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Plot thickens in “world’s smallest Linux board” saga

Jan 31, 2005 — by Henry Kingman — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Intec Automation is shipping a $200 credit-card sized SBC (single-board computer) small enough to embed in actuators and tight enclosures, yet powerful enough to run uClinux. The SteriodMicros WildFire microcontroller is based on a 64MHz ColdFire processor, and targets industrial control and automation.

(Click for nice big view of the little WildFire SBC)

The WildFire measures 2.9 x 2.3 inches (7.4 x 5.8cm) — about 38 percent larger in surface area than the “world's smallest Linux SBC,” the 3.2 x 1.3 inch (82 x 33mm) SSV DNP/5282, which is based on the same chip. Unlike the gumstick-shaped SSV SBC, however, the WildFire needs no carrier board, instead offering a porcupine's worth of pins for ribbon cable connectors enabling direct attachment of a variety of real-world I/O.

Intec says that in producing the WildFire it is “banking on Linux making inroads into control and automation, a field [that], up until now, [has been] dominated by platforms with a plethora of I/O to interface with the real world, but insufficient resources to run Linux.”

The WildFire is based on a Freescale ColdFire 5282 Version 2 processor clocked at 64MHz. It includes 512KB of on-chip Flash EEPROM, 64KB of on-chip SRAM, 2- or 4-MB of Flash, and 16MB of SDRAM — ample memory for Linux, data logging, and debugging in SRAM, Intec says. uClinux (now a part of the mainstream Linux source tree) was ported to the 5282 by SnapGear in May of 2003.

The WildFire also includes an SD card slot that supports removable storage cards with capacities from 16MB to 1GB. The slot also supports SDIO cards for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and more, Intec says.

Additional features include:

  • 57 digital I/O and 8 analog inputs to handle large applications
  • 10/100 Ethernet, 3 RS232 serial ports, and 1 CAN port
  • I/O pins connect to ribbon cables — no carrier board required
  • Battery backed clock and calendar for zero power hibernation, useful in data acquisition applications, Intec says


The WildFire SBC is available now, priced at $200, direct from Intec. A standard development kit, including a board, GNU tools, an Eclipse-based IDE, and a library of hardware specific C functions and integration files is available for $400. A “professional” development kit with in-circuit debugger is also available for $699.

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