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Rugged, Linux-ready RTX COMs tap Sitara and i.MX6

Mar 30, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 328 views

Advantech has launched a pair of modules based on a new, rugged, RTX 2.0 spec for computer-on-modules: the AM3352-based ROM-3310 and i.MX6-based ROM-3420.

The ruggedized, open-spec RTX 2.0 (Rugged Technology eXtended) form-factor for ARM computer-on-modules is first being implemented in board-level products by Advantech. The company’s TI Sitara AM3352-based “ROM-3310” and NXP i.MX6-driven “ROM-3420” COMs both showcase the new spec’s highlights, including a tiny (and durably thick) 68 x 68 x 2mm foundation, optional -40 to 85°C support, wide-range, 5 to 24V power, and four vibration resistant 100-pin expansion connectors. In all these features, RTX exceeds the capabilities of the ARM-oriented Qseven and SMARC standards.

ROM-3310 module front (left), and typical RTX module rear view showing board-to-board connectors

Both the ROM-3310 and ROM-3420 support Linux, and the ROM-3420 also supports Android. The two modules can be slotted into the same new ROM-DB3900 carrier board (see farther below).

Unlike Qseven and SMARC, the RTX 2.0 standard announced this week was not hatched by the Standardization Group for Embedded Technologies (SGET), but by a new RTX Consortium. The group was founded by Advantech, Aaeon, and Avalue — three Asian manufacturers that have been building Linux-ready embedded boards for years. The RTX Consortium has the backing of ARM, as well as the chip vendors represented in Advantech’s first two COMs: Texas Instruments (TI) and NXP, which recently merged with Freescale. (For more on RTX, see our RTX coverage.)

RTX 2.0 overview
(click image to enlarge)

Advantech’s first two RTX 2.0 modules are driven by 1GHz Cortex-A8 based SoCs with extensive industrial I/O such as CAN, GPIO, and serial interfaces. The more multimedia-friendly, dual-core i.MX6 on the ROM-3420 enables many more display and camera interfaces than are featured on the single-core Sitara-based ROM-3310, which is limited to Parallel RGB.


TI’s well-traveled, industrial focused Sitara AM335x makes sense as a match for the RTX standard. The 1GHz, single-core system-on-chip drives the BeagleBone Black single board computer and Gumstix Overo modules, along with countless other COMs, SBCs, and gizmos. The low-power Cortex-A8 SoC, which enables the ROM-3310 to sip power at a claimed maximum of 2.11W, also features TI’s PRU subsystem for customizable, real-time industrial I/O.

ROM-3310 module and its block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Advantech’s ROM-3310 extends the Sitara with 512MB of RAM, 4MB SPI NOR flash, and 4GB eMMC flash. A Gigabit Ethernet controller is provided, as is a 24-bit Parallel RGB TTL interface, supporting displays of up to 1366 x 768 pixels.

The ROM-3310 offers USB 2.0 host and OTG ports, as well as four UARTs, dual CAN 2.0, and 10x GPIO interfaces. There are also single helpings of SDIO, I2S, SPI, and I2C, plus an RTC and watchdog. The rugged, 5 to 24V module is available in both commercial and industrial temperature versions. A Linux 3.2.0 BSP is available.


The ROM-3420 moves up to the NXP i.MX6 with its more powerful Vivante GPU, enabling more media-rich embedded applications. The spec list says it supports both dual- and quad-core i.MX6 parts, but the product page lists only commercial and industrial dual-core SKUs.

Advantech’s ROM-3420 features 1GB DDR3 RAM, with 4MB SPI NOR, and 4GB eMMC flash. A GbE controller is provided along with a watchdog and RTC.

ROM-3420 module and its block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Like the ROM-3310, the ROM-3420 offers a Parallel RGB interface, but it supports a higher 2048 x 1536 resolution. You also get single-channel 18/24-bit LVDS (1366 x 768) and HDMI (1920 x 1080) interfaces.

Unlike the ROM-3310, there’s a 4-lane MIPI-CSI camera interface and single-lane SATA 2.0 and PCIe. Additional I/O includes USB 2.0 host and OTG ports, three UARTs, dual CAN 2.0B, 10x GPIO, 2x SPI, 4x I2C, and single SDIO and I2S audio interfaces. The 5 to 24V module offers BSPs for Linux 3.0.35 and Android 4.3.

ROM-DB3900 carrier for RTX modules

Both RTX modules are supported by the ROM-DB3900 carrier board, which has a 19V DC supply, a 0 to 60°C range, and a huge 305 x 244mm footprint with plenty of prototyping space. The open-spec board is available with a carrier board design guide, layout, schematic checklist, and reference board schematics.

ROM-DB3900 carrier board, and its block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The ROM-DB3900 features an SD slot, SATA interface, and dual PCIe slots with optional WiFi and 3G modules. There are coastline GbE, HDMI, VGA, USB 2.0 host, and mini-USB OTG ports, as well as a dual-port audio jack. Two of four available RS-232/422/485 interfaces are also on the coastline. Other features include LVDS, dual MIPI-CSI, dual CAN, and other I/O.

ROM-DB3900 side view
(click image to enlarge)

Specifications for the ROM-DB3900 include:
  • Processor — ARM (via RTX module)
  • RAM/flash — via RTX module
  • Other storage — SD slot; SATA II connector with SATA-DOM support
  • Display/multimedia:
    • HDMI port
    • VGA port
    • LVDS interface (single-channel 18/24-bit)
    • 2x MIPI-CSI/Parallel camera inputs
    • 2-port audio jack (line in/out)
    • I2S audio header
  • Wireless — Optional 802.11 b/g/n and 3G cellular HSUPA/WCDMA/GPRS mini-PCIe cards with optional cable, antenna, and PCIe to miniPCIe adapter
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 3.0/2.0 host port
    • Mini-USB OTG port
    • 4x RS-232/422/485 (4wire UART) ports (2x via headers)
    • 2x CAN 2.0B ports (+5v differential)
    • 20-pin GPIO header (2x 10-pin)
    • 18-pin keypad headers (shared with GPIO)
    • 2x SPI, 2x I2C headers
  • Expansion — 2x PCIe x1 slots; PC/104 system bus with optional system bus to UART board (ROM-MX53)
  • Power — 19V DC input jack; optional 100-240V 65W 19V adapter
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 60°C
  • Dimensions — 305 x 244mm

Further information

Advantech’s ROM-3310 and ROM-3420 RTX 2.0 modules and ROM-DB3900 carrier board appear to be available now. More information may be found at the ROM-3310, ROM-3420, and ROM-DB3900 product pages.

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