System-on-module (SoM) Solution for Fanless HMI

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31 Mar, 2023

Image credit: Bosch

Image credit: Bosch

A new tool to upgrade your embedded processing system to deliver enhanced HMI

Technologies and machines are increasingly adopting essential functions both in industry and day-to-day life. At the centre of that is how you interact with them. This is where the human-machine interface (HMI) comes into play. HMI describes how you interact and communicate with an automated system. It has become commonplace nowadays, expanding beyond traditional industrial machinery. You can find HMI in smartphones, computers, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, to name a few.

At the core of HMI are microprocessors. They work together behind the scenes to ensure an almost seamless and intuitive interaction. Yet, several challenges remain in developing microprocessors and integrating them with printed circuit boards (PCBs). With advancements in multimedia features and image resolution, issues like power consumption, heat transfer, and limited board size persist.

That is why Renesas has developed the all-new RZ/G2E microprocessor as part of a System-on-Module (SoM) Solution. But first, what is an SoM? And how does it overcome the developmental issues mentioned above?

What is System-on-Module (SoM)?

A system-on-module is a PCB that incorporates the main components of an embedded processing system. In other words, it is a module with multiple elements that perform the functions of a system. Those elements include but are not limited to microprocessors, memory blocks, and communication interfaces.

SoMs may sometimes be confused with SoCs (System-on-a-Chip), but they are quite different. The main distinction is that SoMs are board-based, whereas SoCs are chip-based. That means an SoM may include an SoC but with more space for further elements.

SoMs offer significant benefits to developers, especially in streamlining the production process, increasing the deployment volume, and minimising costs. A production-ready SoM can help you bypass designing and manufacturing a customised board for your embedded system. By simply integrating a proper SoM into your end system, you can move directly into deployment. This reduces the complexity of the end product, the bill of materials (BOM) costs, and the time-to-market.

You can find SoMs in various applications of embedded systems. These include IoT devices, security cameras, multimedia and entertainment, office automation, and numerous HMI applications.

A new SoM solution for human-machine interface

In an effort to advance HMI and overcome product developmental issues, Renesas and their board partners have introduced the new RZ/G2E microprocessor as a core component of an SoM solution.

Here are three reasons why the RZ/G2E can be an effective solution for developers:

  • High-end features

Equipped with two Arm® Cortex®-A53s with Armv8-A architecture, the RZ/G2E is comparable to higher-end devices despite being an entry-level RZ/G2 microprocessor. It can support sophisticated devices and multimedia capabilities with its 3D graphics engine (PowerVR GE8300) and H.264 codec. On top of that, the RZ/G2E hosts additional functionalities, including a camera input interface, USB 3.0, and PCI-e. With these features, you can upgrade your end product while simplifying your production process.

Packed within a small area of 21mm x 21mm, the RZ/G2E can help you save space while ensuring both high CPU performance and peripheral features. Despite not being pin-compatible with higher-end devices, the RZ/G2E is still a reasonable choice. You can benefit from its features to enhance your UI usability, particularly if your UI was built with a microcontroller (MCU).

  • Board compatibility and size

The RZ/G2E processor can come mounted on an i.Core RZ/G2E module, offered by Renesas’ board partner ENGICAM. The i.Core RZ/G2E board design is based on a standard called Small Outline Dual In-line Memory Module (SO-DIMM), which enables you to save space. 

With an area of 68mm x 32 mm, you can find all the assets to construct your system, including:

  • RZ/G2E microprocessor
  • DDR3L memory
  • Embedded multimedia card (eMMC)
  • SPI-NOR Flash memory
  • Gigabit Ethernet PHY (GE PHY) core

By opting to use this module, you can save not only space but also a significant amount of work-hours designing and developing a miniature board, all the while enjoying the capabilities offered by RZ/G2E.

  • Fanless thermal design and power consumption

It is no secret that with an increase in performance comes a needed boost in attention to power consumption and thermal design. Many electronic components require a fan-based cooling system to maintain their functionality. 

However, you can embed the RZ/G2E in most systems without a fan. Its thermal design enables it to preserve its serviceability without requiring a fan. This helps further reduce the BOM expenses for the whole system.

All you need to do is connect the i.Core RZ/G2E to a motherboard with a SO-DIMM slot and supply it with a 5V power supply. Then, you can take advantage of the numerous core and peripheral functions to develop your HMI device easily.

Further information

If you want to upgrade your microcontroller unit (MCU) to a microprocessor unit (MPU) within a short timeframe, you can use this SoM solution to enhance your end product’s effectiveness. The all-new RZ/G2E from Renesas and the pin-compatible i.Core RZ/G2E are an effective solution to developmental issues and a stand-out module for enhanced HMI.

For more information about RZ/G2 microprocessors, check out Renesas’ RZ family product page.

For more information about the i.Core RZ/G2E, check out ENGICAM’s i.Core RZ/G2E product page.

More by Samir Jaber

I write about engineering, technology, IoT, materials, and sustainability. I am a digital marketer and a former engineering and scientific researcher.

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