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Linux-ready computer lives on the edge

Sep 9, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

Eurotech announced a Linux-compatible edge controller for aggregating and communicating data from edge devices, sensors, and monitors using its Everyware Software Framework (ESF) Java framework. The customizable Helios computer runs on an Intel Atom Z5xx processor, offers gigabit Ethernet and serial ports, and has five USB ports, says Eurotech.

Eurotech does not list specific industries that might use its Helios edge controller, but the company typically sells its industrial computers — such as the recent Atom-based Bx-400F-N270 — to the transportation, medical, communications, defense, security, and manufacturing industries. The Helios appears to offer a high degree of customizability for tailoring the device to various monitoring applications.

The Helios is furnished with 1.1 GHz or 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z5xx CPUs, the Z510 and Z530 respectively. The box computer ships with 512MB DDR2 DRAM, with an option to expand to 2GB, as well as an optional 2GB SD card, says Eurotech. Additional storage options are available for internal PATA and SATA devices, says the company.

Eurotech Helios

The Helios offers gigabit Ethernet and serial ports, plus five USB 2.0 ports for connecting wireless edge devices, says Eurotech. Three of the USB ports are locked up in a secure, but removable USB bay (see image below) that supports a number of pre-certified wireless adapter modules for cellular, Bluetooth, and WiFi (see spec list below).

The pre-approved adapters are said to eliminate certification and RF testing burdens for developers. Two additional general-purpose USB ports can be configured as either host or client. The Helios, as well as the USB modules, are rated for MIL810F shock and vibration, enabling installation in vehicles, says the company.

Secure, removable USB bay

Developers can choose between Wind River Linux 3.0, Windows Embedded Standard, or Windows CE 6.0 operating systems. All of these are said to be compatible with Eurotech's Everyware Software Framework (ESF), a Java-based toolkit and middleware framework for programmable control of an edge controller system. ESF applies IBM J2ME Java to the enterprise environment, with full Websphere connectivity, says the company (see screens below).

Eurotech's Everyware Software Framework Java middleware
(Click to enlarge)

Specifications listed for the Helios edge controller computer include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom Z510 at 1.1GHz (or optional 1.6GHz Atom Z530); Intel System Controller Hub US15W
  • Memory — 512MB DDR2 DRAM (expandable to 2GB )
  • Flash — optional 2GB CompactFlash SD card
  • Storage — optional internal SATA drive; optional onboard PATA storage
  • Display — support for display and audio options via multimedia card
  • Networking — 1 x gigabit Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • 3 x USB 2.0 host ports (H/F/L speeds) in USB bay for wireless and storage
    • 1 x VGA
    • 2 x general-purpose USB 2.0 host ports (H/F/L speeds)
    • 1 x serial port (software selectable to EIA-232 or EIA-485)
  • Pretested and approved USB modules:
    • Sprint 598U Compass
    • Verizon USB760
    • AT&T USB Connect Mercury
    • Blutonium Class 1 Bluetooth
    • MPSTech 802.15.4 / Zigbee
    • Rokland 300mW 802.11 b,g
  • GPS — optional GPS with external antenna connection
  • Other features:
    • 8 x software-controlled LED status indicators
    • Software-readable push button
    • Battery-backed real-time clock
    • Adaptable I/O side-plates
    • Removable, secured USB bay cover
    • Mounting options
  • Software — Eurotech Everyware Software Framework (ESF) Java middleware
  • Ruggedization — MIL810F shock and vibration compliance
  • Power — 12VDC (up to 36V vehicle power input options); capable of operation using under 3 Watts
  • Dimensions — 10.2 x 4.8 x 1.8 inches (25.9 x 12.1 x 4.5cm)
  • Operating temperature — 1.1GHz version up to -40 to 185 deg. F (-40 to 85 deg. C); 1.6GHz version up to 32 to 158 deg. F (0 to 70 deg. C)
  • Operating system — Wind River Linux 3.0; Windows Embedded Standard; Windows CE 6.0

Stated Arlen Nipper, President and CTO at Eurotech, "Combining our configurable hardware platform, Helios, with the ESF middleware gives Eurotech customers the greatest range of flexibility, in I/O options, connectivity choices, and object-oriented programming."

Stated Joe Jensen, GM, Embedded and Computing Division, Intel. "With software and hardware configurability, Eurotech offers leading Intel technology to give OEMs a high degree of flexibility to deliver medical, transportation, or industrial applications to precisely meet their users' needs."


The Helios platform will be generally available in the first quarter of 2010, says Eurotech, which did not list pricing. More information may be found here.

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