NXP Expands Media Capabilities Available on a Single Chip with i.MX 8M Application Processors

January 17 2018, 04:00
During CES 2018, NXP Semiconductors had the most impressive presence among semiconductor manufacturers. To address the convergence of immersive sensory experiences fueled by voice, video and audio demands, NXP has launched the i.MX 8M family of applications processors, combining robust media capabilities on one single chip. Arkamys and MSC Technologies, already announced support for the new 64-bit processor family.

Voice commands will dominate 50 percent of all searches in the next two years, according to Gartner Research, increasingly thinner TVs are driving the popularity of soundbars for home automation, and consumers are embracing the Internet-of-Things (IoT) for creating more convenient, richer sensory-driven experiences. In collaboration with key ecosystem leaders, including Amazon and Google, to enable seamless connectivity and intuitive experiences into the market, NXP now introduced its new i.MX 8M family of application processors.

"Interacting with machines will be as natural as using your human senses,” says Martyn Humphries, vice president of consumer and industrial i.MX applications processor. “For instance, you can give a voice command to stream a specific TV episode and then ask a contextual question about the actor which initiates a search and displays results on the screen – all while your show is still streaming.”

The NXP i.MX 8M 64-bit processors address designers’ requirements for one platform that combines A/V and machine learning to create connected products that can be controlled via voice command. The chips provide the process technology and edge computing needs to manage and reduce the command and question response time of smart connected devices.
Detail of the new soundbar reference design from NXP, featuring the new i.MX.8M processor.

"From smart TVs, television subscription services, soundbars and other smart speakers, to streaming media players and DVR/PVR, the i.MX 8M is leading the way for residential IoT and device control. The processor family is also ideal for managing lighting, thermostats, door locks, home security, smart sprinklers, other systems and devices for a more intuitive and responsive home environment," NXP states.

Designed for scalability and pin-and-power compatibility, NXP’s i.MX 8M family adds industry-leading video and audio capabilities with full 4K Ultra HD resolution, High Dynamic Range (HDR) and the highest levels of pro-audio fidelity. Available now, the new family features up to four 1.5 GHz Arm Cortex-A53 cores, flexible memory options, and high-speed interfaces for flexible connectivity, supporting advanced Human Machine Interface (HMI) applications featuring dual displays, vision procession unit (VPU), and an enriched user experience.

At CES 3018, NXP introduced a series of demonstrations of cutting-edge smart home capabilities, showcasing its i.MX applications processor family. Demonstrations included driving voice, video and audio all at the same time, while also displaying 4K HDR, dual screen and immersive audio capabilities, a new soundbar reference design, and an Alexa solution with leading features such as display support, multi-room audio and integrated talk-to-call.

Arkamys immersive audio in-vehicle infotainment
During CES 2018, Arkamys announced it has successfully ported its audio enhancement software solution for in-vehicle infotainment to NXP i.MX 6 applications processors and BAP3 digital automotive amplifiers. Arkamys’ sound spatialization solutions now offer full digital audio path from content down to vehicle built-in speakers.
Arkamys has collaborated with NXP, the world’s largest supplier of automotive semiconductors, to improve in-vehicle audio quality and enhance the user experience for head unit systems, from entry-level to luxury audio systems, for instance from 4 up to 8 channels and from 2 to 16 speakers. The market for class-D head units in automotive is expected to grow 15% between 2018 and 2022. NXP provides the BAP3 Class-D amplifier product family with the aim to significantly reduce external BOM cost, and provide unprecedented sound performance that is scalable from automotive head units to high voltage sound systems.
The audio landscape for automotive infotainment is increasingly complex, constantly requiring applications and connectivity. Arkamys' Audio SoundStage solutions are 100% software, cost-effective and scalable, from SoundStage Classic (enhanced bass performance) to Soundstage Advanced (3D spatialization) and SoundStage High (premium sound). Remote Sound Adjustment Toolset connection to NXP’s i.MX 6 applications processors also allows in-car cabin real time tuning operations, allowing car equipment manufacturers to define algorithm parameters specific to each vehicle’s acoustics.

Tablet based HMI connection to the i.MX 6 applications processor offers automotive audio HMI facilities: automotive customers will benefit from audio content selection, ambiences selection and audio rendering controls. Arkamys also confirmed that it plans to support the new NXP i.MX8 application processors family.
Evaluation Kit for the i.MX 8M Applications Processor. The board enables HDMI out, offers LPDDR4, eMMC, QSPI and SDMicro memory options, 10/100/1000 Ethernet port, USB 3.0 connectors and PCIe Interface high-speed interfaces. For Audio and Video evaluations it brings a HDMI 2.0a Type-A and MIPI-DSI connectors, as well as 32-bit Audio samples with up to 768kHz sampling rate, an audio interfaces expansion connector and a headphone 3.5mm audio jack.

MSC Technologies integrates i.MX8 Processors
MSC Technologies, the technology brand of Avnet Integrated Solutions, confirmed support fir the new 64-bit i.MX8 processors from NXP on its SMARC 2.0 and Qseven modules. Despite their low power consumption, the high-performance modules feature very high compute performance and high-performance graphics that can control up to four independent displays. At the same time, MSC Technologies will continue to support and expand its highly successful MSC SM2S-IMX6 SMARC 2.0 module family, based on NXP’s i.MX6 processor.

MSC Technologies will support the complete i.MX8 processor family, consisting of the i.MX8QuadMax, i.MX8M and i.MX8X variants on the SMARC 2.0 form-factor, and the i.MX8QuadMax on Qseven. The compact modules are designed for the full industrial temperature range from -40°C to +85°C. Typical fields of application include infotainment applications in vehicles, access controls and building automation.

Jens Plachetka, Manager Product Business Unit Board Platforms, MSC Technologies, says: “By supporting the i.MX8 processors on our SMARC 2.0 and Qseven modules, we are continuing to drive the tremendous success of our NXP i.MX6-based low power products. In the future, we expect a constant increase in demand for Computer-On-Modules (COMs) with ARM processors that are particularly suitable for embedded applications with high energy efficiency and open up new markets for COM-based systems.”

As a first product, MSC Technologies offers the MSC SM2S-IMX8M SMARC 2.0 module, which integrates the dual- or quad-core processor i.MX8M ARM Cortex-A53 from NXP. The compact module with dimensions of 82 mm x 50 mm provides up to 4GB LPDDR4 SDRAM and up to 64GB eMMC Flash memory for program and data storage. In addition to HDMI 2.0 and dual-channel LVDS interfaces, a wide range of standard interfaces such as Gigabit LAN, PCIe, USB 3.0 and Audio are available. CAN and an on-board wireless module options are available. First samples of the new module will be available at the beginning of Q2/2018.
www.arkamys.com | www.avnet.com
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