After its successful entry into the 3.5-inch SBC market in the middle of last year, congatec is now introducing a new carrier board in this standardised footprint, which impresses with a socket for Arm based SMARC modules.
Its I/Os are optimised 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 characterised by proprietary designs, this 3.5-inch board design is a step further towards commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) available standard boards and systems, offering fastest time to market. OEMs can implement them in their system solutions without any hardware development effort, using the large ecosystems of standard form factors. Rapid customisation of I/Os is another benefit of such a modular design and most suitable for any small or medium sized project.
“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.
The new conga-SMC1 3.5-inch board not only features a SMARC socket for scalable processor performance, but is also optimised for MIPI cameras, which can now be connected directly and without any additional hardware. Thanks 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. Combined with processor-integrated support for artificial intelligence and neural networks, this COTS platform offers everything developers need for smart vision systems. Comprehensive software support with precompiled binaries completes the new COTS offering.
The feature set in detail
The new conga-SMC1 3.5-inch board is scalable in 12 performance steps from the most 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 just 146×102 mm, the conga-SMC1 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 connection is also provided, next to specific embedded interfaces such as 4x UART, 2x CAN, 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 new 3.5-inch conga-SMC1 can be equipped extremely flexibly with any of the 12 new NXP i.MX 8 based modules. In terms of software, congatec 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.
More information about the new conga-SMC1 3.5-inch board can be found at: https://www.congatec.com/en/products/accessories/conga-smc1smarc-arm.html