Digi Launches a System-on-Module Based on NXP’s Applications ProcessorDecember 06, 2019 by Gary Elinoff
The Digi ConnectCore 8M Nano SOM platform is designed to reduce time to market for sophisticated IoT designs.
The SOM can best be described as a development kit, based on NXP’s i.MX 8M Nano applications processor. It integrates memory, Digi’s microcontroller assist power management, and Digi TrustFence device security with pre-certified wireless connectivity options.
Digi ConnectCore 8M Nano development kit. Image from Digi International
The ConnectCore 8M Nano’s board size is 5.12 inches x 8.27 inches. It operates over a -40°C to 85°C temperature range and requires a 5-volt power supply.
A Digi-NXP Joint Effort
ConnectCore represents a longstanding relationship between Digi and NXP, especially in light of the fact that Digi has been selected as an early access partner for NXP's new quad-core i.MX 8M Nano processor. The latest result of that partnership is Digi’s ConnectCore 8M Nano SOM Platform.
Block diagram of NXP's i.MX 8M Nano. Image from NXP
The SOM comes pre-loaded with a complete, open-source, production-ready Linux software platform based on the Yocto Project. The Yocto Project is an "open-source collaboration project that helps developers create custom Linux-based systems regardless of the hardware architecture."
Block diagram of Digi’s ConnectCore 8M Nano. Image from Digi International
According to Robert Thompson, Digi's director of i.MX ecosystem management, “Digi has taken the best of the NXP i.MX 8M Nano and added critical elements such as its software enhancements, security framework, and a wide range of wireless connectivity options. These enhancements are exactly what OEM customers need and expect.”
Security: a Key Concern
Digi sought to go beyond secure connections with its TrustFence’s security framework, which simplifies the otherwise difficult process of implementing security features necessary for any device involved in edge computing or operating on the IoT.
Digi TrustFence. Image from Digi International
These essential features include secure boot and certificate management, device identity, and tamper-proofing. There are also access-controlled ports and a facility for secure software updates and encrypted data storage.
The platform allows up to 8GB eMMC and 1 GB of 32-bit LPDDR4.
- Ethernet: Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000 with RJ-45 connector
- Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 1x1 (MCS 0-9) with WPA2-enterprise authentication/encryption
- Bluetooth 5: Included BLE support
- Digi XBee: Two Digi XBee sockets with one supporting Digi XBee cellular
- Antennas: SMA antenna connector
Peripherals and Interfaces
- Two USBs
- 5 GPIOs
- PCI Express Mini Card
- MicroSD connector
- Array of audio connections
Multimedia features include HDMI and LVDS displays and a MIPI-CSI camera connector. The kit also comes with a console port cable, a dual-band antenna, a power supply, and accessories associated with a power supply.
Applications for IoT and Beyond
The ConnectCore 8M Nano can be applicable in project development focusing on IoT-based equipment monitoring, human-machine interfacing, audio/voice applications, machine learning, and edge computing.
The ConnectCore 8M Nano combines Digi and NXP memory, power management, and security. Image from Digi International
Speeding Up Project Development
Digi claims that the ConnectCore 8M Nano development kit will slash months of the time it would otherwise take to bring a product to market.
The SOM frees embedded system designers from the grueling task of designing board support packages (BSP)—the troublesome layer of software with hardware-specific drivers that allow an operating system to function in a particular hardware environment.
Additionally, designers might also be relieved of most of the responsibility of developing secure wireless connectivity. Engineers can then concentrate on the unique specifics of the project design at hand without “reinventing the wheel.”