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Highly modular ARM9 board supports Linux

Jan 14, 2008 — by Jonathan Angel — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 8 views

Bluewater Systems of New Zealand has introduced a development platform that accepts credit-card sized, ARM-based CPU modules running Linux. The “Rig 200” provides typical PC-style interfaces and supports three different CPU modules, plus snap-in Bluetooth, GPS, or Wi-Fi hardware, according to the company.

(Click here for a larger view of Bluewater's Rig 200)

The Rig 200 is designed to accept Bluewater's “Snapper” processor modules, which measure 2.75 x 1.6 x .5 inches (70 x 40 x 12mm). Once development is complete, the modules can easily be removed from the baseboard and incorporated into a final product, Bluewater says. The three Snapper modules compatible with the Rig 200 are:

  • CL15, based on a Cirrus Logic EP9315
  • Snapper 255, with a Marvell PXA255
  • Snapper 270, with a Marvell PXA270
More details about each processor module appear below. But first, a look at the Rig 200 baseboard itself.

The Rig 200 features real-world I/O connectors for audio, VGA, serial, 10/100 Ethernet, and USB host and device interfaces. There's also a USB device port that can power the board. Expansion includes SD and Compact Flash card sockets.

Bluewater additionally offers various modules that snap onto the Rig 200, further expanding its capabilities:

  • “Bluetooth Plus” module is a small (1.4 x .6 inches) board containing a class 1 Bluetooth module and an antenna. It connects into a pin header at the top right of the Rig 200, and can be securely attached using a supplied stand-off and screws. The Bluetooth option is controlled by a UART on the Snapper module which operates at TTL (3.3V) levels to save power, the company said.
  • “Location Plus” module includes an on-board GPS receiver plus a GSM/GPRS modem that can transmit location data. This module also accepts a Zigbee add-on and can provide a second Bluetooth port, allowing simultaneous development of both ends of a Bluetooth system. All four wireless technologies can be accessed from the Snapper module on the Rig 200 through an included memory-mapped four-port UART.
  • “Hard Disk Plus” module, which operates only with the Snapper CL15, provides a connector and mounting points for a 2.5-inch IDE hard drive.
  • “Camera Plus” module adds a three-megapixel camera that connects to the Rig 200 via a flexible cable.
  • “Display Plus” module permits connecting a variety of LCD displays (as noted above, the Rig 200 already supports standard desktop CRT and LCD screens via its VGA connector).

Features listed for the Rig 200 by Bluewater include:

  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • 3 x USB host ports (1x USB type A connector, and 2x pin headers)
    • 1x USB device port with connector; can also power the board
    • 2x DB9 serial ports
    • audio line in and line out
    • 1x IrDA

  • Expansion:
    • LCD expansion header
    • SD/MMC card socket
    • Compact Flash socket
    • expansion headers for “Plus” series of expansion models (listed earlier)


The Snapper CL15 SBC

Snapper C15

The Snapper C15 module is said to be best for projects with a low power budget, with a typical consumption of just 500mW. It uses Cirrus Logic's EP9315 CPU (ARM 920T core) clocked at 200MHz, and comes with 64MB of RAM and 1GB of flash memory.

Features listed for the Snapper C15 include:

  • Processor — Cirrus Logic EP9315 clocked at 200MHz
  • Memory — 64MB of RAM and 1GB of flash
  • Display — video output with support for LCD resolutions up to 1280 x 1024; 4, 5, 7, and 8 wire touchscreen controller
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • 3x USB 2.0 host ports
    • 1x USB 1.0 device port (optional)
    • stereo audio
    • 3x serial UARTs
    • 2x IDE
  • Expansion — 1x PCMCIA
  • Power requirements — 3V, 500mW typical
  • Dimensions — 2.75 x 1.6 x .5
  • Weight — 0.6 ounces (17g)


The Snapper 255 SBC

Snapper 255

The Snapper 255 provides most of the above capabilities, and it adds a Altera Cyclone field-programmable gate array (FPGA) and an analog-to-digital converter, allowing additional product types to be developed. It runs the Marvell PXA255 processor, clocked at up to 400MHz, providing 64MB of RAM and 1GB of flash.

Features listed for the Snapper 255 include:

  • Processor — Marvell PXA255 clocked at 400MHz
  • Memory — 64MB of RAM and 1GB of flash
  • Display — video output with support for LCD resolutions up to 800 x 600; Philips touchscreen controller
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports
    • 1x USB 1.1 device port
    • stereo audio
    • 2x serial UARTs (one full-function, one 3-wire)
    • FPGA
  • Expansion:
    • 2 x PCMCIA
    • 1x SD card
  • Power requirements — 3V, 1400mW typical
  • Dimensions — 2.75 x 1.6 x .5
  • Weight — 0.6 ounces (17g)


The Snapper 270 SBC

Snapper 270

The Snapper 270 provides what Bluewater describes as an optimal combination of low power consumption and high performance. It uses Marvell's PXA270 clocked at 520MHz, along with 128MB of RAM and 1GB of flash.

Bluewater calls the Snapper 270 “almost unique in the module space” in that it uses 1.8v SDRAM rather than 3.3V. This is said to cut memory power consumption by half versus other modules. In addition, the SBC offers a CPU sleep mode and can power off on-board peripherals such as the Ethernet, audio codec and NOR flash. With a power consumption of 900mW, the Snapper 270 can sleep for a year with a small 1 amp-hour lithium-ion cell, according to the company.

Features listed for the Snapper 270 include:

  • Processor — Marvell PXA270 clocked at 520MHz
  • Memory — 128MB of RAM and 1GB of flash
  • Display — Support for LCD resolutions up to 800 x 600; 4-wire touchscreen controller
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • 1x USB host
    • 1x USB device
    • stereo audio
    • 3x serial UARTs
    • CMOS camera interface
    • multiple GPIOs
  • Expansion:
    • 2 x PCMCIA
    • 1x SD card
  • Power requirements — 5V, 1.9W peak, 900mW in sleep
  • Dimensions — 2.75 x 1.6 x .5
  • Weight — 0.6 ounces (17g)

Bluewater did not provide pricing for the Snapper SBCs or Rig 200 board, but all appear to be available now. Linux and Windows CE drivers are available that provide support for the SBCs and all the functionality of the Plus modules, the company said.


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



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