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Tiny yet powerful SBC runs embedded Linux

Mar 8, 2004 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

VMEbus and CompactPCI specialist General Micro Systems (GMS) has released a single-board computer (SBC) that supports Linux and measures just 2.8 x 1.9 inches. GMS says its “Spider” SBC is based on an IBM PowerPC chip running either 400 or 800 MHz, and targets distributed control, telecom server blades, handhelds, and… military/aerospace applications.

(Click for larger view of the Spider SBC)

The Spider comes in two models: The P501 is a a low-power version — GMS claims 4 watts — based on IBM's 400-MHz 440GP. The P502 is a high-performance version based on IBM's 800-MHz PowerPC 440GX.

Both Spider models come with two Ethernet ports (10/100 Base-TX for the P501; Gigabit Ethernet for the P502), 256 kbytes of L2 cache, up to 256 Mbytes of DDR SDRAM, 16 Mbytes of boot/user flash, and 32 kbytes of user ID flash. They also provide two serial ports, an I2C port, a real-time clock (with field-replaceable battery), and a 32-bit Device-bus with DMA, “which enables designers to add their own custom I/O without a PCI interface,” according to GMS.

As with most small SBCs, I/O interfaces are provided through external boards that increase the system size somewhat. GMS offers an “LimI/O-1” module that provides 15 digital I/O lines, three of which can drive high-current loads like large DC relays/lamps; two RJ-45 ports for Fast or Gigabit Ethernet; one RJ-11 port (for RS-232); one RS485 serial port; an I2C port; and a memory socket for up to one Gbyte of additional mass storage. Other LimI/O modules under development include FPGA I/O, 802.11g wireless Ethernet, and LVDS I/O.


GMS Spider with I/O module
(Click to enlarge)

The Spider modules use a “share nothing” approach that enables them to function as standalone systems, adding robustness to multi-processor blade server environments, GMS claims. The company also believes the small form factor can simplify cabling, by enabling designers to locate autonomous decision-making closer to the point of control.

Spider modules consume 300 mA at 3.3 VDC and 500 mA at 5-12 VDC, and can operate from ­40C to +85C, according to GMS.

Spider starts at $300 for the P501 and $400 for the P502 in OEM quantity.


 
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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