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Netbook runs Debian on China-made CPU

Oct 22, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

[Updated] — A Chinese vendor of microprocessors and computer systems is readying a high-efficiency “netbook” with a TDP of just 12 Watts. Sporting an 8.9-inch display and Chinese-made processor, the Lemote Tech “Yeeloong” (translation: portable dragon) runs Debian Linux on a 600-800MHz Loongson 2F processor.

Lemote (formally, “Jiangsu Lemote Tech Co., Ltd.”) is a joint venture between Jiangsu Menglan Group Co., Ltd., and the Institution of Computing Technology (ICT), a think-tank run by the Chinese Academic of Science(CAS). Lemote lists the Loongson 2F chip among its products, and also sells a mini-computer, motherboard, and network computer based on the chip.

Now, Lemote has added a netbook to its product line. According to computer-generated translations of a Chinese-language HC360.com article, the company announced the Yeeloong yesterday. The article appears to highlight the device's completely open source design, which apparently includes an open source bootloader, along with a Debian Linux OS and “Lemote Educational Suite.” It is also among the first products based on the 900MHz version of Lemote's Loongson 2F processor.

Loongson 2F

The Loongson 2F is said to be software-compatible with MIPS64, though the architecture apparently does not include certain patented parts of the MIPS64 instruction set. The processor is said to support software-controlled frequency scaling, possibly between 600MHz and 800MHz.

The 2F integrates several functions typically found in northbridges. It has a 64-bit DDR2 interface, 8/16-bit local I/O bus, and a 4-bit GPIO interface. There's also a “standard” 32-bit PCI/PCI-X interface, and the chip is mainly intended for use in systems with peripherals that interface via PCI, the company says. Interestingly, the PCI/PCI-X bus implementation can serve as master or target, thus potentially simplifying the chip's use in add-in acceleration cards.

Additionally, there's a video acceleration module for converting YUV-format video to RGB, and for zooming. The module is in the “write path” between the CPU and the PCI controller, in order to work with PCI-based VGA controllers, Lemote suggests.

YeeLoong

According to Lemote's English-language product page, the Fuloong measures 7.8 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches (198 x 145 x 28mm), and weighs just over two pounds (35 ounces, or 1kg). In addition to the Loongson 2F processor described above, it uses AMD's CS5536 companion chip, which offers typical southbridge functions, and is most often seen mated with the Geode LX800.


Lemote Yeeloong (“Portable Dragon”)
(Click to enlarge)

The Yeeloong has an 8.9-inch TFT display with 1024 x 600 resolution, powered by an SMI712 graphics controller. I/O includes three high-speed USB ports, audio, wired Ethernet (RJ45) port, and an external VGA port. USB WiFi is optional, as is pre-installed DDR2-666 SODIMMs of 512MB or 1GB capacity. Storage options include a 160GB hard drive, or a solid state disk (SSD) of 2GB or 4GB. For storage expansion, there's an SD card slot.

Lemote says the Yeeloong dissipates only 12 Watts, but provides a 42 Watt power supply (12V, 3.5A), presumably to handle the overhead required to power USB peripherals. Additinally, extra power would likely be needed with the optional hard drive.

On the software side, the Yeeloong runs Debian Linux, along with the “Lemote education suites,” Lemote says. It can also reportedly run Mandriva, Sunwah, Slackware, Gentoo, and other Linux distributions.

Specifications listed by Lemote include:

  • Memory: 512MB or 1GB of DDR2-666 (optional)
  • Storage: 160GB 2.5-inch HDD, or 2GB/4GB SSD
  • Graphics: SMI712 Controller and 8.9-inch TFT (1024 x 600)
  • I/O:
    • Network: Rtl8139 + RTL8187B(wifi)
    • Camera: 300K pixel
    • 3 x USB2.0
    • Audio I/O
    • Ethernet
    • VGA out
  • Expansion: SD: Realtek RTS5158E
  • Power: 12-Volt, 3.5A DC Adapter

According to the HC360 story, the Fuloong Mini will ship soon. The publication's photos show the device running Debian Etch, with the GNOME desktop environment. More details may be found at HC360, here (Chinese language), or on Lemote's English-language product page, here. Pricing is not disclosed.

Another recent netbook based on a Loongson 2F processor is the Emtec Gdium, a slightly larger device that boots Mandriva Linux from a USB flash key, and targets the education market. Yet another is the “Jisus” netbook from Dutch integrator Van Der Led (VDL). Another entry, the HiVision Mini-Note, is expected to sell for less than $100.

Thanks to “Lucas” for calling this story to our attention.


 
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