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Tiny, low-cost ARM module runs Linux 2.6

Apr 7, 2005 — by Henry Kingman — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Esfia is shipping a low-cost module for POS (point-of-sale/service) devices, RFID tunnel readers, biometric access control terminals, and other test, industrial, and medical applications. The ARM-based M170S measures 2.42 x 1.77 inches (61.5 x 45mm), costs $64, and is available with a wireless-enabled carrier board.

The M170S resembles Esfia's M170P, a slightly smaller board that shipped last month, targeting the handheld data terminal market.

Esfia's M170S module, top and bottom
(Click either to enlarge)

Like the M170P, the M170S is based on Samsung's S3C44B0X SoC (system-on-chip), which features a 16/32-bit RISC ARM7TDMI core clocked at 66MHz. The M170P includes 8MB of Flash, and 16MB of SDRAM.

Block diagram of M170S

Additional features listed by Esfia include:

  • Four RS-232 ports
  • USB device port
  • CF controller with memory, I/O, and IDE modes
  • 10/100Mbps ethernet port (optional)
  • 2 x USB2.0 host ports (optional)
  • 8DIs and 8DOs
  • RTC
  • LCD controller supports 320×240 STN/CSTN display
  • Audio codec
  • Fast power switch and cutoff between DC and main battery

The module uses Esfia's 200-pin board-to-board connector interface to connect with Esfia's C170 carrier boards. Carrier boards are available with:

  • 160 x 160 CSTN NAN-YA M491EP1A LCD panel
  • Z-com XI-825 802.11b CF WLAN module
  • Blueexpert BEM101 Bluetooth Module
  • Symbol SE1200 Laser Scanner Engine
  • Main battery
  • 6 x 6 Keppad
  • 16 GPIOs

Esfia says Taiwanese POS manufacturer Partner used the M170S to develop its Ethernet-enabled POS terminals, which feature four COM ports to connect the display, printer, keyboard, and scanner.

Partner's Ethernet-enabled POS terminals were developed with Esfia's M170S


The M170S module is shipping now in volume, priced at $64 in 5K quantities. An evaluation module, including Linux 2.6, drivers, and source, is available for $2,500.

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