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Tiny Linux SBC steps up to PXA270

Mar 30, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Gumstix has launched the third generation of its gumstick-shaped SBC (single-board computer) line. The tiny, Linux-friendly, PXA270-powered “Verdex” SBC offers 50 percent more processor speed and twice the memory of earlier models, and features an enhanced expansion bus, according to the company.

(Click for larger view of the tiny Gumstix Verdex board)


Verdex with Bluetooth
(top and bottom, click to enlarge)

In addition to its Marvell (formerly Intel) PXA270 (aka “Bulverde”) processor, clocked at up to 600MHz, the new Verdex SBC integrates up to 128MB of RAM and 32MB of flash memory soldered onboard, the company said. Other enhancements over previous Gumstix SBCs include support for USB host interfaces, inputs for CCD (charge-coupled device) cameras, and better power management. Also available is an option for on-board Bluetooth, with a u.fl antenna connector, as shown on the Verdex XM4-bt board depicted at right.

The Verdex maintains the 3.2 x 0.8 x 3.2-inch (80 x 20 x 8mm) of Gumstix's earlier SBC generations. In addition to matching the dimensions of its predecessors, the Verdex retains the 60-pin board-to-board connector of the first generation SBCs (now referred to as “Basix”), which should enable it to support existing 60-pin expansion cards; these include audio I/O, digital I/O, various microcontroller co-processors for robotics applications, and serial and USB expansion.

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The Verdex replaces the 92-pin I/O expansion connector introduced with the second-generation SBCs (“Connex”), however, with a pair of connectors. The combination of a 24-pin flex connector and separate 120-pin connector will support a range of new expansion boards, including much sought-after USB host ports, the company said.

On the software side, the Verdex SBC comes preinstalled with “the latest Linux 2.6 operating system” as well as the open source U-Boot bootloader, the company adds.

Broad range of applications

According to company spokesman Don Anderson, applications being developed by early Verdex SBC customers include a position-tracking device, an electrical meter on the side of houses in South Africa, and a gas meter application in France. Another use, by Magtec Products, is within commercial vehicle security systems for the trucking and heavy equipment industries.

According to Magtec VP of Operations Mark Ochitwa, “The Verdex motherboard [offers] a powerful, feature rich processor in a small package. The four hole mounting design for component boards makes it versatile and configurable yet rugged enough for most commercial grade applications.”

Gumstix CEO W. Gordon Kruberg stated, “Our customers build network appliances, commercial metering products, fleet management devices, and security applications. Some of these features, particularly the USB host function, fulfill long-standing requests from our customers.”

The Verdex SBCs can power “fully functional network servers,” yet fit in the palm of one's hand, the company added.

Availability

Gumstix says the Verdex SBC is available now. Although pricing for new Verdex models was not disclosed, single-unit pricing for older models is said to start around $130, with OEM pricing running below $60, depending on processor, memory, and other options.

For a great example of a clever, fun, DIY embedded Linux hobbyist project, check out this sample book chapter describing how to make a Linux-based, Bluetooth-connected control interface to a scrolling LED sign. Or, check out this Asterisk PBX implemented on a Gumstix board. Alternatively, check out this Gumstix-based experiment in robot swarm behavior.


 
This article was originally published on LinuxDevices.com and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.



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