Chip maker NXP is finally rolling out the successor to the i.MX6 line of chips that were first introduced way back in 2011 (by Freescale, which was later acquired by NXP).
The new i.MX8 line of processors are 64-bit, ARM-based chips with support for 4K and they’re expected to come in a few different configurations, although the frist to launch is the i.MX8M ARM Cortex-A53 processor.
We started to see companies announce devices that use that chip in late 2017. Now some of the first are available for purchase.
For instance, there’s the SolidRun i.MX8 SOM, which is a system-on a module with a starting price of $80 for a model with a dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. You can also pay more for versions with up to a quad-core i.MX8 chip, up to 2GB of RAM, and up to 8GB of storage.
The module lacks full-sized USB, Ethernet, and HDMI ports, but you can get those features by picking up a HummingBoard Pulse instead. This is basically what you’d get if you added the SOM to a carrier board with additional I/O ports. Prices range from $160 for an entry-level model to $240 for one with all the bells and whistles.
And then there’s the CuBox Pulse, which is less of a developer-centric device and more of a standalone mini PC.
It’s a tiny cube-shaped computer with an NXP i.MX8M processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and support for Android and Linux. It sells for $180 (or $170 if you don’t need a power adapter), but there’s an estimated 12-week wait for shipping.
Meanwhile, you can also still pre-order the previously announced WandPi 8M is now for $89 and up. It’s a small Raspberry Pi-like single-board computer with Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI GPIO expansion headers, and Vivante GC7000 graphics.
The entry-level model has 1GB o RAM and 4GB of storage, while there are higher-priced models with up to 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2.
The WandPi 8M is expected to ship this spring.
NXP also has information about 5 other systems-on-a-module that are powered by its new i.MX8 chips. Most are aimed at Internet of Things applications such as multimedia players or digital signage.
But Linux laptop builder Purism is also considering using an i.MX8 processor in its upcoming Purism Librem 5 smartphone. The i.MX series of chips might not be as powerful as the latest Qualcomm or Samsung processors, but they’ve long been popular with the free and open source software community due to the relatively ample amount of documentation available for the processors.
via SolidRun (press release) and CNX-Software
iWave Systems also have two different System on Modules based on i.MX8
Variscite launched last week its i.MX8m based System on Module, the DART-MX8M:
For around this price(260), you can get a Voyo mini pc which has an Apollo lake pentium, 8 gb ram and 128 GB SSD and genuine Windows 10. That is, of course, if you don’t mind buying from the likes of aliexpress.
With $70 RK3399 boards coming soon, and RPi3 at $35, I am not sure why someone would use this.
I agree. The value isn’t there for general users. The hook for these seems to be non-Mali graphics.
RK3399 provides 3d acceleration in Linux? I doubt it.
I am not sure about the state of 3D and hw accelerated video support but the RK3399 is a bit more open than the average Rockchip SOC because it was selected by Google as a supported Chromebook SOC (shipped in a couple of Chromebooks like the Samsung Chromebook Pro)
The Rockchip-Linux repo GitHub (https://github.com/rockchip-linux) seems to include a lot of promising goodies:
– Gstreamer plugin for playing video, audia…etc
– The Media Processing Module project seems to be containing a Linux build folder (next to Android) and decoders for a lot of media formats (VP9, H264, H265). Based on this, I would say that hw accelerated playback is supported on Linux.
I would say that, while it is completely true that the i.MX is more open than the RK3399, the rockchip is still quite a jump upwards in openness from the average ARM SOC.
Brad, small error near the end. “The i.MX series of chips might be as powerful as” which obviously should be “might not be”. I thought that worth pointing out since it’s a big difference in what was intended.
Good catch, thanks!
The NXP i.MX 8M that will be used in the Librem 5 is a quad-core Cortex-A53 at 28nm, which is basically the equivalent of a Snapdragon 425, released in 2016, so it is not very powerful, nor very power efficient. The upcoming NXP i.MX 8 mini will use a 14nm node size and be more power efficient for mobile devices.
Regrettably, pricing of these seem to be getting into Intel territory. It’s why I bought six Zotac ZBox for experimenting with Hadoop and Kubernetes.
Well, none of Zotac ZBoxes could even possible have SPI, I2C, PWMs and so on. But WandPi has.
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