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Linux tools support Cortex-A8-based 802.11n module

Apr 8, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Timesys announced a partnership with Digi International, making the company the preferred commercial Linux solutions provider for Digi's ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 wireless module. Timesys' LinuxLink embedded development framework now supports the Wi-i.MX51 module, based on Freescale's Cortex-A8-based i.MX51 system-on-chip, and also supports Digi's Wi-i.MX51 “JumpStart” reference kit, says Timesys.

The ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 LinuxLink subscription lets users quickly adapt Linux and develop product specific-middleware and applications for the 802.11n-ready Wi-i.MX51 module, says Timesys. The subscription is said to include a recent Linux kernel that supports many of the device drivers present on the Wi-i.MX51 reference design, including Ethernet, LCD, touchscreen, VGA, and USB. The LinuxLink for ConnectCore subscription is already being used by early customers, including Triteq, says the company.

Billed as a happy medium between do-it-yourself (DIY) roll-your-own solutions on the one hand and commercial Linux distributions such as Wind River Linux and MontaVista Linux on the other, LinuxLink is available in both an online version and a more flexible desktop version. Both offer versions of Timesys' "Factory" build framework, which lets customers assemble custom Linux starting points with their selected application APIs, says the company.

LinuxLink is said to offer access to hundreds of open source packages and verified middleware. Other touted features include the Eclipse-based TimeStorm IDE, as well as access to Linux application development utilities and commonly used debugging tools. Support, documentation, and professional services are also available, says Timesys.

Digi ConnectCore Wi-i.MX5

Announced in November, Digi International's ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 is the latest in a line of ConnectCore modules. Pictured at right, the module builds upon Freescale's ARM Cortex-A8-based i.MX51 family of system-on-chips (SoCs).

The i.MX51 offers power management features including multiple independent power domains, power gating, and dynamic process and temperature compensation. DVFS (dynamic voltage and frequency scaling) technology is said to allow throttling down to as low as 200MHz.

The i.MX51 variant used on the ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 is the i.MX515, which is clocked here at 800MHz and offers integrated OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics acceleration. In addition to the SoC, the ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 includes up to 1GB of DDR2 memory, up to 8GB of flash storage, plus two 180-pin connectors that relay its interfaces to the outside world.

A block diagram of Digi's ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51
(Click to enlarge)

The module has three UARTs with IrDA support, plus up to three USB 2.0 host ports and one USB 2.0 OTG port. Other features include 10/100 Ethernet, SD/SDIO/MMC, and 802/11a/b/g/n wireless networking, says Digi.

Dual displays are supported, with both SD and HD TV output, and there is a four-wire touchscreen interface, according to the company. Other features include two camera ports, for up to eight megapixel resolution, as well as an onboard image processing unit said to be capable of video/graphics combining, resizing, rotation/inversion, and color conversion/correction. 

Last month, Digi announced the ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 Digi JumpStart Kit, which is specifically supported by LinuxLink. The reference kit includes the module, a baseboard, a seven-inch, WVGA touchscreen, and a Linux or Windows CE 6.0 BSP (board support package).

The baseboard (pictured at right) offers real-world connectors including three serial ports, VGA and HDMI outputs, five USB ports, Ethernet, and audio I/O. The board also includes a microSD slot, an SD/MMC slot, and sockets for 802.15.4 (ZigBee) and 802.3af (PoE) modules, says Digi.

Stated Maciej Halasz, director of Product Management at Timesys, "The Cortex-A8 has been rapidly gaining popularity in various embedded designs where Linux is the operating system of choice. We are very pleased to team up with Digi International to provide our joint customers with the ability to create high-quality Linux solutions using the latest Digi ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 JumpStart Kit."

Stated Steve Ericson, VP of Product Management at Digi International, "We have partnered with Timesys to provide our customers with access to such open source frameworks as rich user interfaces, media playback, networking utilities and more. LinuxLink provides rich Linux component selection for all markets that we target, including medical, consumer electronics and smart networking devices."


The Digi ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 is available now, says Timesys. For a limited time, developers can obtain free trial access to LinuxLink, to quickly configure, build, and evaluate embedded Linux on the Digi ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 JumpStart Kit. Interested users may visit here and enter promotion code PRDIGI51.

More information on LinuxLink subscriptions for Digi's ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 may be found here.

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