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ARM11 module targets low-power devices

Dec 11, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive

German embedded Linux house Denx and Italian turnkey-system vendor DAVE have co-developed a computer module and evaluation board aimed at low-power industrial applications. The Linux-ready “Qong” module, which is built into the “Qong EVB-Lite” evaluation board, uses a Freescale i.MX31 SoC (system on chip), says Denx.

(Click for larger view of the Qong EVB-Lite)

Denx is a German embedded Linux development house known for its Denx Embedded Linux Development Kit (ELDK) software development kit (SDK), an open-source Linux distribution and development tool suite that is especially popular in Europe's industrial Linux community. The Qong is designed to show off the ARM11 capabilities of its recently released ELDK 4.2 for ARM version, which is bundled with the EVB-Lite board. However, the board also supports other Linux 2.6 distributions, as well as Windows CE 6.0, eCOS, VxWorks, and the Xenomai real-time extensions, with which ELDK is often paired.

Both the Qong and EVB-Lite appear to be manufactured by DAVE, which specializes in CPU modules. The Italian firm also sells the products, and offers several custom versions of the Qong.


Dave's Qong CPU module
(Click to enlarge)

Qong processor module

Aimed at low-power, even mobile, battery-powered industrial applications, the 2.9 x 2-inch Qong processor module ships with a modest 3.3V supply voltage, and is offered in an optional low-power “Palm” version that is said to consume less than a Watt.

The well traveled Freescale i.MX31 SoC is based on an ARM1136JF-S core. As a default, the Qong's i.MX31 is clocked at 400MHz, but Denx specs out a 532MHz Qong cpu module for use with its EVB-Lite evaluation board.

The Qong CPU module also has a LatticeXP2 FPGA (field programmable gate array). It ships with 32-256MB of low-power DDR-RAM, 128MB of NOR flash, and 32-128MB NAND flash, expandable to 2GB, says Denx.

DAVE has spun five different versions, or “profiles” of the Qong in which the i.MX31 ports are reconfigured to provide different functionality. The customizations are possible due to the flexible design of the i.MX31 and the LatticeXP2 FPGA, which bridges the i.MX31 bus and offers a “stable 3.3V 16-bit bus and several GPIOs,” says DAVE.

The profiles include Industrial 1, Industrial 2, Kiosk, Connectivity, and the aforementioned Palm. The profiles offer customizable features such as different UARTs, more Ethernet ports, and logic combinational ports, says the company. DAVE provides an online wizard for selecting customized versions of the Qong based on these profiles.


Qong block diagram
(Click to enlarge)

Specifications listed for the Qong include:

  • Processor — i.MX31 (ARM1136JF-S) at 400-532MHz
  • Memory — 32MB to 256MB low-power DDR SDRAM
  • Flash — 128MB NOR; 32-128MB NAND (expandable to 2GB)
  • LCD controller — interface supports up to 800 x 600 resolution, extendable to 1024 x 768
  • Networking — 1 x Ethernet w/PHY interface
  • USB — up to 2 Host and 1 OTG interfaces
  • Serial — up to 4 serial port interfaces
  • Other interfaces:
    • I2C
    • SPI
    • ATA
    • MMC/SD
    • PCMCIA
    • PWM
    • GPIO
  • Power — 3.3V supply; under 1 Watt consumption claimed for Palm version
  • Dimensions — 2.9 x 2.0 inches (73 x 51mm)
  • Operating systems — Linux 2.6, Windows CE 6.0, eCos, VxWorks, Xenomai

Qong EVB-Lite

The Qong EVB-Lite evaluation board is built around the Qong module, adding real-world, edge-of-board connectors for the “most common I/O interfaces,” says Denx. The i.MX31 is clocked to 532MHz instead of the default 400MHz, and offers 256MB DDR RAM, and 128MB each of NOR and NAND flash.


Qong EVB-Lite
(Click to enlarge)

Specific EVB-Lite I/O is said to include:

  • Ethernet 10/100MBit LAN w/PHY on RJ54
  • 1 x USB Host
  • 1 x USB OTG
  • 1 x serial port
  • JTAG connector
  • I2C
  • SPI
  • GPIO
  • ADC x 2
  • Audio in/out
  • LCD controller
  • SDIO

The Qong EVB-Lite kit includes a wall plug, manuals, and a serial cable, with optional TFT-displays and CF-cards available, says the company. The board is also said to ship with a CD-ROM that includes the recently released ELDK 4.2 for ARM.

Availability

The Qong is available now from DAVE at an undisclosed price, here. DAVE also sells the EVB-Lite board for 500 Euros (about $643 US), says Denx; however, the DAVE site currently tags the EVB-Lite kit with a “coming soon” label. More information on the Qong CPU module may be found at this Denx page, and more on the Qong EVB-Lite should be here.


 
This article was originally published on LinuxDevices.com and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.



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