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New PC-compatible system-on-chip features fail-safe boot

Jun 28, 2000 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive
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ZF Linux Devices, Inc. has announced the MachZ PC-on-a-Chip, a low power (< ½W @ 133MHz) device that includes a patented FailSafe System which allows it to boot and operate autonomously on application of power, even if system DRAM and Flash are unavailable. The MachZ comes with a comprehensive software suite that includes a fully implemented PhoenixBIOS from Phoenix Technology and a choice of a customized... embedded Linux implementation or the WindRiver VxWorks real-time operating system (RTOS). In addition, the MachZ Integrated Development System includes Red Hat Linux 6.2 and LynuxWorks BlueCat Linux and the LynuxWorks development tools for creating compact custom Linux embedded applications.

The FailSafe System allows upgrades over the Internet while eliminating the possibility of irrecoverable crashes. “The MachZ PC-on-a-Chip is the only device that boots on power-up even if all external system software has been corrupted or is inaccessible,” stated David Feldman, CEO of ZF Linux Devices. “Using its proprietary Z-tag interface, the MachZ can re-program system Flash at a quick 2M-bits per second, rather than the usual 19.6Kbaud, reducing potential downtime dramatically,” he continued.

The MachZ integrates a PhoenixBIOS and customized Linux implementation or VxWorks RTOS tailored to the MachZ's comprehensive set of traditional PC hardware features including PCI, ISA and Access (I2C) buses, serial and parallel I/O, floppy and hard disk controllers. It also contains patented features specifically created to solve problems faced by designers of OEM products when integrating PC functionality.

The auto-bootable PC-on-a-Chip incorporates an internal redundant boot mechanism that allows full recovery even when system BIOS is corrupted (FailSafe Boot), a high-speed serial access to Flash that allows field or factory software downloads at more than 100 times normal speeds (Z-tag), a proprietary chip select control mechanism that eases x86 system integration (ZF-Logic), and Dual Watchdog Timer technologies. The chip is a .25 micron technology device in a 388BGA, 35mm x 35mm package.

The MachZ PC-on-a-Chip is targeted to be the enabling technology for the rapidly growing market for Internet devices, information appliances, and other products in the “post-PC era”. Pricing ranges from $60 in low volume to mid $30's in high volume quantities.

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