News Archive (1999-2012) | 2013-current at LinuxGizmos | IoT and Embedded News Feed |    About   

Belarus firm ships two Linux-based controllers

Apr 3, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 19 views

[Updated: Apr. 4] — A Minsk, Belarus-based provider of Linux-based product development services has announced two logic controller design wins. Promwad has delivered a data acquisition controller for automated power monitoring systems using PLC (Power Line Communications), and has also produced a board… controller that drives a large-scale LED-based advertising display.

(Click for larger view of AT91RM9200 Data Acquisition Controller)

Both controllers were developed at the request of European partners and will appear in products in the fourth quarter, says Promwad. The company, which specializes in embedded Linux systems that incorporate system-on-chips (SoCs), has shared some interesting details on product design and development issues on the two controllers.

Data Acquisition Controller (open)
(Click to enlarge)

AT91RM9200 Data Acquisition Controller

Promwad's AT91RM9200 Data Acquisition Controller is designed as a data hub for power supply monitoring and control networks. The hub uses serial connections to monitor data acquisition and transmission equipment on the power network. The serial links are adapted to work with a PLC network, which transmits communications signals over power lines. The device then reports back to third-party master controller using Ethernet or cellular GSM/GPRS links. The system runs Web-based software that performs functions such as setting the tariff schedules for various types of meters, and reviewing device event logs and readouts.

Data Acquisition Controller (internal SBC)
(Click to enlarge)

The controller board housed inside the casing is a single-board computer (SBC) based on an Atmel AT91RM9200 system-on-chip (SoC), a mainstay of embedded controllers for years. (Numerous examples are available in the Related Links at the end of the article.) The board also includes a Xilinx XC9572XL CPLD (complex programmable logic device) for implementing simple logical functions, says Promwad.

To link up with data collection and transmission equipment, the fault tolerant design incorporates RS-485 and RS-232 interfaces, which are protected from power-line interference by galvanic isolation circuits. The board also includes a case opening sensor for protecting against tampering, as well as a real-time clock with an integrated extended-life battery. The case is a GOST- and IP65-compliant dust-protected design from OKW.

data acquisition controller power supply
(Click to enlarge)

Promwad lists the following specifications for the AT91RM9200 Data Acquisition Controller:

  • Processors — Atmel AT91RM9200 SoC; Xilinx XC9572XL CPLD
  • Memory — 256MB SDRAM (Micron MT48LC16M16); 8MB flash (Atmel AT45DB642D); NAND flash (Samsung K9F1208U0B); FRAM (Ramtron FM25L256)
  • Networking — 1 x 10/100 Ethernet (PHY Ethernet — National Semi DP83848)
  • USB — 1 x USB 2.0 host/device connector
  • Serial interfaces — 1 x RS485; 3 x RS232; protected by galvanic isolation circuits using DC/DC transducers (Aimtec AM1/2L and AD ADUM1201)
  • Wireless communications — Wavecom GR64 GSM/GPRS module; TI TL16C550DIPT UART
  • Power — 6 input lines at 220 V; automatic shutdown feature
  • Case — OKW design; GOST and IP65-compliant

The device runs a modified version of embedded Linux. A Linux driver for FRAM memory connections to the CPU's SPI interface was partially integrated into the main Linux kernel branch, says Promwad. Designed in part with JFFS2, u-boot, and CGI, as well as the C language, the project made use of the following tools: ISE8.1, PCAD, GNU Toolchain (gcc, gdb), valgrind, and IDE Eclipse. The 190 man-day project took six months.

RDC-R8610 Information Board Controller
(Click to enlarge)

RDC-R8610 Information Board Controller

The RDC-R8610 Information Board Controller is an SBC designed to control a high-resolution electronic board built from a large quantity of universal LED cells. The software uses an AJAX-based “graphical web interface” and performs functions such as formatting advertising and displaying twenty different special effects.

LED array controlled by RDC-R8610 information controller
(Click to enlarge)

The controller controls the device via Ethernet and transmits display information via a LPC (low pin-count) interface. It also polls temperature, pressure, humidity, radiation sensors via GPIO. Because the cost had to be kept below $60 for a medium run, Promwad built the board around RDC's inexpensive R8610, x86 core architecture, a 32-bit RISC, X86-based processor. Clocked here at 133MHz, the SoC offers built-in peripherals including PCI 2.1, dual Ethernet MACs, and a USB 2.0 Host. There are also interfaces for LPC, UARTs, GPIO, and an SDRAM controller, says the company.

RDC R8610 processor architecture
(Click to enlarge)

The “Euromechanics” form-factor board boots from a 128MB NOR-based quadruple-bank memory (ST's M29DW128), which offers either eight 16MB blocks or 16 8MB blocks. Multimedia data for the advertising display is stored on 1GB of Samsung K9F5608 NAND flash, which is controlled by an Altera CPLD MAX2 EPM240 NAND flash controller.

The controller runs a modified version of RDC's Linux 2.6.8ac1 distribution and uses a RedBoot bootstrap loader. Other tools include C, C++, IDE Eclipse, GNU Toolchain (gcc, gdb), Quartus, and PCAD. The project took six months and 180 man-days.


Both controllers will be available in the European market in the fourth quarter, says Promwad. More information on the AT91RM9200 Data Acquisition Controller may be available here, and more on the RDC-R8610 Information Board Controller may be found here.

This article was originally published on and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

Comments are closed.