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Tiny embeddable board comes with Embedded Linux

Aug 14, 2000 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Simple Network Magic Corporation (SNMC) has announced a fully GPL embedded Linux port for its tiny QuickStart QS850 embedded computer module. The module, which measures just 2.8″ x 2.5″ in size (see photo), was designed to simplify the embedding of networked intelligence into a broad range of embedded systems and… devices. The tiny module contains everything necessary to implement a highly miniaturized web server, file server, IP engine/router, or SNMP/TL1 agent.

Functions on the module include a 33 MHz Motorola MPC850 processor, 16-64 MBytes SDRAM memory, 4-16 MBytes of flash storage memory, and a clock oscillator. Using the module's two Ethernet channels requires the simple addition of external magnetics and RJ45 connectors. Other I/O includes up to 49 programmable I/O lines, and up to four serial ports, and HDLC synchronous serial protocol support.

DC power and all the I/O connections between the module's MPC850 processor and other system devices are handled by 100 tiny pins on the bottom of the module. In order to conserve space on the tiny module, SNMC employed a unique high density solderless board-to-board interconnect scheme, made by Samtec, whereby the tiny pins on the bottom of the module compression-connect to 100 pads on the top of an application carrier board. Four mounting screws hold the QS850 module securely onto the carrier board. As a result of this stacking technology, the module can be easily installed or replaced without soldering.

SNMC ships QSLinux, a fully GPL operating system port, on every QuickStack module. QSLinux is based on the PowerPC Linux kernel version 2.2.5, but has been enhanced to include a number of device drivers that are specific to the Motorola MPC850 processor. According to Daris Nevil, President of SNMC, the company “spent the past 12 months extending the capabilities of Linux to really empower the MPC850” in order “to provide customers with a very rapid development environment, as well as a stable and extensible platform for their products.” “We have succeeded in meeting this goal with the integration of QSLinux onto our QS850 hardware platform,” added Nevil. “In many cases our expectations have been exceeded due to the flexibility of Linux.”

Although QSLinux was developed to be the standard operating system for use on SNMC's QS850 embeddable module, it is released as GPL and should be useful for a wide range of embedded applications based on the Motorola MPC850 PowerPC processor. Specifically, QSLinux includes the following enhancements for embedded systems:

  • The QSPIN Subsystem for configuring and controlling I/O pins
  • Hardware Watchdog support
  • Flash Filesystem (layered under Ext2FS)
  • Compressed Ext2FS (e2compr)
  • HDLC/PPP Driver
  • ATM Utopia Network Driver (AAL5/IP)
  • Multiple serial consoles
  • “Much, much more”
The source code and nfs root directories for QSLinux are located at, and on-line documentation for QSLinux can be accessed at

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