Up until now, the only company I ever heard running Linux on ARM Cortex M3/M4 was EmCraft Systems with their system-on-modules and development kits based on Freescale Kinetis, STMicro STM32 and Actel Smartfusion micro-controllers. But there’s now another option thanks to Ampek Technologies, a Canadian based company funded in 2002, and their iCon (Internet Connectivity) board featuring NXP LPC1788 Cortex M3 connected to 64MB RAM which is plenty enough to run uCLinux. The board can be used for applications such as industrial control systems, wireless sensors, or smart home appliances.
The iCon board specifications are as follows:
- MCU – NXP LPC1788 ARM Cortex-M3 MCU @ 120MHz with 512 KB flash memory, and 96 KB SRAM
- System Memory – 64MB SDRAM (external chip)
- Storage – 32MB flash for firmware
- Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0. Ethernet is supported via an add-on module
- USB – USB 2.0 host port, mini-USB debug port
- Other ports and headers:
- CAN port (+5V ground connector)
- RS-485 port (+5V ground connector)
- JTAG interface
- 2x expansion headers at the back of the board with access to I2C, SPI, UART, RMII, PWM, GPIO, 10-bit DAC, 12-bit ADC, and 16-bit RGB LCD interface.
- Misc -RTC with battery backup
- Power – 5V DC
- Power Consumption @ 5V – 260mA after boot (idle), 390mA with WiFi 802.11g, 400mA with WiFi 802.11g and Bluetooth
- Dimensions – 86 x 54mm
The company can also provides 4.3″ (480×272) and 7″ (800×480) TFT LCD modules with a resistive touchscreen. The board runs uClinux 2.6.33-ARM1, and includes support for BlueZ, TCP/IP, WPA, Boa web server, and Inadyn DDNS client. There’s no word about documentation and source code.
The board appears to be fully developed, and the company has made a demo with OWI-535 robotic arm controlled wirelessly by a web interface running on the iCon.
Amptek iCon is now on Kickstarter, and you can pledge $109 CAD (~$102 USD) to get the board, and up to $199 CAD for iCon + the 7″ touchscreen LCD display. The Ethernet add-on board shown in the demo is not available in any perks.
With 7 days to go and only, around $3,500 CAD pledged out of a $55,000 CAD, it seems unlikely the crowdfunding campaign will succeed, but the boards will certainly be available (in quantities) afterwards. You can find more details on Amptek Technologies website.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.
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