SolidRun's Ultra-Compact CuBox-M Packs Five Arm Cores, a DSP, and an NPU Into a Two-Inch Cube

Available in high-performance consumer and wide-temperature-range industrial variants, the CuBox-M puts a lot of power in your palm.

Israeli compact computing specialist SolidRun has launched a new entry in its CuBox family of palm-size personal computers, packing an NXP i.MX 8M Plus system-on-module with neural network coprocessor into a a cube less than two inches on a side.

Dubbed the CuBox-M, and also known as the CuBox Pulse, SolidRun's latest device follows the same overall design as its predecessors in the CuBox family: A pair of boards are stacked one over another and crammed into a tiny cube measuring under two inches per side. Despite this, the device includes gigabit Ethernet connectivity, two USB 3.0 ports, a micro-USB port for debugging, full-size HDMI — though limited to 1080p60 output, as noted by PC World — and a microSD slot for storage, on top of 8GB of on-board eMMC.

The NXP i.MX 8M Plus powering the new system offers a choice of dual- or quad-core Arm Cortex-A53 processors with a Cortex-M7 coprocessor running at up to 1.8GHz, up to 4GB of RAM, and a neural network coprocessor boasting 2.3 TOPS of compute performance. A Cadence Tensilica digital signal processor is also included, along with 2D and 3D graphics accelerators.

In addition to the gigabit Ethernet connection to the rear, the board includes 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, plus a physical button connected to a general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pin, a real-time clock, infrared receiver, and optional Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) connectivity in addition to its 12V barrel-jack connector.

SolidRun has confirmed two variants of the device, one available now and one on pre-order: The CuBox Pulse offers a quad-core 1.8GHz NXP i.MX8M Plus with 1GB of RAM and an operating temperature range of 0-40°C (32-104°F); an industrial variant swaps the SoC out for the slower 1.5GHz NXP i.MX8M but upgrades the memory to 3GB while extending the operating temperature range to 0-70°C (32-158°F). While the company has hinted at dual-core and up-to-4GB variants, with the underlying SoC available in an 8GB model too, it has yet to officially announce them.

The CuBox-M is available to order, under the name CuBox Pulse, on SolidRun's shop now, priced at $99 for the 1GB commercial and $190 for the 3GB industrial variants.

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