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CPU module has FPGA onboard

Sep 27, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 20 views

TQ Components released a 2.95 by 2.4-inch computer module with a Freescale i.MX31 SoC (system on chip) and Altera FPGA (field programmable gate array). The TQMa31 runs Linux, with 256MB of RAM, 1 GB of flash, plus CAN, I2C, SPI and serial interfaces, says TQ.

(Click here for a larger view of TQ Components' TQMa31)

The 2.95 x 2.4-inch (75 x 60mm) form factor used by this module is apparently of TQ Components's own devising. The company says the module has mezzanine connectors with 480 pins and a grid of 0.8mm, claimed to ensure “years of reliable operation in a terminal device.” In addition, the device is said to support an extended temperature range of -30 to 85 deg. C.

The module's touted “outstanding unique feature” is the Altera Cyclone III FPGA integrated onto the module, and said to offer support for signal processing and many other specialized applications. Among other things, the FPGA can provide the module with a second Ethernet port, second CAN port, and additional GPIOs. The FPGA is also used to make the i.MX31 compatible with a 3.3V power supply, TQ Components says.

Freescale's i.MX31 SoC, familiar from a multitude of applications, is a high-integration, high-performance SoC that has an ARM1136 processor core. The SoC also includes a 2D/3D MBX graphics engine, Java accelerator, a vector floating point math coprocessor, a video processing engine said to support full-motion (30 frames/sec) 720 x 480 video encoding with MPEG-4 or H.264 formats, and numerous other functions and interfaces.

A block diagram of the TQMa31 module
(Click to enlarge)

The TQMa31 (see block diagram above) clocks the i.MX31 either at 400MHz or an available 533Mhz “boost mode,” according to TQ Components. It comes with “up to” 256MB of RAM, 128MB of NOR flash, and up to 1GB of NAND flash storage, the company adds.

The device includes two USB 2.0 ports, serial, CAN 2.0, SPI, I2C, plus optional camera and ATA hard disk interfaces. It also has a 10/100 Ethernet controller, temperature sensor, and realtime clock.

Features and specifications listed by TQ Components for the TQMa31 include:

  • Processor — Freescale i.MX31 clocked at 400MHz or 533MHz
  • Memory — up to 256MB of RAM, 128MB of NOR flash, and up to 1GB of NAND flash storage
  • Networking — 1 x 10/100 Ethernet interface
  • Other I/O:
    • 2 x USB 2.0
    • Keypad
    • Audio
    • CAN 2.0
    • Serial port
    • SPI
    • 2C
    • Camera (optional)
    • ATA (optional)

  • Expansion — Interface for PCMCIA or CompactFlash
  • Power supply — 3.3V, uses approximately 3.3Watts at 533MHz
  • Dimensions — 2.95 by 2.4 inches (75 x 60mm), with 480-pin connector
  • Temperature range — -30 to 85 deg. C extended, 0 to 70 deg. standard
Like other modules of its type, the TQMa31 needs to be plugged into a separate baseboard to convey any of its interfaces to and from the outside world. TQ Components says it offers an evaluation board and will assist customers in developing their own application-specific components, though further details were not provided.

Further information

TQ Components did not release pricing for the TQMa31, but the device appears to be available now. The RoHS-compliant module runs Linux and Windows CE, says the company.

More information may be available from the company's website, here.

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