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PC/104 module runs Linux on “two Watt” SoC

Jan 13, 2009 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 29 views

Icop announced a PC/104 computer module based on a 32-bit, 800MHz x86-compatible SoC (system on chip) that is claimed to run Linux on under two Watts. The “VDX-6354” has 256MB of RAM, 4GB of flash, 10/100 Ethernet, audio, and an onboard VGA controller, says Icop.

(Click here for a larger view of Icop's VDX-6354)

The new VDX-6354 employs DMP's Vortex86DX (right), announced in November of last year. This SoC is built using a 90nm process, comes in a 27 x 27mm package, and is said to use under two Watts while running at up to 1GHz.
The Vortex86DX is said to include the complete 486SX instruction set, adding floating point support. It is equipped with 256MB of embedded L2 cache, and supports up to 1GB of 33MHz DDR2 memory, according to DMP.

Icop's VDX-6354 is a PC/104 module, using the typical 3.8 x 3.6 inch (96 x 90mm) form factor. The device's PC/104 expansion connector offers 16-bit ISA connections to the outside world. Meanwhile, not shown in the picture at the top of our story, but said to be optionally available, is a PC/104-Plus connector, which adds 32-bit PCI expansion too.

According to Icop, the VDX-6354's PC/104 connector relays signals for many of the device's interfaces, including IDE, four serial ports, two USB ports, a parallel port, and 10/100 Ethernet. As our photo shows, however, the VDX-6354 supplements PC/104 with no fewer than seventeen different box and pin headers.

The headers either duplicate PC/104 functionality, as listed in the specification table below, or add to it, as in the case of VGA output. The Vortex86DX does not support VGA all on its own — though DMP's even-newer Vortex86MX does — so Icop has added VGA to the VDX-6354 using a separate XGI Volari Z9s chipset. The module supports both VGA and TFT flat-panel displays, according to the company.

Clocking its Vortex86DX at 800MHz, the VDX-6354 comes with 256MB of onboard DDR2 RAM (apparently soldered on), plus 4MB of flash storage. Icop says users can add more storage using an optional 44-pin IDE-to-microSD cable, or via an EmbedDisk module from MSTI.

Features and specifications listed by Icop for the VDX-6354 include the following:

  • Processor — 800MHz Vortex86DX
  • Memory — 256MB of DDR2 RAM and 4GB of flash storage
  • Display support — VGA and TFT flat-panel
  • I/O via PC/104 connector:
    • 1 x 10/100 Ethernet
    • 1 x EIDE (UltraDMA-100/66/33)
    • 3 x RS232
    • 1 x RS232/422/485
    • 2 x USB 2.0
    • 1 x parallel
    • 1 x GPIO

  • I/O via box headers, pin headers, or pin wafers:
    • 1 x IDE (44-pin box header)
    • 1 x LCD (44-pin box header)
    • 1 x VGA (10-pin box header)
    • 1 x USB (10-pin box header)
    • 1 x parallel (26-in box header)
    • 1 x GPIO (20-pin box header)
    • 4 x RS232 (10-pin box header)
    • 1 x 10/100 Ethernet (8-pin box header)
    • 1 x keyboard (5-pin box header)
    • 1 x mouse (5-pin box header)
    • 1 x DC input (4-pin header; -5V, -12V, +12V, GND)
    • 2 x RS485 (3-pin header)
    • 1 x JTAG (6-pin wafer)
    • 1 x audio mic in and line out (4-pin wafer)
    • 1 x reset (2-pin header)
  • Dimensions — 3.77 x 3.54 inches (96 x 90mm)
  • Operating temperature — -20 to 70 deg. C

Not included in the list above is a seven-pin header that, according to Icop, can carry a special “redundancy signal” to a second VDX-6354, in a master/slave configuration. In the event of “six different types of unpredictable system crash” — which were not detailed further — it's possible to switch from the master board to the slave board within one microsecond, the company claims.

Further information

Icop did not release pricing, availability information, or operating system support for the VDX-6354. However, the module appears to be available now. Icop previously said its Vortex86DX SoC was compatible with Linux, Windows XP Embedded, Windows XP, and “most popular 32-bit real-time operating systems.”

More information on Icop's VDX-6354 may be found on the company's website, here.

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