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Geode SBCs target ISA legacy apps

Apr 5, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 12 views

Ampro has leveraged AMD's Geode LX800 microprocessor in new single-board computer (SBC) designs. The PC/104 form-factor “CoreModule 620” and the EPIC 2.0 form-factor “ReadyBoard 620” both “fully support” the legacy ISA bus through a “unique combination of circuitry, standard BIOS, and [proprietary] extensions,” the company said.

(Click here for larger view of the CoreModule 620)

The two new SBCs have more in common than just a processor. Both provide a single SODIMM that accommodates up to 1 GB of SDRAM, for example, and their graphics and networking subsystems are the same. Additionally, both SBCs support Linux 2.6, as well as QNX, VxWorks, and Windows XP Embedded and CE. The smaller CoreModule (see photo above) has less in the way of I/O than the ReadyBoard (photo below) — for example, one rather than two Ethernet channels. And as per the EPIC specification, the ReadyBoard accepts PC/104-Plus expansion modules, whereas the CoreModule lacks PCI expansion. See the table below for a more extensive feature comparison.

EPIC form-factor ReadyBoard 620
(Click to enlarge)

SBC CoreModule 620 ReadyBoard 620
Form-factor PC/104 (3.550 x 3.775 inch) EPIC 2.0 (4.50 x 6.50 inch)
Processor 500 MHz AMD Geode LX800 500 MHz AMD Geode LX800
SODIMM memory Up to 1GB DDR333 SODIMM Up to 1GB DDR333 SODIMM
Expansion PC/104 (ISA) PCI/104-Plus (ISA and PCI)
Ethernet 1 10/100BaseT 2 10/100BaseT
Graphics 1600×1200-pixel max, up to 4MB UMA frame buffer, LCD support 1600×1200-pixel max, up to 4MB UMA frame buffer, LCD support
USB 2.0 ports 2 4
Serial Ports 1 (RS232/422/485) +1 2 (RS232/422/485) +2
CompactFlash socket On primary IDE On secondary IDE
Other features Keyboard/mouse/audio ports; -40 to +85 deg C extended temperature option Keyboard/mouse, audio ports; 8 general-purpose I/O pins; ACPI power management w/S3; fanless operation
Operating temperature range 0 to 60 deg. C std; 40 to +85 deg C extended temperature option available 0 to 60 deg C

Ampro's extensions to an “industry standard” AMI BIOS address the initialization of and support for “critical features that are necessary to maintain compatibility with the hundreds of off-the-shelf and custom PC/104 modules,” explained CEO Joanne Mumola Williams. “Without a full new implementation of the ISA bus, many system OEMs would face substantial re-architecture, sourcing, and re-qualification challenges just to keep production running.”

The ISA bus support in the boards features a PCI-to-ISA bus bridge IC, rather than using the more common LPC-to-ISA bridge. The upshot, Williams said, is that “the entire address and I/O space is available, and 16-bit-wide data transfers are supported. The BIOS supports distributed DMA (DDMA) as well as the entire set of IRQ's (interrupt requests) in order to work with a very broad range of standard and custom PC/104 boards that are in use.”


The ReadyBoard 620 is expected to be available in small quantities within 60 days, and the CoreModule 620 be show up within 90 days. Production pricing for both starts in the upper $200s, according to the company.

The Geode LX800 has seen numerous design-wins over the past year or so. For a sampling of other LX800-based SBCs in a broad range of embedded SBC form-factors introduced in the past six months, see the list of “Related stories,” below.

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