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Over-the-air (OTA) integration: Variscite VAR-SOM-MX8M-MINI and Yocto Kirkstone


The VAR-SOM-MX8M-MINI offers the latest video and audio experience, combining state-of-the-art media-specific features with high-performance processing optimized for the lowest power consumption. The VAR-SOM-MX8M-MINI perfectly fits various embedded products, including the growing market of connected, portable devices and segments for connected streaming audio and video devices, scanning and imaging devices, and various devices requiring high-performance, low-power processors.

The heterogeneous multicore processing architecture the VAR-SOM-MX8M-MINI offers enables the device to run an open operating system, such as Linux on the Cortex-A53 core, and an RTOS, like FreeRTOS on the Cortex-M4 core, for time and security critical tasks.

The VAR-SOM-MX8M-MINI MINI provides an ideal building block for simple integration with a wide range of products in target markets requiring a compact-sized, cost-effective solution with high-performance processing and low power consumption.

This blog guides embedded hardware designers and developers who want to deploy and manage secure over-the-air (OTA) software updates to a fleet of embedded devices, leveraging the NXP iMX-based VAR-SOM-MX8M-MINI system on module (SoM), an embedded Linux distribution (built with Yocto Kirkstone), and Mender. With full root filesystem updates utilizing an A/B partition, this integration enables the deployment and management of robust and secure OTA updates for connected products, such as infotainment systems and medical devices requiring high performance and low energy consumption.

Variscite VAR-SOM-MX8M-MINI board

The VAR-SOM-MX8M-MINI is a highly scalable, low-power system on module (SoM), offering a mainstream solution to fit a wide range of applications and cost requirements. Based on NXP’s i.MX 8M Mini with up to 1.8GHz Quad Core ARM Cortex-A53 plus 400MHz Cortex-M4 real-time processor and up to 4 GB DDR4, the VAR-SOM-MX8M offers ultimate scalability options. It provides Variscite customers with flexibility, and extended lifetime, as well as reduced development time, cost, and risk.

Reference integration: Mender OTA, Variscite VAR-SOM-MX8M-MINI (NXP i.MX 8 Mini), and Yocto Kirkstone

The integration tutorial provides the following:

  • Prerequisites: Requirements to build a Yocto image for this OTA integration.
  • Build configuration: Instructions on how to set up the Yocto environment, build the environment, and configure the Mender server URL (optional).
  • Building the image: Steps to building an image, using the build output, flashing the SD card, and booting the board.
  • Additional references and test results

Ready to try it yourself? Check out the step-by-step integration guide on Mender Hub.

Not a Mender user? Start your free trial today. Test Mender Enterprise and the Renesas integration (or one of the many others) for 12 months on up to 10 devices.

Additional Resources: Ensuring cybersecurity in connected devices

Hardware and software products are increasingly subject to successful cyberattacks. Governments and industries are taking action to compel security by design in embedded device design.

For example, the European Cyber Resilience Act (CRA) is a proposal by the European Commission for a regulation on cybersecurity requirements for products with digital elements, bolstering cybersecurity rules to ensure more secure hardware and software products.
The United States National Cybersecurity Strategy highlights improving the security of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and expanding IoT cybersecurity labels.

There is a shift, transitioning the burden of cybersecurity (and its associated costs and liability) to the entities with the greatest expertise and resources, including large owners and operators of critical infrastructure, vendors, and software developers. Furthermore, significant parts of industry standards certification, such as IEC 62443-4-2, require a secure software update process for an edge gateway in a connected product.

Learn more about the implications of cybersecurity regulations and standards on embedded device design. In this webinar, Variscite and Mender Head Product Manager Fabio Tranchitella covered the importance of embedded designers taking steps now to plan for security by design in connected products, based on SOMs like the Variscite VAR-SOM-MX8M-MINI.

Embedded system designers need to understand the regulatory framework and standards certification requirements for device security and how to design an embedded product to be compliant.

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