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Tiny SBCs move to faster ARM9

Nov 5, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Calao Systems is offering a faster ARM9 processor option across its line of tiny USB and QIL (quad in-line) processor modules, which come pre-installed with Linux and U-boot. It also announced a “TinyCore” module measuring 1.4 x 1.6 inches, significantly smaller than its existing products.

Calao's three new products update its earlier USB-A9260, QIL-A9260, and SBC35-A9260 modules, which shipped last summer. In place of the older products' AT91SAM9260 processor, which used an ARM926EJ-S cores clocked at 180MHz, the new products step up to Atmel's pin-compatible AT91SAM9G20. Announced in May, the AT91SAM9G20 clocks up to 400MHz, while offering four times the cache, with 32KB each of instruction and data cache.

In June of this year, Calao announced it was shipping a half dozen expansion modules that work with the original USB-A9260 models. The new AT91SAM9G20 versions of the SBCs are said to be pin-compatible with the earlier USB-A9260 models, and therefore presumably capable of running the same expansion modules. The modules add storage, digital I/O, 3-axis accelerometers, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and GPM/GPRS capabilities.

The following lists some more details on the new A9G20 modules. The only photos Calao made available appear to be of the older A9260 models, although the new A9G20 modules can be ordered now through the company's online store.

USB-A9G20


USB-A9260 (similar
to the USB-A9G20)

(Click to enlarge)

The USB-A9G20 measures 3.3 x 1.4 inches, and includes a 50-pin connector. This USB-key version offers the following specifications:

  • Processor — Atmel AT91SAM9G20 400MHz
  • Memory — 64MB or 128MB SDRAM (32-bit, 133MHz); 64KB E2PROM (SPI)
  • Flash — 256MB NAND Flash (8 bits)
  • Networking — 1 x 10/100 Ethernet
  • USB — 2 x full-speed USB host; 1 x USB full-speed device
  • Other features — 1 x JTAG DBGU over 50 pins; 1 x USB connector expansion
  • Power — +5 V 2.5W via USB port
  • Dimensions — 3.3 x 1.4 inches (85 x 36mm)
  • Weight — 1 oz. (30 grams)
  • Operating system — Linux 2.6.25 with U-Boot

QIL-A9G20


QIL-A9260 (similar
to QIL-A9G20)

(Click to enlarge)

The QIL-A9G20 supports 128-pin QIL (quad in-line) IC connections. Like the USB version, the QIL-A9G20 measures 3.3 x 1.4 inches, but it is shaped as a full rectangle instead of offering the tapered USB key connection. Offering both 50-pin and 128-pin connectors, the QIL version offers a MicroSD slot and includes the following additional specifications:

  • Processor — Atmel AT91SAM9G20 400MHz
  • Memory — 64MB or 128MB SDRAM (32-bit, 133MHz); 64KB E2PROM (SPI)
  • Flash — 256MB NAND Flash (8 bits)
  • Expansion — 1 x MicroSD
  • 128-pin base connector:
    • EBI
    • 1 x 10/100 Ethernet
    • 1 x USB host full speed
    • 1 x USB device full speed
    • 1 x DBGU
    • 1 x JTAG
  • 50-pin expansion connector:
    • 1 x I2C
    • 1 x SPI
    • 1 x USB full speed host
  • Power — +3.3V 2.5W
  • Dimensions — 3.3 x 1.4 inches (85 x 36mm)
  • Weight — 0.8 oz. (22 grams)
  • Operating system — Linux 2.6.25 with U-Boot

SBC35-A9G20


SBC35-A9260 (similar
to SBC35-A9G20)

(Click to enlarge)

The SBC35-A9G20 version measures 5.7 x 4.0 inches, and offers dual 100-pin connectors. Compared to the USB version, it adds three serial ports, as well as both SD and CompactFlash connections. Specifications are as follows:

  • Processor — Atmel AT91SAM9G20 400MHz
  • Memory — 64MB or 128MB SDRAM (32-bit, 133MHz); 64KB E2PROM (SPI)
  • Flash — 256MB NAND Flash (8 bits)
  • Flash expansion — 1 x SD/MMC; 1 x CompactFlash RTC (SPI)
  • Networking — 1 x 10/100 Ethernet
  • USB — 2 x full-speed USB host; 1 x USB full-speed device
  • Serial — 3 x serial ports
  • Other features — 1 x JTAG; 1 x DBGU; 2 x 100-pin expansion connectors
  • Power — +5 V 10W
  • Dimensions — 5.7 x 4.0 inches (146 x 102mm)
  • Weight — 3.9 oz. (110 grams)
  • Operating system — Linux 2.6.25 with U-Boot

“TinyCore”


TinyCore is
about half the size
of the QIL-A9G20

(Click to enlarge)

Calao also announced it will produce “TinyCore” SBC modules that will support Atmel's AT91SAM9G20, AT91SAM9260, and AT91SAM9263 processors. The modules will offer a 1.4 x 1.6-inch (36 x 41 mm) form factor. The top expansion connector is compatible with Calao's existing daughterboards, and a bottom expansion connector supports “audio/video/RMII/PWR,” says Calao.

Located in the French Alps near Grenoble, Calao makes tiny single board computers (SBCs) pre-installed with the open-source U-Boot bootloader and Linux 2.6.25 kernels. GNU toolchains also appear to be available.

Availability

The three new SAM9G20-based SBCs are available now, with prices varying depending on whether they have 64MB or 128MB of RAM. These include the USB-A9G20 (192 or 232 Euros; $246-$297 US), the QIL-A9G20 (175 or 215 Euros; $224-$275), and the SBC35-A9G20 (280 to 320 Euros $359-$410). No information was provided on the pricing or availability of the TinyCore modules. More information on the AT91SAM9G20-based SBCs may be available here under the “Calculateurs Embarques” menu item. Calao Systems also offers a custom design and manufacturing services.


 
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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