Olimex Launches an Industrial-Grade NXP i.MX 8M Plus System-on-Module for Industrial Edge AI

Three years after it was first unveiled, the Olimex iMX8MP-SOM is finally available to buy.

Bulgarian open hardware specialist Olimex has launched a new system-on-module (SOM) and evaluation carrier board targeting industrial applications — and making use of NXP's iMX 8M Plus system-on-chip and its 2.3 TOPS neural coprocessor for on-device machine learning and artificial intelligence workloads.

"[This] open source hardware iMX8MPlus system on module and EVB [Evaluation Board] for industrial applications, machine learning, and machine vision with 2.3 TOPS [Tera-Operations Per Second] NPU [Neural Processing Unit] [is] running mainline Linux," Olimex founder Tsvetan Usunov says of the new module and carrier, "and operate[s] in industrial grade temperature range."

The system-on-module is built around the NXP i.MX 8M Plus system-on-chip, featuring a quad-core Arm Cortex-A53 processor running at up to 1.6GHz, an Arm Cortex-M7 microcontroller running at up to 800MHz, a dedicated GPU with HDMI output, and a neural coprocessor for machine learning and artificial intelligence workloads delivering a claimed 2.3 TOPS of compute at minimum precision. There's 4GB of LPDDR4 memory, two gigabit Ethernet ports, two MIPI Camera Serial Interface (CSI) ports, an ISP camera input, a MIPI Display Serial Interface (DSI) port, LVDS video output, a PCI Express 3.0 lane, three USB 3.0 On-The-Go (OTG) ports, and connectivity including SPI, I2C, SDIO, eMMC 5.1, UART, CAN FD bus, and general-purpose input/output (GPIO) with four pulse-width modulation (PWM) channels.

As a quick-start, and a reference design, Usunov has also created a carrier board that breaks out the bulk of features — including both gigabit ports, two CAN buses, the HDMI connector, microSD storage, USB 3.0 ports, audio in and out, GPIO pins, and adds two debug UART buses for the Cortex-A53 and Cortex-M7 cores respectively. Both the module and the carrier are rated to an industrial-grade -45°C to 85°C (-49°F to 185°F) operating temperature range.

The company's new product has been a long time coming. An initial design was originally shown off back in August 2021, when Usunov promised it would launch with pricing "competitive compared to similar industrial grade products." That has translated, now the device has finally launched, into €70 (around $76) for a SOM with 4GB of LPDDR4 and €50 (around $54) for an evaluation board carrier.

The iMX8MP-SOM-4GB-IND and iMX8MP-EVB-4GB-IND are now available to order on the Olimex store; both designs are also published as KiCad projects to the SOM and EVB GitHub repositories under the Strongly Reciprocal variant of the CERN Open Hardware License Version 2.

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