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Industrial computer boasts fault resilient booting

Oct 15, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Taiwan-based Artila Electronics announced a Linux-ready, ARM9-based box computer that runs on only three Watts of power and offers “fault resilient” booting from 2MB of data flash. The fanless Matrix-504 incorporates a 400MHz Atmel AT91SAM9G20 processor, and offers Ethernet, serial, and USB connectivity, says the company.

Previous Artila products based on Atmel ARM9 processors include the M-501 module, which is based on a 180MHz Atmel AT91RM9200 processor. The module was incorporated in the Matrix-500 computer, which shipped at the same time, as well as the iPAC-5010 automation controller board, the Matrix-520 automation controller appliance, and the M-508 single board computer (SBC), which shipped in 2008. Other currently available Linux-ready AT91RM9200-based box computers from Artila include the Matrix-510, Matrix-512, and Matrix-514.

Artila Matrix-504

With the Matrix-504, Artila has moved up to the Atmel AT91SAM9G20, a Linux-ready ARM926EJ-S-based RISC system-on-chip (SoC) that can be clocked to 400MHz, consumes a maximum of 80mW, and was introduced as being available for as low as $7 per chip in volume. This summer, Atmel followed up with an AT91SAM9G45 spin-off that supports DDR2 memory, 100Mbps+ data rates, and LCD touchscreens, and offers a 480Mbps USB interface.

The Matrix-504 is built around a 400MHz AT91SAM9G20, and offers 128MB SDRAM, 128MB of flash storage, and 2MB of specialized data flash, says Artila. The latter includes a backup Linux 2.6.29 file-system which automatically boots the system in case of a primary NAND flash failure. This fail-safe design makes the Matrix-504 particularly suitable for safety-critical applications, says the company.

The box incorporates a 10/100Mbps Ethernet port, four high speed RS-232/422/485 serial ports, and two USB hosts, says Artila. A serial console port is said to be available for system configuration and software debug.

Like the previous Matrix boxes, the 4.3 x 3.1 x 0.9-inch Matrix-504 offers a strong metal case design designed for harsh industrial environments, and ships with a DIN rail mounting kit, says Artila. The box is said to withstand temperatures up to 158 deg. F (70 C).

Specifications listed for the Matrix-504 include:

  • Processor — 400MHz Atmel AT91SAM9G20 (ARM9, w/MMU)
  • Memory — 128MB SDRAM
  • Storage — 128MB NAND flash; 2MB data flash
  • Networking — 1 x 10/100Mbps Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • Serial — 4 x serial ports (1 x RS-232, RS-422, or RS-485; 3 x RS-232 or RS-485); 1 x console port
    • USB — 2 x USB 2.0 Host ports; 1 x Client port
  • Other features — Watchdog timer, real-time clock, buzzer; DIN rail mounting kit
  • Power — 9~48VDC input; [email protected] (3 Watts) maximum consumption
  • Dimensions — 4.3 x 3.1 x 0.9 inches (108 x 78 x 24mm)
  • Operation temperature — 32 to 158 deg. F (0 to 70 C)
  • Operating system — Linux 2.6.29

The Matrix-504's NAND flash is pre-installed with Linux 2.6.29 and busybox, says Artila. The included UBI file-system is said to provide improved performance and longer lifetime for NAND flash compared to JFFS2. The Matrix-504 also uses the Ipkg lightweight package management system, which is similar to Debian's Dpkg, for accessing updated software package at Artila's ftp site.

The system ships with the GNU tool chain, which includes a C/C++ cross compiler and Glibc. Software utilities include Webmin, offering web-based system administration, says the company.


Artila did not offer pricing or availability information for the Matrix-504, but the computer appears to be available for order now. More information may be found here.

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