For a long time we had a dream. We were thinking of a tiny Linux based audio board that would even fit in the smallest housings or speakers. Super flexible connector options as well as very low power consumption had also high priority. Existing solutions were either too bulky with connectors always on the wrong place (e.g. all the standard single-board-computers like RPi or BBB) or were just too expensive to integrate in a low quantity project (basically all the system-on-modules / SOMs).
We really wanted this dream to become true so we pulled the trigger and started the development. The result is a 65 mm x 48 mm sized board with a maximum hight of 4,5 mm called PolyCore1.
At the heart of PolyCore1 there is an i.MX6 UltraLight from NXP. We took this specific processor because of its great audio connectivity, the very low power consumption and of course its long-term availability and the superior documentation + software support the vendor offers. We carefully selected this SoC and it perfectly meets all the requirements for a high quality audio streamer.
Some of the core features of PolyCore1 are three independent serial audio interfaces (I2S), S/PDIF input + output, power management for low power operation, 2x USB, native Ethernet, 2x SD, RTC, ONOFF button handler, 24bit RGB display interface and much more.
The standard versions is clocked at 528 MHz and comes with 512 MB DDR3L RAM, a native Ethernet PHY 10/100 that supports Wake-On-LAN (WoL), all the power management and a RGB LED for status indication.
But wait! Where are all the connectors for power, LAN and the SD card? This looks much more like a hard to integrate system-on-module (SoM) rather than a simple to handle single-board-computer (SBC)!
PolyCore1 combines the best of both worlds. It is as small and as flexible as a SoM but also as easy to handle as a SBC. All the bulky components are off-loaded on a small separate PCB that gets connected via a super flexible FPC cable. All connectors -including the SD card that holds the operating system- are bundled together on a single location. Never worry again about accessing the SD card or power connectors that are on the wrong side!
Same goes for the AUDIO, the LCD and the GPIO connector. All peripherals can be connected using FPC cables. This is much more professional and also a lot more space saving than any other solutions.
The interface board (65mm x 30 mm) including connectors for RJ45 LAN, USB host, USB slave (power), S/PDIF out and the SD card will ship with the standard version of PolyCore1.
There will be a range of great audio peripheral boards as well as a 800 x 600 LCD with capacitive touch and also a native WiFi+BT extension a bit later.
The price point of all the components will be very appealing if you take into consideration that all is engineered and also manufactured in Germany.
We will provide you with a customized Linux kernel that includes all the necessary drivers for our additional products. We are also offering a Debian Jessie image for rapid development and a custom distribution dedicated to audio streaming called PolyOS. All software will be open source – of course.
More details are coming soon. Stay tuned for updates! If you have questions feel free to post them in our forum or as a comment below.