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Low-power ARM9 SoC gains Linux support

Jul 29, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 11 views

Timesys released a version of its LinuxLink development framework for a Texas Instruments (TI) ARM9 SoC that targets low-power devices, ranging from medical instrumentation to industrial control systems. The OMAP-L137 subscription represents the first LinuxLink release for an OMAP-L1xx SoC, which are designed to incorporate TI's new C674x DSPs, says the company.

Announced last fall, the OMAP-L137 is very similar to the more full-featured OMAP-L138 announced by TI last month, which Timesys says it plans to support soon. Both SoCs are equipped with a 300MHz ARM926EJ-S core, and designed to incorporate one of TI's new TMS320C674x digital signal processors (DSPs), including the TMS320C6742, TMS320C6746, and SATA-enabled TMS320C6748.

Linux developers using LinuxLink or other development tools can tap the OMAP-L13x SoCs to add human machine interfaces (HMI), as well as applications that support touchscreen or networking capability, says TI. LinuxLink subscribers, for example, can develop the Linux platform for the ARM core, while leveraging TI's DSP tools to develop and debug DSP code, says Timesys. Currently, the OMAP-L13x SoCs support only Linux, but Windows Embedded CE and Integrity OS support is promised for the fourth quarter.

OMAP-L137 block diagram
(Click to enlarge)

The OMAP-L137 lacks the newer OMAP-L138's SATA storage and DDR2 memory support, as well as other L138 features such as a MCBSP (multi channel buffered serial port), parallel port, and VPIF video interface. The L137 also has an EHRPWM (enhanced high-resolution pulse-width modulator) missing from the newer L138 model.

Otherwise, the SoCs appear to be identical, offering support for a wide range of peripherals, including memory expansion, LCD controllers, Ethernet, USB, serial, SPI, UART, I2C, HPI, and more. (See our previous coverage of the OMAP-L138 for a full list of specifications, here.)

The new C674x DSPs are targeted at a wide range of embedded products, including industrial, communications, medical diagnostics, and audio, says TI. The DSPs run on a claimed 7mW of standby power at 1.0V/25 degrees C and are said to run on 420mW total power during regular operation. Their paired OMAP-L13x SoCs meanwhile, are claimed to draw only 440mW total power.

LinuxLink for OMAP-L137

The LinuxLink subscription for OMAP-L137 provides access to the latest GNU-based toolchains enabled with uClibc and glibc libraries optimized for the ARM926EJ-S core, says Timesys. Available Linux kernels include the 2.6.18 kernel and recent 2.6.30 versions, with updates applied as they are made available from, says the company.

Timesys also provides device drivers for the full range of internal OMAP-L137 peripherals, as well as for external devices present on TI's $1,200 OMAP-L137 evaluation module (EVM). The EVM pairs an OMAP-L13x SoC with a second DSP, and offers memory and peripheral access, as well as TI support.

Other LinuxLink features are said to include access to hundreds of relevant middleware and packages such as Lmsensors, Alsa, GStreamer, Qt/Embedded for Linux, and Bluez. LinuxLink users also have access to Timesys' Eclipse-based TimeStorm IDE tools for application development and debugging, as well technical support and documentation.

Linux developers can use both the online LinuxLink "Factory" build system or the desktop-hosted version of LinuxLink, both of which are said to incorporate "the best Linux code from TI as well as from the open source community."

Stated Charlie Ashton, VP of Business Development at Timesys, "LinuxLink for the OMAP-L137 processor provides our customers with the ability to build a variety of Linux-based products that include specific functions accelerated by the DSP core."

Stated Kanika Carver, TI's C674x and OMAP-L1x marketing manager, "Many of our customers use the Linux operating system for our OMAP-L137 low-power ARM plus DSP processor. LinuxLink platform support from Timesys for the OMAP-L1x platform provides our mutual customers with an easy-to-use Linux framework, high-quality commercial support, expert advice and the professional services."


More information on LinuxLink subscriptions for TI development boards may be found here. Timesys offers an evaluation program whereby developers can obtain free LinuxLink access for a limited time to quickly configure, build, and evaluate embedded Linux on TI OMAP-L137 development boards.

More information on the evaluation program may be found by registering here, and entering promotion code PRL137. More information from TI on the OMAP-L137 may be found here.

Further details and a spec list on the similar OMAP-L138 and TI's new TMS320C674x DSPs may be found in our earlier coverage, here.

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