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MID-friendly display reference design runs Linux

Aug 8, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Unicon Systems announced a MID-capable “system-on-display” board that won the LinuxWorld 2008 “Best Mobility solution” Product Excellence Award this week. Unicon's Hermes incorporates a Samsung 533MHz dual-core ARM11 processor and a 4.3-inch touchscreen, and can be bought as a larger-format Linux-based reference platform… called Pegasus.

(Click for larger view of Unicon's Hermes)

Hermes and Pegasus are based on a Samsung S3C6400 clocked at 533MHz with a ARM1176JZF-S core. The boards's communications components include Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GSM wireless. Other features include a microSD card reader, camera, and accelerometer. There's even support for a contactless payment technology for mobile handsets called Near Field Communication (NFC), which is designed to communicate over 10cm distances.

Hermes and Pegasus are targeted at mobile-device “OEMs and integrators deploying Open Source Linux,” says the company. The devices can run Linux-based “phone/PDA/communication” packages, including Access Linux Platform (ALP), Google Android, and other mobile Linux stacks.

Unicon's earlier-generation MKit
(Click for details)


Designed for mobile applications, the 4.3 x 2.8 x 0.4-inch Hermes (pictured at top) is housed in a plastic clamshell. Hermes is equipped with a 4.3-inch, 480 x 272-pixel touchscreen driven by a multimedia digital signal processor (DSP), says Unicon. It also incorporates Unicon's innovative chip-on-film computer technology, which has been built into its ultra-thin CPU modules to connect to displays and daughterboards with film ribbon. The technology is part of Unicon's “System On Display” CPU module reference design, which won Best of Show at LinuxWorld last year. The design was previously called MKit, which shipped in April 2007, along with a Linux support kit.

According to a Unicon spokesperson, Hermes can be used for a variety of mobile applications, including mobile Internet devices (MIDs). The major difference from the previous generation, she said, was the move from ARM9 to ARM11 “which allowed us to support more multimedia.” Unicon also added GSM connectivity, GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth, and USB to the previous design, she said.

Specs for Hermes include:

  • Processor — Samsung S3C6400 533MHz with ARM1176JZF-S core; Level I cache 16KB data / 16KB instruction
  • Memory — 128MB DDR
  • Flash — 128MB NAND flash
  • Flash expansion — 1 x microSD slot (HCSD) for up to 32GB
  • Display — 4.3-inch touchscreen with 480 x 272 resolution; 24-bit pixel depth up to 16.7M colors
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet
  • WiFi — 802.11b/g
  • USB — USB 2.0 OTG (Host+Device) to 480Mbps via Mini-B
  • Bluetooth — BlueTooth 2.0 (802.15)
  • Cellular — Optional GPRS interface (Wavecom Q2687); Quad GSM850/900/1800/1900; Quad GSM850/900/1800/1900
  • NFC — Up to 10cm range, supports ISO 1443 A&B, ISO 15693, ISO 18092, and NFC mode
  • Accelerometer - 1 x accelerometer
  • Audio — 1 x Wolfson WM8753; 2 x WM9001; SNR 94dB output for stereo speakers (1000 mW/channel +); 2.5mm jack output at 45 mW/channel; mic input
  • Camera — CMOS sensor with 640 x 480 resolution
  • Security — Atmel AT88SC with 64-bit MAP (ISO 7816 Class A/B)
  • Battery — 2.05 Amp lithium-ion (up to 8 hours)
  • Weight — 5.1 ounces, including battery (145 grams)
  • Dimensions — 4.3 x 2.8 x 0.4 inches (110 x 72 x 11mm)
  • Operating system — Linux 2.6.26


Whereas Hermes is a plastic-housed system designed to be “manufacturing ready,” the larger Pegasus board, referred to as a “Platform Developer Kit (PDK)” for Hermes, is optimized for cross development, says Unicon. Measuring 6.1 x 3.3 x 0.4 inches (155 x 85 x 10 mm), Pegasus ships with a sample Linux 2.6.26 kernel port and a collection of in-house customized drivers.


Pegasus supports “one wire” bring up, says Unicon, with supply voltage and boot image carried over a single USB cable. Other features include multiple serial console ports (TTL and RS-232), Ethernet, JTAG, and SD card slots to load boot images with the included U-Boot.

After bring-up, developers can debug and test active systems using the same interfaces. Unicon also includes preconfigured support for gdbserver, polled Ethernet, and IP-over-USB. Other specs are similar to the Hermes, except that Pegasus lacks the integrated touchscreen, and instead supports a 12.1- or 10-inch color TFT LCD at up to 1024 x 758 resolution.

Stated Marius Kaz, CEO of Unicon, "For industrial, medical, consumer electronics and many other applications, Hermes is a perfect technical and business solution, providing a very short path to market at a very aggressive cost."


Hermes will ship in volume in September, and Pegasus will ship this month, says Unicon, which did not disclose pricing. More information on Hermes can be found here, and more on Pegasus may be found here.

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