TQ: secure, energy-saving and powerful embedded minimodules

With the TQMa7x and TQMa6ULx, TQ has developed two minimodules which use the CPU architecture ARM Cortex-A7. With the choice of this CPU architecture in connection with the variety of interfaces of the NXP CPUs i.MX6UL and i.MX7, TQ is creating a future-oriented basis in order to continue to support its customers with innovative products in the ARM field.

The i.MX7, an ARM dual Cortex-A7 core with up to 2x 1 GHz, is used in the TQMa7x embedded module. This processor achieves a very high processing performance with very low power dissipation. TQ has provided two CPU options, with the essential difference being that one is a single core version and the other a dual core version. This embedded module has been especially optimized for a very low power dissipation.

The i.MX6UL processor, also an ARM Cortex-A7 core with up to 700 MHz from the manufacturer NXP, is used in the second new ARM module, the TQMa6ULx. There are up to four pin-compatible derivatives of this CPU, which differ in terms of the extension of the interfaces. One of the CPU options is trimmed to an exceptionally low power dissipation. This module is therefore scalable in terms of its function.

An LGA option is also planned for the TQMa6ULx and this should already be available in the first quarter of 2017. This option will enable systems to be implemented in the smallest of spaces. Furthermore, the LGA option of TQMa6ULx is compatible in terms of function and software.

The TQMa7x and TQMa6ULx embedded modules have been designed so that an optimum of interfaces can be used directly on the module. This means that the embedded modules are ideal for use as a platform concept across departments and companies can therefore reuse know-how that has already been acquired. In many projects this not only saves valuable time, but also reduces costs during the development process.

All CPU signals that can be used externally, are available via industry-compatible connectors with a grid of 0.8 mm, which have already been tried and tested by TQ for more than 15 years. On 200 or 320 pins, the user can utilize 2x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x PCIe, USB host / USB OTG controller, up to 8 UARTs and two CAN interfaces for communication. Additional functional units can be connected via SDIO, SPI, I2C and I2S.

In each of the embedded modules there is an optimum DDR3L memory for each system (TQMa7x with 512 MB and TQMa6ULx with 256 MB) and up to 32 MB eMMC Flash for program and data implemented. Quad SPI NOR Flash is available as an option. In each case, there is also an EEPROM and a real-time clock with battery backup from the motherboard.

With both of these CPUs, NXP has succeeded in providing a balanced combination of CPU performance, interfaces and performance features for an appealing module design. Due to the interface variety and very compact size of only 54 x 44 mm² (TQMa7x) and 46 x 32 mm² (TQMa6ULx), as well as low power consumption, the new ARM modules from TQ will become an ideal basis for applications in the fields of man-machine interfaces, industrial control systems and Internet of Things (IoT) gateways. Furthermore, a diversity of additional application options are also conceivable for these embedded modules.

With the LCD controllers and camera interfaces integrated into the processor, system developments can also be achieved, which place requirements on display and touch in accordance with the CPU, as well as applications that require a direct camera connection. This provides an enormous cost advantage.

In the case of each module, a Linux BSP has been developed for the module-specific and motherboard-specific interfaces. The adaptation of other operating systems such as QNX and Integrity is also planned. TQ is also planning to support the CPU internal security features with application examples.

With these designs, TQ has supplemented its product range through the addition of a new CPU architecture based on ARM Cortex-A7. In the case of these products, all customers and potential customers of TQ will also be supported by the usual high level of reliability and quality of design.

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