Acme Systems' RoadRunner Is an Ultra-Low-Power Linux-Compatible SOM for Embedded Projects

Compact, wide-temperature, low-power module includes an onboard amplifier, too — just supply your own "meep-meep" WAV.

Acme Systems has launched a family of systems-on-modules (SOMs) based around the Microchip SAMA5D27 microprocessor, positioning them as perfect for extreme-low-power projects that still need a full Linux kernel and operating system: the RoadRunner.

"The core of the RoadRunner is a Microchip MPU where everything has been designed for low power consumption," Acme Systems' Alessia Tocci explains. "We added a very optimised PMIC [Power Management Integrated Circuit], a low powered RAM, and the quad-SPI [flash] memory."

Designed by Acme Systems co-founder Roberto Asquini, the compact module is designed for even harsh industrial environments: The company has rated the ten-layer board for operation between -40 and 85°C (around -40 to 185°F) and claims a 10mW "freeze mode" sleep with full wake-up in around a second — a feature "unique in this class of Linux boards," Tocci claims.

Acme Systems is positioning the RoadRunner as ideal for ultra-low-power embedded projects. (📹: Acme Systems)

The Microchip SAMA5D27 microprocessor at the module's heart offers a single Arm Cortex-A5 processing core running at 500MHz, a 128kB L2 cache which can be configured as an internal 32-bit single-cycle static RAM (SRAM), 5kB of internal scrambled SRAM of which 4kB are automatically erasable on tamper detection, 256 bits of scrambled and erasable registers, 256MB of DDR3L memory, up to 128MB of QSPI flash, an Arm NEON coprocessor, hardware floating point unit, and hardware cryptographic acceleration including a FIPS-compliant true random number generator.

The module connects to a carrier board over two Hirose 100-pin connectors which carry signals including 10/100 Ethernet, an 24-bit RGB LCD interface, resistive and capacitive touch interfaces, SSC/I2S, I2C, SPI, QSPI, a stereo audio amplifier, peripheral touch controller, PDMIC, CAN-FD MCAN, up to 128 GPIO lines, up to 12 12-bit analogue-to-digital converters (ADCs), five USART and five UART serial ports plus an additional receive-only UART, two USB High Speed hosts or one host and one device, a USB High Speed Inter-Chip HSIC interface, SDIO, SD, or MMC hosts, image sensor controller, timers, PWM, up to three programmable clocks, a JTAG port, serial debug port, and a battery input for the internal real-time clock.

For those not looking to design their own carrier in the initial prototype phase of a project, an option is provided: "The Berta-D2 is the basic evaluation board for the RoadRunner system-on-module," the company explains. "It provides the minimal peripherals to turn-on the RoadRunner, run Linux, try the network an USB host and device capabilities. It has also 160 pin 2.54 mm pitch pads with all the signals exposed by the RoadRunner module to try your own interface."

The modules are now available to buy from Acme Systems, starting at €36 (around $43) with the Berta-D2 carrier an additional €30 (around $36) on top. More details are available on the product home page.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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