PHYTEC Advantages

Why choose a PHYTEC System on Module?

Engineers are confronted with complex demands in new product development, in particular rapid integration of cutting-edge processor features and functionalities.  This demand is often constrained by the need to reduce time-to-market, cost and design risk of embedded products.

Development is made easier, faster, and cheaper by deploying PHYTEC solutions.  PHYTEC’s core product is our off-the-shelf phyCORE family of System on Modules (SOMs) in support of advanced Arm Cortex devices.  PHYTEC SOMs are a rapid, agile and long-term solution that enables product developers to:

Dev Time

Eliminate 6 to 18 months from development timelines


Reduce time-to-revenue, development costs, design risk and design spins


Bring complex new products from initial evaluation to prototype in weeks instead of months


Leverage the SOM across all phases of development, from initial evaluation to ramp up to mass production

PHYTEC support, design services, manufacturing and supply chain amplify the value of the SOM and accompanying products.  The combination of our products and services are distinguished by the following PHYTEC Advantages

SOMs are Portable CPU Cores

SOMs integrate essential circuitry common to all embedded applications and embody the latest technological advances in board-level design. In this circuitry, advanced processors and Systems on Chip (SoCs) interface with high-speed DRAM, Flash and other non-volatile memory, power management ICs as well as additional commonly used interfaces such as display, USB and Ethernet… all within a compact, robust, EMI-resistant, multi-layer PCB design. The SOM serves as an insert-ready CPU “core” board to drop into I/O Carrier Board target hardware and drive embedded applications. Accompanying production-ready software Board Support Packages (BSPs) provide operating system kernel and device driver support for primary hardware features.

Deployment of a SOM into an application removes the challenges and risks of complex CPU circuitry design like fine pitch BGA placement, high-speed routing, design validation and EMC conformance. Design risk is reduced by localizing such complexity on an off-shelf SOM. Furthermore, use of a SOM as the insert-ready “core” of an embedded design allows companies to focus engineering efforts on end-application expertise and code without expending resources to reinvent complex processor circuitry and BSP support provided by the PHYTEC SOM. The SOM and BSP can also be leveraged as a “portable building block” across all stages of product development, from initial evaluation to mass production.

SOMs are Easy Support of Advanced SoCs

SOMs likewise break-out and support features on cutting-edge SoCs that integrate microprocessors with innovative peripherals such as graphics processing units (GPUs); Vision Processing Units (VPUs); Digital Signal Processing (DSP) and radio frequency (RF) coprocessors; display, security and safety island subsystems; as well as memory and secondary storage. These SoCs are manufactured with processes as complex as 16nm FinFET technology, and packages as dense as 15x15mm in 0.65mm ball pitch with over 1,000 pins/terminals. PHYTEC SOMs parse and incorporate dense technical information described in processor Technical Reference Manuals that can exceed 5,000 pages, including optimal definition of complex signal multiplexing decisions.

SOMs are Quality, Low EMI Design

Over three decades of board-level design experience enables PHYTEC to meet the challenges of integrating increasingly complex high-speed processors within very dense PCB footprints. These processors share PCB space with a diversity of other circuits with varying clock speeds and supply voltages.

Among the foundations of our design quality are:

  • choice of PCB base material and frequency control devices with tight timing characteristics;
  • selection of components with sufficient voltage, current and temperature margins;
  • optimal placement and grouping of components in layout;
  • low EMI design ensured by tying 20% of all pins on the external SOM connector to ground (GND) to minimize loop areas;
  • strategic placement of bypass capacitor grids at all ICs, and on top and bottom PCB planes, to reduce loop and keep high-speed currents localized;
  • strategic placement of GND signals and stitching capacitors to provide optimal signal return paths;
  • optimal signal integrity through 8- to 12-layer PCB stack-ups with solid GND and power planes;
  • signal decoupling and routing topology across isolated PCB planes;
  • use of industrial (-40… +85°C) or other extended temperature range components to enable deployment in a wide range of industrial applications; and
  • extensive design verification.

We achieve subminiature board size by integrating the most recent advances in microBGA, PoP, dual-die, laser-drilled vertical Microvias and ultra-compact 01005 size passive components. Microvias bolster not only miniaturization, but also signal integrity. Due to small size, Microvias carry smaller parasitic capacitance and inductance and can be packed into ever smaller PCB space without increasing crosstalk and noise coupling strength. Small board size means short signal traces, further minimizing EMI susceptibility and radiation. The result is robust mixed signal and EMI-resistant designs.

Our comprehensive and rigorous design verification encompasses:

  • advanced PCB layout analysis and simulation;
  • voltage, current, power, timing, signal integrity and EMI measurement;
  • temperature chamber and thermal shock testing;
  • radiated emission, conducted emissions and radiated immunity testing in compliance with FCC Part 15, EN55011, EN55022, CISPR11, CISPR22, and CISPR32;
  • vibration and mechanical stability; and
  • compliance to IPC-610, IPC-7711/IPC-7721, CE and other requirements such as UL, J-STD and MTBF metrics.

SOMs are BSP & Application Code-Ready

PHYTEC provides robust Linux BSPs for our SOMs. These BSPs:

  • derive from BSPs provided by silicon vendors (NXP, TI, ST) and are based on LTS (Long-Term Stable) kernels;
  • include operating system kernels, bootloaders and applicable Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) and Application Programming Interface (API) support for communication between operating system and end user application code;
  • provide device drivers for all interfaces and peripherals utilized in the SOM development kit hardware;
  • are available in source, as well as pre-built target images;
  • are built on Yocto Project, which enables a common packaging platform and build system across PHYTEC BSPs, independent of the underlying SoC architecture; provides frameworks and layers to build custom Linux distributions; and supports efficient builds of individual packages as needed, rather than entire images;
  • follow a typical annual or bi-annual maintenance schedule to incorporate major and minor releases, bug fixes and patches; and
  • undergo Continuous Integration in which all BSP components – bootloader, kernel, drivers, libraries and services – are integrated and automatically tested to output images at more frequent intervals than regular release schedules

PHYTEC also offers Mainline compliance of select Linux BSPs, as well as support for Android, RTLinux, QNX , TI-RTOS, Windows Embedded and other operating systems for select SOMs.

SOMs are Flexible I/O

PHYTEC SOMs are designed to be plugged into counterpart Carrier Boards that provide I/O connectivity for immediate start-up of the modules, as well as other interface circuitries not provided on the SOMs. A SOM mounted on a standard Carrier Board is the core component within PHYTEC Development Kits, which provide a platform to accelerate design around the SOM in all stages of product development. Carrier Boards serve as a reference for design of custom hardware in which PHYTEC SOMs are deployed. PHYTEC SOM and Carrier Board combinations are also available as integrated Single Board Computers (SBCs) designed for deployment into end systems. With I/O, SBCs are one step closer to complete application hardware.

SOMs are Optimal Pins:2:Size

With over thirty years of advanced board-level design experience, PHYTEC has mastered SOM development and established design rules that deliver an optimal balance of maximized features within a minimal SOM form factor.

Maximized Features: Board-level pin-out and features are above all a function of pin-out of the processor and other active logic devices that populate a SOM. Increasingly complex devices have populated PHYTEC SOMs across the past three decades, from 144-pin 16-bit microcontrollers to advanced 64-bit Arm applications processors with over 1,000 pins. Small-scale components like Microvias and other layout advancements are the foundations of PHYTEC design rules that support increasingly large pin-count chips and maximum functionality within ever smaller PCB space.

Minimal Form Factor: The high interconnect density of circuitry on PHYTEC SOMs is augmented by high-density external connectors which interface our SOMs to Carrier Boards and other target hardware. These connectors offer scalable length and pitch. External connector count is specifically calibrated for each SOM to maximize break-out of CPU functionality within an optimized PCB space. PHYTEC SOMs are not constrained by pre-defined standards or form-factors.

PHYTEC’s optimized combination of maximum features and minimal size is illustrated when plotting pin-count as a measure of functionality to form-factor. PHYTEC is positioned in the upper left “high pin count, minimum size” quadrant among a sample set of commercially available SOMs in support of the 486-pin NXP i.MX 8M mini processor in LBGA (Low Profile Fine-Pitch Ball Grid Array) package.

SOMs are Expert Support and Design Services

Avail PHYTEC’s expert technical support to assist in design-in of our SOM, including schematic review of Carrier Boards for our SOMs. Our extensive library of circuitries, re-useable blocks and design expertise enables PHYTEC to quick-turn hardware. We also can provide software services. Open repositories and our flexible BSP architecture allow easy operating system adaptation and interaction with user code. Engage PHYTEC as well for complete system design.

SOMs are Customizable

PHYTEC SOMs are designed to support population options for SoC variants, multiple memory densities and other circuitries, providing for customization and scalability. With in-house manufacturing PHYTEC can populate, depopulate, and scale custom SOM configurations with as low as a 100-unit Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ), to best meet end user cost objectives and technical requirements. This can include programming of custom software images at manufacturing and test. Our in-house High Mix Low Volume (HMLV) manufacturing lines can accommodate First Article validation unit production batch quantities as low as 6 to 12 units, in alignment with PCB panelization.

SOMs are Swappable

Standard board-to-board connectors (Samtec, Molex) interface PHYTEC SOMs to Carrier Boards and other target hardware, enabling swap-out of SOMs if needed during development or within end system deployment. These robust interconnects offer advantages of numerous mating cycles, SMT tails that create strong solder fillets, friction locking for added mating retention, and reliability under severe shock and vibration as validated in environment tests.

Use of a SOM in target hardware, rather than a single PCB “flat design” also provides for separation of CPU circuitry from I/O circuitry. The larger Carrier Board can be a less costly 2- to 4-layer PCB, compared to the higher-layered, smaller PCB real estate of the SOM.

Some PHYTEC SOMs in support of lower-cost processors offer a Direct Solder Connect (DSC) interface for soldering of SOMs directly onto target hardware PCBs, thus eliminating the cost of PCB-to-PCB connectors in instances where swapping of SOMs is not required.

SOMs Save Cost and Reduce Risk

Use a PHYTEC SOM to forgo weeks in specification, parts procurement, complex schematic rendering and layout of your own microprocessor circuitry. Likewise avoid build and test of prototypes and design iterations needed to yield production-ready CPU hardware.

Development issues and associated costs do not end with the manufacture of your microprocessor circuitry. Design for manufacturability, test, support, warranty and product lifecycle maintenance are downstream issues that also must be considered. Design-in of an off-shelf SOM outsources these issues to PHYTEC, removes these costs and risks from design cycles, and saves time and money. Compare Make-or-Buy of an off-shelf SOM to the cost and risk of internal “chip-down” CPU circuitry development.

SOMs are Manufacturing & Supply Chain Excellence

PHYTEC’s ISO-certified internal production facility provides the basis of our manufacturing and supply chain flexibility. Production batches range from ultra-to-medium HMLV, in single to hundreds of units, up to tens of thousands of units in continuous build cycles.

Our ISO9001-qualified internal quality control program encompasses all material, labor and production inputs. Following production every SOM is run through an extensive functional and electrical test, developed in-house. The extensive scope of test coverage includes the following:

  • Boundary Scan;
  • voltage and current measurements;
  • functional operation; and
  • continuous in-line process control and production monitoring, including sampling (dye-and-pry) and 3D x-ray.

All test results are logged in an SQL database that provides for 100% traceability, with results confirmed by high yields among our customer base across a wide range of deployments. Yields exceed 99.969% for SOMs in mass production.

In-house manufacturing enables PHYTEC to bridge the gap between product development and production. This includes:

  • Common Data Exchange: seamless sharing and continuity of data between design and manufacturing, from Bills of Material and CAD design at engineering to Gerbers, production and test files for manufacturing. This also avoids data porting and related errors between engineering and manufacturing. For PHYTEC, this integrated flow allows product to move rapidly from initial specification to production.
  • Design for Manufacturability (DfM) and Design for Test (DfT) Optimization: early collaboration between engineering and manufacturing accelerates both DfM and DfT. PHYTEC engineers design product with manufacturing and test in mind, choosing optimal materials, components, suppliers and processes. Our component engineers and purchasers select materials according to DfM principles for longevity, availability, reliability, cost and supply chain considerations.
  • Rapid Prototype Iterations = “First Time Right” Designs: in-house production enables fast spins of prototype SOM and other hardware, to best ensure “first time right” design upon release to market and ramp to mass production. This in turn avoids costly design revisions and DfM delays following product launch.
  • Agility: Manufacturing and Engineering under one roof cultivate rapid reaction to changing market conditions, ranging from avoidance of material and other market constraints to early adoption of new technology innovations.

PHYTEC uses manufacturing and engineering for continuous process control by feeding production experience back to engineering to always optimize and sustain our products. We benefit from versatile provisioning and design-in of our products in a wide variety of vertical markets. This provides feedback on application technologies, complexities and use cases in which PHYTEC products are deployed.

PHYTEC’s excellence in supply chain is an extension of our manufacturing. Our purchasing team has close partnerships and contract pricing with manufacturers of critical components. PHYTEC account management adeptly calibrates upstream materials and production planning with supply of product to downstream customers, and we can migrate manufacturing to high-volume partner facilities in Asia and the United States. These partners offer Business Continuity contingencies and Quality Assurance equivalent to our in-house standards. Our production yields exceed 99.95% for SOMs in mass production.

SOMs are Sustainable

Use of PHYTEC SOMs ensure interchangeable microprocessor circuitry in the event of obsolescence of parts used on our modules. End users no longer need to redesign entire CPU circuitry and engage in version control to accommodate new or obsolete parts. Instead, PHYTEC manages this at the SOM-level, which appears as a component on the Bill of Material for customer end products. PHYTEC ensure continued availability of pin- and function-compatible SOMs, further minimizing maintenance costs and risks. This pro-active Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) policy has enabled deployment of the same PHYTEC SOM in designs for over twenty-five years.

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