SMARC standard

21/07/2015

It is known that nowadays designers feel no lack of board formats to choose from while starting a new project. Each of them describes strict requirements to follow, and the number of new specifications grows year upon year.

One of the latest standards was represented in 2014, it was called SMARC (stands for Smart Mobility Architecture). The description of the new format was developed by Standardisation Group of Embedded Technology (SGET) which includes main Embedded market players Kontron, MSC, Congatec, Data Modul, SECO, Advantech. As it was mentioned by representatives of this union, the main goal of making SMARC is to introduce a unified standard of an energy efficient module with high productivity. Newly defined requirements propose using ARM SoC, just the same as used in up-to-date smartphones or tablets, though there is still the opportunity to use RISC CPUs. Finally, there are only two predefined sizes for SMARC modules, 82 x 50 mm and 82 x 80 mm.

SMARS boards size

The specification document regulates much more features of course, the most important of them will be mentioned below. For instance, the specification prescribes implementing parallel LCD interfaces, multiple I2C and I2S and serial ports, serial and parallel camera input, USB host and client mode, eMMC and SD card slot. Obviously, the key advantage of SMARC standard, comparing to its successful antecedent COM Express is wider variety of peripheral interfaces allowing to extend usage of new modules.

SMARC compliant modules use source voltage in the range from 3 V to 5.25 V, allowing the use of lithium-ion batteries for applications when external DC supply is not suitable. Though the maximum values on the power pins are limited by 5 A and 15 W (3 V), the peak wattage will not exceed 6 W during highest workloads of a module, therefore it is so suitable to fanless applications. Thermal analysis conducted by the engineers of Edality confirmed this statement fully.

The latest SMARC module (or System on Module) SES-MX6/D/Q by Sintecs BV, which was developed with participation of Edality’s engineering team, is based on Freescale i.MX6 CPU with ARM Cortex-A9 architecture, with single, dual or four cores. Optional PCIe switch may be useful for applications where additional motherboard’s PCIe lane is required. Small-sized PCB (82 x 50 mm) holds onboard up to 64 GB of eMMC memory, Gigabit Ethernet,  PCI Gen.2, two USB 2.0, and much more.

SES-MX6 SoM by Sintecs BV based on Freescale i.MX6

SES-MX6/D/Q made by Sintecs is a modern solution for the growing markets of industrial automatization, medical equipment, security systems, etc. It stands in one row with similar solutions released by Congatec, ADLINK, Kontron and others. Perspectives of SMARC as a solid standard look promising, and customers already sharing positive feedback with manufacturers.