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Online embedded Linux development service adds MMU-ful ColdFire chips

Nov 30, 2005 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

TimeSys has added support for a pair of Freescale processors to its online service product for embedded Linux developers. LinuxLink now supports the MCF547x and MCF548x processor families, the first ColdFire chips equipped with MMUs (memory management units). The chips target network-connected control applications.

The MCF547x and MCF548x families

Freescale announced the MCF547x and MCF548x processor families in May of 2004, saying they would be the first chips in its ColdFire line of 16-/32-bit microcontrollers to include MMUs — and hence the first to support full Linux. Previously, ColdFire chips have supported only uClinux, a version of the OS adapted for MMU-less chips.

The MCF547x and MCF548x chips are based on a V4e ColdFire core clocked between 166MHz and 266MHz. Along with an MMU, the V4e core includes a dual-precision FPU (floating point unit) and EMAC (enhanced multiply-accumulate unit). The core has 32KB each of data and instruction cache, and 32KB of on-chip SRAM. It also features four 32-bit timers, two 32-bit slice timers, a watchdog timer, and a 32-bit, 133MHz DDR/SDR-SDRAM controller.

On-chip peripheral interface options vary from model to model, but include dual Ethernet, USB 2.0, 32-bit PCI, SPI, I2C, and a 16-channel DMA controller. The MCF548x family chips also offer dual CAN bus controllers.

Freescale is currently shipping eight variations of the MCF547x, priced between $18 and $26, and six variations of the MCF548x, priced between $22 and $30 (in quantities of 10,000 or more). The chips are available in 388 PBGA packaging, with optional RoHS (reduction of hazardous substances) compliance.


TimeSys says LinuxLink subscribers will have early and ongoing access to the newest Linux enhancements developed by Freescale for its new MMU-ful ColdFire chips. Additional claimed benefits include:

  • Easy access to hundreds of cross-compiled, ready-to-use packages already validated on either the MCF547x or MCF548x processor families
    • Saves time compared with gathering, cross-compiling, and testing needed components in-house

  • The latest Linux distributions from Freescale, optimized and tested on reference boards for the MCF547x and MCF548x
    • Lets development begin quickly
    • Includes on-going updates and patches throughout the development cycle

  • Processor-optimized cross-development environment
    • Compilers
    • Application and kernel debuggers
    • Platform development tools
    • Frees developers to focus on application development, and helps them “simplify feature, performance and footprint optimization,” TimeSys says

  • Access to TimeSys's “Developer Exchange” interactive support community, where help is available from TimeSys, semiconductor vendors, and other developers

TimeSys launched LinuxLink in August, calling it the first commercial service for embedded Linux developers creating and maintaining their own customized Linux distributions.

Freescale's product marketing manager of 16/32-bit consumer and industrial operation, Jeff Bock, said, “LinuxLink makes the latest Linux optimizations developed by Freescale for the MCF547x and MCF548x device families immediately and continuously available to developers customizing Linux to meet the requirements of any embedded device. By teaming with TimeSys, we are providing a unique enablement model for the large numbers of our customers who are developing their own Linux platform to give their products a competitive edge.”

TimeSys CEO Larry Weidman commented, “We are pleased to provide developers with the only commercially-supported Linux for Freescale ColdFire processors.”

This article was originally published on and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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