Adlink Announces Pre-Certified Ubuntu and Altium Upverter Design Tools


Adlink and Canonical have announced that they will pre-certify Adlink systems with Ubuntu. Adlink also indicates that it offers Altium’s Geppetto infused Upverter board customization service for its I-Pi supports for SMARC modules based on the Rockchip PX30, i.MX8M and i.MX8M Plus.

At this week’s Embedded World 2021 Digital virtual fair, Adlink announced an agreement with Canonical to offer pre-certified Ubuntu Linux on its onboard computers. Adlink also revealed an agreement with Altium to offer the Upverter board design service for customizing Adlink I-Pi carrier boards for certain SMARC Adlink modules, including a new I-Pi SMARC IMX8M Plus kit. Altium recently integrated the Geppetto drag-and-drop card personalization service into Upverter from its acquired Gumstix on-board computer unit. (see further below)

Adlink Edge architecture (left) and Ubuntu 20.10
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Adlink has a long history of offering Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux distribution on many of its embedded systems, such as the Apollo Lake-based NEON-1000-MDX smart camera and the ROScube-X robotic controller powered by Jetson AGX Xavier. Typically, this requires users to download and configure Ubuntu as an alternative to Windows. New agreement with Canonical allows customers to order systems preinstalled and pre-certified with Ubuntu, eliminating the need for customers to install the operating system or configure licensing, support and update services of security.

The agreement with Canonical also allows Adlink to support ODM (Original Design Manufacturer) projects by enabling certification and licensing for ODM customers. The goal of the program is to “create a comprehensive offering of hardware and software devices with fully supported security and operational updates for the device lifecycle,” says Adlink.


Adlink notes its growing integration of Ubuntu with its Adlink Edge Edge-to-Cloud middleware platform, which comes, for example, with its Intel Apollo Lake-based Vizi-AI card. The Raspberry Pi like Vizi-AI integrates a LEC-AL SMARC module and shares many features with the I-Pi SMARC PX30 driven by Adlink’s SMARC, which now offers Upverter (see further below).

Adlink and Canonical have already collaborated on Robot Operating System 2 (ROS 2), which is typically deployed on Ubuntu. Both companies are members of the ROS 2 technical steering committee.

The two companies are also working together on the Indy Autonomous Challenge, the first head-to-head high-speed autonomous vehicle race to be held in October 2021 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Competitors will integrate Adlink’s Coffee Lake-based DLAP-8000 robotic controller into their vehicles.

Altium merges Geppetto into Upverter and signs Adlink as first customer

Gumstix, which was acquired by PCB design company Altium, has a long history of providing its Geppetto Design-to-Order (D2O) custom board design service to customize carrier boards to suit its own Linux modules and those of partners of selected calculation modules. Last September, Altium announced that Toradex had licensed Geppetto for its customers wishing to customize the supports of its Verdin and Colibri modules.

Upverter Modular model page (I-Pi models not released at time of publication)
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Last week, Altium announcement that he merged Geppetto, which he calls “Geppetto Modular”, in its high-end Upverter Circuit Designer PCB design department. Today, Adlink announced that it is offering the new integrated Upverter Modular service to customers of Adlink’s cutting-edge AI-driven I-Pi (Industrial-Pi) development kits, which are based on SMARC modules. Upverter Modular is currently available as a trial service, and Adlink will release the tool for production later in 2021.

Adlink’s announcement defines Upverter Modular as a “web-based drag-and-drop design tool“. The Upverter tool requires minimal engineering skills, allowing customers to create their own SMARC-based carrier board design in hours and receive prototypes in weeks, the company explains.

“Upverter generates on-demand electrical design files of fully customized carrier board designs, along with a full instantaneous BOM with pricing, custom device tree, documentation, and mechanical models,” says Adlink. All of these descriptions are essentially the same as the ones Gumstix and Altium used for Geppetto.

Adlink will offer I-Pi support models as customization models via Upverter Modular. It’s not clear if customers can also design a bracket from scratch that supports Adlink’s I-Pi related SMARC modules.


“The Upverter tool is an innovative enhancement to proof-of-concept and prototyping phase management for custom products,” said Carsten Rebmann, Modules product manager at Adlink. “This will reduce the time required by almost 50% compared to current approaches. “


In February 2020, we introduced the first Raspberry Pi type I-Pi SMARC development kit, which is based on the Rockchip PX30-based LEC-PX30 SMARC module and is now called I-Pi SMARC PX30. In November, Adlink followed up with SMARC LEC-iMX8M modules based on NXP i.MX8M and LEC-IMX8MP Plus driven by i.MX8M Plus.


Adlink has now revealed an image for a SMARC IMX8M Plus I-Pi Kit for the LEC-IMX8MP module, which provides the i.MX8M Plus equipped with NPUs. Since Adlink’s Upverter ad also mentions support for an i.MX8M-based I-Pi, the same or a similar card is likely available for the LEC-iMX8M.

I-Pi SMARC EL based on Adlink’s Elkhart Lake (left) and the LEC-IMX8MP module that powers the I-Pi SMARC IMX8M Plus
(Click on the pictures to enlarge them)

Adlink has also released a high resolution image of an upcoming Intel Elkhart Lake-based SMARC EL I-Pi Kit (Atom x-6000), which is currently not supported by Upverter. The I-Pi SMARC EL stand looks almost identical to the I-Pi SMARC IMX8M Plus. Both are larger than the RPi type I-Pi SMARC PX30 board, which is available for $ 125. The new cards appear to share many of the features of the PX30 model, including a 40-pin RPi-style GPIO connector, 2x GbE, 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, and unique micro-USB 2.0 OTG and HDMI 2.0b ports.

Other I-Pi SMARC PX30 features that are likely included on the i.MX8M Plus and Elkhart Lake models include LVDS, 4-way MIPI-DSI, 2-way MIPI-CSI, and I2S. The I-Pi SMARC PX30 runs Ubuntu on a rugged LEC-PX30 SMARC “short” module with the -A35 PX30 quad and 2GB of DDR3L soldered in. The kit comes with a 32 GB microSD card with preinstalled software.

I-Pi SMARC PX30 with RPi HAT
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The I-Pi SMARC PX30 is listed in our recent Catalog of 150 Linux Hack Boards, which details the specs that have changed since our original report. Although I-Pi boards are not open hardware products, the PX30 model was included due to its strong community support and low price tag. The similar Vizi-AI card, based on Apollo Lake, is also in the catalog.

I-Pi MRAA and UPM software

I-Pi boards come with Intel’s GitHub hardware abstraction layer (HAL) for low speed I / O called MRAA. This C / C ++ library with Java, JavaScript and Python integrations “allows software to be ported from one platform to another, even SMARC modules with different types of processors,” explains Adlink.

Intel MRAA and UPM architecture
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The open source stack also includes a repository of Intel Useful Modules (UPM) packages and software drivers for commonly used sensors and actuators. UPM is also available for Arduino and Raspberry Pi platforms. More details on MRAA and UPM can be found in our I-Pi SMARC PX30 report.

More information

Ubuntu pre-installed and pre-certified will soon be available on select Adlink embedded systems. More information can be found in Adlink Ubuntu Announcement.

Altium’s Upverter Modular customization and design service is available on a trial basis to Adlink I-Pi customers, with a product release ready later in the year. More information can be found in this Adlink Upverter Announcement on EEJournal and on the I-Pi wiki site. The Altium Modular Upverter can be found here.


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