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Low cost, rugged EBX SBC supports embedded Linux

Sep 13, 2004 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive
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Ampro has released a rugged, EBX format, PC-compatible SBC that can be populated with a choice of low power Via Eden processors ranging from 300MHz to 1GHz. Ampro claims its new LittleBoard 550 SBC enables the design of systems having both ruggedness and low cost. The SBC boasts AGP 4x graphics, two Ethernet ports, four multi-protocol serial ports, an onboard CompactFlash socket, PC/104-Plus expansion, and embedded BIOS extensions.

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With the addition of the LittleBoard 550, Ampro's EBX form-factor product line now spans a wide range of price/performance ratios, ranging from 300MHz to 1.4GHz, according to Ampro. In contrast to the earlier LittleBoard 700, the LittleBoard 550 uses Via Eden ESP processors instead of more costly and power-hungry Intel Pentium III and Celeron processors.

Via's Eden ESP processors consume fewer than 7 Watts TDP (Thermal Design Power), making them a good choice for high reliability applications, Ampro says. In particular, by using extended temperature operation and low power Eden CPUs, thermal design can be greatly simplified for harsh environment applications that require sealed, airtight enclosures.

Ampro's embedded BIOS extensions — included on the LittleBoard 550 — include enhancements such as watchdog timer, battery-free boot (in case the battery for CMOS settings fails or is not installed for harsh environments), serial console, and BIOS recovery. Optional LAN Boot supports loading the operating system over either Ethernet port using protocols such as PXE or DHCP.

LittleBoard 550 QuickStart Kits include cables, documentation, a complete GPL Linux distribution, and BSPs for several other embedded OSes. QuickStart kits will be available in October, with production quantities coming the following month. The board is priced below $400 in production volumes, and QuickStart Kits are “well under $1,000,” Ampro says.


 
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