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Tiny IoT SBC runs Linux, offers Arduino compatibility

Mar 6, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 3,561 views

[Updated Mar. 9] — The credit card sized, open-spec Udoo Neo SBC features Freescale’s Cortex-M4-enhanced i.MX6 SoloX, plus Arduino compatibility, WiFi, Bluetooth, and sensors.

Seco’s Udoo project unveiled a tiny “Udoo Neo” single board computer designed for Android- and Linux-based Internet of Things devices including robots, drones, wearables, and smart appliances. Last May, Udoo’s open-spec, Freescale i.MX6-based Udoo Quad SBC came in 10th out of 32 in our community-backed SBC reader survey. The similarly open source Udoo Neo turns to the new i.MX6 Solo spin-off called the i.MX6 SoloX, which combines a 1GHz Cortex-A9 core with a Cortex-M4 microcontroller unit (MCU) specializing in real-time processing. The SoloX also integrates a modest Vivante GPU with 3D acceleration.

Udoo Neo, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The i.MX6 SoloX, which has already been announced in an Efus A9X computer-on-module from F&S Elektronik Systeme, features new security, GbE bridging, and core and power management features not found on the standard i.MX6. The credit-card sized Udoo Neo uses the Cortex-M4 to mimic an Atmel Atmega MCU, and offers full Arduino Uno pin compatibility for Arduino shields.

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

The Udoo Neo ships with 512MB of DDR3 RAM, or 1GB on a “Plus” model that seems to be differentiated only by RAM. A microSD slot is available along with onboard WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0. You also get 3-axis sensors including an accelerometer, magnetometer, and digital gyroscope.

Udoo Neo

Coastline ports include host and micro-OTG USB 2.0 ports, a 10/100 Ethernet port, and a micro-HDMI port. Onboard interfaces include a variety of industrial and motor control I/O such as UARTs, CANBus, I2C, SPI, SDIO, and eight PWM pins. In addition to the Arduino connector, you get 36 GPIOs, six analog inputs, and six “multiplexable signals,” says the Udoo project.

Udoo Neo detail view, front (left) and back
(click images to enlarge)

Although the Udoo Neo page at currently lists the SBC’s dimensions as 66.6 x 56mm, we found a 1.23:1 aspect ratio unlikely given the appearance of the board in its photos. So we matched up the photos to actual connectors (Ethernet, USB, SD, microUSB), and estimated the board’s correct size to be 80 x 56mm — an aspect ratio of 1.43:1. After informing of this apparent discrepancy, Andrea Rovai of the Udoo community confirmed that the listed dimensions were indeed wrong, and that our estimate of a 1:43:1 aspect ratio was exactly correct, except that the actual dimensions for the current Udoo Neo prototypes are a slightly larger 85 x 59.3mm. This “could change by some millimeters, however, but it will be obviously a credit-card size,” he added.

Specifications listed for the Udoo Neo include:

  • Processor — Freescale i.MX6 SoloX:
    • 1x 1GHz Cortex-A9 CPU core @ 1GHz
    • 1x Cortex-M4 MCU @ 200MHz
    • Vivante GPU with 3D acceleration
  • Memory:
    • 512MB of DDR3L (1GB on Plus version)
    • MicroSD slot
    • NOR SPI flash (quantity N/A)
    • 8-bit SDIO header
  • Wireless — 802.11b/g/n with WiFi Direct Mode SmartConfig; Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • Networking — Fast (10/100) Ethernet port
  • Multimedia I/O:
    • Micro-HDMI port with audio support
    • LVDS with touch support (via I2C)
    • Analog camera (8-bit Parallel) interface with NTSC and PAL support
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 2.0 host port
    • Micro-USB 2.0 OTG port
    • 3x UART
    • 2x CANBus
    • I2C
    • SPI
    • 8x PWM
    • 6x analog inputs
    • 6x “multiplexable signals”
    • 36x GPIO
    • Arduino Uno compatible expansion connector for shields
  • Other features — 3-axis accelerometer, magnetometer, and digital gyroscope; 2x LEDs
  • Power:
    • 6-15V DC power jack
    • 5V DC via micro-USB
    • Coin cell RTC battery connector
  • Dimensions — 85 x 59.3mm (current prototype size; may change at final production)
  • Operating system — Android and Linux

The Udoo Neo is supported with Android and Linux builds, substantial documentation, and an Udoo community with forums and other support resources. The board can be used with development environments including C/C++, Python, Php/LAMP, Java, OpenCV, and PureData, and the Arduino controller supports Arduino sketches and libraries.

The Udoo project is hosted by commercial embedded board vendor Seco. The company recently announced an Nvidia Tegra K1 COM Express Type 6 Compact module called the SECOMExp-TK1, and was also Nvidia’s manufacturing partner for its Tegra K1-based Jetson TK1 SBC.

Further information

The Udoo Neo is currently at a prototype level of development. No pricing or availability information was provided for the Udoo Neo. More information and signup for availability notification may be found at the Udoo Neo product page.

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