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Cortex-A8 dev kit runs Linux

Mar 3, 2010 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 8 views

Digi International says it is shipping a development kit targeting development of wireless multimedia applications using Freescale's i.MX515 SoC (system on chip). The ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 Digi JumpStart Kit includes an ARM Cortex-A8-based module, a baseboard, a seven-inch touchscreen, and a BSP (board support package), the company says.

Introduced at this week's Embedded World show in Nuremberg, the ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 Digi JumpStart Kit is supplied with a BSP for either Linux or Windows CE 6.0 R3, says Digi. The kit is claimed "to make wireless product development easy," targeting low-power embedded applications such as medical devices, digital signage, transportation, security, and industrial automation. It's built around Freescale's i.MX515 SoC and Digi's recently introduced ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 module, of which details are provided later in this story.

The ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 Digi JumpStart Kit includes the 3.2 x 2-inch module itself, a seven-inch "WVGA" (presumably, 800 x 480 pixels) touchscreen, and a baseboard. Digi doesn't specify how large the baseboard is, but says it offers real-world connectors including three serial ports, VGA and HDMI outputs, five USB ports, Ethernet, and audio I/O.

The ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 Digi JumpStart kit, sans display

The kit, pictured above without its display, is also said to include a microSD slot, an SD/MMC slot, sockets for 802.15.4 (ZigBee) and 802.3af (PoE) modules. Of course, LCD/touchscreen connectors are present, and the board additionally offers user pushbuttons and LEDs, according to Digi.

Larry Kraft, SVP of global sales and marketing for Digi, stated, "The ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 Digi JumpStart Kit features all of the tools necessary to build network-enabled low power, wireless devices with leading user interface and multimedia capabilities. Design engineers can focus on other elements of a product design allowing organizations to get to market quickly."

Specifications listed by Digi for its ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 module/JumpStart combo include :

  • Processor — Freescale i.MX515 clocked at 800MHz
  • Memory — 5128MB of RAM and 512MB of flash storage
  • Display:
    • Includes 7-inch WVGA touchscreen; also available with 6.4- and 5.7-inch models
    • Supports primary and secondary displays
    • Resolutions up to 1024 x 768 pixels @ 100fps, 1280 x 720 @ 60fps, or 1920 x 1080 @ 30fps
    • GPU — 27 million triangles/sec, 166 million pixels/sec raw; OpenVG 1.0, Open GL ES Common Profile v1.0/v1.1/Direct3D Mobile, Open GL ES Profile v2.0
    • 4-wire touchscreen interface (connector on baseboard)
  • Camera — 2 camera ports supporting up to 8 megapixels @ 15fps
  • Expansion:
    • SD/MMC (baseboard has microSD and SD slots)
    • ZigBee and PoE module slots
    • external camera connectors (on baseboard)
  • Networking:
    • LAN — 10/100 Ethernet (RJ45 connector on baseboard
    • WLAN — 802.11a/b/g/n (built into module, with antenna connector on baseboard)
  • Other I/O:
    • 3 serial ports (1 x RS232, 1 x RS232/422/485, 1 x TTL)
    • 1 x VGA port
    • 1 x HDMI
    • microphone input and line in/out
    • 1 x USB OTG
    • 4 x USB 2.0 host
    • I2C/SPI headers
  • Power supply (baseboard) — 9VDC to 30VDC
  • Operating temperature (processor speed grade dependent) — -40 to 185 deg. F (-40 to 85 deg. C)
  • Dimensions (module) — 3.22 x 1.96 x 0.2 inches (82 x 50 x 6.75mm)


Digi's ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51, announced in December, is the latest in a line of ConnectCore modules. Other have included:

The  ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 (right) clearly offers more processing power than any of the above, thanks to its adoption of an ARM Cortex-A8 core. According to Freescale, its i.MX51 family of SoCs offers power management features including multiple independent power domains, power gating, and dynamic process and temperature compensation. The company's DVFS (dynamic voltage and frequency scaling) is said to allow throttling down to as low as 200MHz.

The i.MX51 variant used on the ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 is the i.MX515, which is clocked here at 800MHz and offers integrated OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics acceleration. In addition to the SoC, the ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 includes up to 1GB of DDR2 memory, up to 8GB of flash storage, plus two 180-pin connectors that relay its interfaces to the outside world.

A block diagram of Digi's ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51
(Click to enlarge)

According to Digi, the module has three UARTs with IrDA support, up to three USB 2.0 host ports and one USB 2.0 OTG port, 10/100 Ethernet, SD/SDIO/MMC, and 802/11a/b/g/n wireless networking. Dual displays are supported, with both SD and HD TV output, and there is a four-wire touchscreen interface, according to Digi.

Meanwhile, the module is also said to have two camera ports, capable of supporting up to eight megapixels. An onboard image processing unit is capable of video/graphics combining, resizing, rotation/inversion, and color conversion/correction, Digi adds.


According to Digi, the Windows CE version of its ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 Digi JumpStart Kit, with module and seven-inch display, is available now for $795. A Linux version will be available soon, the company adds.

More information on the ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 and related development kits may be found on the Digi website, here.

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