Embedded hardware: The Digi ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 module and Jump Start Kit

Recently I had a chance to try out this kit and I thought I would share my experiences.

This is an “SoM” (System on Module), based on a Freescale i.MX515 processor (ARM Cortex A-8), clocked at 800 MHz, with 512 MiB SDRAM and 512 MiB NAND flash. As such it is ideal for driving a graphical display or for multimedia processing, but it is also cheap enough for simpler tasks that just need a lot of compute power such as encrypted communications. The module itself is about the size of a business card:

The module connects to a base board via two 180-pin connectors which carry interface signals for USB, Ethernet, LCD screen and so-on. To get you going Digi supply a “JumpStart Kit” which includes a module, a base board with many peripheral interfaces and an 800x480 LCD touch screen, as you can see in the picture below.

Here you can see it running a copy of Ubuntu 9.10 “Karmic” for ARM which is stored on the 4 GiB SDHC card at the bottom. There are wires leading off for power, a serial console, Ethernet and keyboard. There is no need for a mouse because it is a touch-screen!

Other features of the Jumpstart Kit include

  • 3 serial ports
  • Ethernet 100/10
  • 4 x USB hub and USB OTG
  • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Full size and micro SD card slots
  • LCD/HDMI/VGA video outputs
  • Audio in/out/microphone
  • Two camera or tuner inputs
  • JTAG
  • 8 GPIO pins: more GPIO pins can be configured, depending on the combination of interfaces you plan to use
  • Power consumption in the region of 1 to 2 W depending on load

Which is quite a lot for a small package.

Linux support

At the moment, this module is fully supported only by TimeSys (www.timesys.com), although we can expect that Digi will include it in their Digi Embedded Linux tool kit in the not too distant future. The kernel board support package from Timesys is based on a 2.6.31 Freescale kernel. Note that, not all the interfaces are supported in the BSP, for example camera input.

The nice thing is that because the ARM A-8 core is well supported, once you have the kernel up and running you are not limited to using the Timesys user space. In the photo you can see it running Ubuntu ARM. Other options include OpenEmbedded and Android.

Availability

The Jumpstart kit is distributed in the UK by Solid State Supplies (www.sssplc.com). In other countries refer to www.digi.com for a list of suppliers.

Conclusion

This is a very powerful little module with lots of applications. The Linux support package from Timsys is quite expensive, with the usual pros and cons of a commercial Linux product. Digi will likely provide their own Linux support later on.

Comments

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Now supported by Digi Embedded Linux

Digi have started shipping an early availability version of Digi Embedded Linux with Wi-iMX51 support with the JumpStart kit, so now there are two sources of Linux for this module.

Bye for now,
Chris.

ramping up ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 module

Hi, i got this whole module in the FTF 2010 at Orlando FL, is the same as the 2nd picture, it has Windows embedded, i want to try ubuntu on it, i have a ubuntu distro for this, do you have some steps about how to flash it and start playing with this module?

Hi, I have the same module

Hi, I have the same module board: Digi ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51, and I can't boot Ubuntu with gnome like you.
Can you send link with kernel and image linux? Or please describe how make this?

Ubuntu images available

Hi,
I have uploaded the images, see this page for more information:
http://www.embedded-linux.co.uk/hardware/ccwi.imx51-ubuntu

Chris.

Error

I'ts don't work. I have error with modules:

EXT3-fs: mounted filesystem with writeback data mode.
VFS: Mounted root (ext3 filesystem) on device 179:2.
Freeing init memory: 128K
modprobe: FATAL: Could not load /lib/modules/2.6.31-ts-armv7l/modules.dep: No such file or directory

init: sreadahead main process (554) terminated with status 1
init: procps main process (569) terminated with status 255
* Setting preliminary keymap... * Starting OpenBSD Secure Shell server sshd * Starting Kernel Oops catchings
* Starting Common Unix Printing System: cupsd * PulseAudio configured for per-user sessions
* Enabling additional executable binary formats binfmt-support mxc_ipu mxc_ipu: Channel already disabled 9
mxc_ipu mxc_ipu: Channel already uninitialized 9

....and thats is all. On LCD i have ring from ubuntu and nothing else.

Sorry, I make all partition

Sorry, I make all partition again but with console and fdisk and Ubuntu booting OK.
Very thank's Chris

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