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Linux computer fits in USB key

Jun 22, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

A start-up located in the French Alps near Grenoble is readying a tiny ARM-based Linux single-board computer (SBC) in a USB key form-factor. Calao, based in Sant Martin le Vinoux, is also readying a tiny Linux SBC designed to plug into QIL (quad in-line) IC sockets.

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Calao's USB-9260 USB key-sized SBC measures 3.3 x 1.4 inches (85 x 36 mm). It is based on an Atmel AT91SAM9260 processor, an SoC (system-on-chip) powered by an ARM926EJ-S core clocked at 190MHz. The SoC targets “advanced applications such as GPS application processors,” according to Atmel.

Calao's USB-9260

The tiny USB key SBC has 64MB of SDRAM and 256MB of NAND flash. I/O includes a USB 2.0 device port (obviously), a 10/100 Ethernet port, and a pair of USB 2.0 host ports. The device also has a 50-pin expansion interface, although the company has not published the pinout, nor announced any specific daughterboards.

Calao says the USB-9260 can be debugged over USB via JTAG and DBGU (“debug unit”). Alternatively an SBC35-A9260 development board (shown below) appears to exist, and to offer a wide variety of I/O, expansion, and debugging interfaces.

Calao's SBC35-A9260 development board

Calao previously announced a very similar QIL-9260 SBC (depicted below) based on the same Atmel SoC (system-on-chip), and also measuring 3.3 x 1.4 inches (85 x 36mm). Instead of a USB key form-factor, the QIL-9260 is designed for use in 128-pin quad in-line integrated circuit sockets — similar to the higher-end models in SSV's DIL/NetPC line (see Related Stories below for examples). The QIL-9260 will be offered with an MB-QIL-A9260 development board measuring 5.7 x 4 inches (146 x 102mm).


Both Calao boards will come pre-installed with the open-source U-Boot bootloader and Linux 2.6-series kernels. GNU toolchains also appear to be available from the company.

According to its website, Calao was founded this year by a group of embedded developers, with aim of providing micro/nano hardware products and designs technologies to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) serving industrial markets.

Calao headquarters
(Click to enlarge)


Calao's tiny USB-9260 and QIL-9260 Linux SBCs will be available “soon,” according to the company. Pricing was not disclosed.

Additionally, Calao is currently developing USB- and QIL-based boards based on Atmel's AT92SAM9260, an SoC targeting “highly connected image processing applications,” according to Atmel — point-of-sale terminals, Ethernet-based IP cameras, and bar code readers, for example.

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