Archive Index (1999-2012) | 2013-current at | About  

Freescale ships “SideShow” devkit — but where’s the Linux?

Sep 13, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Freescale is readying a reference design for Windows Vista “SideShow” applications, such as external laptop displays that run mini-applications (addressbook lookups, for instance) without booting the laptop. The design supports .NET Micro Framework under Windows Vista SideShow, but looks capable of running Linux, too.

(Click here for larger image)

The core of the kit is a small form-factor reference board based on a Freescale i.MXS applications processor, a “highly integrated” SoC built around an ARM920T processor. In addition to Windows CE, the i.MXS also supports Linux, and is distributed with a Linux BSP.

The kit also includes a 2.5-inch QVGA color LCD panel, a USB interface, and an expansion connector for add-on modules to support functions such as Bluetooth or ZigBee wireless.

Key features of the development board, according to Freescale, include:

  • Processor — i.MXS applications processor, based on ARM920T core
  • On-board memory:
    • 32MB SDRAM
    • 8MB “burst flash”
  • I2C and SSI bus connector for connection to external audio CODEC SMbus interface
  • On-board 2.5-inch QVGA resolution LCD with backlight
  • USB 1.1 interface
  • Serial ports:
    • One RS232 port
    • One CMOS-level port
  • 11 digital I/O lines for keypad/button inputs
  • Clock source crystal: 32 kilohertz
  • LED power indicator
  • Powered by USB bus voltage or external power adapter
  • Provides headers for custom add-on modules

What's SideShow?

According to Microsoft, the Windows SideShow platform is a new feature developed for Vista that lets developers create or extend applications specifically for devices with small displays and limited interaction models. Applications designed to work with the platform are referred to as “gadgets.” Typical supported SideShow target devices are expected to include embedded laptop lid displays, front panel computer displays, cell phones, and other network-connected display devices.

Typical SideShow “gadget”
(Source: Microsoft)

One example of a SideShow gadget might be an external display on a laptop, such as what is pictured above. It could be used for fast and convenient PDA-like access to PIM data such as calendar, contacts, or even email, without having to boot up the laptop itself.

According to Colin Miller, Director of Microsoft's .NET Micro Framework group, “Microsoft has used Freescale processors for internal development since the initial prototypes of the Windows SideShow concept in 2005. We expect that Freescale's commitment to .NET Micro Framework and SideShow with an OEM development kit will help enable rapid development of new SideShow solutions and other .NET Micro Framework-based embedded applications for the consumer, industrial, medical and other markets.”

Berardino Baratta, general manager of Freescale's multimedia applications division, added, “SideShow is a perfect application for the i.MXS applications processor, which has proven to be a cost-effective, high performance solution in a host of mobile applications. The i.MXS Development Kit is designed to provide developers and OEMs a superb foundation for rapidly creating these innovative and differentiated solutions leveraging the fastest processor available for SideShow applications — the i.MX processor.”


The i.MXS Development Kit will be priced at just under $500, and is expected to ship by the end of October, Freescale said. The company is accepting orders on its website, here.

The kit comes with rights to download schematics, bill of materials, and layout files from Freescale's website, the company says.

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.