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Industrial power monitoring device runs Linux

Jan 30, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

An Italian electric power system manufacturer used embedded Linux as a key component of a system that performs remote sensing, data acquisition, and routing functions. RGM's AT91UL94 system runs Koan's KaeilOS on an ARM-based Atmel processor, and took six months to develop, according to Koan.

(Click for larger view of AT91UL94)

The AT91UL94 was designed to collect and transfer data from the various components of backup power generation systems, such as generating stations at hospitals and public transportation facilities. Data are collected via serial ports (RS232 and RS485) and digital I/O, and backed up to 512KB of battery-backed SRAM to safeguard against power loss, according to Koan founder Marco Cavallini.

The AT91UL94 is based on an Atmel AT91RM9200 processor clocked at 180MHz, and features an unusually broad operating temperature range of -72 to 153 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 to 85 degrees Celsius). Additional touted hardware features include:

  • 8MB Atmel SPI DataFlash
  • 64MB 8 bit NAND Flash
  • 64MB SDRAM
  • 512KB SRAM (battery backed)
  • RTC (battery backed)
  • Onboard thermometer
  • Power fail input
  • 8 x LVTTL digital inputs; 4 outputs
  • 1 x 10/100 Ethernet controller
  • RS232 console
  • 5 x RS232/RS485 serial ports
  • 1 x RS485 serial port
  • 2 x USB hosts

On the software side, the AT91UL94 runs a KaeilOS distribution based on a Linux 2.6.17 kernel. Other open-source software used in the device includes the U-Boot 1.1.4 bootloader and the JFFS2 file system, along with:

  • Drivers:
    • USB host (mass storage, USB to serial)
    • internal and external UARTs
    • internal and external RTC
    • thermometer
    • static RAM
    • NAND flash
    • Ethernet
    • Power fail
    • GPIOs

  • Utilities: busybox, bash, logrotate, zoneinfo
  • Protocols: Ipv4, ICMP, ARP, DHCP, NTP, FTP, Telnet, THTTP, PPP, CHAP, PAP, SSH 1.0/2.0
  • Deamons: pppd, utelnetd, ftpd, sshd, iptables, thttpd, syslogd, crond, ntpd

Koan says RGM chose Linux due to its small footprint and low cost. RGM developed the AT91UL94 in less than six months, and has since deployed hundreds of units that are currently operating in the field, according to Koan.

Koan CEO Marco Cavallini stated, “The device can safely save critical information to 512KB SRAM (battery backed) in case of power loss, thank to suspend device management.”


The AT91UL94 appears to be available only as a component of RGM's power generation and condition systems.

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