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$34 MIPS board has own Linux distro

Sep 17, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 32 views

UK-based Omnima Ltd. is shipping a low-cost MIPS32 controller board with optional case. Booting the OpenWRT-based “Midge” distro from 2MB of flash, or a special “Squidge” Linux distro from a USB key, the eponymous “Omnima” controller has 16MB of RAM and a built-in four-port Ethernet switch.

(Click for larger view of the Omnima embedded controller with external case)

The Omnima controller is designed as a gateway that can connect computers, cameras, timers, and other IP devices to the Internet. It can run a DHCP server, says Omnima, and can monitor or send commands to any connected IP device. The controller can also act as a data logger, reading data via its GPIO, USB, or serial ports, and writing data to a USB-based flash or hard drive. The board can “easily connect to i2c peripherals,” says the company, and can be purchased in a version with a plastic case measuring 7.4 x 3.9 x 1.1 inches (pictured above).

Omnima controller board

The controller is based on an Infineon ADM5120, a MIPS32-based system-on-chip (SoC) that can be clocked to 175MHz. Typically found on routers, the SoC has inspired its own Linux OpenWrt-like mini-distribution called Midge. Midge can be run on the controller, although its 2MB of onboard flash would not leave much elbow room. Alternatively, the Squidge distribution — maintained specifically for Omnima devices, apparently — can be booted from a 1GB USB key, Omnima says. Squidge includes a Java VM, Python-mini, LUA, WGET, and other OpenWrt packages.

Omnima controller (side view)

Specs for the Omnima embedded controller are listed as follows:

  • Processor — Infineon ADM5120 (MIPS32)
  • Memory — 16MB RAM; 2MB flash
  • Networking - 4 x LAN Ethernet ports; 1 x WAN Ethernet port
  • USB — 2 x USB Host ports
  • Serial — 1 x UART/programming port with pin headers
  • Debug — 1 x JTAG port with pin headers
  • GPIO — 13 x GPIO/LEDs
  • Power — 12V 500mA; optional adapter
  • Dimensions — 7.1 x 3.6 inches (180 x 91mm); with optional case 7.4 x 3.9 x 1.1 inches (188 x 100 x 28mm)
  • Operating system — Linux (Midge, Squidge); NetBSD


The Omnima embedded controller based on the ADM5120 is available for $34, or 19 British Pounds, says Omnima. More information may be found here.

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