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.


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.


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.