM, and signals for use with a pair of SD Card slots.

Efus is said to enable 4-layer baseboard layouts
(click image to enlarge)

Linux (Yocto), WEC2013, and WEC7 are available, and Android is in preparation. Documents for hardware and software development are said to be available, along with free support and 10-year availability. An optional A9X-SKIT starter kit is available along with a 7-inch WVGA touchscreen and an audio codec. Schematics and EAGLE data are available for download, says the company.

Summary of Efus A9X specs

Specifications listed for the Efus A9X include:

  • Processor — Freescale i.MX6 SoloX:
    • 1x 1GHz Cortex-A9 CPU core @ 1GHz
    • 1x Cortex-M4 MCU @ 200MHz
    • 2D and 3D multimedia accelerators (details unspecified)
  • Memory:
    • 256MB of DDR3L, expandable to 1GB
    • Optional 2GB eMMC flash, expandable to 32GB
    • Optional QSPI “failsafe” flash
  • Wireless — Optional WiFi and Bluetooth module with chip antenna or antenna socket
  • Networking — 2x gigabit Ethernet interfaces (onboard PHYs)
  • Multimedia I/O (via 230-pin MXM connector):
    • 18-bit digital RGB
    • 24-bit LVDS (up to WXGA)
    • Resistive and capacitive touch controllers (4-wire and PCAP) available via I2C interface.
    • Analog/digital camera interface (YUV4:2:2 CCIR-656)
  • Other I/O on the 230-pin MXM connector:
    • 1x USB 2.0 host
    • 1x USB 2.0 device
    • 4x serial
    • 2x CAN 2.0
    • 2x I2C
    • 2x SPI
    • Audio — I2S (requires ext. audio codec) or AC97
    • 2x SDIO
    • PWM
    • Optional 12-bit ADC
    • PCIe 2.0
  • Other features/options — RTC; optional “high accuracy” TXCO RTC; optional audio codec; optional starter kit with 7-inch touch display
  • Power — +5V DC @ 2W typical consumption
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 70°C; optional -20 to 85°C
  • Weight — about 15 g
  • Dimensions — 62 x 47 x 11mm
  • Operating system — Linux (Yocto with Qt and Gstreamer with all drivers, including source); WEC2013; WEC7; Android in preparation

Further information

The Efus A9X is available for 39 Euros, “depending on features and quantity, plus tax,” says F&S Elektronik Systeme. More information is available at the F&S website.

— with additional reporting by Rick Lehrbaum

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