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Diminutive ARM7 SBC targets portable data terminals

Mar 2, 2005 — by Henry Kingman — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

[Updated March 3, 2005] — Esfia is shipping a tiny ARM7-based SBC (single-board computer) that measures just 1.97 x 1.57 inches (50 x 40mm) and costs $64 in quantities of 5,000. The M170P targets rugged handheld devices, and is available with an evaluation kit that includes Linux.

(Click for large view of tiny board)

According to Esfia, the M170P is suitable for entry-level handheld computers for automatic data collection, including RFID terminals, batch data terminals, wireless data terminals, wireless barcode scanners, POS (point-of-sales/service) terminals, biometric access control terminals, transaction terminals, portable test instruments, advanced remote controllers, Wi-Fi phones, and GPS systems for retail, light industrial, and medical/pharmaceutical applications.

Back side of Esfia M170P
(Click to enlarge)

The M170P is based on a Samsung S3C44B0X processor, a 16/32-bit RISC SoC (system-on-chip) with an ARM7TDMI core clocked at 66MHz. The chip features advanced power management features that enable Esfia's tiny board to draw between 0.025 and 2 watts, the company says, depending on configuration and CPU speed.

The Samsung SoC includes 8KB of cache, an LCD controller, a two-channel UART with handshake, four-channel DMA, system manager (chip select logic, FP/EDO/SDRAM controller), five-channel timers with PWM, I/O ports, RTC, eight-channel 10-bit ADC, IIC-BUS interface, IIS-BUS interface, synchronous SIO interface, and a PLL for clock.

Architecture diagram of the Samsung S3C44B0X SoC
(Click to enlarge)

Esfia's M170P SBC includes 8MB of NOR Flash, and 16MB of SDRAM. Additional interfaces include four RS-232 ports, a USB device port, a CompactFlash controller that supports memory, I/O, and IDE modes, 8 digital inputs, 8 digital outputs, a real-time clock, an LCD controller supporting 320 x 240 STN/CSTN displays, an audio codec, and a fast power switch and cutoff between DC, main battery, and battery backup.

Block diagram of the Esfia M170P SBC
(Click to enlarge)

A 200-pin board-to-board connector enables the M170P SBC to interface with the OEM's custom circuitry, and with an evaluation carrier board that is supplied with Esfia's evaluation kit. The evaluation carrier board includes a 160 x 160 LCD panel, an 802.11b wireless module, a bluetooth module, a laser scanner engine, an 8 x 6 keypad, and 16 digital I/O lines. It also includes a main battery and a backup battery.

The EVM M170P carrier board
(Click to enlarge)


The M170P module is available now, priced at $64 in quantities of 5,000, or $59 before July 31, 2005. The evaluation kit with carrier board is priced at $2,500, and includes Linux 2.6 and driver source code.

Esfia also sells SDKs for Intermec's batch data terminals. The company received $2M in investments in its first round of funding in October, 2003.

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