Electronics > Microcontrollers

Microcontrollers + linux

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Finally I've got a chance to design an embedded system which is capable of running Linux kernel + some userland apps. I know there are several uCs that are capable of running Linux, but the packages (BGA) are usually the things that can screw the designer who begins to work in wonderful world of BGA.

I've searched for several uCs capable of doing the job:

1. AVR32 (AT32AP700X) - I've used them successfully before. They're available in quite friendly packages (*QFP), support external SDRAM, there's Linux port. Atmel doesn't recommend using them in new designs, though.

2. ARM - well, there are tons of different chips. As usual, the ones that can run Linux require BGA board.

3. Microblaze - throw the FPGA + soft processor onto the board

There are other choices:

4. Single-Board-Computers - e.g. Embest Mini2410-II

5. ? - I've found some strange looking Chinese chips, which (as they claim) are capable of doing the job

6. Not use Linux/NetBSD, but use chips with less power + some embedded RTOS as a last resort.

I could include the SBC module in the design, but one has to learn the BGA and/or multilayer (>2) PCB layout someday.

I'm a bit afraid to use the BGA chips - I don't know if I should go for using it, there are pitfalls when using them. *QFP packages are more friendly - but there's lack of the microcontrollers which would run Linux. Again, there are traps when routing traces for DRAMs. Does anyone have an experience with developing such designs or can share some tips (or chips ;)) ?


What about the raspberry pi, its cheap and already runs linux.

Also, i think someone on this forum said there are TQFP ARM chips coming that run linux?


--- Quote from: Psi on March 28, 2012, 11:38:42 am ---What about the raspberry pi, its cheap and already runs linux.

--- End quote ---

Unavailable. If not to say almost Vapourware.

My recommendation would be to buy a board, instead of developing your own. There are tons of ARM boards on the market. If they don't do, there are also lots of tiny Intel boards on the market. Make sure there is already a Linux port for the system. Otherwise you can have a lot of fun bringing a Linux up on a naked board.

How much power do you need?

Tiny210 is quite cheap (about $100 for stamp module only, $220 for complete devkit). This is a stamp module with CPU, RAM, Flash and minimal power circuits. It is 1 GHz Cortex A8. Less powerful stamp modules (i.e. ARM9) are available too.

I know it will be faster just to throw some Single Board Computer into the design, but I also want to learn proper multilayer PCB routing. As I said before - at some point I will have to, so why not do it now, as I get paid for it :]

There's also AT91RM9200 chip, which seems to do the job. It's in PQFP-208 package, so it won't be that hard to solder. The final product will be machine mounted anyway - small run, around 50 (max 100) devices. I think I'll stick to the QFP AT91RM9200 for now (and maybe include some smaller BGA, e.g. flash memory).


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