News Archive (1999-2012) | 2013-current at LinuxGizmos | Current Tech News Portal |    About   

Compact ARM11 SBC runs Linux

Feb 28, 2008 — by Jonathan Angel — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 37 views

Applied Data Systems (ADS) is shipping a 3 x 5-inch SBC (single-board computer) available with Linux. The Bitsy G5 is based on a 532MHz Freescale i.MX31 processor, supports touchscreen displays, has a PCMCIA slot, and uses under a Watt of power, according to ADS.

(Click here for a larger view of the Bitsy G5)

The Bitsy G5 is the fifth-generation Bitsy product, according to ADS. The line of small SBCs began in 2000 with the Bitsy, based on a StrongARM SA-1110 processor, and subsequent devices have included the SA-1110-based Bitsy Plus, the Marvell PXA255-based Bitsy-X and the PXA270-based BitsyXb. The boards have found a home inside third-party devices, such as the Nightingale Personal Patient Monitor 2 from Zoe Medical, and solar-powered parking meters from 8D Technologies of Quebec.

The new G5 is based on a Freescale i.MX31, which integrates:

  • An ARM1136 processor core
  • Java accelerator
  • Vector floating point math coprocessor
  • Video processing engine that supports full-motion 30fps VGA video
  • Numerous other functions and interfaces

The Bitsy G5 supports up to 128MB of mobile DDR DRAM and up to 64MB of flash memory. Storage can be expanded via a PCMCIA Type II slot supporting both 3.3V and 5V cards. It also has a port that can be used to connect a CompactFlash card.

The SBC's extensive interfaces are provided via headers rather than standard PC-style connectors, facilitating the device's 3 x 5-inch size and 2.5-ounce weight. However, an optional “personality board” can provide connectors, if desired.

The Bitsy G5 includes USB host and device ports, three serial ports, an IrDA transceiver, plus SPI and I2C ports. The board includes a 16-bit AC '97 codec, with a 1W/channel stereo audio amplifier, and microphone input.

Video capabilities tap into the i.MX31's MPEG-4 decoder, and offer 8-bit color at 1024 x 768 resolution or 16-bit color at 640 x 480. Four- or five-wire analog-resistive touchpanels are supported.

A block diagram of the Bitsy G5
(Click to enlarge)

Via the personality board, as depicted in ADS' block diagram for the Bitsy G5 (above), it is possible to add an additional four serial ports and an Ethernet interface. Customers can also order a 5 x 4 inch keypad, nine digital I/Os, or five analog inputs and four digital I/Os, the company says.

In addition to using under a Watt of power in normal operation, the Bitsy G5 uses “partitioned power management” that can put the device into a variety of low-power states, according to ADS. Its personality board provides a battery charger and can hold an optional battery.

Features and specifications provided by ADS for the Bitsy G5 include

  • Processor — 532MHz Freescale i.MX31
  • Memory — up to 128MB of Mobile DDR DRAM, 64MB NOR flash
  • Graphics:
    • Built-in LCD controller
    • Up to 1024 x 768 pixels (XGA)
    • Resistive touchscreen controller
  • Audio:
    • 16-bit AC '97 stereo codec
    • Stereo audio amplifier, 1W per channel
    • Stereo speaker output; stereo mike input
  • Other I/O:
    • 1 x USB host, 1 x USB device
    • 3 serial ports (RS232 8-wire, 4-wire, and logic level 2-wire)
    • IrDA transceiver
    • PS/2 keyboard port
    • SPI port
    • I2C port

  • Expansion:
    • PCMCIA Type II slot (on SBC)
    • CompactFlash (via header)

  • Power requirements — 6-15 VDC, less than 1 watt in operation
  • Dimensions — 3 x 5 inches
  • Weight — 2.5 ounces


In addition to being offered with Linux, the Bitsy G5 also supports Windows CE 6.0. The Bitsy G5 is available now, though pricing was not listed by the company.

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.