ARM processor in application friendly shape

31st July 2018
Alex Lynn


It has been announced by congatec that they are releasing the conga-SMX8, the company's first SMARC 2.0 Computer on Module based on the 64-bit NXP i.MX8 multi-core ARM processor family. 

The ARM Cortex-A53/A72 based conga-SMX8 represents a new module for ultra-low-power embedded computer designs, offering an ARM processor with high performance, flexible graphics and embedded features for IIoT applications. 

The product provides high performance multi-core computing along with extended graphics capabilities for up to three independent 1080p displays or a single 4K screen. Further benefits of this native industrial-grade platform include hardware based real time and hypervisor support along with broad scalability as well as resistance against harsh environments and extended temperature ranges. All these features make the SMARC 2.0 module meet the recent performance and feature set needs for low power embedded, industrial and IoT applications as well as the new mobility sector.

The new SMARC 2.0 modules with NXP i.MX8 processors, hardware based virtualisation and resource partitioning are of interest for a wide range of stationary and mobile industrial applications including real time robotics and motion controls. Since the modules are qualified for the extended ambient temperature range from -40 to +85°C, they can also be used in fleet systems for commercial vehicles or infotainment applications in cabs, busses and trains as well as all the new electric and autonomous vehicles.

Martin Danzer, Director of Product Management at congatec, stated: "Due to the tremendous increase in performance, functionality and connectivity of ARM architectures, ARM based Computer-on-Modules gain significantly more importance and acceptance, as they reduce the overall system design costs for hardware and software and enable faster time to market for the final end application. 

“Our SMARC 2.0 modules are application-ready sub systems that come with a comprehensive ecosystem such as ready-to-go boot loader implementation, pre-qualified Linux and Android BSPs and fully featured evaluation carrier boards as well as personal integration support and a broad range of individually selectable technical services to significantly simplify the integration of this new i.MX8 processor for our customers."

The new conga-SMX8 modules feature up to eight cores (two A72, four A53, and two M4F), up to eight gigabytes of LPDDR4 MLC or pseudo SLC memory and up to 64GB of non-volatile memory on the module. The extraordinary interface set includes two GbE including optional IEEE1588 compliant precision clock synchronisation, up to six USB, including: a USB 3.1, up to two PCIe Gen 3.0, one SATA 3.0, two CAN bus, four UART as well as an optional onboard WiFi/Bluetooth module with WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and BLE. 

Furthermore, up to three displays can be connected via HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2, two LVDS and one eDP 1.4. For video cameras, the modules support two MIPI CSI-2 video inputs. The new NXP i.MX8 based SMARC 2.0 modules come as application ready super components including U-Boot and complete Board Support Packages for Linux, Yocto and Android.

The new i.MX8 based SMARC 2.0 Computer-on-Modules are complemented by add-on services offered by congatec, reducing the complexity of the integration while accelerating the design-in time for fastest time-to-market. Major premium service pillars are the personal design-in support available for each OEM implementation as well as the individually selectable next level support of the Technical Solutions Centre. 

This team of specialists aims to address all customised needs, from requirements engineering support and boot loader configuration with extended OS support to test, to validation and debugging services. ARM services from congatec are characterised by high quality and personal care for the most simplified use of embedded computer technologies. Customers benefit from fast and efficient design-in of their products as plug-and-play is more efficient and cost saving than trial and error.

The new congatec SMARC modules will be available in series production in time with the production launch of the new i.MX8 processor family by end of this year.

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