Freescale's ARM Cortex A8-based i.MX50 is popular in the tablet space and finds uses in other areas as well such as medical and infotainment. The earlier i.MX508 integrated support for electronic paper display (EPD) technology. The i.MX503 and i.MX507 share a common architecture (Fig. 1) with the i.MX50 family including an 800 MHz ARM Cortex A8 core, USB OTG and USB host support, plus a 10/100 Ethernet interface. DDR2, LP-DDR2 and mDDR controller support is standard as is off-chip flash and SRAM support. The lower cost i.MX503 foregoes the EPD support but includes the OpenVG GPU found in the i.MX508. The i.MX502 has only the LCD controller that handles displays up to 1400 by 1050 pixels.
Also included in the latest announcement was the relase of the MC34708 companion chip (Fig. 2). The MC34708 incorporates five multi-mode buck switchers to handle the processor core, memory and peripherals. There is a boost switcher used for USB OTG support. It also has eight regulators with internal and external pass devices for thermal budget optimization. The chip uses either an SPI or I2C bus for control. This allows access to the 10-bit ADC that can monitor the battery and other devices. A dual input switching charger handles single cell Li-ion batteries. This enables power-on even with dead or no battery scenario. The USB/UART/audio switching for mini-micro USB connectors provides alternate interface cabling.
The latest i.MX50 EVK (Fig. 3) includes the MC34708. The board also includes 512 Mbytes of DDR2 memory. Sockets are available for a variety of flash devices including a pair of SD/MMC slots.
The SABRE tablet board (Fig. 4) adds an EPD display and a 3-axis accelerometer. The platforms support Freescale's Android and Linux.