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Tiny ARM9 SBC shrinks by half

Feb 9, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 16 views

Calao Systems is shipping its tiniest embedded computers yet. The Linux-ready “TinyCore” single-board computer (SBC) modules are offered with Atmel's ARM9-based processors, including the 400MHz AT91SAM9G20, 200MHz AT91SAM9263, and 180MHz AT91SAM9260, and measure a scant 1.4 x 1.6 inches, says the French embedded… systems vendor.

Calao pre-announced the TinyCore format in November when it announced the availability of a AT91SAM9G20 option across its line of compact USB and QIL (quad in-line) processor modules. Atmel's AT91SAM9G20 clocks up to 400MHz, while offering four times the cache, with 32KB each of instruction and data cache.

Measuring 1.4 x 1.6 inches (36 x 41mm), the new TNY-A9G20-C0x, TNY-A9260-C0x, and TNY-A9263-C0x modules are all about half the size of the previous generation QIL-A9G20. All the TinyCore modules ship with 64MB of SDRAM and 256MB of flash, and offer micro-USB connections, and a serial debug interface, as well as a variety of other interfaces, says Calao. Unlike the earlier generation, the TinyCore modules lack physical Ethernet interfaces, instead exposing RMII signals via board-to-board connectors.

Calao's TinyCore TNY-A9G20-C0x
(Click to enlarge)

As with the previous Calao SBCs, the TinyCore modules offer a top-mounted 50-pin expansion connector that is compatible with Calao's existing daughterboards. The connector provides interfaces for i2C, SPI, USART, and other I/O, says the company. New daughtercards are said to be available for camera, GPS, GPRS, and AVI. Other daughtercards offer storage, digital I/O, 3-axis accelerometers, WiFi, and Bluetooth capabilities.

A bottom-facing, 60-pin expansion connector, meanwhile, is said to support I2C, USART, USB host, and RMII. Additionally, the TNY-A9263 adds a larger 2Mbit EEPROM, and some additional bottom-side pin-outs for CAN bus, AC97 audio, and LCD I/O.

All the boards are offered with U-Boot and Linux 2.6.25 pre-installed, says the company, and GNU toolchains also appear to be available.

TinyCore is
about half the size
of the QIL-A9G20

Specifications listed for the TinyCore modules include:

  • Processor —
    • Atmel AT91SAM9G20 @ 400MHz (TNY-A9G20-C0x)
    • Atmel AT91SAM9260 @ 180MHz (TNY-A9260-C0x)
    • AT91SAM9263 @ 200MHz (TNY-A9263-C0x)
  • Memory — 64MB SDRAM @ 133MHz, 32-bit; 64Kbits serial SPI EEPROM (2Mbits EEPROM on TNY-A9263-C0X)
  • Flash — 256MB NAND flash, 8-bit
  • USB — 1 x micro-USB device port
  • Serial — 1 x serial DBGU
  • Top-side expansion connector:
    • I2C
    • SPI
    • USART
    • SSC
    • MCI
    • ISI
    • TC
  • Bottom-side expansion connector:
    • USB Host
    • RMII
    • I2C
    • USART
    • CAN bus (TNY-A9263-C0x only)
    • AC97 (TNY-A9263-C0x only)
    • LCD 24-bit (TNY-A9263-C0x only)
  • Other features -WR-MPC3 (2 pins)
  • Power — +5V +/-5 percent voltage; 250mA max requirement; power connector; LED; reset button
  • Dimensions — 1.4 x 1.6 inches (36 x 41mm)
  • Weight — 0.3 oz (8 gr)
  • Operating temperature - 32 to 158 deg. F (0 to 70 deg. C)
  • Operating system — Linux 2.6.25 pre-installed with U-Boot


Calao sells its TNY modules irect from its online store, priced as follows:

  • TNY-A9G20-C01 — 152 Euros (~$198)
  • TNY-A9260-C01 — 115 Euros (~$150)
  • TNY-A9263-C0x — not available

More information may be found here.

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