i.MX

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The i.MX range is a family of Freescale Semiconductor proprietary microprocessors for multimedia applications based on the ARM architecture and focused on low-power consumption. The i.MX application processors are SoCs (System-on-Chip), that integrate many processing units into one die, like the main CPU, a video processing unit and a graphics processing unit for instance. The i.MX products are qualified for automotive, industrial and consumer markets. Most of them are guaranteed for a lifetime of 10 to 15 years.[1]
Many devices use i.MX processors, such as Ford Sync, Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, some Logitech Harmony remote controls and Squeezebox radio, some Toshiba Gigabeat mp4 players. The i.MX range was previously known as the "DragonBall MX" family, the fifth generation of DragonBall microcontrollers. i.MX originally stood for "innovative Multimedia eXtension".

The i.MX solutions consist of hardware (processors and development boards) and software optimized for the processor.

i.MX1x series[edit]

Launched in 2001/2002, the i.MX1x series is based on the ARM920T architecture.

  • i.MX1 = 200 MHz ARM920T
  • i.MXS = 100 MHz ARM920T
  • i.MXL = 150-200 MHz ARM920T

i.MX2x series[edit]

The i.MX2x series is a family of processors based on the ARM9 architecture (ARM926EJ-S), designed in CMOS 90 nm process.

i.MX21 family[edit]

The i.MX21 family is designed for low power handheld devices. It was launched in 2003.

  • i.MX21 = 266 MHz ARM9 platform + CIF VPU (decode/encode) + security
  • i.MX21S = 266 MHz ARM9 platform + security

i.MX27 family[edit]

The i.MX27 family is designed for videotelephony and video surveillance. It was launched in 2007.

  • i.MX27 = 400 MHz ARM9 platform + D1 VPU (decode/encode) + IPU + security
  • i.MX27L = 400 MHz ARM9 platform + IPU + security

i.MX25 family[edit]

The i.MX25 family was launched in 2009. It especially integrates key security features in hardware. The high-end member of the family, i.MX258, integrates a 400 MHz ARM9 CPU platform + LCDC (LCD controller) + security block and supports mDDR-SDRAM at 133 MHz.

  • i.MX258 (industrial) = 400 MHz ARM9 platform + LCDC (with touch screen support) + security
  • i.MX257 (consumer/industrial) = 400 MHz ARM9 platform + LCDC (with touch screen support)
  • i.MX253 (consumer/industrial) = 400 MHz ARM9 platform + LCDC + security (no touch)
  • i.MX255 (automotive) = 400 MHz ARM9 platform + LCDC (with touch screen support) + security
  • i.MX251 (automotive) = 400 MHz ARM9 platform + security

i.MX23 family[edit]

The i.MX233 processor, launched in 2009, integrates a Power Management Unit (PMU) and a stereo audio codec within the silicon. This unique integration removes the need for external power management chip and audio codec chip.

  • i.MX233 (consumer) = 454 MHz ARM9 platform + LCD Controller (with touch screen support) + Pixel Pipeline + security + Power Management Unit + audio codec. Provided in 128LQFP or 169 BGA packages.

i.MX28 family[edit]

The i.MX28 family was launched in 2010. It especially integrates key security features in hardware, an ADC and the power management unit. It supports mDDR, LV-DDR2, DDR2-SDRAM at 200 MHz.

  • i.MX287 (industrial) = 454 MHz ARM9 platform + LCDC (with touch screen support) + security + power management + dual CAN interface + dual Ethernet
  • i.MX286 (industrial) = 454 MHz ARM9 platform + LCDC (with touch screen support) + security + power management + dual CAN interface
  • i.MX285 (automotive) = 454 MHz ARM9 platform + LCDC (with touch screen support) + security + power management + dual CAN interface + dual Ethernet
  • i.MX283 (consumer/industrial) = 454 MHz ARM9 platform + LCDC (with touch screen support) + security + power management
  • i.MX281 (automotive) = 454 MHz ARM9 platform + security + power management + dual CAN interface + single Ethernet

i.MX3x series[edit]

The i.MX3x series is a family of processors based on the ARM11 architecture (ARM1136JF-S mainly), designed in CMOS 90 nm process.

i.MX31 family[edit]

The i.MX31 was launched in 2005. It integrates a 532 MHz ARM1136 CPU platform (with vector floating point unit, L1 caches and 128KB L2 caches) + Video Processing Unit (VPU) + 3D GPU (OpenGL ES 1.1) + IPU + security block It supports mDDR-SDRAM at 133 MHz.

  • i.MX31 (consumer/industrial/automotive) = 532 MHz ARM1136 platform + VPU + 3D GPU + IPU + security
  • i.MX31L (consumer/industrial/automotive) = 532 MHz ARM1136 platform + VPU + IPU + security

i.MX37 family[edit]

The i.MX37 processor is designed for Portable Media Players. It was launched in 2008.

  • i.MX37 (consumer) = 532 MHz ARM1176 CPU platform + D1 VPU (multiformat D1 decode) + IPU + security block

It supports mDDR-SDRAM at 133 MHz.

i.MX35 family[edit]

The i.MX35 family is the replacement of i.MX31. It was launched in 2009. The high-end member of the family, i.MX357, integrates an 532 MHz ARM1136 CPU platform (with Vector Floating Point unit, L1 caches and 128KB L2 cache) + 2.5D GPU (OpenVG 1.1) + IPU + security block It supports DDR2-SDRAM at 133 MHz.

  • i.MX357 (consumer/industrial) = 532 MHz ARM1136 CPU platform + 2.5D GPU + IPU + security
  • i.MX353 (consumer/industrial) = 532 MHz ARM1136 CPU platform + IPU + security
  • i.MX356 (automotive) = 532 MHz ARM1136 CPU platform + 2.5D GPU + IPU + security
  • i.MX355 (automotive) = 532 MHz ARM1136 CPU platform + IPU + security
  • i.MX351 (automotive) = i.MX355 with no LCD interface

i.MX5x series[edit]

The i.MX5x series is based on the ARM Cortex A8 core. It comprises two families: the i.MX51 family (high-end multimedia devices like smartbook or automotive infotainment) and the i.MX50 family (eReaders). It is designed in CMOS 65 nm process. Some models have an Imageon z460 GPU.

i.MX51 family[edit]

The high-end member of the family, i.MX515, integrates an 800 MHz ARM Cortex A8 CPU platform (with NEON co-processor, Vector Floating Point Unit, L1 caches and 256KB L2 cache) + multi-format HD 720p decode / D1 encode hardware video codecs (VPU, Video Processing Unit) + Imageon 3D GPU (OpenGL ES 2.0) + 2.5D GPU (OpenVG 1.1) + IPU + security block. It especially supports DDR2 SDRAM at 200 MHz. The family was launched in 2009.

  • i.MX515 (consumer/industrial) = 800 MHz ARM Cortex A8 platform (600 MHz for industrial) + HD VPU + 3D GPU + 2.5D GPU + IPU + security
  • i.MX513 (consumer/industrial) = 800 MHz ARM Cortex A8 platform (600 MHz for industrial) + HD VPU + IPU
  • i.MX512 (consumer/industrial) = 800 MHz ARM Cortex A8 platform (600 MHz for industrial) + IPU
  • i.MX516 (automotive) = 600 MHz ARM Cortex A8 platform + HD VPU + 3D GPU + 2.5D GPU + IPU + security block
  • i.MX514 (automotive) = 600 MHz ARM Cortex A8 platform + 3D GPU + 2.5D GPU + IPU + security block

i.MX50 family[edit]

The i.MX508 processor is the result of Freescale collaboration with E Ink. It is dedicated for eReaders. Launched in 2010, it integrates the E INK display controller within the silicon to save both BOM cost and space on the PCB. It especially supports LP-DDR2 SDRAM at 400 MHz.

  • i.MX508 (consumer) = 800 MHz ARM Cortex A8 platform + 2.5D GPU + Pixel Pipeline + E INK display controller.

i.MX53 family[edit]

i.MX535 was announced in June 2010. Shipped since the first quarter of 2011.

  • i.MX537 (industrial) = 800 MHz ARM Cortex A8 platform + Full HD VPU (1080p decode) + 3D GPU + 2.5D GPU + IPU + security + IEEE1588
  • i.MX535 (consumer) = 1 GHz ARM Cortex A8 platform + Full HD VPU (1080p decode) + 3D GPU + 2.5D GPU + IPU + security
  • i.MX536 (automotive) = 800 MHz ARM Cortex A8 platform + Full HD VPU (1080p decode) + 3D GPU + 2.5D GPU + IPU + security
  • i.MX534 (automotive) = 800 MHz ARM Cortex A8 platform + 3D GPU + 2.5D GPU + IPU + security

i.MX6x series[edit]

The i.MX6x series is the latest addition to the Freescale i.MX portfolio, based on the ARM Cortex A9 solo, dual or quad cores. It is designed in CMOS 40 nm process. i.MX6 Solo, Dual and Quad were announced in January 2011, during Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

i.MX6 Solo family[edit]

  • i.MX6 Solo = 1.0 GHz ARM Cortex A9 platform + Full HD VPU (1080p decode) + 3D (Vivante GC880) + 2D GPU (Vivante GC320) + IPU + security + 512KB L2 cache
  • i.MX6 SoloLite = 1.0 GHz ARM Cortex-A9 platform + Vector Graphics GPU (Vivante GC335) + 2D GPU (Vivante GC320) + security + 256KB L2 cache

i.MX6 Dual/Quad families[edit]

  • i.MX6 Dual = 1.2 GHz ARM Cortex A9 dual cores platform + dual Full HD VPU (1080p decode) + 3D GPU (Vivante GC2000) + Vector Graphics GPU (Vivante GC335) + 2D GPU (Vivante GC320) + 2xIPU + security + 1MB L2 cache
  • i.MX6 DualLite = 1.0 GHz ARM Cortex A9 dual cores platform + dual Full HD VPU (1080p decode) + 3D GPU (Vivante GC880) + 2D GPU (Vivante GC320) + 2xIPU + security + 512KB L2 cache
  • i.MX6 Quad = 1.2 GHz ARM Cortex A9 quad cores platform + dual Full HD VPU (1080p decode) + 3D GPU (Vivante GC2000) + Vector Graphics GPU (Vivante GC335) + 2D GPU (Vivante GC320) + 2xIPU + security + 1MB L2 cache

Vivante GC2000 has four cores and 24 GFLOPS.

Software solutions[edit]

Freescale proposes a layered approach of software with selection of software components optimized for its chips. The i.MX board support packages (BSP), common across all i.MX nodes, consists of kernel optimization, hardware drivers and unit tests. The company also provides a portfolio of multimedia Codecs (ARM and Video processing unit accelerated). The i.MX solution also includes middleware with reuse of open source frameworks like multimedia framework plugins, power management, security/DRM or graphics (OpenGL/OpenVG).

All software solutions for i.MX are publicly available on the company website.

Linux[edit]

Freescale i.MX development kits include a Linux software stack with a GNOME Mobile environment.

On the i.MX51 family, the reference user interface is Ubuntu. The last Ubuntu version supported is 10.04.1 (still available on mirrors). Ubuntu dropped the "official" i.MX51 family support since version 10.10.[2] Since Ubuntu 11.10 support for the i.MX53 Quickstart board is available as a preinstalled desktop or server SD card.[3]

The OpenEmbedded Linux distribution supports several i.MX platforms.

Commercial Linux support is available from companies like Lanedo, TimeSys, MontaVista, Wind River Systems and Mentor Graphics.

FreeBSD[edit]

Support for the Freescale i.MX51 was added to FreeBSD on 2013-10-31. [4] Support for other members of the i.MX5 family has been added since.

Support for the Freescale i.MX6 family was added to FreeBSD on 2013-10-31.[5]

OpenBSD[edit]

Support for the FreeScale's i.MX6 series SoC was added to [6]OpenBSD's head on the 2013-09-06.

Windows CE[edit]

Freescale i.MX development kits include WinCE.

Android[edit]

In February 2010, Freescale launched an Android platform for the i.MX5x family.[7]

Chromium[edit]

In early 2010 Freescale demoed Chromium OS running on the i.MX515 processor.[8] The company has not disclosed any further plans about Chromium or Chrome.

Real-time OS[edit]

Freescale has a range of partners providing real-time operating systems and software solutions running on the i.MX processors, such as Trinity Convergence, Adeneo, Thundersoft, Intrinsyc, Wind River Systems, QNX, Green Hills and Mentor Graphics.[9]

Reference designs[edit]

In January 2010, Freescale announced the first platform of its Smart Application Blueprint for Rapid Engineering (SABRE) series.[10] It is a smartbook (tablet form factor with 7" touch screen resistive), running on i.MX515.

In February 2010, Freescale demoed the SABRE platform for eReaders,[11] based on i.MX515.

Many more reference boards are mentioned and supported through the Freescale i.MX community website. These include:

  • i.MX23EVK
  • i.MX25PDK
  • i.MX28EVK
  • MX37PDK
  • i.MX35PDK
  • i.MX51EVK
  • i.MX53QSB (LOCO)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]