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Compact touchpanel SBC runs Linux

Sep 28, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Embedded board-vendor Techsol has introduced a compact, touchpanel single-board computer (SBC) based on a low-power ARM9 processor. The Medallion TPC-35 targets low-cost HMI (human-machine interface) applications, comes with Linux 2.6 pre-installed, and supports a cornucopia of embedded GUI stack… options.

Techsol's Medallion line of ARM-based SBCs (single-board computers) and mini-systems has traditionally targeted industrial control and monitoring applications, especially ultra-low-powered devices supporting solar power. Additionally, the company's interesting zPoint spin-out claims to have shipped the world's first actual Zigbee products, including an “experimenter's kit” aimed at technically advanced home automation do-it-yourselfers.

Techsol Medallion TPC-35

The TPC-35 is Techsol's first off-the-shelf board with an integral LCD module, although the company claims to have developed “many products” that use LCDs, and earlier shipped a TPC-57 reference design with LCD module. The TPC-35's 3.5-inch QVGA (320×240) TFT LCD display supports 256K colors, and runs in landscape mode. It features a software-controllable adjustable LED backlight, and a touchpanel, according to the company.

The TPC-35 is powered by an undisclosed system-on-chip (SoC) processor, which is based on an ARM-920T core. Techsol previously shipped a CPU module powered by a Samsung s3c2410a SoC that uses the same core. In both products, the ARM-920T core is said to support clock speeds widely ranging from 12MHz to 200MHz or 266MHz, helping the systems meet “changing power requirements.”

The TPC-35 comes standard with 64MB of “mobile SDRAM,” and 128MB of NAND Flash (more available on request), according to the company. The board also includes a separate NOR flash part of undisclosed capacity, which stores the boot-loader and could also be used for “software update options,” the company suggests. Presumably, the NOR device could contain an XIP (execute-in-place) software image, although the included Linux 2.6 implementation does not appear to support that.

Additional touted features and specs include:

  • 16-bit audio I/O
  • Low-power RTC (real-time clock) with battery backup
  • SD/MMC card connector
  • Full-speed (12Mbps) USB host port with Type A connector
  • USB device (gadget) port with Type B connector
  • 44-pin expansion header with SPI, I2C, UART, IrDA, GPIOs, 8-bit expansion bus, and other signals
  • 10/100-BaseT Ethernet interface with RJ45 connector and LEDs
  • RS232 serial interface on DE9 connector
  • 16-pin header for use with custom power-supplies — also supports a single 5V supply
  • Size — 4.0 x 4.25 x 1.25 inches

On the software side, the TPC-35 comes preinstalled with a “proven” Linux 2.6 kernel and drivers, the company said. Embedded GUI stacks listed as either available or included are:

  • Linux framebuffer (FB) driver, operating in 16-bit, 65,536-color mode
  • Nano-X on FB, “for a simple, Windows-like API”
  • Qt/Embedded on FB, “for a contemporary, appealing visual design and enhanced functionality”
  • X11 (KDrive) on FB, for “standard Linux/Unix graphics”
  • FLTK on X, for a “full-featured, extensible, yet free GUI”
  • GTK+ on X, for “full PC compatibility”
  • Other “obscure” GUIs, including EZWGL, for “critical control environments where C++ is not allowed (such as food processing lines)”

Techsol says the TPC-35 has been trialed by “a number” of medical device companies. CEO Brian Empey stated, “We provide the robustness demanded [by] our industrial customers, but at a price-point that even our fiscally-prudent, medical-device customers love!”


According to Techsol, the TPC-35 is currently available from stock, priced at $300 in small quantities.

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