The work on our most complex Open Source Hardware Linux board started – meet the Tukhla iMX8QuadMax SOC based board to be designed with KiCAD

We started working on our most complex OSHW board with KiCAD.

iMX8 is broad range of very different ARM architectures under same name which some people may find quite confusing.
Here is the table chart:

You can see by yourself:

  • iMX8X is quite humble with up to x4 Cortex-A35+Cortex-M4F cores, something less capable than Allwinner A13 or STM32MP1XX
  • iMX8M, Nano/Mini/Plus is x4 Cortex-A53 + Cortex-A7/M4F something in the range of power of Allwinner A64
  • finally iMX8QuadMax comes with different configurations, but the high end is Octa-core with x2 Cortex-A72 + x4 Cortex-A53 + x2 Cortex-M4F and is more powerful than the popular Rockchip RK3399

Why we did started working on such monster?

Company from EU which values the OSHW recognized the absence of high end open source Linux board and asked us to design one. They offered to cover all associated design costs. They specially requested this to be not yet another RK3399 board, but based on SOC with proper documentation and software support. NXP’s high end iMX8QuadMax matched their requirements perfectly.

Currently all powerful Cortex-A72 comes from Chinese or Korean origin and are always closed projects, the only published info in best case is PDF schematic which can’t be verified i.e. the final product may or may not match what they publish. The popular Raspberry Pi go even further and their “schemaitcs” are just connector diagrams.

This is how the Tukhla project was born, it will have:

  • MIMX8QM5AVUFFAB Octa-core SOC with: ( x2 Cortex-A72, x4 Cortex-A53, x2 Cortex-M4F, x4 GPUs with 16 Vec4-Shader GPU, 32 compute units OpenGL® ES 3.2 and Vulkan® support Tessellation and Geometry Shading, Split-GPU architecture enables 2x 8 Shader Cores, 4k h.265 Decode, 1080p h.264 encode)
  • x2 LPDDR4 x32 databus RAM memory with up to 16GB of RAM configuration
  • PMU taking all power lines from single 12V/4A source
  • micro SD card
  • eMMC Flash with differnt sizes
  • QSPI Flash
  • x1 SATA for external HDD/SSD drives
  • x2 single lane PCIe with M2 connectors for NVMe
  • HDMI input 1.4 RX with HDCP 2.2
  • HDMI output 2.0 TX with HDCP 2.2 4K
  • USB 2.0 OTG
  • USB 3.0 HOST
  • x2 Gigabit Ethernet
  • x2 MIPI CSI camera connectors

The price of MIMX8QM5AVUFFAB alone is around EUR 100 in small quantities and currently LPDDR4 4GB cost EUR 35, LPDDR4 8GB cost EUR 50, LPDDR4 16GB cost EUR 180.

So with BOM over EUR 200 this board will not be affordable for the most of Raspberry Pi $35 price range users.

This board targets professionals, who need high performance board and being not dependent by Chinese SOC vendors. With all hardware open, which gives them security for their business as the design is public.

iMX8QuadMax SOC is available in automotive AEC-Q100 Grade 3 (-40° to 125° C Tj), Industrial (-40° to 105° C Tj), Consumer (-20° to 105° C Tj)

Some of the features like HDMI input are not present in the Chinese SOCs at all.

iMX8QuadMax may have DSP and incorporate Vision and Speech Recognition interactivity via a powerful vision pipeline and audio processing subsystem.

The Software support include: Android™, Linux®, FreeRTOS, QNX™, Green Hills®, Dornerworks XEN™.

iMX8QuadMax is fully supported on NXP’s 10 and 15-year Longevity Program

Tukhla means Brick in Bulgarian (and other Slavish languages) and it will be the OSHW building block for whole range of different solutions.

How long it will take to finish this design?

We honestly don’t know. It took more than month just to capture the schematic in the state it is now:

There is long path now to create and verify all component packages (just the SOC is in 1313 BGA ball package), verify the schematic signals, place the components on the PCB, route high speed signals manually.

It may be 6 months or more. We got unofficial info that NXP engineers spent more than year to make the NXP iMX8QMax demo board.

Allwinner keep their promise for long term supply of T2 (industrial A20) SOC. If you wonder how 60K of Allwinner T2 SOC looks like you can see now

T2 is the industrial version of A20 – the most successful SOC in Allwinner history. It keeps selling for more than 8 years now and demand is steady.

We are proud that our OSHW designs with A20 are part of this success story.

T2 can work in extended temperature grade and is more expensive than A20, so the demand is not so big and used just by specific customers like in automotive and industrial equipment. During the last COVID-19 economy slow down these customers decreased and Allwinner stock of T2 was sold out. While NXP, ST etc always keep some kind of guarantee that they will produce this processor for XX years, Chinese companies are practical, they sell as long as it’s profitable for them and if demand is low they just stop.

This is why many people are afraid to place Chinese SOC in their products, they are afraid that this chip may stop being produced at some point of time and their design need to be changed.

Fortunately for Olimex our sales are big enough to be interesting and supported by Allwinner. We have enough business to place custom orders even for chips which are now with status “obsolete” and Allwinner keep producing them for us.

T2 automotive/industrial market for Allwinner now is not big enough for them to justify keeping it in stock, but Olimex placed order for these in January and 60Kpcs hit our warehouse few weeks ago.

The label show these T2 SOC are manufactured 18 of May 2020 🙂

So Allwinner keeps their part of the deal for long term delivery and manufacture for us even SOCs which are not available for sale officially, this means we can keep producing our boards with Allwinner SOC for our customers and they are safe with us.

Open Source Hardware Linux board with industrial grade -40+125C temperature STMP1-OLinuXino-Lime2 prototype is live

We have progress on this board software. It now boots, we have been fighting the hardware and of course the issue was RTFM in this case RTFE (Errata) where STM well documented thar this chip requires oscillator and will not work with only crystal. We were misleaded by their kit schematic where they made provisions for both crystal and osciallator and being cheap we first bet on the crystal 🙂 .

Anyway after replacing the crystal with oscillator STMP1-OLinuXino-Lime2 got alive and here is the boot log: https://pastebin.com/ev94Jbk0

Our design is quite different from STM demo kit, we use different PMU, PHY HDMI so many things have to be done on the Linux support, but the results so far are very good.

MOD-IO got beautiful DIN rack plastic enclosure from Giuseppe Mascolo

We noticed this Twitter post from Giuseppe Mascolo @linuxpeppe
He designed beautiful plastic enclosure for MOD-IO which could be attached to DIN reel:

the design files are uploaded to Thingiverse


Industrial grade -45+85C STMP1-SOM is almost completely routed and pin to pin compatible with A13-SOM

STMP1_SOM_bot

A13-SOM-256 and A13-SOM-512 are low cost Linux running System on Modules which are very popular but lack industrial grade operating temperature.

STM32MP1XXX series of SOC from ST is the first mass produced SOC which operates from -45 up to +125C by default, so we decided to design SOM module with STM32MP1XX SOC which to be pin to pin compatible with A13-SOM and offer same interfaces and signals so it could be drop in replacement for A13-SOM without need to re-design the complete product.

As you can see for STMP1-SOM we decided to put the SOC on opposite side of the connectors, this allow if necessary to add aluminum heatsink without interference with mainboard.

STMP1-SOM_TOP

Also we add AXP209 PMU which allow lower power operating modes and LiPo battery backup and operation on battery only which is missing in the original A13-SOM.

STMP1-SOM will be offered with three SOC choices STM32MP151, STM32MP153 and STM32MP157.

The prices will start from EUR 15 for the non industrial grade memory which are similar to A13-SOM and EUR 18 for the industrial grade -45+85C memory version.

We expect first STMP1-SOMs to be available in July 2020.

Full mainline Linux support will be available at http://images.olimex.com/

USB-gLINK – Industrial Grade Open Source Hardware LTE cat 4 module for IoT with Navigation and LiPo battery support is in stock!

gLINK

USB-gLINK is Open Source Hardware Industrial grade -25+85ºC LTE cat 4 module optimized for IoT applications with integrated LiPo Battery power supply charger and Navigation. USB-gLINK operate on all GSM frequencies with 2G 3G 4G/LTE protocols, so you can use it worldwide.

USB-gLINK will work with OLinuXino OSHW Linux Computers, Beaglebone and Raspberry Pi and any other PC running Windows, Linux or Android.

The LTE speed is 150Mbps downlink and 50Mbps uplink, but is backward-compatible with existing EDGE and GSM/GPRS networks. This allows USB-gLINK to connect to any existing 2G, 3G and 4G network.

Inside USB-gLINK there is build in navigation which supports: GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou/Compass, Galileo and QZSS.

The networking supported protocols are : TCP / UDP / PPP / FTP / HTTP / NTP / PING / QMI / NITZ / SMTP / MQTT / CMUX / HTTPS / FTPS / SMTPS / SSL / MMS / FILE.

USB-gLINK can operate on these bands: B1 / B2 / B3 / B4 / B5 / B7 / B8 / B12 / B13 / B18 / B19 / B20 / B25 / B26 / B28 / B38 / B39 / B40 / B41, which covers every mobile operator anywhere in the world. This allow your solution based on USB-gLINK to be sold globally without hardware changes.

There are number of carriers who already approved the module used in USB-gLINK: Deutsche Telekom (Europe), Verizon/AT&T/Sprint/U.S. Cellular/T-Mobile (North America), Telus/Rogers (Canada)

These regulatory are passed: GCF (Global), CE (Europe), FCC/PTCRB (North America), IC (Canada), Anatel (Brazil), IFETEL (Mexico), SRRC/CCC/NAL (China), KC (South Korea), NCC (Taiwan, China), JATE/TELEC (Japan), RCM (Australia & New Zealand), FAC (Russia), NBTC (Thailand), IMDA (Singapore), ICASA (South Africa)

The Industrial grade -40+125C Open Source Hardware Linux board which is hardware compatible with A20-OLinuxino-LIME2 but with ST Microelectronics STM32MP1xx SOC STMP1-OLinuXino routing is complete

TOP1

BOT1

STMP1-OLinuXino routing is complete. It took 6 months from the idea to the finish.

Why it took so long? We had several times to re-design the schematics around the DDR memory and power supply.

Our goal was to make it pin to pin compatible with OLinuXino-LIME2 and we achieved it.

STMP1-OLinuXino has:

  • Same size as LIME2
  • Same GPIOs on same places
  • Ethernet, USB, battery Lipo, buttons, HDMI, SD-card on same places
  • same mount holes
  • 1GB DDR3 memory
  • Gigabit Ethernet interface
  • HDMI interface
  • LCD interface
  • 2x USB hosts and 1x USB-OTG
  • micro SD-card
  • GPIOs have similar interfaces on the same positions
  • LiPo battery charger and step up converter for battery operation
  • CAN interface

There are few differences:

  • we add Flash connector where different flash modules will be attached: NAND Flash, SPI Flash, eMMC Flash, so instead to keep many different versions of the board with different Flash options like LIME2 this will be done with exchangeable modules
  • we put the STM32MP1 SOC on bottom where adding heatsink do not interference with the top GPIO connectors and add-on boards

The STM32MP1 devices work at -20/40+125C operating temperature by default which makes them perfect for industrial applications.

There will be different versions with STM32MP151/153/157 as they share same BGA package, also there will be some versions with commercial temperature grade components for lower cost.  Our preliminary estimations are the prices to be between EUR 35 and 70 depend on the different configurations.

Open Source Hardware IoT boards ESP32-EVB and ESP32-GATEWAY now are available in industrial grade -40+85C

esp32-gateway-gpios

ESP32-EVB and ESP32-GATEWAY are two very popular IoT boards which are supported both by Arduino IDE and Espressif SDK.

Now we stock ESP32-EVB-IND and ESP32-GATEWAY-IND which are functionally same boards, but all components used in them work in industrial temperature grade -40+85C.

New Products in Stock: Magnetic switch, PT100 thermo sensor, Industrial inductive proximity sensor

SNS-INDUCTIVE

SNS-INDUCTIVE is industrial grade inductive sensor working with 12VDC and detecting ferrous materials from 5 mm distance. The output is NPN open collector and can drive relays, LEDs or to be read by microcontroller if pull up resistor is added.  This sensor comes with 1 meter long 3 wire cable with VCC, GND and OUTPUT.

It’s very convenient for detecting moving objects, machine strokes, doors open/close events. Compared with optical proximity sensors SNS-INDUCTIVE can work in moist and dust environment without false triggers.

Compressed by jpeg-recompress

SNS-PT100 is precise temperature sensor with working range -50C + 250C. The accuracy is +-0.3C at 25C. It comes encapsulated in metal tube with size 30×4 mm. The temperature constant is 6 seconds.

MAG-SW

MAG-SW is magnetic switch suitable for alarm systems, it can be placed on doors, windows and other moving parts. The sensor is two pieces, one is magnet, the second is reed contact. When the magnet approaches the reed contact at 5 mm the reed contact closes. Both parts has self adhesive tape on them for easy mounting.

STM32MP1 nice candidate for new industrial grade OLinuXino-LIME

Screenshot from 2019-09-03 15-00-34

ST Microelectronic released new interesting device it’s Cortex-A7 and Cortex-M4 in one package. This solves two problems – the connectivity and ample amount of DDR3 memory to run Linux on Cortex-A7 core and the additional co-processor with Cortex-M4 for Real Time tasks. On top of this it’s -40+125C operating temperature and with 10 years supply longevity warranty from ST.

The prices starts around USD 5, which is in same range as Allwinner/Rockchip.

Their top model STM32MP157C has 3D openGL ES2.0 and CAN. There will be finally properly documented Secure boot (we hope 🙂  ):

Screenshot from 2019-09-03 15-06-23

From recent Twitter post I see than Bootlin already works on Linux support for STM32MP1.

Overall STM32MP1 looks like very promising SOC for Industrial grade Linux computer.

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