Power-optimized 14 FinFET Performance, Multi-core Scalability for Your Intelligent Edge

Power-optimized 14 FinFET Performance, Multi-core Scalability for Your Intelligent Edge

NXP Accelerates Edge Computing Revolution

NXP achieved a big milestone this week. Our first applications processors built in 14LPC FinFET process technology, the i.MX 8M Mini applications processors, are now in volume production. These devices bring high-performing, power-efficient, scalable, heterogeneous multi-core processing to media streaming, industrial and IoT applications. Available through our distribution partners, the i.MX 8M Mini applications processors are proven and ready to be designed into your next application.

This week we also announced our second product in 14LPC FinFET process technology; the i.MX 8M Nano applications processor. This applications processor is pin-compatible with the i.MX 8M Mini and software compatible across the broader i.MX 8M family. With the announcement of the i.MX 8M Nano applications processors, we continue to harness the performance improvements and speed efficiencies of the 14LPC FinFET technology node. We are committed to delivering complementary, performance-scalable new applications processors at a rapid pace.

Our customers tell us that complementary applications processors that demonstrate hardware compatibility and software compatibility help them develop products in a fast, scalable and economical way. And with the i.MX 8M family line-up, we are delivering on these requirements. Designed with compatibility in mind, a customer can leverage one design into many products. Whether the need is for a video-rich surveillance system, a touch-panel in an elevator, a smart refrigerator that keeps track of inventory, an industrial robot performing factory line inspections, a vending machine dispensing potato chips or a voice-controlled light switch such as the Decora Voice™ Dimmer, recently announced by Leviton. NXP has been working closely with Leviton to enable their intelligent edge node devices using the i.MX 8M Mini and i.MX 8M Nano applications processors.

Leviton Decora Voice™ Dimmer photo courtesy of Leviton

Leviton Decora Voice™ Dimmer photo courtesy of Leviton

Leviton agrees with our approach. “Leviton’s recently announced Decora Voice™ Dimmer with Amazon Alexa Built-in, featuring NXP’s high performance i.MX 8M Mini applications processor adds even more intelligence, combining the convenience of hands-free voice control and intelligent management of smart home devices with Leviton’s best-in-class smart lighting controls without the need for additional hardware,” said Aaron Ard, Senior Director of Engineering at Leviton. “We’re excited to see the introduction of the new i.MX 8M Nano as its innovative, future-proof, pin-compatibility answers our need to continue to make our solutions accessible to customers at a value they can appreciate.”

i.MX 8M Mini Is Available to Everyone

You can now order product evaluation kits through your local distributor and E-Tailer. NXP has developed a compact, full-featured evaluation kit complete with Linux and Android board support package (BSP) software. Hardware schematics and layout files are available for download at www.nxp.com/imx8mminievk and software packages are available for download at www.nxp.com/imxsw. The kit shipping today supports LPDDR4 memory, but we have plans in the works to enable DDR4 memory in a follow-on kit. The i.MX 8M Mini applications processor supports a variety of high-speed and complex memory interfaces, hence it’s important to provide proven reference solutions. The quicker we can bring you up on the basics (like memory design) the quicker you can move on to the value-adding parts of your product design.

i.MX 8M Mini Evaluation Kit with LPDDR4 Memory

i.MX 8M Mini Evaluation Kit with LPDDR4 Memory

And if you’ve progressed beyond evaluation and you’re ready to start your design with the i.MX 8M Mini applications processor? Great! You can also place orders for parts with distributors and E-Tailers. And you can access the full set of product documentation at www.nxp.com/imx8mmini. If you’d rather outsource the hardware design to a third-party embedded board solutions partner, we have you covered. Go and read our i.MX 8M Mini partner blog  for details on our first wave of available board solutions. Over the next few months we will be bringing up many more board solutions through our partner network, so stay tuned for updates.

What’s the big deal about FinFET?

FinFET processing isn’t new. In fact, you’re probably reading this on a mobile device that uses an applications processor built using some version of FinFET process technology. What’s new is that with the i.MX 8M Mini applications processor, NXP is bringing the speed improvements and power efficiencies of this technology node to the mainstream industrial and IoT markets.

It’s easy to comprehend that mobile devices require more performance and a longer battery-life to keep up with consumer usage (hours a day of active use) and the increasing need for more and more software capabilities. But when I talk to customers in the non-mobile phone space, this is exactly what they are asking for too. More performance and better power efficiency.

With more advanced computing and intelligence being pushed to the edge, our customers must be able to build products that deliver these capabilities with power and performance to spare. Edge devices are not upgraded at the rate of a mobile product. And even though they may always be plugged-in to a power source, edge devices need power-efficient applications processors, like the i.MX 8M Mini, to meet new energy efficiency requirements that are being mandated by government regulators and the modern-day consumer. And we all know that building products that responsibly use our natural resources is the way to go.

Let’s Talk About Pin-compatibility

Pin-compatibility is not new in the industry. In fact, this was already successfully deployed with the release of the i.MX 6 series in 2012, a mainstream applications processor series used today in embedded computing. NXP is simply listening to our customers and continuing to deliver what you need; pin-compatibility and performance scalability across the next generation of applications processors to help you scale features and manage costs across your next generation of products.

What’s unique and really exciting here is that we’ve designed a single EVK that works with both the i.MX 8M Mini and i.MX 8M Nano applications processors. A single design that allows for drop-in replacement of an i.MX 8M Mini with an i.MX 8M Nano because they are available in a pin-compatible package. What this means to you is that even if your end product needs the cost-efficiency of an i.MX 8M Nano, you can start designing today with the i.MX 8M Mini and get a jumpstart on your product development.

i.MX 8M Family Grows to Three

Just like with any family, you can never publicly admit to having a favorite. We’ll leave that up to you, depending on whether you need 4K video, lowest-cost or highest performance. The good news is that there are a common set of inherited traits across the family such as heterogeneous multi-core processing and industrial operation. You can also design with ease knowing that software is compatible across the entire family and that certain products offer pin-compatibility.

Let’s look at the line-up:

  • i.MX 8M Applications Processors; The Original

    • The first in the i.MX 8M family, the i.MX 8M applications processors were built to enable advanced computing and media-rich applications that require 4K decode with support for high dynamic range (HDR). Applications that need to drive multiple displays, take in multiple camera inputs or require fast USB 3.0 will also benefit from the feature set of the i.MX 8M applications processors. Rounding out the feature set, the devices also contain a 3D graphics engine that supports OpenGL ES 3.1 and Vulkan APIs to deliver high-performance real-time graphics. The 3D GPU also supports the general-purpose OpenCL 1.2 API for implementation of advanced machine learning applications. The i.MX 8M applications processors are in volume production and available through distribution and E-Tailers worldwide.
  • i.MX 8M Mini Applications Processors; The Newest and Fastest

    • The newest and highest-performing in the i.MX 8M family, the i.MX 8M Mini applications processors are NXP’s first applications processor designed in 14LPC FinFET process technology. This applications processor brings new levels of performance (up to 1.8GHz per core) and power efficiency to the i.MX 8M family. The device integrates hardware 1080p60 video encode and video decode engines, 2D and 3D graphics engines for high-performance real-time graphics, and a wide range of general purpose I/O suitable for many applications. The i.MX 8M Mini applications processors are in volume production and available through distribution and E-Tailers worldwide.
  • i.MX 8M Nano Applications Processors; The Next and Most Cost-efficient

    • Announced this week, the i.MX 8M Nano applications processors provide new levels of cost-efficiency for multi-core heterogeneous processing. These devices include a hardware asynchronous sample rate converter (ASRC) for up to 32 channels of high-quality audio streaming with extremely low noise and distortion. Also included is a general-purpose 3D graphics engine with support for OpenGL ES 3.1 and Vulkan APIs to deliver high-performance real-time graphics. The 3D GPU also supports the general-purpose OpenCL 1.2 API for implementation of advanced machine learning applications. The i.MX 8M Nano applications processors are the most cost-effective i.MX 8M family member for intelligent edge node devices. This device will be in production in 4Q 2019 but you can start designing now using the pin-compatible i.MX 8M Mini applications processor.
  • Standard Features Across the i.MX 8M Family Include:

    • Heterogenous multicore processing with up to quad-core Arm Cortex-A53 and single-core Cortex-M4 or Cortex-M7 cores.
    • Flexible choices when it comes to memory support; low-power and high-performing LPDDR4 memory, or cost-effective DDR3L and DDR4 memories.
    • Gigabit Ethernet with IEEE1588 and AVB support, SD 3.0, eMMC 5.0/5.1, USB and over twenty audio channels for simple or advanced audio applications.
    • MIPI display and camera interfaces.
    • Graphics acceleration for media-rich user-interfaces.
    • Industrial reliability and support for industrial mission profiles that require -40C to 105C performance over 10 years of operational lifetime.
    • Backed by NXP’s product longevity program, offers a minimum of 10 years of supply longevity from day of launch*.
    • Comprehensive development kits and reference layouts with supporting Linux, Android and FreeRTOS BSPs.
    • Reference software and solutions for voice and machine learning.

Get Started Today

If you’re at Embedded World 2019, come visit the NXP booth and see the breadth of the board solutions that are available today using the i.MX 8M Mini applications processors.

You can also talk to your local distributor or E-Tailer about these products, order EVKs and samples and download software and documentation. And, if you have technical questions, imxcommunity.org is ready to engage. Our i.MX 8M Mini applications processors are proven, primed and ready to help you build and scale your next idea.

*For more information visit NXP’s Product Longevity Program please visit https://www.nxp.com/productlongevity

Amanda McGregor
Amanda McGregor
Amanda McGregor leads product innovation for NXP’s applications processors. She has driven the definition, enablement and adoption of i.MX applications processors for more than a decade and led the development of NXP’s 14LPC FinFET applications processors for consumer, industrial and IoT applications.

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