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Freescale i.MX6 Vs i.MX7

August 12th, 2015

Freescale had announced the i.MX7 series of ARM processors in 2013, however, it was not until mid of 2015 that it started giving out more details. We will ordinarily assume that i.MX7 is a more powerful successor of i.MX6, however, on a closer look, it does not really look like so. The MX7 seems to have been designed for an entirely different market segment that targets products requiring low power, more battery life and low to moderate processing and graphics power.

And therefore the i.MX7 is not a processing power house. It, in fact comes in two flavors - one with Single core ( 800 MHz) and other with dual core ( 1 GHz). The dual core version comes with additional features including Dual Gigabit Ethernet, PCI Ex etc. There is no quad core in i.MX7.


The MX6 was based upon the Cortex A9 while the MX7 utilize the one or two Cortex A7 core paired with Cortex M4 MCU. The Cortex M4 is used to save power consumption by turning the A7 cores off substantially saving the power consumption and battery life. The Single core version of the i.MX7 will have 800 MHz Cortex A7 while the dual core one will have peak clock frequency of 1 GHz.

Power Efficiency

The main advantage of the MX7 is the power efficiency - its development is driven by the new consumer market consisting of Internet of things, home controls, wearable battery devices etc. Freescale is able to achieve lower power consumption by making the processor in a new "Low Power State Retention (LPSR) mode" that is said to consume only 250 μW. .

Evaluation Boards

One of the key reasons for using freescale ( and also the TI Line of processors) is their support in terms of documentation and the evaluation boards. Freescale's newer i.MX7 is no exception. We see at least two evaluation boards for MX7 - one is the Sabre evaluation board, similar to that of the Sabre lite for i.MX6 which is expected to be a $500 evaluation board to be launched by freescale and other is an evaluation board by Arrow.


The Arrow evaluation board is a smaller board ( measures 85x54x12 mm) compliant with the specification of the 96boards - we hope that it is a lower cost board with all the features. One key feature of this board is the integration of the Broadcom wifi and BLE chip into it.


Should you wait for i.MX8

If i.MX7 disappoints you with low processing power, you may like to look for i.MX8, that is slated to be launched later in 2015. It is expected to substantially more powerful than the i.MX6 using the more powerful 64 bit ARM processors - the Cortex A53 or the Cortex A57. We expect these to be at least twice as fast as the current quad core i.MX6. This should also have faster GPUs ( we do not know the details yet) and should support 4K resolution among other enhancements.


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