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Wireless-rich “WaRP7” module aims i.MX7 at wearables, IoT

May 18, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 1,347 views

NXP and Element14 unveiled a tiny “WaRP7” module for wearables and IoT that combines an i.MX7 Solo SoC with WiFi, Bluetooth, BLE, NFC, and MikroBus expansion.

Element14 has partnered with NXP on an update to the original Freescale WaRP board, which ran on the Freescale (now NXP) i.MX6 Solo SoC. The WaRP7 shares the same Wearables Reference Platform (WaRP) branding as the WaRP, and is similarly a sandwich-style COM with I/O daughter card design running Linux and Android.

Like the original, it’s aimed at battery-powered wearables like sports and heart rate monitors, as well as IoT devices such as smart home gizmos. The WaRP7 kit is priced at $100, which is down from $149 for the original, but still way above the cost of most single-core hacker boards.

Two views of the WaRP7 module
(click images to enlarge)

The WaRP7 runs on the single-core NXP i.MX7 Solo, built on a Cortex-A7 architecture that is more power-efficient than the Cortex-A9-based i.MX6.

WaRP7 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The original two-board WaRP design (shown below) offered a separate Cortex-M4 Kinetis microcontroller for offloading real-time data collection tasks. With the i.MX7, this is no longer necessary, as the SoC already integrates the Cortex-M4 chip.

Original WaRP7 COM + carrier board design
(click image to enlarge)

Although the WaRP7 is billed as an “open source design” that “allows developers to take the platform as a starting point and innovate without licensing restrictions,” Element14 has yet to post detailed spec lists, let alone schematics and the like. As with the original WaRP, the board is billed as being tiny, but we never see the dimensions. A Quick Start guide instead points to an insert document with detail views of what is called the WaRP7, but appears to be the original WaRP.

What we do know is that the WaRP7 features a generous 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM and 8GB eMMC 5.0 flash. Unlike the original, the board is equipped with WiFi (802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.1, Bluetooth LE (Low Energy), and NFC.

Other new features not found on the original include an audio port, a USB OTG port, and a MIPI-DSI port with an optional touchscreen. There’s also a MIPI-CSI camera port.

Also new is a MikroBus expansion connector, found on hacker boards like the HummingBoard-Gate. The connector offers access to more than 200 of MikroElektronika’s Click add-on sensor and I/O daughter boards.

The board is further equipped with an accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope, and LEDs. There’s an NXP PF3001 PMIC designed specifically for the i.MX7, as well as a BC3770 2A switching li-ion battery charger with USB OTG boost supply and intelligent power path management.

The WaRP7 is available with open source Linux 3.14 and Android 5.1 BSPs. It’s supported by the Element14 community site.

Further information

The WaRP7 kit is available for pre-order now for $100. No ship date was mentioned. More information and direct sales may be found at Element14 WaRP7 product page. Element14 will showcase the WaRP7 at the NXP FTF Technology Forum through May 19 at the JW Marriott in Austin, Texas.

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One response to “Wireless-rich “WaRP7” module aims i.MX7 at wearables, IoT”

  1. Richard Krehbiel says:

    In the picture, there’s a camera mounted on the board.

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