Reasons to use SMARC over Qseven

SMARC is a small computer-on-module form factor used for low power applications. When combined with a custom baseboard, SMARC will give you a modular computing platform that can be easily upgraded as and when new CPUs become available.

Generally SMARC and Qseven may both be considered for new applications that need a small, low power module, as there are lots of similarities between the standards. Below we look at some of the reasons why people may go down the SMARC route.

ARM and x86 CPU support

SMARC is the only computer-on-module form factor that can truly support both x86 and ARM CPUs, with 314 pins on an MXM3 connector supporting both typical x86 interfaces and ARM-type low-level signals

Simple buses for a cheaper baseboard

The SMARC definition means that every module must support 4x I²C, 2x SPI, SDIO 4bit and 2x UART interfaces, significantly more of the simple interfaces that are commonly used in low power applications.

These interfaces are generally very cost effective to implement on a baseboard design, whereas more traditional PC interfaces can be overkill for a lot of low-end jobs.

More optional interfaces

There are a number of interfaces available on some SMARC modules that are not present on any Qseven modules. These include Parallel LCD, up to 2x Camera Interfaces, SDIO 4bit and AFB (alternate function block), allowing you to interface directly with more peripherals than Qseven allows.

It’s smaller (with caveats…)

When comparing the most popular sizes of SMARC (82x50mm) and Qseven (70x70mm) modules, SMARC is smaller. Some manufacturers are starting to offer Qseven modules, which is the smallest of the bunch, but functionality is severely limited on these modules.

It uses a newer connector

QSeven is using the MXM2-type connector, which is less commonly used in its originally intended application these days (mobile GPUs), whereas SMARC is using the MXM3 connector, which is the current de facto standard for mobile GPUs, meaning there is less risk of the connectors going obsolete any time soon.

Of course, there are plenty of other reasons why someone may select SMARC over Qseven (or the other way round). If you’d like to learn more about the pros and cons of each form factor, feel free to get in touch with one our team on 01527 512 400 or via computers@steatite.co.uk