Adlink Announces Ubuntu and Altium Upverter Pre-Certified Design Tools






Adlink and Canonical have announced that they will pre-certify Adlink systems with Ubuntu. Adlink also says it offers Altium’s Geppetto-infused Upverter board customization service for its I-Pi carriers for SMARC modules based on the Rockchip PX30, i.MX8M, and i.MX8M Plus.

At this week’s Embedded World 2021 Digital virtual trade show, Adlink announced an agreement with Canonical to offer pre-certified Ubuntu Linux on its embedded computers. Adlink also revealed an agreement with Altium to offer the Upverter board design service for customizing Adlink’s I-Pi carrier boards for select Adlink SMARC modules, including a new I-Pi SMARC IMX8M Plus kit. Altium recently integrated the Geppetto drag-and-drop card personalization service into Upverter from its acquired Gumstix embedded computing unit. (see below)



Adlink Edge architecture (left) and Ubuntu 20.10
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Adlink has long offered Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux distribution on many of its embedded systems, such as the Apollo Lake-based NEON-1000-MDX smart camera and the Jetson AGX Xavier-powered ROScube-X robotic controller. Typically, this requires users to download and configure Ubuntu as an alternative to Windows. The new agreement with Canonical allows customers to order systems pre-installed and pre-certified with Ubuntu, eliminating the need for customers to install the operating system or set up licensing, support and security update.

The agreement with Canonical also enables Adlink to support ODM (Original Design Manufacturer) projects by enabling certification and licensing to ODM customers. The program’s goal is to “create a comprehensive offering of hardware and software devices with fully supported security and operational updates for the lifecycle of the device,” says Adlink.


Vizi AI

Adlink notes its growing integration of Ubuntu with its edge-to-cloud middleware platform Adlink Edge, which comes, for example, with its Intel Apollo Lake-based Vizi-AI board. The Raspberry Pi like Vizi-AI integrates a LEC-AL SMARC module and shares many features with Adlink’s SMARC-driven I-Pi SMARC PX30, which now offers Upverter (see below).

Adlink and Canonical have previously collaborated on the Robot Operating System 2 (ROS 2), which is typically deployed on Ubuntu. Both companies are members of the ROS 2 technical steering committee.

The two companies are also working together on the Indy Autonomous Challenge, the first head-to-head high-speed autonomous vehicle race to be held in October 2021 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Competitors will integrate Adlink’s Coffee Lake-based DLAP-8000 robotic controller into their vehicles.

Altium merges Geppetto with Upverter and signs Adlink as first customer

Gumstix, which was acquired by PCB design company Altium, has long provided its Geppetto Design-to-Order (D2O) custom board design service to customize carrier boards based on its own and partners’ Linux modules. of selected calculation modules. Last September, Altium announced that Toradex had licensed Geppetto for customers wishing to customize carriers for its Verdin and Colibri modules.



Upverter Modular model page (I-Pi models not released at time of publication)
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Last week, Altium announcement that he merged Geppetto, which he calls “Geppetto Modular”, into his high-end PCB design service Upverter Circuit Designer. Today, Adlink went on to announce that it is offering the new Upverter Modular integrated service to customers of Adlink’s artificial intelligence-focused I-Pi (Industrial Pi) development kits based on SMARC modules. Upverter Modular is currently available as a trial service, and Adlink will release the tool for production later in 2021.

Adlink’s announcement defines Upverter Modular as a “web-based drag-and-drop design tool”. The Upverter tool requires minimal engineering skills, allowing customers to create their own SMARC-based carrier board design in hours and receive prototypes in weeks, the company says.

“Upverter generates the electrical design files of fully custom carrier board designs on demand, along with an instant BOM complete with pricing, custom device tree, documentation, and mechanical models,” says Adlink. All of these descriptions are essentially the same as those Gumstix and Altium used for Geppetto.

Adlink will offer I-Pi stand designs as customization templates through Upverter Modular. It is unclear whether customers can also design an operator from scratch that supports Adlink’s I-Pi related SMARC modules.

“The Upverter tool is an innovative enhancement to managing the proof-of-concept and prototyping phase for custom products,” said Carsten Rebmann, Product Manager Modules at Adlink. “This will reduce the time needed by almost 50% compared to current approaches.”

I-Pi SMARC IMX8M Plus and I-Pi SMARC EL

In February 2020, we reported on the first Raspberry Pi-like I-Pi SMARC development kit, which is based on the LEC-PX30 SMARC module based on Rockchip PX30 and now named I-Pi SMARC PX30. In November, Adlink continued with LEC-iMX8M modules based on NXP i.MX8M and driven by i.MX8M Plus LEC-IMX8MP SMARC.



I-Pi SMARC IMX8M Plus

Adlink has now revealed an image for an I-Pi SMARC IMX8M Plus kit for the LEC-IMX8MP module, which provides the NPU-equipped i.MX8M Plus. Since Adlink’s Upverter announcement also mentions support for an i.MX8M-based I-Pi, the same or similar card is likely available for the LEC-iMX8M.



I-Pi SMARC EL based on Adlink’s Elkhart Lake (left) and the LEC-IMX8MP module that powers the I-Pi SMARC IMX8M Plus
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Adlink also posted a high-res image of an upcoming Intel Elkhart Lake (Atom x-6000)-based I-Pi SMARC EL kit, which is not currently supported by Upverter. The I-Pi SMARC EL bracket looks almost identical to the I-Pi SMARC IMX8M Plus. Both are larger than the RPi-like SMARC PX30 I-Pi board, which is available for $125. The new boards appear to share many features of the PX30 model, including an RPi-like 40-pin GPIO connector, 2x GbE, 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, and unique micro-USB 2.0 OTG and HDMI 2.0b ports.

Other I-Pi SMARC PX30 features that are likely included on the i.MX8M Plus and Elkhart Lake models include LVDS, 4-lane MIPI-DSI, 2-lane MIPI-CSI, and I2S. The I-Pi SMARC PX30 runs Ubuntu on a rugged LEC-PX30 SMARC “short” module with the -A35 PX30 quad and 2GB of DDR3L soldered on. The kit comes with a 32GB microSD card with pre-installed software.



I-Pi SMARC PX30 with RPi HAT
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The I-Pi SMARC PX30 is listed in our recent catalog of 150 Linux hacking boards, which details specs that have changed since our original report. Although the I-Pi boards are not open hardware products, the PX30 model was included due to its strong community support and low price. The similar Apollo Lake-based Vizi-AI board is also in the catalog.

I-Pi’s MRAA and UPM software

I-Pi boards come with Intel’s GitHub Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) for low-speed I/O called MRAA. This C/C++ library with Java, JavaScript and Python integrations “allows software to be ported from one platform to another, even SMARC modules with different types of processors”, explains Adlink.



Intel MRAA and UPM Architecture
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The open source stack also includes an Intel Useful Packages and Modules (UPM) repository of software drivers for commonly used sensors and actuators. UPM is also available for Arduino and Raspberry Pi platforms. More details on MRAA and UPM can be found in our I-Pi SMARC PX30 report.

More information

Pre-installed and pre-certified Ubuntu will soon be available on select Adlink embedded systems. More information can be found in Adlink’s Ubuntu announcement.

Altium’s Upverter Modular customization and design service is available on a trial basis to Adlink I-Pi customers, with a product release ready later this year. More information can be found in this Adlink Upverter announcement on EEJournal and on the I-Pi wiki site. Altium’s Upverter Modular is available here.