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Tiny Linux SBC with mini-PCIe slot runs Linux or Android on 2W

Aug 5, 2016 — by Rick Lehrbaum — 1,807 views

[Updated: Aug. 6] — The Gateworks GW5530 SBC runs Linux, OpenWrt, or Android on an i.MX6 SoC, and features video I/O, an inertial sensor, optional GPS, and mini-PCIe expansion.

Gateworks announced a tiny new single-board computer in its “Vantana” product line that’s hardly bigger than the mini-PCIe socket with which it expands. The 100 x 35mm GW5530 SBC is built around a dual-core, Cortex-A9 based NXP i.MX6 SoC. The processor is clocked at 800MHz, and is accompanied by 512MB DDR3 SDRAM and up to 2GB flash storage.

GW5530 top (upper image) and bottom views
(click images to enlarge)

The SBC’s multimedia interfaces include both HDMI output (with audio) and composite video input ports. Other I/O includes a USB 2.0 OTG port, four GPIO lines, and a pair of 3.3V-logic serial ports.

GW5530 topside details
(click image to enlarge)

There’s also a combination microSD/SIM socket that supports both removable flash memory, and a SIM card for use with a mini-PCIe cellular modem.

GW5530 bottom details
(click image to enlarge)

Perhaps the most prominent feature of the GW5530 is its mini-PCIe socket, located on the bottom of the board. The socket, which includes PCIe Gen 2, USB 2.0, and SIM signaling, supports both full- and half-sized mini-PCIe cards including wireless options such as 802.11abgn/ac, 4G WiMAX, 3G CDMA/GSM, as well as other expansion functions.

The GW5530 with a 3G card in its mini-PCIe socket
(click images to enlarge)

The GW5530 also integrates a 9-axis inertial module (accelerometer, gyro, magnetometer) that enables “precise orientation and position tracking,” says Gateworks. Additionally, an optional on-board ublox GNSS receiver module can add GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, and BeiDou capabilities.

GW5530 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

An on-board “Gateworks System Controller” implements several management functions that are particularly useful in battery-operated, autonomous applications. These include a real time clock, voltage and temperature monitoring, advanced power management, and programmable board shut-down and wake-up.

In light of its minimal small size and weight, low power consumption, -40 to 80°C operating temperature, wide input voltage range, built-in inertial sensor, optional GPS module, and flexible wireless expansion capabilities, it’s no surprise that Gateworks is targeting the GW5530 SBC at battery-powered mobile and UAV applications. Other uses are expected to include wirelessly connected Man Portable Units (MPUs), digital signage, and robotics.

Specifications listed for the GW5530 SBC include:

  • Processor — NXP i.MX6 Dual (2x ARM Cortex-A9 cores @ 800MHz); Vivante GPU
  • Memory/storage:
    • 512MB DDR3 RAM
    • 256MB flash (standard), expandable to 2GB
    • MicroSD/SIM socket
    • Serial EEPROM (for configuration)
  • Multimedia I/O
    • A/V out — HDMI 1.4 with audio
    • 3x video inputs — CVBS (composite); Y/C (S-video); YPrPb (component)
  • Other I/O:
    • 1x USB 2.0 OTG port (480Mbps)
    • 4x GPIO
    • 2x serial ports (3.3V logic)
    • 9-axis inertial module (accelerometer, gyro, magnetometer)
    • JTAG port
  • GPS — optional u-blox EVA-M8M receiver with MMCX or U.FL antenna connector
  • Mini-PCIe expansion — full-sized socket with 1x PCIe Gen 2, 1x USB 2.0 Host port, and SIM signaling (also supports half-sized cards); 7W power max.
  • Other features — board controller for watchdog timer, RTC, voltage/temperature monitoring, etc.; onboard battery holder
  • Power:
    • Input — 8 to 60VDC @ 2W (typical)
    • Up to 7W power supplied to mini-PCIe socket
    • Reverse voltage protection
  • Operating temperature — -40 to 85°C
  • Weight — 28gm
  • Dimensions — 100 x 35 x 13mm
  • Operating system — OpenWrt, OpenEmbedded/Yocto, Android; U-boot bootloader

In addition to the GW5530 SBC, Gateworks also offers a GW11038 development kit that includes the SBC, software, a JTAG programmer, and a power supply.

Further information

The Gateworks GW5530 SBC and GW11038 development kit are currently available, at unlisted prices. Additional details may be found at the company’s GW5530 product page.

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