When we looked for information about PICO-PI-IMX8M single board computer, we noticed another Raspberry Pi shaped board powered by NXP i.MX 8M processor: MaaXBoard by Embest, an AVNET company.
The board comes with up to 4 GB DDR4 RAM, a MicroSD card slot or eMMC flash for storage, Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi & Bluetooth, HDMI 2.0, USB 3.0 port, MIPI CSI & DSI ports, and of course a the 40-pin “Raspberry Pi” expansion header.
- SoC – NXP i.MX 8MQ quad-core Arm Cortex-A53 processor, Cortex-M4F real-time core, and Vivante GPU with OpenGL/ES 3.1, OpenGL 3.0, Vulkan, OpenCL 1.2
- System Memory – 2GB DDR4 SDRAM (up to 4GB)
- Storage – MicroSD card slot or optional eMMC flash up to 64GB
- Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60 Hz, MIPI DSI display connector
- Video Playback – 4Kp60 with High Dynamic Range (H.265, VP9), 4Kp30 (H.264), 1080p60 (MPEG2, MPEG4p2, VC1, VP8, RV9, AVS/AVS+, H.263, DivX), MJPEG – 8×8
- 2x Audio connectors with SAI/I2S and S/PDIF with support for up to 20 audio channels each @ 384KHz
- DSD512 audio capability
- Audio output via Bluetooth and HDMI
- Camera I/F – MIPI CSI connector
- Gigabit Ethernet
- Dual-band 802.11ac WiFi 5, BLE 4.x
- USB – 2x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB type-C port
- 40-pin Raspberry Pi partially-compatible header for 3.3V I/Os
- Extra GPIO connector
- Misc – Back, Home, and Power buttons, 2x user LEDs
- Power Supply – 5V via USB-C port
- Power Consumption – 2.5W typ.
- Dimensions – 85 x 56 x 12mm
- Temperature Range – 0 ~ 70 Celsius
- Humidity – 20% ~ 90%
MaaXBoard supports Android 9.0 and the Yocto Project 2.5 “Sumo” with U-Boot 2018.03, Linux 4.14.78, and Qt 5.10.1 or greater. Software & hardware documentation is shared in a Dropbox folder, and it’s not a bad thing since the company’s website is really slow.
Typical applications include Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI), entertainment, AI device, building automation, education, machine vision, medical imaging, and embedded computing.
Based on a presentation posted in early July, but likely written a few weeks earlier before Raspberry Pi 4 launch, the company placed MaaXBoard has a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B competitor, and at the time the offer was compelling with much better features compared to the RPi board. But now that Raspberry Pi 4 is out most of the advantages are gone. The board should still be more power-efficient, video and audio features are slightly better, and Android 9.0 is not properly supported on RPi 4 so far.
The board ships in an anti-static bag with a generic safety leaflet. That means you need to source your own USB-C power supply and cables. Price is fair for an i.MX 8M SBC at $60 for the 2GB RAM and MicroSD slot version. More details may be found on the product page. There’s also MaaXBoard Mini with NXP i.MX 8M Mini processor in the works that should be even more efficient thanks to the 14nm processor, but the price has not been announced yet.