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Linux-powered gateway crams into USB key

Feb 13, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

A tiny, Linux-based gateway has won an award for hardware innovation at the 2007 Embedded World conference in Nuremberg this week. SSV Embedded Systems's “Tux/Stick” interfaces between USB-enabled PCs and various industrial and embedded networks, including LANs, WiFi networks, wireless sensor networks (WSNs), and in-car… networks.

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The Tux/Stick looks like a typical USB memory stick. And, one end does plug into a USB port, just like a memory stick, drawing power from the host PC and booting a tiny ARM9-powered processor running Linux.

SSV Tux/Stick
(Click to enlarge)

Beneath a removable cap on the Tux/Stick's other end, though, is a “miniature plug” of an unspecified nature. This plug accepts “media couplers” that provide various interfaces. Available interfaces include 10/100 Ethernet, SPI, USB host, and serial UART interfaces.

SSV says the Tux/Stick comes with “special USB drivers” that make the device look like an Ethernet connection or a serial UART to the host computer, while supporting the device's various communication profiles. The device can establish connections in an “ad hoc” fashion, according to the company.

Marketing Manager Jorg Neumann stated, “This award confirms the importance and market need for small and innovative embedded hardware products that enables a huge range of communication.”

What's under the hood?

The Tux/Stick is based on SSV's tiny DNP/9200, a miniature ARM9-powered SBC (single-board computer) that comes preinstalled with Linux. The DNP/9200 processor module measures 3.2 x 1.1 inches (82 x 28mm), and fits into a standard JEDEC DIL (dual-inline) socket with 64 pins spaced at 0.1 inches.

DNP/9200 module
(Click to enlarge)

The DNP/9200 SBC, in turn, is based on an Atmel AT91RM9200 clocked at 180MHz, and has 32MB of SDRAM and 16MB of flash memory. On-board interfaces include two UARTs, SPI, SSI/I2C, USB host and device, an 8-bit bus interface, and 20 GPIO lines.

DNP/9200 diagram

Additionally, the DNP/9200 SBC offers a “dock” that supports a Sony/Ericsson GSM/GPRS modem. Additional details can be found in our previous coverage, here.

Availability and pricing details for the Tux/Stick were not available by publication time.

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