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Multimedia Linux computer fits in USB key

Aug 24, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 15 views

A start-up in the French Alps near Grenoble is readying its second Linux SBC (single-board computer) the size and shape of a USB memory stick. Calao's USB-S8815 is based on a 333MHz ARM9 processor, runs Linux 2.6, and has 128MB each of flash and RAM.

(Click for larger view of the USB-S8815 SBC illustration)

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Calao's earlier USB-926x
(Click for details)

Calao announced its original USB-9260 USB key-shaped SBC in June of this year. The company now appears to be selling that board (pictured at right) for about 190 Euros (roughly $260), through its eBay-France webshop.

Both of Calao's USB form-factor SBCs can be powered from a host computer (or a passive USB backplane, one imagines). The original USB-9260, now shipping, has a 190MHz Atmel AT91SAM9260 processor, 256MB of RAM, and 64MB of flash.

The new model USB-S8815, currently under development, is based on a faster STMicroelectronics STn8815 SoC (system-on-chip) clocked at 333MHz, and will also be available with an optional multimedia coprocessor and expansion interface, the company said. The STM SoC integrates an ARM926EJ core with MMU, 16KB each of data and instruction cache, and 128KB of on-die L2 cache, among other functions (diagram below).

STn8815 block diagram
(Click to enlarge)

Touted features of the tiny USB-S8815 SBC include:

  • 128MB 166MHz DDR DRAM
  • 128MB NAND flash
  • 1 x development USB port (access to processor UART and JTAG via USB)
  • 1 x USB OTG port
  • 1 x 10/100Mbps Ethernet
  • 1 x three-axis accelerometer
  • 1 x STw4810 power management device

Additionally, a more expensive multimedia-enabled version of the board will be available, adding:

  • 1 x micro SD connector
  • 1 x STw5095 audio codec
  • 1 x 50-pin extension connector, with signals to a PC VGA Video DAC on a daughter board, TVout, I2C, audio analog and a few GPIO
  • QCIF camera

Calao said its initial daughterboard for the USB-S8815 would offer I/O that includes:

  • standard PC VGA analog video output
  • 3.5mm audio jack connector for loudspeaker
  • Second 3.5mm jack connector for audio line in

Calao said it provides its boards with the open source U-Boot bootloader, Linux 2.6 kernels, and free debugging tools.

The first USB-S8815 prototype is expected by the end of Q3, with production ramp-up forecast for Q4 and full availability in Q1, 2008. Pricing was not disclosed.

Meanwhile, Calao's eBay France webshop offers the USB-9260, a USB-A9263 variant (based on a slightly different Atmel processor), and a QIL-A9260 processor module and baseboard with QIL (quad in-line) processor module socket.

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