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Two embedded CAN interfaces

Smarc modules make 3,5‑inch boards scalable

After its entry into the 3,5-inch SBC (single board computer) market in the middle of last year, Congatec introduced a carrier board in this standardized footprint, which comes with a socket for Arm-based Smarc modules.

Embedded interfaces such as 2x CAN, 4x UART, 8x GPIO, I2C, and SPI are provided (Source: Congatec)

The board’s I/Os are optimized for use with Congatec’s entire NXP i.MX8 module portfolio and it comes in 12 different processor configurations. Considering that the ARM processor world is traditionally characterized by proprietary designs, this 3,5-inch board design is a step further towards commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) available standard boards and systems, said the company. OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) can implement them in their system solutions without any hardware development effort, using the ecosystems of standard form factors.

The conga-SMC1 3,5-inch board not only features a Smarc socket for scalable processor performance, but is also suitable for MIPI cameras, which can now be connected directly and without any additional hardware. Due to two MIPI-CSI 2.0 connectors, it is even possible to develop systems that provide three-dimensional vision and can therefore also be used for situational awareness in autonomous vehicles.

This COTS platform is combined with processor-integrated support for artificial intelligence and neural networks. Software support with precompiled binaries completes the COTS offering.

The board is scalable in 12 performance steps from the powerful i.MX 8QuadMax processors to the i.MX 8M Mini processors in 14 nm technology and the low-power i.MX 8X processors. On a footprint measuring 146 mm x 102 mm, the product offers dual GbE, 5x USB and USB hub support as well as SATA 3 for external hard drives or SSDs. For specific expansions, the board offers a miniPCIe slot as well as an M.2 Type E E2230 slot with I2S, PCIe and USB, and an M.2 Type B B2242/2280 with 2x PCIe and 1x USB. An integrated Microsim slot for IoT (Internet of Things) connection is also provided, next to specific embedded interfaces such as 2x CAN, 4x UART, 8x GPIO, I2C, and SPI.

Displays can be connected via HDMI, LVDS/eDP/DP and MIPI-DSI. The board further offers two MIPI-CSI inputs for camera connection. I2S sound can be implemented via audio jack. As they come with Smarc sockets, the device can be equipped with any of the 12 NXP i.MX 8 based modules. In terms of software, the company offers precompiled binaries with a suitably configured bootloader, appropriately compiled Linux, Yocto, and Android images, as well as all required drivers that are available to Congatec customers on Github.

“Our new modular 3,5-inch carrier board makes ARM designs also increasingly attractive for small industrial lot sizes, which until now have been dominated by x86 technology due to a lack of suitable ARM products. And since customer-specific designs can be implemented faster and more cost-effectively with modular boards, this COTS platform is also an ideal basis for custom designs of NXP i.MX8-based systems,” said Martin Danzer, Director Product Management at Congatec.


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