Home Company Blog Comparative Overview: Variscite i.MX6 based SOM Solutions – Part 1

Comparative Overview: Variscite i.MX6 based SOM Solutions – Part 1

By: Liron Kaplan, Konstantin Sinyuk

imx6 System on Module comparisonIntro

i.MX applications processors by NXP (previously Freescale) are a single and multi-core ARM® based solution for a wide range of applications. Located at the top of this product category is the i.MX6 Series - general purpose applications processors designed to meet the requirements of a wide range of segments such as medical, defense, industrial, IoT, multimedia and more.
Using the i.MX6 processor for a new project could be an excellent choice, but one that will require a deep understanding of the i.MX6 Hardware and Software strengths, limitations, development tools and environment. Developing an expertise on such a device requires a significant investment of time and money on the hardware but mainly on the software side. Therefore, in today's fast pace electronics market, many developers choose to gain a competitive edge by basing their product on a System-On-Modules (SOM).
Choosing the right i.MX6 based SOM for your project will enable faster time to market, maintain lower R&D costs and if chosen carefully, can provide a scalable and upgradeable infrastructure for the next phases of your project. Perhaps the most important advantage of choosing the right i.MX6 based SOM as the core of your product is the fact it allows the developer to focus on his application and user experience (the area in which he competes) instead of dealing with bringing up a system that is already available, tested and optimized for production.

What's in the article

This article will provide a comparative overview between four available i.MX6 based SoM’s designed by Variscite - SOM leading designer and manufacturer.
The article will analyze the differences in terms of features, performance and configuration options between the i.MX6 based SOM’s focusing on the main blocks for comparison: CPU, Multimedia, Connectivity, Networking, Mechanical Size, Power Consumption and Operating System, while pointing out design limitations where relevant.

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Overview and Target Applications

This section of the article provides a general overview of each SoM and a first glance into which product is better suited for specific target markets/applications.


DART-6UL: NXP i.mx6 ultralite SoM Optimal for Linux-based applications with wide connectivity/interface options, low power, low size, basic multimedia support.

The DART-6UL is a flexible SoM powered by NXP i.MX 6UltraLite / i.MX 6ULL ARM Cortex™-A7 processor, with frequency options ranging up to 900MHz. All in a very attractive price point. The DART-6UL provides a wide variety of interfaces and connectivity options (such as fully certified WiFi/BT module with 802.11ac/a/b/g/n and dual band 2.4/5 GHz, Dual ETH, USB, UART, I2C, CAN, SPI. ADC and more) alongside some basic multimedia capabilities. The large amount of connectivity options, makes the DART-6UL an excellent choice for a controller, web server, gateway etc.

DART-6UL less suitable for Android and high-end multimedia applications, as it lacks a strong 2D/3D graphics acceleration, as well as video encode/decode engines. However, the DART-6UL small size and low power consumption positions this SoM as an excellent choice for a large variety of battery operated and handheld applications.

Key features: integrated NAND/eMMC, certified Wi-Fi 802.11ac/a/b/g/n module with dual band 2.4/5 GHz, Bluetooth/BLE, dual USB, dual Ethernet, display with touch panel and serial interfaces, audio and a wide temperature range (-40 to 85°C).

Target applications: IoT, embedded systems, industrial applications, POS, battery operated devices, wireless hub, web server, smart home applications, gateways.

Production-ready software: Linux Yocto and Debian.


VAR-SOM-SOLO: NXP i.mx6 SoM Optimal for Linux and entry point Android applications with integrated graphics and video engines. 

Based on NXP i.MX6 Single or DualLite Cortex™-A9 processor with up to 1GHz CPU Clock, the VAR-SOM-SOLO/DUAL brings all the benefits of the successful VAR-SOM-MX6 (to follow) and carries much smaller dimensions in a slim lined price-point. Besides having multiple connectivity options and a wide range of available interfaces, VAR-SOM-SOLO/DUAL can also support entry point multimedia applications with its native GPU.

VAR-SOM-SOLO/DUAL is also pin2pin with VAR-SOM-MX6 which creates together a very wide range of options for product configuration and scalability. The option of changing between these SoMs is mainly relevant if customer strategy is to have both low-end & a high-end product version for different markets.

Key features: advanced 2D/3D graphics accelerator, integrated NAND and eMMC, USB, certified dual-band WiFi/BT with MIMO, gigabit ethernet, A/V interfaces and a wide industrial operating temperature grade (-40 to 85°C).

Target applications: coffee/vending machines, industrial applications, video monitors, printers, automotive.

Production-ready software: Linux Yocto. / Android – entry point.


VAR-SOM-MX6: NXP i.mx6 ModuleOptimal for Linux and Android applications requiring high-end processing power with advanced multimedia capabilities. Scalable with the VAR-SOM-SOLO/DUAL.
The VAR-SOM-MX6 is a very versatile solution with many configuration options, allowing designers to use a single System on Module in a variety of applications to achieve minimal time-to-market for their products, while still accommodating R&D directions and marketing opportunities. This SoM includes the NXP Quad, Dual, DualLite and Single core i.MX6 in up to 1.2GHz ARM Cortex™-A9.
This product is ideal for industrial platforms for high-end Linux/Android applications, while 1080p video encode/decode and graphics accelerations make it equally suitable for intensive multimedia applications as well. As mentioned above, VAR-SOM-MX6 is also pin2pin with VAR-SOM-SOLO/DUAL which creates a fully scalable solution for different product configurations and scalability.

Key features: -40 to 85 °C temperature range, dual CAN, 1080p video and GC2000 graphics accelerator, up to 64 GB eMMC, enhanced WiFi/BT module including Dual Band 2.4 / 5 GHz and MIMO, gigabit ethernet, consuming only 13mA in suspend with a 3.7V Li-Po.

Target applications: industrial applications, intensive multimedia applications, data communication, measuring systems, embedded systems.

Production-ready software: Linux Yocto and Debian, Android and Windows Embedded Compact.


DART-MX6: NXP i.mx6 System on Module Optimal for low size low power Linux and Android applications with advanced multimedia capabilities.

The DART-MX6 is a High Performance, Low Power and the smallest size i.MX6 Quad Module, measuring only 20mm x 50mm, offering impressive performance, scalability, and power consumption capability. Powered by NXP iMX6 Quad or Dual core 800MHz Cortex™-A9 processor.
DART-MX6 is well supported for both Linux and Android and delivers high-end overall performance in a very small form factor.

Key features: advanced dual-band Wi-Fi/BT with optional MIMO, dual USB, gigabit ethernet, PCIe, A/V interfaces, full -40 to 85 industrial operating temperatures, up to 64Gb eMMC, consuming only 8mA in suspend with a 3.7V Li-Po, 1080p video and GC2000 graphics accelerator.

Target applications: ideal for portable and battery operated embedded systems, outdoor cameras, IoT, video transmission systems, industrial computing systems, video/image communication, robotics.

Production-ready software: Linux Yocto and Debian, and Android.

- Continue Reading: go to Part 2

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Home Company Blog Comparative Overview: Variscite i.MX6 based SOM Solutions – Part 1