Archive

Posts Tagged ‘yocto’

Gumstix Expands Raspberry Pi Support with Stepper Motor, Breakout Board, LoRa PoE, and Yocto Linux

October 14th, 2017 2 comments

Gumstix has recently released of three new expansion boards compatible with Raspberry Pi boards and Compute Modules:

  • Gumstix Pi Stepper HAT for 4-wire stepper motors
  • Gumstix Pi Newgate breakout boards exposing all I/Os of Raspberry Pi Compute Module and Compute Module 3
  • Gumstix Pi Conduit PoE adding PoE support to their LoRa gateway kit based on RisingHF RHF0M301 LoRa concentrator module.

The company also offers a custom Yocto 2.2 (Morty) Linux images with support for their Pi HATs and Compute Module carrier boards.

Gumstix Pi Stepper HAT

The expansion board is designed with the 40-pin header for Raspberry Pi products, and includes Texas Instruments DRV8846, a 4 – 18V, 1.4A stepper motor driver with 1/32 microstepping providing rotational accuracy below a tenth of a degree, and 6,400 distinct positions. The board supports 6 to 36V batteries via a 3-pin headers, includes 256 kbit serial EEPROM, and can be used for printers, scanners, video security cameras, projectors, and other automated equipment.

You’ll find technical documentation and software on the product page, where you can also purchase the board for $35.

Gumstix Pi Newgate

Click to Enlarge

The Gumstix Pi Newgate is a breakout board for RPi Compute Module and Compute Module 3 that exposes all I/Os of their 200-pin SO-DIMM connector via 2.54mm pitch headers with 3 terminals for each pin. The board is also equipped with a micro USB console port, and level shifters to accommodate 3.3 and 1.8 volt logic levels for peripheral devices.

The breakout board goes for $85 on Gumstix website.

Gumstix Pi Conduit PoE

Pi Conduit PoE is an update of their earlier board with added Gigabit Ethernet and PoE support, and removal of cellular support:

  • 200-pin SO-DIMM connector for Raspberry Pi Compute Module / Raspberry Pi 3 Compute Module (CM3 / CM3L)
  • Headers for RisingRF RHF0M301 LoRa gateway/concentrator module
  • NimbeLink Skywire 2G/3G/4G cellular modem connector
  • Gigabit Ethernet jack with PoE support implemented via ASIX AX88179 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 to Gigabit Ethernet Controller
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for debugging via an FTDI USB to TTL chip
  • Misc – User (GPIO5) and reset buttons
  • Power Supply – 5V via power barrel

If you’re using any of the Raspberry Pi modules, you’ll however be limited to the USB 2.0 interface (480 Mbps) for Gigabit Ethernet, but that’s still an improvement of the 10/100M Ethernet often used with the modules.

The board sells for $150, excluding RisinRF and RPi CM(3) modules.

Yocto Linux and Hardware Customization

Gumstix does not rely on Raspbian anymore, as the company provides custom Yocto Linux disk images (Morty) with support for Gumstix Pi HATs, Compute Module carrier boards, relevant drivers, and systemd services. The company also offers a “Smart repository” with a variety of packages for easier installation. For all the three products listed above you’ll find two Yocto images, one with XFCE environment, one headless with access to the command line.

All three boards have also been designed with Geppeto, the company’s web platform for hardware design, and can be customized to your needs and ordered right in your web browser.

Rock960 Board is a 96Boards Compliant Board Powered by Rockchip RK3399 SoC

September 29th, 2017 23 comments

So it looks like Rockchip is soon going to join 96Boards family with Rock960 board. Developed by a Guangzhou based startup called Varms, the board will be powered by Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core SoC, and comply with 96Boards CE specifications.

Rock960 board preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – Rochchip RK3399 hexa-core big.LITTLE processor with two ARM Cortex A72 cores up to 1.8/2.0 GHz, four Cortex A53 cores @ 1.4 GHz, and  ARM Mali-T860 MP4 GPU with OpenGL ES 1.1 to 3.2 support, OpenVG1.1, OpenCL 1.2 and DX 11 support
  • System Memory – 2 or 4GB RAM
  • Storage – 16 or 32GB eMMC flash + micro SD card
  • Video Output – 1x HDMI 2.0 up to [email protected] Hz with CEC and HDCP
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO up to 867 Mbps, and Bluetooth 4.1 LE (AP6356S module) with two on-board antennas, two u.FL antenna connectors
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 3.0 type C port with DP 1.2 support
  • Expansion
    • 1x 40 pin low speed expansion connector – UART, SPI, I2C, GPIO, I2S
    • 1x 60 pin high speed expansion connector – MIPI DSI, USB, MIPI CSI, HSIC, SDIO
    • 1x M.2 key M PCIe connector with support for up to 4-lane PCIe 2.1 (max bandwidth: 2.0 GB)
  • Misc – Power & u-boot buttons. 6 LEDS (4x user, 1x Wifi, 1x Bluetooth)
  • Power Supply – 8 to 18V DC input (12V typical) as per 96Boards CE specs; Battery header
  • Dimensions – 85 x 54 mm (96Boards CE form factor)

The board will support Android (AOSP), Ubuntu, the Yocto Project, and Armbian. The website shows the word “official” for the first three, and lists Canonical as partner. The company will also offer various at least one expansion board, and starter kit based on Seeed Studio Grove system with a mezzanine board with plenty of Grove headers, an LCD display, and various Grove modules like buzzers, relays, buttons, LEDs, temperature sensors, and so on.

Rock960 is both simpler and smaller than other RK3399 boards such as Firefly-RK3399 and VS-RK3399, so I’d expect it to be cheaper, hopefully below $100, once it becomes available. The website is still very much under construction, but you may find few more details there.

Thanks to mininodes for the tip.

Save Power, Hibernate Your Embedded Linux System

August 30th, 2017 4 comments

This is a guest post by Tharma Rajan G, Project Lead, e-con Sytems.

What is the best way to save power consumption of your embedded Linux system? Is there any way to save max power and resume operation ? Yes. It is ‘hibernate’ mode, one of the Power Modes in Linux. This article talks about how we utilized this ‘hibernate mode’ in our Reference Platform Kit Meissa-I with eSOMiMX6-micro SOM.

Click to Enlarge

Meissa-I is a dual board solution that features eSOMiMX6-micro Computer on Module & carrier board. Meissa-I development board runs Linux and Android Marshmallow (under development). eSOMiMX6-micro is based on Dual/Quad core ARM CortexTM-A9 based CPU @ 800MHz/Core. It has 1GB LPDDR2 and 4GB eMMC FLASH (expandable upto 32GB). The eSOMiMX6-micro module also has the Wireless LAN and Bluetooth module.

Linux Power Modes

Power Management is a key feature in embedded Linux system and there are two types for implementing the power management on x86 platforms:

  1. Advanced Power Management (APM)
  2. Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI)

ACPI is the newer of the two technologies and puts power management in the hands of the operating system, allowing for more intelligent power management than is possible with BIOS controlled APM.

For ARM based systems however, APM/ACPI is not used. Instead power management in ARM Linux System, is implemented using sysfs entries. Following are sysfs entries for power management.

SI.No Sysfs Entry Purpose Notes
1 /sys/power/state
  1. To get supported system sleep states
  2. To set one of the supported system sleep states
Comparing to ACPI, this entry handles System Sleep States (Sx)
2 /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/
  1. To get supported cpufreq governors and current governor for DVFS
  2. To set one of the supported cpufreq governors as current governor
Comparing to ACPI, this entry handles Processor low-power states (Px)
3 /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpuN/online
  1. To check whether CPUN is turned on in SMP (or multi core) system. Here N is not 0 (i.e boot core)
  2. To turn CPUN on/off in SMP (or multi core) system. Here N is not 0 (i.e boot core)
Comparing to ACPI, this entry handles CPU states (Cx)
4 /sys/devices/…/power/wakeup
  1. To set this device as wake up source for waking up the system from one of sleep states.
  2. To check whether this device is wakeup source or not
A wake up source device can not be put in low power states. Other non wake up source devices can be in low-power states.For example,

  1. Debug Serial port as wake up source

2. Ethernet LAN receive data as wake up source

3. RTC alarm as wake up source

5 /sys/class/thermal/thermal_zone0/temp 1. To get the CPU temperature current CPU temp in milli-celcius.
6 /sys/class/thermal/thermal_zone0/trip_point_1_temp 1. To get critical temperature value2. To set critical temperature value when the measured on die temperature exceeds the critical threshold → reboot the system (protection mechanism to prevent damage).
7 /sys/class/thermal/thermal_zone0/trip_point_0_temp 1. To get passive temperature value2. To set passive temperature value The passive trip point is a preventative measure before reaching critical that does things to lower temperature such as reducing cpu/gpu frequencies. The thermal driver works with CPU Freq mechanism

The power management subsystem provides a unified sysfs interface to userspace, regardless of what architecture or platform one is running. Generally sysfs filesystem is mounted in /sys directory and one can see that power management related entries in /sys/power path.

Using the entry /sys/power/state, one can get supported power states (or power modes) of the embedded system. And also one can put that embedded system in one of those supported power states.

System Sleeping States and Description

Sl.No

Label

Description

Alternative name

1

freeze

Will freeze user space process and put all I/O Devices into low-power state.

Make the processors to spend more time in idle state.

Suspend-To-Idle

2

standby

Addition to freeze power mode features , nonboot cpus are put into offline and all low-level system functions are suspended during transition into this state.

None of the operating state is lost ( i.e the cpu retains power ), so the system easily starts up again where it left off.

Power-On Suspend

3

mem

Offer more power savings as everything in the system is put into low power state except RAM, and RAM will be working in self refresh mode to retains its contents.

This mode also supports standby power mode.

Suspend-to-RAM or STR

4

disk

Take a snapshot of current system state and save it into a disk ( i.e swap space ) . While resuming , snapshot image is read and memory is restored to its pre-suspend state.

STD will put the system to the lowest power state.

Suspend-to-Disk or STD or Hibernate

Swap Memory for Hibernate Power Mode

Swap memory

Swap memory is the area on disk that is reserved to be used as extra RAM when your system needs more RAM than what is available. When your embedded Linux system runs out of free memory, then kernel can move some of the inactive pages into swap partition to make free room for active pages in RAM memory. If you plan to use hibernation in your embedded Linux systems, then you swap space have to be at least twice the RAM capacity.

Kernel support for swap memory

Enable swap support in Linux kernel

Click to Enlarge

Test swap memory

  1. To test swap memory, we created a simple test application test_swap_mem which will allocate memory infinitely using malloc() API and fill that allocated memory using memset() API. Let’s have a look at the source code
  2. Before creating swap space, Check whether swap space is enabled using free command
    Here swap total , used and free space is marked as 0 which means swap space in not enabled yet.
  3. Run test_swap_mem application as discussed below

    Let us wait till the application reaches OOM.

    Click to Enlarge

    From the above image, you can observe test_swap_mem allocates maximum of 799MB, after that it reaches OOM and also you can confirm swap space is not used by observing Free swap and Total swap is marked as 0 kB and no swap pages are used

  4. Now let we create a swap memory region and test with the same application. Once you decided about the partition block to be used as swap space , you have to mark that partition block as swap partition.
  5. After marking that specific partition as swap partition , you have to prepare it using mkswap tool
  6. Now your swap space is ready to use , then activate swap partition.
  7. First notice how much swap memory is available and then run test_swap_mem application.
    Here 892892 bytes of swap memory region is available. Try to explore how much swap space is used and when OOM will be reached.

    Click to Enlarge

    Yes , swap memory is utilized. As there is no free memory (including swap) available for allocation, kernel throws OOM error hence kills that test application.

Hibernate – Power Mode

Hibernation power mode saves the system state (i.e all the pages created in RAM memory) to swap space and put the system power down.When the system is powered on, the state is restored (i.e pages are moved from swap to RAM memory). To write the system state to swap space, a mechanism called ‘swsusp’ (Swap Suspend ) is used.

Kernel Configuration for Hibernate mode

Click to Enlarge

Now we will prepare the Swap Space to hold the Hibernation Image.

Setup the swap area,

Enable partition for swapping

Run a process, to verify restoring the hibernation image.

Entering into Hibernate

  1. Enter into hibernation state by executing below command.

Resume from Hibernate

Before starting to resume from hibernate state, append resume=/pathto/swapspace command line parameter to read back hibernate image from that specific swap partition. Let us change the bootargs for hibernate resume state , and run the bootcmd.

Click to Enlarge

Now you will observe, hibernate image is read from swap partition and resumed.

Click to Enlarge

Analysis

Power Measurement Analysis

The power data is obtained by computing the product of voltage and current measured.

Hardware and Software Used:

  1. The software version used for the measurement is
    • U-Boot 2016.03
    • Linux Kernel Version 4.1.15.
    • Yocto Krogoth X11 image.
  2. The board used for the measurement is Meissa-I with eSOMiMX6-micro SOM.
  3. The measurements were performed using Fluke 15B+ Digital Multimeter.

Power Consumption details in tested power modes.

Sl.No

Power Mode

Current

(mA)

Voltage

(V)

Power Consumption

(mW)

Description

1

Active

288

3.3

950

In active state, no peripheral is connected with the MEISSA development board except HDMI monitor , MicroSD card and a debug cable which is connected to the development system.

2

Standby

55

3.3

181.5

In standby mode, all the peripherals will be put into sleep state. ARM core and DDR will be active.

3

Suspend

10

3.3

33

In suspend state, all the peripherals along with ARM core will be put into sleep state. DDR will be put into self refreshing mode.

4

Hibernate

0

3.3

0

In hibernate mode , entire system will be put into low power state.

System Power Consumption Chart

Click to Enlarge

Active Mode Power Consumption

Power Domain

Voltage ( V )

Current Consumption (mA)

Power Calculated (mW)

VCC_SW1AB_CORE

1.3

29

37.7

VCC_SW1C_SOC

1.3

262

340.6

VCC_HIGH_IN

3.1

73

226.3

VCC_LDO5

2.4

10

24

VCC_SW3_LPDDR2

1.1

43

47.3

VCC_LDO4_1P8

1.8

1.96

3.52

VCC_SW_3P3

3.3

24

79.2

VCC_1P2

1.1

62

68.2

VCC_1P8

1.8

0.55

0.99

VCC_WIFI_VBAT

3.3

0

0

Total Power

827.81

Standby Mode Power Consumption:

Power Domain

Voltage ( V )

Current Consumption (mA)

Power Calculated ( mW )

VCC_SW1AB_CORE

1.3

13

16.9

VCC_SW1C_SOC

1.3

11

14.3

VCC_HIGH_IN

3.1

34

105.4

VCC_LDO5

2.4

0.27

0.648

VCC_SW3_LPDDR2

1.1

7

7.7

VCC_LDO4_1P8

1.8

0.38

0.684

VCC_SW_3P3

3.3

0

0

VCC_1P2

1.1

0

0

VCC_1P8

1.8

0.24

0.432

VCC_WIFI_VBAT

3.3

0

0

Total Power

146.064

Suspend Mode Power Consumption:

Power Domain

Voltage ( V )

Current Consumption (mA)

Power Calculated ( mW )

VCC_SW1AB_CORE

0.97

0

0

VCC_SW1C_SOC

0.97

3

2.91

VCC_HIGH_IN

2.9

1.64

4.756

VCC_LDO5

2.4

1

2.4

VCC_SW3_LPDDR2

1.1

6

6.6

VCC_LDO4_1P8

1.8

0.37

0.66

VCC_SW_3P3

3.3

1.32

4.35

VCC_1P2

1.1

0

0

VCC_1P8

1.8

0.85

1.53

VCC_WIFI_VBAT

3.3

0

0

Total Power

23.206

Hibernate mode Power Consumption:

Power Domain

Voltage ( V )

Current Consumption (mA)

Power Calculated ( mW )

VCC_SW1AB_CORE

0

0

0

VCC_SW1C_SOC

0

0

0

VCC_HIGH_IN

0

0

0

VCC_LDO5

0

0

0

VCC_SW3_LPDDR2

0

0

0

VCC_LDO4_1P8

0

0

0

VCC_SW_3P3

0

0

0

VCC_1P2

0

0

0

VCC_1P8

0

0

0

VCC_WIFI_VBAT

0

0

0

Total Power

0

Domain Power Consumption Chart :

Click to Enlarge

Boot Time Analysis

App launch time Measurement in Normal Boot.

We have taken our eSOMiMX6Micro SOM as reference, it takes nearly 19 secs to execute watch command which is part of rc.local script file.

Click to Enlarge

App launch time measurement in Resume Mode.

While resuming from hibernate, it takes 16.76 secs to retain and execute the same watch command process state.

Click to Enlarge

Normal Boot and Hibernation Resume Comparison Chart.

Conclusion

From the above analysis on ‘hibernate mode’, we find it to be the best choice for putting the system in low power state. Also, it consumes minimal time for ‘hibernate resuming’ as compared to normal booting time. The only downside we observed is that, manual interaction was required to resume the device from hibernate mode.
I believe, this hibernate power mode analysis will be very useful to you. We will see you next time with another interesting article.

Axiomtek NA362 Network Appliance Features Intel Atom C3538/C3758 Processors, Up to 10 LAN Ports

August 19th, 2017 4 comments

We reported about GIGABYTE MA10-ST0 motherboard powered by a 16-core Intel C3958 Denverton processor earlier this week, but that also corresponded to the official launch of Intel Denverton family, and many companies made announcements for their Denverton boards, products, or COM Express modules including SuperMicro, Kontron, Portwell, and others, such as Axiomtek NA362 Network Appliance powered by Atom C3538 or C3758 processors, and offering up to 10 LAN ports with six GbE RJ-45 ports, and up to four SFP+ cages.

Axiomtek NA362 specifications:

  • SoC (one or the other)
    • Intel Atom C3538 quad core “Denverton” processor @ 2.10 GHz with 8MB cache; 15W TDP
    • Intel Atom C3758 octa core “Denverton” processor @ 2.2 GHz with 16MB cache; 25W TDP
  • System Memory – 2x or 4 x R-DIMM/U-DIMM non-buffer DDR4, up to 64/128GB
  • Storage – 1x 2.5″ SATA3 HDD; 1x mSATA
  • Ethernet
    • 6x 10/100/1000 Mbps RJ45 ports via Intel i210
    • 4x 10 GbE SFP+ cages for C3758 model only
    • One pair LAN Bypass
  • Expansion – 1x PCI Express Mini Card for optional Wi-Fi/3G/LTE
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 port
  • Management – 1x RS-232 (RJ45) console port
  • Misc – Power & network Status LEDs, power switch
  • Power Supply – 1x 12V/5A or 1x 12V/7A power adapter (depends on CPU SKU)
  • Temperature Range – 0°C ~ +40°C
  • Dimensions –  231 x 197 x 44 mm (1U desktop form factor)
  • Weight – Net: 1.64 kg; gross: 2.54 kg with 12V/5A adapter,2.69 kg with 12V/7A adapter
  • Certifications – FCC class B, CE class B

Atom C3538 SoC is equipped with two 10 GbE interface, but Axiomtek decided not to provide any SFP+ cages on the model based on this processor with only the six RJ45 ports.

The appliance supports the Intel Data Plane Development Kit (Intel DPDK), the Yocto Project, as well as Linux, Windows Server 2012 R2, and Windows Server 2016 operating systems. The server is said to be suitable for VPN, network bandwidth controller, firewall and UTM (Unified Threat Management) applications.

Axiomtek NA362 will be available in October 2017 through two SKUs: NA362-DAMI-C3758-US (C3758, 4x DIMM, 10 LAN) and NA362-D6GI-C3538-U (C3538, 2x DIMM, 6 LAN). Check out the product page for further information.

NutsBoard Pistachio 3.5″ Embedded SBC is Powered by NXP i.MX 6Dual/Quad Processor

August 17th, 2017 2 comments

I don’t write about i.MX6 solutions much anymore, since there are so many options available on the market, but Pistachio SBC has been designed by a company I had never heard of before: NutsBoard, and they’ve released documentation and software publicly, which does not always happen in the industrial/embedded space.

Click to Enlarge

Pistachio single board computer specifications:

  • SoC – NXP ARM Cortex-A9 IMX6 Quad/Dual @ 800MHz
  • System Memory –  Up to 2GB LPDDR3
  • Storage – 4GB eMMC flash, 1x SATA interface, 1x micro SD card slot
  • Display I/F / Video Output

    Click to Enlarge

    • 2x LVDS (6 or 8 bit)
    • 1x 24-bit VGA output
    • 1x HDMI port up to 1920×1080 (FHD)
    • 1x I2C AR1021 touch controller
  • Audio – SGTL5000 audio codec with class D amplifier; 1x audio header for speaker and microphone
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (Qualcomm AR8035), industrial grade wireless module  (Jorjin WG7833) with dual band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host interfaces with two USB type A ports, and two internal headers
  • Serial – 1x RS232/422/485 DB9 port, 3x RS232 headers including one for debugging
  • Other I/Os
    • 1x CAN bus
    • 1x I2C, 1x GPIO’s (5 V)
    • 1x PWM
  • Expansion – 1x mPCIE, 1x SIM card slot
  • Misc – RTC with batter slot (no battery by default)
  • Power Supply – 9 to 36V DC input; PMIC NXP PFUZE100
  • Dimensions – 148 x 102mm (3.5″ embedded SBC form factor)
  • Temperature Range – -30 to 70°C
  • Certifications – CE, FCC, RoHS, EMI, ESD and Surge for pre-testing

The company provides Linux 4.1.15, and support for Debian, Buildroot, Yocto Project, and Android 7.1 Nougat. You’ll find source code on pistachio-android-7 github account, software development tools and Android 7.1 firmware for HDMI/VGA or LCD panel in the download page, and documentation such as product brief, hardware manual, and getting started guide in the product page.

Click to Enlarge

The board will officially launch tomorrow (Friday), with the quad core version selling for $164, and the dual core version for $153 for quantities less than 100 pieces, and Pistachio development toolkits with 7″ (1024×600) LVDS touchscreen display or 10″ (1024×600) LVDS touchscreen display for respectively $284 and $291. The company will accept orders by email for samples or larger quantities first, before listing the boards and kits in their online shop by the end of the month.

VoltaStream ZERO NXP i.MX6ULL Linux Audio Board Follows Raspberry Pi Zero Form Factor

August 10th, 2017 20 comments

Back in 2013. Philip came with the idea of designing a development board for audio application, and after various experiments with off-the shelf Raspberry Pi boards and audio DACs,  he founded PolyVection company, and started designing the board. Forwarding to today, he has completed his work and introduced VoltaStream ZERO to the world, a board based on NXP i.MX6ULL processor with 512MB or 1GB RAM, and a choice of Texas Instruments DAC. It also follows Raspberry Pi Zero form factor, like the upcoming Banana Pi BPI-M2 Zero board.

Click to Enlarge

VoltaStream ZERO specifications:

  • SoC – NXP i.MX6ULL ARM Cortex-A7 processor @ 996 MHz
  • System Memory – 512 MB or 1 GB DDR3
  • Storage – micro SD card slot
  • Audio
    • 1x I2S for integrated DAC, 1x I2S for GPIO access, 1x S/PDIF header / TOSLINK jack
    • Analog DAC – Texas Instruments PCM5121 (106 dB) or PCM5142 (112 dB)
  • USB – 1x micro USB slave port (USB gadget mode supported), 1x USB type A host port
  • Expansion Headers – 40-pin GPIO header with 5V, 3V3, GND, 2x UART, flexCAN, 2x I2C, SPI, I2S, 3x PWM, S/PDIF input
  • Misc – On/Off switch integrated button handler / accessible from header, RTC integrated into SoC
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port or GPIO header;
  • Power consumption
    • 0.10 Watt – Linux suspend
    • 0.25 Watt – Linux idle
    • 1.10 Watt – USB WiFi busy
  • Dimensions – 65 mm x 30 mm (Raspberry Pi Zero form factor)

Note there’s no network connectivity, but that’s what the USB host port cam be used for by connecting a USB WiFi dongle or USB Ethernet dongle.

 

VoltaStream Zero with Case

The board has been designed with KiCAD 4.0.5, and the schematics and PCB layout files have been released in Github under the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 license. The company has developed a Linux distribution called PolyOS, built with the Yocto Project, and that includes shairport-sync, librespot, DLNA renderer and a special atomic updater. A generic Debian distribution (PolyBian) is also available, and work is being done to support Volumio. Documentation with a getting started guide, and a system reference manual has also been published.

You’ll find all those resources on the product page, where you can also purchase the board starting at 41.93 Euros excluding VAT and shipping, for the 512 MB RAM / PCM5121 version.

Variscite DART-6UL SoM, an Alternative to Intel Edison Module

July 24th, 2017 5 comments

Intel recently announced it will discontinue manufacturing and selling all SKUs of the Intel® Edison compute modules and developer kits.

The initial version of Edison was released in the beginning of 2014, with a second version being released by the end of 2014. It was intended for the IoT market, with dimensions of 35.5x25x3.9mm. The Edison features an Intel Atom processor, consisting of two Atom Silvermont cores running at 500MHz. It includes a fixed configuration of 1GB integrated RAM, and 4GB eMMC flash on-board. Dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and USB controllers complete the package.

According to Intel’s announcement, the last shipment of Edison family boards is planned for December 2017. This announcement will have a critical impact on companies that already integrated the Edison board in their products, as well as the many companies that engaged in the development process of integrating the Edison board into their products.

While some of these companies are rushing to place their orders by the end of the year, other companies are already looking for an alternative candidate to replace the Edison module. Naturally, the Edison alternative should be somewhat similar to the original selection, at least in terms of interfaces and connectivity. But if you are looking for an alternative solution, you should take into account that this is a rapidly evolving market, so the alternatives offered today can deliver higher performance solutions than those delivered in 2014, when Intel launched Edison.

Variscite DART-6UL SoM

One suitable alternative for the IoT segment is the DART-6UL System on Module platform, developed by Variscite. The DART-6UL, measuring only 25x50mm, is a highly flexible SoM based on NXP i.MX 6UltraLite / i.MX 6ULL ARM Cortex™-A7 processor, with frequencies up to 900MHz.

The following comparison table will help you see the similarities and the upgraded features:

Intel Edison

DART-6UL

CPU
CPU Name Intel® Atom™ Silvermont CPU and Intel® Quark™ microcontroller NXP i.MX6 UltraLite / i.MX 6ULL (Cortex™-A7)
CPU Cores 2 1
CPU Clock 500 MHz Up to 900 MHz
Memory
RAM 1 GB LPDDR3 128 – 512 MB DDR3L
SLC NAND

128 – 512 MB
eMMC 4 GB eMMC 4 – 32 GB
Multimedia
2D Graphics Acceleration

2D pixel acceleration engine (PxP)
Camera Interfaces

1x 24bit CPI
Display
Parallel RGB

1366 x 768 24-bit
Networking
Ethernet

2x 10/100 Mbps Ethernet
Wi-Fi Broadcom* 43340 802.11 a/b/g/n; Dual-band (2.4 and 5 GHz) Certified Laird/LSR sterling LWB /LWB5

DART-6UL: 802.11 b/g/n
DART-6UL-5G: 802.11 ac/a/b/g/n Dual-band (2.4 and 5 GHz)

Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0 4.1 / BLE
Audio
Headphone driver

Yes
Microphone

Analog
Digital audio serial interface

SSI(AUDMUX)/SPDIF
Line In/Out

Yes
Connectivity
SD / MMC x1 x1
USB Host / Device USB 2.0: 1x OTG USB 2.0: 1x Host, 1x OTG
UART x2 x8, up to 3.6 Mbps
I2C X2 x4
SPI 1 controller with 2 chip selects x4
OS Support
Linux Yocto Yocto, Debian
Mechanical Specifications
Dimensions 35.5 × 25.0 × 3.9 mm 25 mm x 50 mm x 4.0 mm (SoM)
Electronic Specifications
Supply voltage 3.3 to 4.5 V 3.3 V
Environmental Specifications
Operating temperature 0 to 40°C Commercial temperature (0 to 70°C)
Industrial temperature (-40 to 85°C)

More details about Yocto and Debian support can be found in the DART-6UL Wiki.

DART-6UL Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Variscite.

ROCK64 is a Rockchip RK3328 Development Board with Up to 4GB RAM, 4K HDR, Gigabit Ethernet, and USB 3.0

June 8th, 2017 81 comments

Rockchip RK3328 Android TV boxes such as A5X Plus or A95X R2 have been on the market for a couple of months, but since the processor is rather inexpensive, yet supports 4K UHD video output, Gigabit Ethernet and USB 3.0 interfaces, Pine64 has decided to create a new development board called ROCK64 with a form factor similar to Raspberry Pi 3 board.

Click to Enlarge

ROCK64 board specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3328 quad core Cortex A53 processor with ARM Mali-450MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1, 2, or 4 GB LPDDR3 @ 1866 MHz
  • Storage – eMMC flash module socket + micro SD card slot + 128 Mbit SPI flash
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60 Hz with HDR10 and HLG support, 3.5mm AV port (composite video + stereo audio)
  • Video Codec – 4K VP9, H.265 and H.264, 1080p VC-1, MPEG-1/2/4, VP6/8
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports, 1x USB 3.0 port
  • Expansion Headers
    • 40-pin Pi-2 Bus with GPIOs, 2x I2C, Analog inputs, UART, SPI, and power signals (5V, 3.3V, and GND)
    • 22-pin Pi-P5+ Bus with GPIOs, I2S, S/PDIF, Ethernet, and power signals (5V, 3.3V, and GND)
  • Misc – IR receiver; power, recovery  & reset buttons; eMMC jumper
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A via 3.5mm/1.35mm power barrel
  • Dimensions –  85 x 56 mm

Click to Enlarge

The board will support various operating system including Android 7.1, Debian, Yocto Linux, and more. Some of the source code and software development tools are already available in github.

The board will be launched on the first of July, but price has not been announced yet due to the recent DRAM price hike. For reference, RK3328 TV boxes with 1GB RAM now sell for around $35 and the ones with 2GB RAM for around $45. Those prices include shipping and all accessories, and considering Pine64’s usually aggressive pricing, ROCK64 board may be sold for around $25 (1GB RAM), $35 (2GB RAM) and $45 to 50 (4GB RAM) excluding shipping. You’ll find a few more details, including PDF schematics and pinout diagrams, in the product page.

Click to Enlarge

Update: I’ve just received my board, and updated the pictures above. I also came with a FORESEE eMMC module (see first picture), and a 5V/3A power supply.