Seeed Studio has begun taking pre-orders for the NPi i.MX6ULL development board, targeting those working in the industrial control and transportation sectors with features including up to 8GB of on-board storage, dual Ethernet ports, and a real-time clock (RTC) as standard, plus the promise of Raspberry Pi HAT compatibility.
Based on an i.MX6ULL computer-on-module (COM) attached to a custom breakout board, the NPi includes an NXP Arm Cortex-A7 processor running up to 800MHz, 512MB of DDRL3 RAM, a choice of 256MB of NAND flash or 8GB of eMMC storage, and an on-board battery-backed real-time clock. Connectivity includes two 100Mb Ethernet ports, a single USB 2.0 Host connection, a USB Type-C port for operation in device mode, a microSD slot for additional storage, FPC LCD interface with touch input, and two 40-pin GPIO headers.
The GPIO headers are worthy of a second look: The primary header boasts compatibility with the Raspberry Pi GPIO pinout, with Seeed promising that a range of Hardware Attached on Top (HAT) modules designed for the Raspberry Pi will work unmodified on the NPi — including the company’s own HAT products, which add audio, CAN-BUS, or Grove connectivity. The secondary header, meanwhile, offers additional connectivity above and beyond that available on a Raspberry Pi.
The module plus carrier is, Seeed explains, targeted at “industrial control, rail transit, drone control, and audio output,” though there’s a warning in the company’s product documentation: It has rated the COM component at an operating temperature of -20℃ to 80℃, but has not tested the breakout board’s operating range — something that may make it ill-suited for embedding in more extreme environments.
Pre-orders are now open, ahead of a late October shipping date, priced at $39 for the 256MB NAND and $44 for the 8GB eMMC variants. Seeed Studio has promised support for Debian, Ubuntu, and Yocto Linux through its fork of the BeagleBoard Image Builder.
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Author: Gareth Halfacree