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Quad-band MCM runs Linux

Jan 16, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 26 views

Telit is shipping a multi-chip module (MCM) integrating an ARM-powered baseband processor and RF module, together with a 200MHz ARM9-based Atmel AT91SAM9260 application processor supported by 4MB of flash and 64MB of RAM. The Telit GE863-PRO is available with a development board and Linux 2.6 implementation.

The GE863-Pro, top and bottom

The GE863-PRO is offered in a compact, low-profile Ball-Grid-Array (BGA) package, and is equipped with both a 220MIPS, 200MHz Atmel AT91SAM9260 and an ARM-based “independent-form” GSM engine custom baseband processor, says Telit. Interfaces are said to include Ethernet, SPI, IIC, SD/MMC, and USB (see specification list below).

GE863-PRO block diagram
(Click to enlarge)

AarLogic C10/3
(Click for details)

The GE863-PRO appears to be aimed a wide variety of wireless devices. The company offers numerous reference designs based on the module, incorporating peripherals such as a camera, keyboard, display, WiFi, Bluetooth, SmartCard, SD Card, Ethernet, ZigBee, and GPS. The module was recently incorporated by Round Solutions in its Linux-capable AarLogic C10/3 processor module targeting custom wireless positioning and monitoring devices.

The ARM9-based Atmel application processor enables Telit to offer an optional Linux 2.6.24 development environment supporting multitasking/interrupt, SSL, and cross-compilation on a PC. The Linux implementation offers its own customized version of U-Boot, and provides access to a library of drivers for different peripherals and development environments, says Telit (see diagram below). In addition, Telit touts the GE863-PRO's extended programming capabilities, available for C++ or Python, and the stack is also said to support OTA (over-the-air) firmware updates.

GE863-PRO's Linux system architecture
(Click to enlarge)

An evaluation kit for the module, called the EVK-PRO, is available, says Telit. The kit includes a power supply, SIM card holder, RS232 serial port, level translator, and a USB host and device. Other features are said to include an SD card holder, SAM card holder, Ethernet port, and antenna connection.

EVK-PRO eval kit for the GE863-PRO
(Click to larger, labeled version)

Specifications listed for the GE863-PRO include:

  • Processor — Atmel AT91SAM9260 (ARM9) 220MIPS; plus ARM-based “independent-form” GSM engine custom baseband processor
  • Memory — 8MB to 64MB of SDRAM
  • Flash — 4MB serial flash
  • Cellular — EGSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
  • Interfaces:
    • 1 x 10/100 Ethernet
    • 1 x USB device and 2 x USB hos
    • 88+9 GPIO
    • 2 x analog audio
    • 4 x A/D with A/D trigger
    • 6 x PWM D/A converters
    • Buzzer output
    • 2 x clock output pins
    • 2 x SPI buses
    • 1 x IIC
    • 1 x SSC digital audio
    • 1 x SD/MMC card and SAM/SmartCard ISO7816
    • 1 x image sensor
    • 6 x USART
    • 1 x UART
    • 1 x debug trace serial port
    • ARM JTAG debug
    • Serial flash
  • Other features — SIM access profile; serial-port multiplexer; embedded TCP/IP stack, and FTP and SMTP client
  • Power — 3.22-4.5 Volts DC supply voltage
  • Dimensions — 1.63 x 1.24 x 0.14 inches (41.4 x 31.4 x 36mm); RoHS compliant
  • Operating temperature — -22 to 176 deg. F (-30 to 80 deg. C)
  • Operating system — optional Linux 2.6.24 system


The GE863-PRO module and EVK-PRO evaluation kit are available now, at an undisclosed price, according to Telit. More information on the module may be found here, and more on the EVK-PRO evaluation kit may be found here.

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