Design

Solder-down module increases thermal efficiency

15th April 2020
Alex Lynn

Direct Insight has launched the QS8M Solder-down module, manufactured by their long-standing partner, Aachen-based Ka-Ro Electronics with NXP i.MX8M quad- or dual-core Cortex-A53 64-bit processor, plus RAM, Flash memory and power management.

The module features a QFN-style pin-out with 100 edge-located pads on a 1mm pitch providing excellent miniaturization, thermal efficiency and EMI performance.

As well as optimising size and cost, QS modules expedite production in a number of ways. Contact pads around the edge aid inspection and enable easy routing, even permitting a two-layer baseboard including a base plane. A special ground-plane layout means that the modules effectively ‘float’ into position during reflow, unlike a BGA which sits on its bumps, and may require X-Ray inspection. Furthermore, measuring just 27x27mm, they are small enough to avoid warping which can adversely affect larger packages.

The QS8M module’s i.MX8M Mini/Nano family processors provide a dual core (i.MX8M Nano) or quad core (i.MX8M Mini) 1400/1600MHz ARM Cortex-A53 processor complex as well as a separate GPU and Video Codec (Mini only). Modules have up to 1GB of DDR3L RAM, and 4GB eMMC Flash, with an extensive range of interfaces including CANbus, UARTs, SPI, I²C, Audio, Ethernet, SD, USB Host and Client and MIPI-DSI display. 

The i.MX8M Nano and Mini combine low-energy operation with powerful features including MIPI-DSI display up to 1080p.  Both modules offer an industrial temperature spec of -25 to +85°C. The QS8M series is supported by a dedicated development system, equipped with Linux BSP (Windows 10 IoT and QNX also available)

A dedicated development kit, QSBASE2, is also available to support design activity. This comes with the QS8M module soldered down, but with all the contacts accessible via header locations. The kit features a Raspberry Pi-compatible expansion and display connectors so that Raspberry Pi ‘hats’ and displays can be used for development. Also included are five USB ports (1 client) and Gigabit Ethernet, UART and MIPI-CSI camera connectors.

David Pashley, Direct Insight’s MD, said: “This is the first of a new type of system-on-modules. Users are turning to solder-down SoMs for simplicity and reduced cost, but finding that some designs - for example the BGA-style device – are very difficult to succeed with in a production environment. These new QS8M SoMs provide powerful processing power and a rich set of features for larger volume applications, or designs where a tiny footprint is needed.”

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