Embedded linux SoC recommendations?

Started by SpiderKenny 6 years ago10 replieslatest reply 6 years ago8335 views

I've just spent a significant amount of money developing products around Intel's Edison module.

It is a low cost, small, low power, embedded Linux module with UARTs, USB, I2S, I2C and SPI, along with WiFi and BT.

However Intel have now decided to drop the product line completely, along with Galileo and Joule.

So, can anyone recommend a suitable replacement Linux SoC? My requirements are:

1. Must be small. A raspbery-pi or BeagleBone will not fit in our products, and anyway they are not really embeddable, what with all their connectors and so on. An R-PI compute module is also too big.

2. Must run some flavour of Linux.

3. Must have WiFi.

4.Must have I2C, SPI and UART external interfaces. Preferably 2 x UART (one for Linux console, one for product usage).

5. Ideally will have an I2S interface too, with support for a DAC like WM8731 or similar.

The Edison was ideal for this, and as a bonus along side the Atom processor it also had a cut-down i386 MCU that could run real time apps although I never used that.

There is the LinkPlay A31 module - it seems to have everything I need, but LinkPlay do not seem serious about talking to me. My production volumes would be around 200-500 per year.

I could also maybe build something from scratch based around a MediaTek chip, but again, their dev kit costs are astronomical and I think they are really looking for high-volume players.

So any suggestions for a small, linux embedded SoC?

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Reply by s-lightJune 26, 2017

Hello SpiderKenny,

i don't know how much processing-power you really need...

you can have a look at ACME Systems
they have a range of modules:

i personally use the Arietta module for hobby projects and used the Aria G25 module for an commercial device (ultra low volume series - 40 piece).

They both have the same CPU: Atmel AT91SAM9G25 SoC (ARM9 @ 400Mhz)

there 'flagship' is there Acqua module with an Atmel MPU SAMA5D31 (Cortex-A5 @ 536MHz)

all the modules have UARTs, USB, SPI, I2C and I2S.
--> NO WIFI - but you could add wifi in form of a usb-sub module as in the arietta wifi example

the ACME support was great! they have good documentation and tutorials on there website and they care about you - even with low volume - and they have a long-term availability statement (stating availability till 2024)

for a module with build in WIFI have a look at the product-range from 8devices
but as fare as i know the only module with an free to use spi is the 'flagship' Rambutan module. (QCA9557 or QCA9550, 720 MHz)

from there range i only used the carambola and carambola2 modules - but never have done more than simple router / webcam playing with these...

8devices uses openWRT as example for there modules.

ACMEsystems uses debian or buildroot as examples.

hope this is somewhat useful for you :-)

sunny greetings stefan

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Reply by SpiderKennyJune 26, 2017

That rambutan module might be a good solution. It seems to be pretty powerful, with all the right features. I'll look further into that one. Thanks!

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Reply by janneJune 26, 2017
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Reply by PedroMBMachadoJune 26, 2017

Hi sorry for ear such a bad news. I am also using both the intel Galileo and Edison. Have you considered the Pi 0? 


I found another one that looks interesting but you will have extra work porting your application.



Good luck.

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Reply by SpiderKennyJune 26, 2017

Thanks for the fast reply!

Believe it or not, the PI Zero and PI-Zero-W are too big also, and again don't really look professional when embedded into a commercial product.

The CH340 Lua module might be promising, but it looks a bit under-powered.

(My application monitors a CAN bus, plays internet Radio, and communicates with other devices using MQTT).

I think what I'll end up doing is building from scratch, maybe using the same Chipset as the LinkPlay which I believe is a Mediatek 7688. It's just the development time that's the problem. A drop in, commercial grade, professional module would be ideal. Which is why we used Edison in the first place.

Ah, the joys of working in a fast moving industry!

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Reply by PedroMBMachadoJune 26, 2017


  I really understand what you are saying. Found another one quite interesting.


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Reply by Tim WescottJune 26, 2017

My sympathies.  It looks like Intel does the same with boards that it has in the past with embedded processors.  I just don't trust Intel with embedded.

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Reply by SpiderKennyJune 26, 2017

With mobile tied up with ARM (incl Apple Ax chipset) and PC market share slipping, you'd think they'd want a top slice of the IoT market, and Edison was a great product - powerful, low power, highly embeddable and feature rich. Shame really.

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Reply by Tim WescottJune 26, 2017

I stopped counting how many times Intel has abandoned embedded processing the second time they did it, in the 1990's, because at that point I just decided "no more Intel".

Hopefully someone will fill the gap.  If you can't find any other solution, you might take a small-ish BeagleBone design, pare away everything you don't need, and roll your own.  You'd have all the pain of producing boards though.

Or do the above and let the design free on the open-source hardware universe and hope that someone picks it up.

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Reply by SpiderKennyJune 26, 2017

Thanks again, Tim.

I'd have no problem rolling my own design - and might just do that using the MediaTech chipset, as it has the backing of OpenWRT. It's just the pain of doing so will add a significant cost, time and risk to my client's project.

In the meantime, I will be buying up enough Edisons to fulfil my exiting commitment to the client, and at the same time, designing the next board, with a bit less reliance on third parties.