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SBC mixes i.MX6 with FPGA for IoT and basestation duty

Nov 13, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 949 views

Mikroprojekt’s Linux-based “Kondor AX” development board for IoT gateways and small basestations combines a Lattice ECP5 FPGA with an i.MX6 Solo SoC.

Mikroprojekt and Lattice Semiconductor jointly announced Mikroprojekt’s FPGA-enabled Kondor AX as a Linux-supported platform for use in a variety of communications and industrial applications at the network edge. It is principally designed to meet the growing market for small LTE basestation cells found in HetNets (heterogeneous networks), which often combine macro basestations, small cells, WiFi hotspots, and distributed antenna systems (DASs). Other applications are said to include industrial IoT gateways, microservers, millimeter wave backhaul applications, IP cameras, and HMI displays.

Kondor AX
(click images to enlarge)

The Kondor AX board runs Linux on a Freescale i.MX6 Solo system-on-chip, which combines a 1GHz Cortex-A9 core with a 3D ready Vivante GPU and a Cortex-M4 MCU. (The latter is not mentioned by Mikroprojekt, and may not play a role here.)

The Solo is linked to a Lattice ECP5 FPGA, described by Lattice as a “low power, small form factor FPGA with flexible interface connectivity and high-performance DSP for image filtering and data analytics.” The 10 x 10mm Lattice ECP5 provides 85K LUTS and 207 block RAMs, and supports 270Mbps to 3.2Gbps throughput for generic 8b10b, 10-bit SERDES, and 8-bit SERDES modes.

Kondor AX detail view and block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The ECP5 FPGA is touted for its low power consumption, with single channel SERDES operations functioning below 0.25 Watts and quad channel SERDES at below 0.5W. The FPGA supports 400MHz LPDDR3 RAM, and provides 365 I/O pins, supporting interface standards such as CPRI, JESD204B, and PCI Express.

The Kondor AX provides 512MB of RAM each for the Solo and ECP5, as well as 64Mb SPI flash, 8GB eMMC flash, and a microSD slot linked to the Linux/Solo subsystem. Each processor also gets its own Ethernet port: a GbE port for the Solo and a Fast Ethernet port for the FPGA. An HDMI port is provided, and there’s passing mention of an LVDS interface, although it does not show up in the spec sheet, detail view, or block diagrams. The Solo also controls a MIPI-CSI camera interface.

Typical Kondor AX IoT and HetNet/small cell deployment configurations
(click image to enlarge)

The Kondor AX is further equipped with dual Micro-USB ports — one OTG and one USB/serial — plus an expansion interface for signals such as I2C, SPI, and UART. FPGA-focused I/O includes a pair of SFP (small form-factor pluggable) cages, an FMC connector, GPIO, and a serial/USB JTAG interface. The board also provides a PCIe expansion slot.

No operating temperature or dimension details are provided for the 12V board, which features 10 LEDs. Boot switches flip between a wide variety of options including either Solo- or ECP5-connected SPI flash.

The Kondor AX ships with a Linux BSP featuring device drivers, applications/services, libraries, deployment mechanisms, and GNU tools such as compilers and linkers. Extensive documentation and numerous demo guides are available on the product page.

Specifications listed for the Kondor AX, with I/O linked to the i.MX6 Solo unless otherwise noted, include:

  • Processor:
    • Freescale i.MX6 Solo (1x Cortex-A9 @ 1GHz with Cortex-M4 MCU, Vivante GC880 GPU, and PF100 PMIC)
    • Lattice ECP5 FPGA (84,000 LUTs, 207x block RAMs, 156x 18×18 multipliers, 365x I/O pins, 4x SERDES channels, 400MHz LPDDR3 support, 4x PLLs, 4x DLLs)
  • Memory/storage:
    • 512MB LPDDR3 (800MHz) RAM (for ECP5)
    • 512MB DDR3
    • 64Mb SPI flash
    • 8GB eMMC flash
    • MicroSD slot
  • Display — HDMI port; LVDS interface
  • Networking:
    • 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet port
    • 10/100 Ethernet port (ECP5)
  • Other I/O:
    • Micro-USB OTG port
    • Micro-USB serial port
    • MIPI-CSI camera interface
    • I2C, SPI, UART, EIM interfaces
    • 2x GPIO (1x differential) for ECP5
    • 2x SFP cages (ECP5)
    • FMC connector (ECP5)
    • UART with USB JTAG interface (ECP5)
  • Expansion — PCIe x1 slot
  • Clocking — 24MHz, 32.76KHz (Solo); 100MHz differential oscillator, Si5338 clock generator (ECP5)
  • Other features — 10x LEDs (4x ECP5); Boot switches with options including eMMC, microSD, USB OTG, and SPI (either Solo or ECP5 SPI, including slave mode)
  • Power — 12V input
  • Operating system — Linux BSP

Further information

The Kondor AX development platform is available now from Mikroprojekt, at an undisclosed price. More information may be found on the Kondor AX product page.

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One response to “SBC mixes i.MX6 with FPGA for IoT and basestation duty”

  1. scatterbrained2 says:

    The i.MX6 solo does not include the cortex-m4, it is the soloX variant that has the core.

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