Low-cost, low-power system-on-module uses tablet SoC

November 06, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
With a quad-core Allwinner A31 processor, usually found in high-end tablets, the A31-µQ7 is a high-performance industrial system-on-module setting an ultra-competitive price point, starting at under £50 (~€70).

Developed by design house Theobroma Systems (Vienna, Austria) and distributed by Direct Insight, the module measures 70 x 40 mm and is based on the 230-pin Qseven pinout standard, comes with a Linux BSP and is provided with a full implementation of Debian 8 “Jessie” to accelerate customer designs. Providing 4 ARM Cortex-A7 cores, with up to 2 GB of DDR3 RAM, the system automatically scales the processor clock frequency up to a maximum of 1.2 GHz according to application requirements and thermal capacity, bringing handheld applications within the new module’s remit. Suspend power consumption down to 25 mW is feasible, while typical operating power consumption is around 2W. Standard interfaces include a Gigabit Ethernet port, which offers high-throughput using a DMA-capable architecture, dual-channel LVDS and a HDMI 1.4 port. Up to eight USB ports are available as well as SD Card, SATA II, UART, I ²S, I ²C, SMBus and SPI. A separate on-module ARM Cortex-M0 processor subsystem provides an offloaded CAN bus solution.

An on-board eMMC Flash memory provides 4 or 8 GB in standard configurations - and up to 64 GB in custom configurations - of persistent storage, and a state-of-the-art security module meets the requirements of emerging IoT applications such as Smart Metering. An on-module SPI NOR Flash provides an additional 16 MB of non-volatile memory.

Distributor Direct Insight says of the module, “This is not your average SoM-based solution... Theobroma Systems are brilliant engineers, which has allowed them to develop a system which makes accessible to industrial users the features of a processor normally reserved to tablet manufacturers for industrial users. They have a good plan for longevity, and using a standard pinout and standardised approach to Linux implementation has created a solution which is plug-in upgradeable.”

“We are excited to bring to market a system-level product that combines our experience in designing embedded platforms for connected applications and our full-stack software knowhow.