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SMARC module runs Linux on i.MX6, runs hot and cold

Apr 7, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 924 views

Embedian has launched a SMARC COM that runs Linux on a Freescale i.MX6, and offers up to 2GB RAM, 4GB eMMC, -40 to 85°C operation, and a Mini-ITX baseboard.

Embedian’s SMARC (Smart Mobility ARChitecture) form-factor SMARC-FiMX6 computer-on-module follows Embedian’s earlier SMARC-T335X, which integrates a TI AM335x Sitara system-on-chip. The SMARC-T335X module also formed the basis for a pair of Embedian sandwich-style Smart SBCs. The similarly SODIMM-style SMARC-FiMX6 instead showcases Freescale’s Cortex-A9-based i.MX6 SoC.

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The popularity of the i.MX6 seems to have no bounds. With its multiple core configurations, low power consumption, and interesting mix of multimedia and industrial interfaces, it seems to fulfill the same one-size-fits-all role for ARM developers as does the Intel Atom in the x86 world. Other Linux-ready SMARC form factor COMs running the i.MX6 include the Adlink LEC-iMX6 and the Kontron SMARC-sAMX6i.

Two other i.MX6-based SMARC COMs: Adlink LEC-iMX6 (left) and Kontron SMARC-sAMX6i
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Like all these COMs, the Embedian SMARC-FiMX6 uses the short (82 x 50mm) version of the SMARC form-factor. The module runs Yocto Linux on a choice of Solo, DualLite, Dual, or Quad i.MX6 models, all of which run at 1GHz unless you go with the industrial temperature (-40 to 85°C) version, which requires a maximum of 800MHz.

SMARC-FiMX6 block diagram
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Soldered DDR3-1066/1333 RAM is also on tap, including 512MB on the Solo model and up to 2GB on the rest. There’s also 4GB of eMMC flash, which can be used as a boot device.

The SMARC-FiMX6 supports up to three independent displays, including 24 bit TTL parallel, HDMI 1.4a, and dual-channel, 24-bit LVDS. A gigabit Ethernet controller is also available.

The SMARC-FiMX6 provides the extensive list of interfaces one would expect from an i.MX6 module, including SATA, SD, USB, MIPI-CSI, CAN, and much more, as detailed below. For expansion, you’ll find 12 GPIO lanes, as well as a PCI-Express interface.

The module ships with schematics and layout checklists for carrier board development, and you can also use Embedian’s own carrier board (see farther below). A Yocto Linux BSP is provided, along with test and design utilities and reference codes, says Embedian.

Specifications listed for the SMARC-FiMX6 include:

  • Processor — Freescale i.MX6 Quad, Dual, DualLite, or Solo (4x, 2x, 2x, or 1x Cortex-A9 cores @ up to 1GHz); varying levels of cache (512KB to 1MB) and 2D/3D graphics acceleration
  • Memory/storage:
    • Up to 2GB soldered DDR3 except for Solo (512MB)
    • 4GB eMMC flash
    • 4MB SPI NOR flash
    • 2x 4-bit SD interfaces
    • SATA 2 interface
  • Display/camera:
    • HDMI 1.4a
    • LVDS (single-channel 18/24-bit)
    • Parallel LCD (24-bit)
    • 3x independent displays
    • MIPI-CSI camera (2-lane)
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet PHY
  • Other I/O:
    • 3x USB 2.0 host
    • USB 2.0 OTG
    • 2x SPI
    • 4x I2C
    • 2x CAN
    • 4x UART
    • I2S, S/PDIF, SMBus
    • 12x GPIO
  • Expansion — PCIe x1 Gen 2
  • Other features – RTC; optional carrier board
  • Power — 3.3V or 5.25V supply
  • Power consumption — 1.55W (Solo); 2.2W (DualLite); 2.5W (Dual); 3.6W (Quad)
  • Operating temperature — Commercial or industrial -40 to 85°C (requires 800MHz or under clock)
  • Dimensions — 82 x 50mm; SMARC 1.1 short size
  • Operating system — Yocto Linux


The Mini-ITX (170 x 170mm) EVK-STD-Carrier baseboard available for the SMARC-FiMX6 module is equipped with coastline gigabit Ethernet, VGA, and HDMI, and audio ports. Two of four available USB ports are also on the coastline, and a mini-USB client port is available as well.

(click images to enlarge)

Two serial ports are available on coastline DSUB9 ports, one of which is a debug port. There are up to four serial ports, one of which can be configured as RS422/485, as well as two CANBus headers. Additional I/O includes an LVDS connector, as well as SDHC, MIPI-CSI, and two SPI interfaces. Three I2C connectors are used for capacitive touch.

EVK-STD-Carrier coastline view
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For expansion, you get a “2×7-pin” GPIO header, as well as a PCIe interface, and two mini-PCIe connectors. The board has a 12V input with a 3.5mm DC jack. Other features include an RTC backup battery, reset jumper, buzzer, and external watchdog reset.

Further information

The SMARC-FiMX6 is available now, along with the EVK-STD-CARRIER evaluation board. The module starts at $61 when purchasing 3,000 units or more, or $83 from 1 to 199 units. The carrier board is priced at $299 in small quantities, More information may be found at the Embedian SMARC-FiMX6 product page.

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