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Meet NXP i.MX8 Processor Families: i.MX 8 for High performance, i.MX 8M for Audio/Video & i.MX 8X for Low Power

October 6th, 2016 4 comments

Freescale and then NXP have been talking about i.MX8 processors for several years, and this spring unveiled i.MX 8 Multisensory Enablement Kit without giving much details about the processor except it would include both Cortex A72 & A53 cores. But NXP put out a press release yesterday about “Multisensory Automotive eCockpit Platform to Advance Multimedia Experiences in Future Cars” which appears to be the same news but with different words, except the content of the PR has more interesting bits such as:

The new family, which is based on up to six 64-bit ARMv8-A technology processor cores and includes a HiFi 4 DSP, LPDDR4 and DDR4 memory support as well as dual Gigabit Ethernet with audio video bridging (AVB) capability, is designed to advance automotive dashboard graphics such as instrument clusters, infotainment visuals, heads-up displays, rear-seat screens and more. Capable of driving four HD screens with independent content or a 4K screen, the new devices introduced today include:

  • i.MX 8QuadMax which integrates two ARM Cortex®-A72 cores, four Cortex-A53 cores, two Cortex-M4F cores and two GC7000XS/VX GPUs
  • i.MX 8QuadPlus which integrates one ARM Cortex-A72 core, four Cortex-A53 cores, two Cortex-M4F cores and two GC7000LiteXS/VX GPUs
  • i.MX 8Quad which integrates four Cortex-A53 cores, two Cortex-M4F cores and two GC7000LiteXS/VX GPUs
Click to Enlarge - Source NXP and EETimes

Click to Enlarge – Source NXP and EETimes

Hmm… SoCs with two identical GPUs? That’s because automotive applications often require multiple operating systems running on a single processor, with maybe one part handling the “infotainment” screen, and another taking care of the dashboard, which has to be 100% stable. This is usually handled by a software hypervisor but i.MX 8 processors can do this mostly using hardware virtualization, and does not require safety critical and non-safety critical software to share the same part of the hardware.

The new processors currently support for Android, Linux, FreeRTOS, QNX, Green Hills, and Dornerworks XEN, multiple temperature grades including automotive AEC-Q100 grade 3 (-40° to 125° C Tj), industrial (-40° to 105° C Tj), and consumer (-20° to 105° C Tj), and are fully supported on NXP’s 10 and 15-year Longevity Program. You’ll find a few more details about NXP i.MX8 processors slated to go into mass production in Q1 2017 on the product page.

However, while searching for more details about i.MX 8, I’ve come across a PDF file dated July 15, 2016, revealing more i.MX8 processor families are on the way with i.MX 8M series for audio/video applications with 4K VP9/H.265 and HDR support, and i.MX 8X series based on  ARM Cortex A35 / M4 cores for low power applications.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The document also informs us that two more i.MX 8 processors are planned with i.MX 8Dual and i.MX 8DualLite dual core Cortex A53 SoCs.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

But let’s go back to i.MX 8M series with four SKUs namely 8M Quad Video, 8M Dual Video, 8M Quad Audio, and 8M Solo Audio.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

All features one, two or four Cortex A53 cores, a real-time Cortex M4 cores, 1080p to 4K video support, 20 channels audio, USB 2.0 or 3.0 interfaces, and DTS and Dolby Atmos support. The processors will be used in streaming media clients, networked speakers, soundbars or AV receivers, or some embedded clients in consumer or industrial sectors.

NXP i.MX 8X series will first include 3 SKUs: i.MX 8QuadXPlus, i.MX 8DualXPlus, and i.MX 8DualX all powered by one to four ARM Cortex A35 cores and supporting up to 3 displays.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The processors will target display and audio applications, 3D graphic display clusters, telematics and V2X (Vehicle to everything) applications.

NXP i.MX 8M and 8X are not listed on NXP website yet, but I’d assume they’d go to mass production sometimes in 2017, when they may have become Qualcomm i.MX 8 processors…

ADLINK CM1-86DX3 Dual Core Vortex86DX3 SBC Complies with PC/104 Standard

December 1st, 2015 No comments

Adlink has recently introduced a rugged industrial single board computer based on PC/104 standard with anISA bus, and powered by DM&P Vortex86DX3 dual core processor combined with 2GB RAM, SATA and CFast for storage, and Fast & Gigabit Ethernet for networking.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Adllink CM1-86DX3 board specifications:

  • SoC – DM&P Vortex86DX3 dual core x86 processor @ 1GHz with 2D GPU, FPU, 32K I-Cache, 32K D-Cache, and 512KB L2 Cache
  • Memory – 2GB DDR3L
  • Storage – SATA, CFast socket.
  • Video Output – VGA; 18/24-bit single-channel TLL/LVDS
  • Connectivity – 1x integrated Fast Ethernet, 1x Gigabit Ethernet (via Intel i210T)
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0
  • Serial – 2x RS232/422/485,2x RS232,
  • Other I/Os -8x GPIO, 8x A/D
  • Misc – RTC; watchdog; PS/2 port; Smart Embedded Management Agent (SEMA) functions such as a timer, temperature. monitor, fail-safe BIOS, etc…
  • Power Supply – 5V DC (AT mode); Consumption: ~6-7 W
  • Dimensions – 96 x 90mm (PC/104 specifications 2.6 form factor)
  • Temperature Range – Operating: 0 to 60°C; storage: -55 to +85°C
  • Shock (non-operating) – 50G peak-to-peak, 11ms duration, MIL-STD-202G Method 213B
  • Vibration (operating) – 11.96 Grms, 50-2000 Hz, each axis, MIL-STD-202G Method 214A
Adlink CM1-86DX3 PC/104 SBC Block Diagram

Adlink CM1-86DX3 PC/104 SBC Block Diagram

You’ll have noticed very few of the usual connectors can be found on the board, as most I/Os are routed via PC/104 expansion busses. Supported operating systems include Linux, WES7, WES2009, and QNX, while Windows CE 6.0 and WEC7 can be supported on request.

Adlink board is selling for $425 on WDL Systems, with the optional cable kit and passive heatsink going for $75 and $38 respectively. Further information may be found on Adlink CM1-86DX3 product page.

Via Linux Gizmos

Vortex86DX3 is a New x86 SoC for Embedded Systems

April 9th, 2015 5 comments

Intel is already making embedded version of their processor with example with Bay Trail-I or Quark SoCs, but Taiwan based DMP Electronics has also been making x86 SoC such as Vortex86EX that can be found in $39 86duino Zero board, which must be one the cheapest, if not the cheapest, x86 board on the market. Of course, this is not designed to run Windows and Office, but rather some embedded (IoT) applications. The company has recently launched Vortex86DX3, a more powerful x86 dual core processor, suited to embedded systems and communication products such as thin clients, NAT routers, gateways, etc…

Vortex86DX3_Block_DiagramDMP Vortex86DX3 specifications:

  • Dual Core x86 Processor @ 1GHz with 6 stage pipeline, x86 instruction set
  • Floating point – Implements ANSI/IEEE standard 754-1985 for binary Floating-Point Architecture
  • Cache – 8-way 32K I-Cache, 8-way 32K D-Cache,  4-way 512KB L2 Cache with write through or write back policy
  • System DDR3 Control Interface – 32-bit data bus; DDR3 size support up to 2GB (Block diagram says 4GB?)
  • Embedded 2MB Flash For BIOS storage
  • External Storage
    • IDE Controller
    • PATA 100(2x HDD) or 2x SD at Primary Channel
    • SATA 1.5Gb/s (1 Port) at Secondary Channel
  • GPU Control Unit
    • UMA architecture, VGA controller, 2D Graphics engine support
    • Max display [email protected] with 234MHz video clock
    • Dual Display support:, only one display can be 1920×1200, 1 DVO (24bits) & 1 D-SUB or 2 DVO (12bit x 2)
    • Support H.264 1080p video decode
  • 1x MAC Controller (Fast Ethernet)
  • 2x PCIe Control Interface – 3.3V I / O
  • USB 2.0 Host Support – 4 ports; supports HS, FS and LS
  • HDA Controller
  • ISA Bus Interface – AT clock programmable; 8/16 Bit ISA device with Zero-Wait-State
  • DMA & 8259 Interrupt Controller
  • JTAG Interface supported for software debugging
  • Counter / Timers – 2 sets of 8254 timer controller; Timer output is 5V tolerance I/O on 2nd Timer
  • Real Time Clock – Less than 2.5uA (3.0V) power consumption in Internal RTC Mode while chip is power-off.
  • 9x FIFO UART Port;  1x Parallel Port
  • General Programmable I/O, 2x  I2C bus; 2x SPI bug, 8x ADC interface
  • Misc – MTBF Counter; General Shift Interface Support, Temperature sensor
  • Clocks –  Input:  25 MHz , 14.318MHz;  output: DDR3 clock
  • Operating Voltage Range – Core voltage: 0.9V± 5%; I / O voltage: 1.2V ± 5%, 1.5V ± 5%, 1.8V ± 5%, 3.3 V ± 10 %
  • Operating Temperature – -25℃ ~ 70℃
  • Package Type – 31x31mm, 720 Ball PBGA

It’s interesting to see some legacy interfaces like IDE, PATA and ISA bus on this processor, which may not be available on other recent processors. A German distributor also mentions the processor should support DOS, Windows, Linux, QNX, VxWorks and other popular 32-bit operating systems. I could not find another board or hardware based on the new processor, but DMP should probably soon release a VDX3 motherboard for evaluation, as they did for their other processors.

Evaluation Board (EVB) for Vortex86DX2 Processor

Evaluation Board (EVB) for Vortex86DX2 Processor

Most of the information above was taken from DMP Electronics Vortex86DX3 product page.

Thanks to José for the tip.

$329 Texas Instruments OMAP5432 EVM / Development Board

May 21st, 2013 7 comments

Earlier this month, Texas Instruments has apparently discreetly, not to say surreptitiously, launched their OMAP5432 evaluation module. Beside the dual Cortex A15, dual Cortex M4 OMAP5 SoC, the board comes with 2GB RAM, a 4GB eMMC module, USB 3.0, SATA and more.

OMAP5432_EVMOMAP5432 EVM Specifications:

  • SoC – Texas Instruments OMAP5432 Multicore ARM Cortex A15/M4 processor with PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3L  (implemented using 4x Micron 4Gb DDR3L devices (MT41K256M16HA-125:E)
  • Storage – 4GB EMMC/iNAND Ultra device + SD/MMC 4-bit Micro-SD card cage
  • Display / Video:
    • HDMI via native OMAP HDMI interface
    • DSI Display Expansion (DSIPORTA and DSIPORTC) via 100-pin expansion connector
    • Parallel Display Expansion (DPI) via 100-pin expansion connector
  • Audio – Audio Jack 3.5mm, Stereo out & in, Headset Jack (earphone/microphone)
  • USB – 3x USB HS 2.0 (2 via USB connector, one via 0.1″ header), 1x USB 3.0, and 1x USB OTG 2.0/3.0
  • Connectivity – 10/100 802.3u Ethernet. No Wi-Fi, but for some reasons there are not one, but two  2.4G/5G chip antennas on the board…
  • Camera – MIPI CSI-2 camera and/or parallel camera/dual MIPI CSI-2 sensors supported via camera expansion connectors
  • Debug Interfaces –  UART via micro-USB connector, JTAG, Debug LEDs, GPIOs
  • Misc – 1x user defined button, 1x reset button
  • Power – 12V input
  • PCB info – 127.00mm x 100.84 mm, 10 layers (8 Routing)
OMAP5432 EVM Description (Click to Enlarge)

OMAP5432 EVM Description (Click to Enlarge)

The board supports Linux, Android, QNX, and Green Hills Inetgrity, and evaluation software or BSP for the 4 operating systems are available in TI website. Documentation appears to be lacking at this stage, as I could only find a Quick Start Guide on the site. They’ve also posted some videos, including the getting started video below, but they also have 2 others videos showing how to run Android and Linux running on the platform.

The board is said to have been available since the 1st of May, and it can be purchase for $329 from SVTronics. You may find further information on TI’s OMAP5432-EVM page, and TI E2E forums.

Thanks to Max for the tip!

QNX CAR 2.0 Demo and Texas Instruments OMAP5 Jacinto 6 Processor

January 10th, 2013 No comments

There’s a Bentley GT concept car at CES 2012 to demonstrate QNX CAR 2.0 platform that provides dual screen support with the dashboard and an infotainment display for the automotive industry. Under the hood, the platform features TI DLP technology, and TI OMAP5 and Jacinto processors running QNX Neutrino RTOS.

Bentley GT Concept Car Featuring QNX CAR 2.0 dashboard and user display

Bentley GT Concept Car Featuring QNX CAR 2.0 dashboard and user display

Texas Instruments and QNX uploaded a video demo of the concept on YouTube. They explain that they switched their platform from HTML5 to native OpenGL for optimal performance using Storyboard Suite from Crank software, and they can now show 3D maps smoothly on the platform. The 1080p user display is curved to be more user friendly (better touch angles). You must have certainly heard about touchscreens before, but maybe never heard about “pretouch”. Pretouch is a feature of the system that detect when you hand comes close to a control virtual and pops up a virtual menu. The dashboard shows virtual instrument clusters, that shows the tachometers, and other car system information, as well as directions if you are using GPS navigation.

The system comes with standard features such as media player, climate control, etc.. as well as a full duplex video conferencing system with 7kHz audio. In the last part of the demo, they showed that you can get information and control your car with your smartphone, and open/close windows, open the doors, and even horn, although they did not dare to demonstrate the latter at CES 2013.

OMAP5 Jacinto 6 processor (DRA74x) is the latest automotive SoC by Texas Instruments. Jacinto 6 is based on the OMAP5 platform, and features 2 ARM Cortex-A15 cores, multiple Imagination Technologies POWERVR SGX544-MPx graphics cores, and adds TI C66x DSP for software defined radio and advanced audio processing. High-definition surround view cameras, multiple concurrent HD displays, USB 3.0, PCIe2, and SATA are all supported by this SoC, and it also adds automotive peripherals such as CAN, MOST Media Local Bus (MLB), Ethernet AVB, PCI Express and dual external memory interfaces.
TI Jacinto 6 Block Diagram
QNX, Linux, and Android are supported on the platform. The DRA74x “Jacinto 6” processor will sample in mid-2013 and is expected to be available for production by the H2 2014. You’ll need to be an “high-volume automotive manufacturer” to buy it though.

You can get more information by reading QNX CAR 2.0 product brief and TI Jacinto 6 technical brief.

TQ Group TQMa6X Embedded Modules based on Freescale i.MX6 Processors

November 20th, 2012 No comments

TQ Group has recently unveiled several TQMa6X embedded CPU modules that feature Freescale i.MX6 Solo, Dual and Quad processors, targeting screen, multi-touch, and multi-display applications as well as conventional controlling tasks.

Freescale i.MX6 Solo, Dual and Quad SoM

3 modules are available:

  • TQMa6S-AA – Single Cortex A9 / 1,2 GHz, 2 GB eMMC Flash, 512 MB DDR3, 64 kB EEPROM, -25°C…+85°C
  • TQMa6D – Dual Cortex A9 / 1,2 GHz, 2 GB eMMC Flash, 512 MB DDR3, 64 kB EEPROM, -25°C…+85°C
  • TQMa6Q – Quad Cortex A9 / 1,2 GHz, 2 GB eMMC Flash, 1 GB DDR3, 64 kB EEPROM, -25°C…+85°C

TQMa6X modules share the following specifications:

  • Processor – Freescale MCIMX6 Single/Dual/Quad Cortex A9 up to 1,2 GHz
  • System Memory – Up to 2 GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • Storage – Up to 64 GByte eMMC Flash, EEPROM: 0 / 64 kbit and up to 128 MB NOR-Flash.
  • System interfaces:
    • CAN – 2x FlexCAN
    • ESAI (Enhanced Serial Audio Interface)
    • Ethernet – 1x 10/100/1000 Mbit (IEEE 1588)
    • I²C – Up to 2x
    • SATA
    • SPDIF
    • SPI – Up to 3x CSPI
    • SSI / I²S – Up to 3x
    • UART – Up to 5x
    • USB – 3x USB 2.0 High-Speed Host, 1x USB 2.0 High-Speed OTG
    • PCIe
    • WEIM bus (Wireless Extension Interface Module)
    • 1x 16-bit camera interface
  • STKa6D Set (Click to Enlarge)

  • Other interfaces, busses & misc.:
    • Debugging – CPU JTAG Interface
    • RTC
    • Temperature sensor
  • Video Output:
    • HDMI
    • Parallel 2x 24-Bit (RGB) UXGA
    • Dual LVDS
  • Dimensions – 74mm x 54mm
  • Power supply: 5 V
  • Temperature range – Commercial: 0°C … +70°C, extended: -25°C … +85°C

The company will provide support for Linux and QNX operating systems, and can provide Android and WEC7 on request.

TQ Group will also offer an evaluation kit “STKa6D” featuring TQMa6D module (Freescale i.MX6Dual) together with a baseboard giving access to most (all?) interfaces of the module. There’s no detailed specifications of the starter kit at the moment.

Prototypes should be available in Q1 2013. For further details, please visit TQ Group TQMa6X page.

Via: Embedded Control Europe

Linux 3.4 Release

May 21st, 2012 No comments

Linus Torvalds has just announced the release of Linux Kernel 3.4 on the 20th of May:

I just pushed out the 3.4 release.

Nothing really exciting happened since -rc7, although the workaround for a linker bug on x86 is larger than I’d have liked at this stage, and sticks out like a sore thumb in the diffstat. That said, it’s not like even that patch was really all that scary.

In fact, I think the 3.4 release cycle as a whole has been fairly calm. Sure, I always wish for the -rc’s to calm down more quickly than they ever seem to do, but I think on the whole we didn’t have any big disruptive events, which is just how I like it. Let’s hope the 3.5 merge window is a calm one too.

Linus

Linux 3.3 merged Android drivers to mainline, added further improvements to btrfs and ext-4 file systems, several networking features and improvements (Open Vswitch, bufferbloat limitations…), Texas Instruments C6X DSP support and EFI boot support.

Linux 3.4 brings the following key changes:

  • Btrfs Updates: 
    • Repair and data recovery tools: btrfs-restore + better fsck
    • Metadata blocks bigger than 4KB
    • Performance improvements: The throughput is now much more constant. See file creation test in 3.3 vs 3.4. The same test that previously took 354 seconds, now takes 204 seconds.
    • Better error handling.
  • GPU Drivers:
    • Early support of Nvidia GeForce 600 ‘Kepler
    • Support for AMD RadeonHD 7xxx and Trinity APU series
    • Support of Intel Medfield graphics
  • New X32 ABI: 64 bit mode with 32 bit pointers: The ability to use 32-bit pointer is 64-bit mode allows the higher performance of 64-bit mode together with the smaller footprint of 32-bit pointer.You can check the presentation slides for details.
  • x86 cpu driver autoprobing: Linux adds auto probing support for cpu drivers, based on the x86 cpuid information, in particular based on vendor/family/model number and also based on CPUID feature bits. This solve a loading failure with SSE 4.2 accelerated CRC module which can significantly boost (once it’s loaded) the performance of BTRFS.
  • Support for external read-only device as origin source of a thin provisioned LVM volume: One use case for this is VM hosts that want to run guests on thinly-provisioned volumes but have the base image on another device.
  • “perf” tool improvements:
    • GTK2 report GUI perf report – It can be launched with ‘perf report –gtk’
    • Better assembly visualization – ‘perf annotate’ has visual improvements for assembly
    • Hardware based branch profiling – Some CPUs can support this feature (x86 Intel CPUs with the ‘LBR’ hardware feature) and this is support in perf. Command line: ‘perf record -b’
    • Filtering of users and threads – Filter users with ‘–uid’ parameter and processes & threads with ‘-p’ and ‘-t’ parameters.
  • Yama’ security module:Yama is a new security module (like selinux, apparmor…) that collects a number of system-wide DAC security protections that are not handled by the core kernel itself.
  • QNX6 filesystem: Read-only support for qnx6fs used by newer QNX operating system versions such as  Neutrino.

Further details on Linux 3.4 are available on Kernelnewbies.org.

Freescale i.MX6 Automotive & Aerospace Infotainment Applications

January 19th, 2012 No comments

Freescale showcased i.MX6 Series (ARM Cortex-A9) based in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems at CES 2012. Charbax (armdevices.net) has an interesting interview, where they show IVI products based on Freescale i.MX6 series running QNX operating system with the dashboard, a control panel and a tablet for the back seats. There are also some impressive 3D demos as well as real-time 3D modelling of the car thanks to 360 cameras and OpenCL support in the iMX6 GPU. 3D modelling allows the driver to see a top view of the car while parking in narrow spaces. Freescale provides Long Term Support (LTS) for processors used in the automotive and aerospace industries and the company has committed to 15 years of support for the i.MX6 series.

Categories: NXP i.MX Tags: automotive, ces 2012, freescale, qnx