Raspberry Pi Zero Sized Kimχ Micro SBC is Equipped with a Quad-Core Processor, an mPCIe Slot

The Raspberry Pi Zero (W/WH) board is great because of its size, price tag, and software support, but processing power is limited with Broadcom BCM2735 SoC only offering a single ARM11 core clocked at 1 GHz.

There are already some more powerful boards in a similar form factor include Banana Pi M2 Zero or FriendlyELEC NanoPi Duo2 both equipped with an Allwinner quad-core Cortex-A7 processor, but there’s another upcoming board with NXP i.MX 8M Mini quad-core 64-bit Cortex-A53 processor. Meet Kimχ Micro (pronounced Kimchi Micro).

Kimx Micro Raspberry Pi Zero Alternative
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Kimχ Micro (preliminary) specifications:

  • SoC – NXP i.MX 8M Mini single to quad-core Cortex-A53 processor @ up to 1.8 GHz, Cortex-M4F real-time core @ up to 400 MHz, Vivante GC NanoUltra 3D GPU + GC320 2D GPU, VPU for 1080p60 video decoding and encoding; (Single and dual-core version of NXP i.MX 8M Mini processor are also compatible)
  • System Memory – 2GB LPDDR4
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash, MicroSD card socket, serial EEPROM
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 Type-C port for power and data
  • Expansion
    • mPCIe socket for wireless cards (e.g. WIFi, 4G LTE, or LoRa).
    • Sparkfun Qwiic header
    • 2x 60-pin high-density I/O headers with Ethernet, USB, camera, display, SAI audio, I2C, SPI, GPIO, PCIe, etc…
  • Debugging – 10-pin JTAG header footprint, Cortex-M4 UART “M4” header, Cortex-A53 “Console” header
  • Misc – Power button, button 1 (boot selection) and button 2 (user button), R, G, and B LEDs
  • Power Supply
    • USB PD via USB-C port, NX20P3483UKUSB PD and Type-C high-voltage sink/source combo switch and PTN5110NHQZ TCPC compliant USB Power Delivery (PD) PHY IC
    • 5V unpopulated header
    • 2-pin header for 1S LiPo Battery; on-board PMIC, charging, fuel gauge, and battery protection ICs
  • Dimensions – 65 x 32 mm (FYR – Raspberry Pi Zero: 65 x 30 mm)
Raspberry Pi Zero-Like SBC with mPCIe Socket
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Now that we could have a look at the specifications, apart from the size, Kimx Micro is quite different from the Raspberry Pi Zero board. Video output is missing from the board (except via high-speed headers), and you’ll need a USB-C hub to connect USB devices so it’s definitely not a board for (kids) education, but for more advanced users. Besides more powerful 64-bit Arm cores, the SoC also includes a real-time core, offers more flexibility with wireless connectivity via the mPCIe socket, and many more I/Os via the high-speed expansion connectors.

Power supply options are quite interesting too, as I think it’s the first board of this type (tiny Linux board) to offer USB PD power/charging, and it also supports LiPo battery power. Another advantage is that it is open-source hardware, and that’s how I managed to derive somewhat detailed specifications since documentation is WiP: reading the BoM and KiCad schematics & PCB layout which you’ll find on Github. Everything is licensed under CERN-OHL-S V.2. Linux will be supported via a layer for the Yocto Project.

GetLab received the first PCB samples in late April, and are still working on debugging the board, and possibly making a new revision with fixes. Once the board is ready, it will be offered through GroupGets platform.

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tkaiser
tkaiser
10 months ago

> you’ll need a USB-C hub to connect USB devices

Aren’t there USB Hi-Speed data lines exposed on pins 36/38 of the mPCIe connector?

tkaiser
tkaiser
10 months ago

> it’s not overly convenient to connect something like a USB keyboard

While I don’t think a keyboard is the best example for this device I agree in general. Especially since the 5V needed for normal USB peripherals aren’t exposed on the mPCIe connector as well.

David Willmore
David Willmore
10 months ago

Is there anything else on teh mPCIe connector, say, maybe some actual PCIe lines? (guessing not)

tkaiser
tkaiser
10 months ago

Both USB Hi-Speed and one PCIe Gen2 lane on the connector.

itchy n scratchy
itchy n scratchy
10 months ago

That sounds quite interesting.
For embedded control 1GB is ample, for other things I’d wish it was more 😉

Is there anything wrt the price known?

bernstein
bernstein
10 months ago

great little board. especially since there is no 64bit raspi zero or alternative.

however without a breakout for these high-density I/O headers, this is basically DOA.

given what on these headers it would be easy to provide a cape fixing all the sticking points (e.g. with usb-a, rj45, poe, video, …)

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