These days, hardworking industrial equipment is getting small enough to wear or fly. The vast market for mobile industrial solutions ranges from patient monitors, mobile service robots, drones, emergency responder equipment and radios, to highly-secured point of sale devices. Some ruggedized platforms can fit into a pocket and many are used for mission-critical scenarios. Their operators demand intuitive interfaces, true real-time response and extreme reliability.
Even the industrial solutions found in traditional factory, building, warehouse and infrastructure applications are rapidly evolving to provide sleek, user-friendly graphical touch screens and hands-free voice control, secure cloud access, along with safe and reliable real-time response. These new features place significant demands on processing performance, battery life, security capabilities and the multimedia experience.
At Embedded World this week, NXP announced the i.MX 8X family of applications processors, specifically designed to meet these combined industrial design challenges. The new i.MX 8X family is our third in the i.MX 8 series, designed to meet the safety-certifiable and efficient performance requirements of industrial, automotive and consumer applications.
The new i.MX 8X family includes all-purpose applications processors, which combine ARM® Cortex®-A35 and Cortex-M4 cores to function as both a connected multi-media device and a real-time industrial controller. Processors in this family have a high level of integration, with hardware accelerated graphics and video, multiple camera and display interfaces, a high performance DSP, and more.
NXP’s continued goal for the i.MX applications processor line is to simplify development, reduce maintenance effort and cost, and contribute scalable solutions for as much software and hardware design reuse as possible.
Mobile industrial solutions particularly benefit from using this new chip. We selected cores that are cool to the touch, tuned the architecture for extended battery life, boosted performance, and revved up the real-time response for devices that are light enough to fly.
The i.MX 8X is built with two of the most power-efficient ARM Cortex core types available. Power savings are further enhanced by this fourth-generation asymmetrical architecture, which can shut off the Cortex-A35 cores and unused resources while the Cortex-M4 performs low-level system monitoring and connectivity.
The 28nm fully depleted silicon on insulator (FD-SOI) fabrication process brings additional power efficiency, to help the i.MX 8X run fanless in a hot environment without air flow. These power-saving capabilities make the NXP i.MX 8X the perfect processor for energy efficient and battery operated industrial applications.
New Safety and Reliability Capabilities
Safety and reliability are paramount for both mobile and stationary industrial applications. With this in mind, the i.MX 8X is NXP’s first i.MX applications processor to add Error Correcting Code (ECC) on the DDR3 interface. This hardware feature detects and corrects memory bit corruption to keep everything running smoothly and reliably. Safety Integrity Level 3 (SIL 3) certification is much easier as a result, for applications such as programmable logic controllers, input/output controllers, autonomous robots and drones.
I think it’s fair to say that this new i.MX 8X solution has reached new heights with its optimized performance, efficient integration, enhanced reliability, and impressive low power consumption. Be it a scanner that converses, a worker’s vest that records and alerts, or a drone that safely inspects tall structures, we expect to see our new i.MX 8X in the heart of many wide-ranging, innovative and productive industrial applications.