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Avnet Embedded expands its broad SMARC™ module product portfolio to open up new markets and applications
The compact SMARC computer-on-module standard has experienced tremendous success, especially for low-power applications in different markets. Avnet Embedded, one of the leading manufacturers of embedded modules, has a broad SMARC product portfolio with scalable processor technologies and interface features and offers its customers comprehensive design support.
Ready-to-use standardized Computer-on-Modules (COM) are ideal when developing innovative industrial products, as they can be readily optimized. For example, our flexible SMARC™ standard modules are available in numerous variants, offering scalable performance and a selection of modern interfaces. Depending on their application requirements, designers can select standardized embedded modules in proven form factors like SMARC™, Qseven™, OSM™, COM Express™ and COM-HPC™. Any of these modules can be plugged on an appropriate carrier board to realize their application-specific functions.
The Smart Mobility ARChitecture™ (SMARC™) specification for compact COMs has experienced tremendous success recently. SMARC™ was adopted by the Standardization Group for Embedded Technologies (SGET) and has been specifically optimized for applications where compactness and power efficiency are important. SMARC™ modules are equally suited for ARM® and x86 processors. The cost-optimized, robust MXM-3 connector with 314 pins supports high transmission rates and features Gigabit Ethernet PCI Express™, USB 2.0 or 3.0, and SATA. The Dual-Channel LVDS interfaces can be used as embedded DisplayPort (eDP) or alternatively as MIPI DSI. The MXM-3 connector offers reserved pins for future additional interfaces. The SMARC™ form factor defines the module sizes 82 x 50mm (short size) and 82 x 80mm (full size).
The SMARC™ product range is constantly growing, covering the entire bandwidth from extremely efficient to higher performance classes. This means that new and interesting areas of application are continuously being developed. Typical applications include all industrial sectors, transportation, energy techniques, building automation, telecommunication, medical equipment, and intelligent IoT and AI systems.
Avnet Embedded can deliver an optimized solution for various requirements over a single platform through their SMARC™ product portfolio of fourteen module families. The scalable modules integrate different processors from NXP® Semiconductors’ i.MX 6, i.MX 8 and i.MX 9 versions, Renesas RZ/G2UL, Intel® Atom® x6000 and Intel® Atom® E3900 series to high-performance AMD Ryzen™ Embedded APUs. Avnet Embedded’s in-depth expertise in designing and manufacturing high-performance embedded solutions means that they can quickly provide initial module samples to customers.
Avnet Embedded simplifies embedded software development further through the SimpleSwitch platform, available with their SMARC™ 2.1.1 module families. SimpleSwitch lets developers switch software applications between different module families (such as i.MX 8M family or between ARM and x86) without changing a single line of source code.
Avnet Embedded continues its long and successful partnership with NXP Semiconductors and offers numerous boards based on NXP’s processors. The powerful MSC SM2S-IMX93 module family supports NXP’s new i.MX 93 applications processors in the SMARC 2.1.1 form factor. The i.MX 93 uses a heterogeneous multicore architecture based on single-core or dual-core ARM® Cortex™-A55 cores up to 1.7 GHz, one ARM® Cortex™-M33 real-time processor up to 250 MHz and an efficient 2D GPU with PXP Engine. The ARM® Ethos™-U65 microNPU (Neural Processing Unit) with 256 MACs/cycle, enables developers to create more capable, cost-effective machine learning applications. The processors deliver advanced security functionality with integrated EdgeLock® secure enclave to support energy-efficient edge computing. NXP’s innovative Energy Flex architecture ensures a long battery lifetime in portable systems.
Typical applications of the energy-efficient MSC SM2S-IMX93 modules include industrial automation, such as powerful industrial HMI systems, machine vision and control systems, and gateways. Other typical applications are in smart home and building automation solutions – heat pumps, thermostats, and security systems. The compact SMARC™ modules can also be installed in industrial transport and grid infrastructure solutions – EV charging, environmental control equipment, and energy meter systems.
Avnet Embedded’s MSC SM2S-IMX8PLUS module family is based on NXP Semiconductors’ i.MX 8M Plus applications processors. This module family features low design power and are manufactured in a 14 nm LPC FinFET process. They integrate dual and quad-core ARM® Cortex™-A53 processors with up to 1.8GHz, an ARM Cortex-M7 real-time processor with 800MHz and the efficient GC7000UL multimedia 2D/3D GPU with OpenCL™ Vulkan® support. The product portfolio includes variants with and without VPU (Video Processing Einheit), Machine Learning acceleration or Image Signal Processor (ISP).
The embedded interfaces include USB 3.0, USB 2.0, two CAN-FD ports, and Dual Gigabit Ethernet. Both Ethernet interfaces support IEEE1588, one port offers support for TSN (Time-Sensitive Networking). The boards offer single/dual-channel LVDS, HDMI 2.0 and MIPI-DSI graphics interfaces. High-resolution camera modules can be connected via two MIPI CSI-2 x4 ports. The compact module family is specified for the industrial temperature range from -40°C to +85 °C.
The MSC SM2S-IMX8LUS and MSC SM2S-IMX8MINI SMARC 2.1.1 module families are the first Avnet Embedded products compatible with the ARM SystemReady IR standard. This is included to the Project Cassini initiated by processor manufacturer ARM® simplifies the use of ARM processors and provides additional security functionality. Cassini features robust standards based on the ARM SystemReady program, security APIs and design certifications due to the Platform Security Architecture (PSA) and Platform AbstRaction for SECurity (Parsec), and reference solutions. These features support the development of next generation of high-performance IoT and AI applications.
The increasing demand for compact embedded modules with stringent power efficiency was the driving factor for Avnet Embedded to enrich the product portfolio once again. The MSC SM2S-IMX8ULP module family with dimensions of 82 x 50mm (short-size form factor), is based on i.MX 8ULP crossover applications processors from NXP. All on-board used components and the design are designed for extremely low power consumption combined with good computing performance.
Target markets for the MSC SM2S-IMX8ULP modules are highly price sensitive applications with stringent power efficiency requirements, such as battery-/solar-powered systems with long runtimes, IoT edge products, economical embedded controllers, efficient home and building automation solutions, handheld test and measurement devices, mobile medical systems, and portable printers. As well as applications that previously used microcontrollers (MCUs) or multichip solutions.
To offer additional features and to open new markets and applications for scalable standard modules, Avnet Embedded has extended the existing partnership of the Avnet Group with Renesas to include compact SMARC™ modules.
Avnet Embedded’s power-efficient and cost-effective MSC SM2S-G2UL SMARC 2.1.1 module family is equipped with Renesas RZ/G2UL ARM Cortex-A55 processors integrating a single-core ARM Cortex-A55 processor running at 1.0 GHz, an ARM Cortex-M33 real-time processor and an image processing unit. The boards offer up to 2GB DDR4 SDRAM with inline ECC, combined with up to 256GB eMMC Flash memory. Various interfaces for embedded applications are also available, such as Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0, dual CAN-FD, dual-channel LVDS and MIPI CSI-2 for connecting a camera module.
Avnet Embedded’s compact MSC SM2S-EL module family integrates multi-core Intel® Atom® x6000E / Pentium® / Celeron® N and J Series processors (codenamed: Elkhart Lake). Based on an advanced 10 nm process technology and a new Intel® Atom® Core architecture of the processors, these modules feature a significant increase in CPU and graphics performance, with the same number of cores and similar power dissipation as previous series.
Most of the MSC SM2S-EL variants are for use across a temperature range of -40°C to +85°C and offer reliable 24/7 continuous operation even under harsh industrial conditions or in outdoor installations. For demanding network applications, the boards offer strong real-time functions and two Gigabit Ethernet ports with Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) and Intel® Time Coordinated Computing (Intel® TCC) support. The modules can drive up to three independent displays with a maximum of 4k resolution.
For rapid evaluation and design of the embedded modules, Avnet Embedded provides a complete ecosystem including a starter kit, Board Support Package (BSP) and comprehensive services like design-in support, carrier design review and temperature screening. The goal is for customers to realize numerous applications based on powerful standard modules very cost-efficient and in short time-to-market.
Avnet Embedded develops and manufactures its scalable SMARC™ modules in-house, at design centers around the world and in highly automated production facilities in Germany. From early development phase to production, they maintain a sustainable focus, with climate neutral manufacturing and a commitment to durability of product.