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Tiny control computer runs Linux on Atmel ARM9 SoC

Jun 28, 2013  |  Eric Brown
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Artila Electronics began shipping a new version of its tiny ARM9-based control computer, with Linux 2.6 pre-installed. The Matrix-505 is equipped with a 400MHz Atmel AT91SAM9G45 SoC, provides two Fast Ethernet ports, and is designed for headless applications using browser-based monitoring and control.

The Matrix-505 is a variation on the company’s earlier Matrix-504 model, featuring the newer Atmel AT91SAM9G45 system-on-chip, as well as a newer Linux 2.6.38 stack. There’s also twice the RAM, with 128MB, and two Fast Ethernet ports instead of one. The dual USB ports move up to 480Mbps speed.



Artila Matrix-505 control computer
(click image to enlarge)

 

Otherwise, the computers are pretty much the same. In addition to the specs listed above, the Matrix-505 offers 128MB NAND flash and four serial ports, but unlike the Matrix-504, only three are 3x RS-232/422/485, with the fourth RS-232/485. They both offer palm-sized, 4.25 x 3.1-inch
108 x 78 x 24mm dimensions, unlike the larger, more capable Matrix-516.

Most of the Matrix-505′s improvements are enabled by the SAM9G45 SoC, Atmel’s updated heir to the SAM9G20 processor available on the Matrix-504 and several other Matrix boxes. While they both run at 400MHz, the newer SAM9G45 offers two bus interfaces instead of one, and upgrades its USB interface to a high-speed version.



Atmel Sam9G45 SoC block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

 

Unlike the SAM9G20, the SAM9G45 also offers an LCD controller, a resistive touchscreen controller, and a camera interface, but none of these are made use of by the Matrix-505, which is designed for headless applications. VNC remote access and control software is available on the Matrix-505, enabling users to access its GUI-based application software via a remote desktop.



Browser-based monitoring and control
(click image to enlarge)

 

Like the Matrix-516, Matrix-504, and other Matrix boxes, the Matrix-505 offers 2MB data flash containing a backup Linux file system. In case of NAND failure, the file system is bootable, loading a menu to help users restore NAND flash images from a USB pen drive or a flash card inserted in the available microSD slot.

Specifications listed for the Matrix-505 include:

  • Processor — 400MHz Atmel AT91SAM9G45 (ARM9-based) SOC
  • Memory — 128MB SDRAM; 128MB NAND flash; 2MB data flash with backup boot
  • Flash expansion — microSD slot (up to 32GB)
  • Networking — 2x 10/100 Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • 3x RS-232/422/485
    • RS-232/485
    • 2x USB 2.0 high-speed host
  • Other features — watchdog; RTC; buzzer
  • Power — 9-48VDC input; 300mA @ 12VDC power consumption
  • Operating temp. — 0 to 70° C
  • Dimensions — 108 x 78 x 24mm (4.25 x 3.07 x 0.94 inches)
  • Operating system — preinstalled Linux 2.6.38, Busybox, and GNU toolchain, plus backup Linux file system

 

No details were offered by Artila on the pricing or availability of the Matrix-505. More information may be found at the Artila Matrix product page
 

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