Electronic Design

Tiny CompactFlash-Based System Runs uClinux

System-on-modules and compact motherboards attempt to provide computing solutions, but often with a proprietary form factor. CData Solutions takes the standards route even to the point of placing a Freescale Coldfire microcontroller into a CompactFlash form factor. In fact, CData goes one step further with the modular approach by utilizing the Type II CompactFlash form factor (43 by 27 by 5 mm) throughout.

The Compact Flash Computer incorporates a 40-MHz Coldfire FC5272 with 32 Mbytes of SDRAM and 8 Mbytes of flash memory. The latter is preprogrammed with uClinux. The card, which consumes 200 mA at 3.3 V, features a 16-bit, CompactFlash-compatible bus.

The Compact Flash Computer requires a bus-expander card when used with the motherboard. The motherboard has 10 slots, eight of which are available for expansion. A 20-pin header in the bus expander provides a serial port and an interface for the ColdFire's Background Debug Mode (BDM) connection. A serial peripheral interface tackles system control and programming of the bus expander's FPGA.

The bus expander supplies chip-select lines when used with the motherboard. It's possible to develop a custom motherboard that doesn't require the bus expander. A voltage regualtor within the bus expander can provide the system with up to 500 mA at 3.3 V.

The development kit--including a Compact Flash Computer, bus-expander card, eight-slot motherboard, and RS-232/BDM header--goes for $1500. The Compact Flash Computer costs $800 each and under $300 in OEM quantities.

CData Solutions Ltd.
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