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Linux SBC has CAN do personality

Apr 27, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 17 views

Italian embedded vendor QSD Sistemi is shipping a single-board computer (SBC) that runs uClinux on a Freescale Coldfire MCF5329 system-on-chip (SoC). The Q129 board ships with a choice of 5.7- or 7-inch touchscreen displays, and provides Ethernet, USB, serial, and CAN-bus connectivity, says the company.

(Click for larger view of the Q129)

QSD Sistemi did not list targeted applications for the Q129 board. However, judging from the company's mission statement and the Q129's included CAN-bus I/O, it appears to be aimed at industrial equipment with touchscreen display requirements.

Four Q129 boards coordinating single image across four displays

Introduced in 2006, Freescale's MCF5329 is based on a 68K/ColdFire “V3” core, clocked at 240MHz (see block diagram below). The SoC integrates 32KB of SRAM, an LCD controller that supports SVGA (800 x 600) resolutions, a two-bank 16-/32-bit SDRAM controller, 16-channel DMA controller, up to three UARTs, and a queued SPI (serial peripheral interface). In 2007, Freescale and Indesign LLC teamed up on a reference design using the MCF5329 that was aimed at POS (point-of-sale) devices and high-security industrial system designs.

Freescale MCF5329 block diagram
(Click to enlarge)

The Q129 backs up the Freescale MCF5329 with up to 64MB NOR flash and up to 1GB NAND flash. The board ships with either a 5.7- or 7-inch touchscreen display, but supports up to 10.4-inch displays, says the company. I/O is said to include 10/100 Ethernet, USB Master and Slave, RS-232 and RS-485 serial connections, and a CAN-bus interface.

Especially popular in Europe, CAN-bus is used in a variety of industrial and automotive telematics applications. CAN (Controller Area Network) is a network-like “field bus” that implements a point-to-point serial transmit/received protocol for multiple nodes. It is based on the real-time CAN protocol (rtcan).

Specifications listed for the Q129 board include:

  • Processor — Freescale Coldfire MCF5329 (clock rate unstated; typically 240MHz)
  • Flash — up to 64MB NOR flash; up to 1GB NAND flash
  • Display — LCD controller supports up to 10.4-inch displays, offered with either 5.7- or 7-inch touchscreen display
  • Networking — 1 x Ethernet
  • USB — 1 x USB Master; 1 x USB Slave
  • Serial — 1 x RS-232; 1 x RS-485
  • CAN-bus — 1 x CAN-bus
  • Power — from 10v to 24v
  • Operating system — Linux (uClinux)

QSD Sistemi is readying two other SBCs based on Linux that offer CAN-bus connectivity. These are said to include a Q146 board based on the Q129 design that incorporates a more powerful Freescale PowerQuicc II MPC5121 telematics processor. Due in June, the board is said to support audio and video and includes a DVI interface. Also under development is a Q142 board that is built around a Freescale MPC8313E processor and targets SCADA or industrial control applications.


The Q129 appears to be available now, but no information on pricing was provided. More information may be found here.

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