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Tiny x86 module runs on one Watt

Apr 1, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 146 views

A UK firm called Bifferos is shipping a tiny x86 processor module and an accompanying I/O board. The Bifferboard incorporates a 150MHz RDC R8610 CPU, consumes one Watt, and offers 32MB of SDRAM and 1GB flash, pre-loaded with OpenWrt Linux, says the company.

(Click for larger view of Bifferboard)

The RISC-based R8610 CPU, said to be compatible with the 486SX instruction set, is billed as a 133MHz processor, but has been clocked to 150MHz on the Bifferboard. USB and networking interfaces are offered, both of which are extended with ports on the accompanying I/O board. The module also offers serial and JTAG consoles, and dual GPIO interfaces. With the one-Watt power consumption, the device can even be powered via USB, says the company (see image below).

Bifferboard being powered via USB

The Bifferboard's OpenWrt-flavored Linux distribution is available with full source code, as well as pre-compiled binaries. The module can work with any Linux kernel written to the onboard flash and a rootfs on a USB mass-storage device. The rootfs can be almost any standard Linux distribution, says the vendor. The Bifferboard hardware can also be emulated by Qemu, says the company, which offers instructions on how to do so.


Specifications listed for the Bifferboard include:

  • Processor — 150MHz RDC CPU, Intel 486SX-compatible
  • Memory — 32MB SDRAM
  • Flash — 1MB flash
  • USB — OHCI/EHCI USB 2.0 (port available on I/O board)
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet (port available on I/O board)
  • Serial — Serial console 115200 baud
  • Debug — 4-pin JTAG (can be used as GPIO)
  • GPIO — 2 x GPIO (1 LED, 1 button)
  • Power — one Watt power consumption (200mA @5v)
  • Operating system — Linux and OpenWrt (USB-root)

Bifferboard I/O board


The Bifferboard is available now along with an I/O board, power supply, and shipping, for 30 UK pounds in the UK, or 36 pounds in Europe, and 40 pounds (about $57.50 US) outside of Europe. More information may be found here.

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