Emcraft Introduces NXP i.MX 8M SoM and $299 Starter Kit

I first discovered Emcraft Systems in 2011 through their work porting uCLinux to Arm Cortex M3/M4 microcontrollers, and since then the company has kept on working microcontroller software and hardware, but also moved to Arm Cortex A class solutions.

Like most embedded systems companies, Emcraft engineers have also designed their own NXP i.MX 8M system-on-module, but while many have still not announced pricing, and/or show “in development” or “early product announcement” in their product page, Emcraft has started taking pre-order for their i.MX 8M SoM Starter Kit for $299, with shipping scheduled for May 21, 2018 or before.

Let’s check out SOM-IMX8M specifications first:

  • SoC – NXP i.MX8M Quad processor with 4x Cortex A53 cores, 1x Cortex-M4F core, and a Vivante GC7000Lite GPU
  • System Memory – 512MB to 4GB DDR3L/LPDDR4 SDRAM
  • Storage – 4 to 64GB eMMC flash
  • Connectivity – Wireless module supporting 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2×2 MIMO WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, 2x u.FL antenna connectors on-module
  • Power Management – ROHM PMIC
  • 4x 80-pin board-to- board connectors exposing:
    • Display Interfaces – HDMI 2.0a with support for 4K HDR, 1x 4-lane MIPI DSI
    • Audio Interfaces – Up to 1x 8-channel SAI, up to 2x 4-channel SAI, 1x S/PDIF Rx/Tx
    • Camera Interfaces – 2x 4-lane MIPI CSI
    • Storage – 1x SDHC 1.8V/3.3V
    • Connectivity – 1x RGMII (Gigabit Ethernet)
    • USB – 2x USB 3.0 host
    • Up to 4x I2C, 3x SPI, 3x UART, 4x PWM
    • Up to 106x GPIO
    • 1x PCIe Gen2 (1 lane)
    • Boot mode
    • JTAG + ETM
  • Supply Voltage – 5V DC input
  • Dimensions – 80 x 60 mm

They did not include the Gigabit Ethernet transceiver on-module like most of their competitors, meaning it would have to be included in the customer’s carrier board if Ethernet is needed.

The company develops and maintains Linux and Android software BSPs and distributions for their i.MX 8M system-on-module, and as mentioned in the introduction offers a starter kit with the SoM and IMX8M-SOM-BS baseboard offering the following features:

  • 4x board-to-board connectors for SOM-IMX8M module
  • Storage – SD card connector
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 output
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio in/out jack
  • Camera – 2x MIPI CSI via Mini SAS connectors
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (via 1588v2 compliant transceiver) + on-module Wireless module (maybe optional since not soldered on SoM)
  • USB – 1x USB type C port, 1x USB 3.0 type A host port
  • Expansion
    • 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header
    • 1x M.2 slot with PCIe x1, SAI, I2C, and UART
  • Debugging – mini USB port for serial console, ARM JTAG+ETM connector, 20-pin ARM JTAG header
  • Misc – IR receiver, boot selection switch, 2x user LEDs, 2x user push buttons, power & reset buttons, RTC battery holder
  • Power Supply – 12V DC via power barrel jack

The company has already made the OrCAD design files (Schematics, PCB layout, BoM…) for the baseboard available to customers, as well as some documentation, and source code for Linux, U-boot, Qt5 demo, and Yocto Project meta files. Most of the files require you to login to the company’s website.

You’ll find all those resources on Emcraft i.MX 8M SoM product page, as well as the purchase Link for the starter kit. The company also showcased their starter kit at Embedded World 2018 with a demo featuring an animated UI based on Qt/QML 5.8, Alexa Voice Services, video playback, and 3D graphics rendering.

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