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Video: Headless ARM9 SBC boots Linux in less than a second

Dec 17, 2014 — by Eric Brown — 2,303 views

[Update to Nov. 26 post] — Technologic has posted a video demo of its fast-booting headless PC/104-expandable SBC, which runs Debian on a PXA16x SoC and includes a Lattice FPGA.

The TS-7250-V2 SBC provides an upgrade path for customers using the circa-2004 TS-7250 or circa-2006 TS-7260 single board computers, says Technologic Systems. The PC/104 form-factor board offers a choice of the 1GHz, ARM9-based PXA-168 processor, which is also found on Technologic’s recent TS-4740 computer-on-module, or the similar, 800MHz PXA166, both part of Marvell’s Armada 100 series.

(click image to enlarge)

While the earlier TS-4740 used a Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA with 25K LUTs, the TS-7250-V2 has a less powerful Lattice LFXP2-8E [PDF] FPGA with 8K or 17K LUTs. All PC/104 pins are connected directly to the FPGA, letting users add external hardware and physical/transceiver layers.

The default FPGA load provides a standard PC/104 bus on the 104-pin connectors, maintaining compatibility with Technologic’s other ARM SBCs and PC/104 peripheral boards. The FPGA “enables simple, inexpensive customization that requires no physical hardware modifications,” says the company.

PXA168 block diagram
(click to enlarge)

The TS-7250-V2 SBC ships with 512MB DDR2 RAM and a microSD slot, as well as optional 2GB of eMMC SLC flash and an optional SD slot. (As usual with Technologic, the options and they are extensive, well documented, and individually priced on the product page.)

Coastline ports include one or two 10/100 Ethernet ports, a pair of USB 2.0 host ports, and a DB9 serial port. All other I/O is internal, including a USB device port, three more serial ports, one of them RS-485, plus three additional TTL serial interfaces, and an optional RS-422 interface.

TS-7250-V2, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The SBC ships with five ADC interfaces, 75-lane DIO, and the 40-pin PC/104 connector with FPGA-driven pins. You also get a CAN port if you choose the higher end Lattice FPGA.

Other options include a WiFi module, a choice of 5 VDC or 8 to 28 VDC power supplies, and a development kit with a pre-configured 4GB microSD card, cables, and a regulated power supply. Industrial -40 to 85°C temperature support is optional, and there’s an $85 “TS-ENC720” metal enclosure option that breaks out two more serial ports with DB9 connectors.

Optional TS-ENC720 enclosure
(click image to enlarge)

Like other Technologic SBCs and modules, the TS-7250-V2 ships with open specifications and runs an open source Debian Linux stack, all supported with voluminous documentation. Technologic also offers customization services.

Boots to Linux 3.14 BusyBox terminal shell in less than a second

The TS-7250-V2 boots from the microSD card or optional eMMC SLC flash to Linux Kernel 3.14 in 0.87 seconds into a BusyBox terminal shell, according to an email LinuxGizmos received from a Technologic spokesperson. Additionally, the board is supported with full Debian 7 “Wheezy” Linux distribution, along with a GNU compiler collection for onboard software development. User space utilities for controlling various aspects of the board, like DIO, SPI, and UARTs, are also provided. (Note: This post’s headline initially, incorrectly stated the 0.87 second boot was to “Debian.”)

Update (Dec. 17)…

At’s request, Technologic Systems created a video that demonstrates the TS-7250-V2’s fast booting capabilities. The YouTube video below shows a TS-7250-V2, equipped with a 1GHz CPU, booting a Linux kernel 3.14 and a “minimal initramfs” from a Sandisk microSD card. “The 0.44 seconds is a measurement from when the FPGA comes out of reset to when we execute userspace code in the initial ram filesystem to read the counters in the FPGA,” writes Technologic in the YouTube video post’s description. “The console technically starts at 0.49 seconds. It then mounts the Debian filesystem, and executes /mnt/root/ts/init which is a small shell script from Debian where a user would typically add their hooks.”

Technologic’s fast boot demo

Summary of TS-7250-V2 specs

Specifications listed for the TS-7250-V2 include:

  • Processor — Marvell PXA168 (1x ARM9 @ 1GHz) or PXA166 (1x ARM9 @ 800MHz) Lattice LFXP2-8E FPGA (8K or 17K LUTs)
  • Memory:
    • 512MB DDR2 RAM
    • Optional 2GB eMMC SLC flash
    • MicroSD slot
    • Optional SD slot
  • Networking – 10/100 Ethernet port; optional second 10/100 port
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB host ports
    • USB device (console only) interface
    • 3x RS-232 serial interfaces (1x real-world DB9 port)
    • 3x TTL serial interfaces
    • RS-485 interface
    • Optional RS-422
    • CAN Bus (17K LUT FPGA required)
    • 5x ADC interfaces
    • 75x DIO
    • 40-pin PC/104 connector
  • Other features:
    • RTC with battery and temp. compensation
    • Temperature sensor
    • Optional WiFi module ($35)
    • Optional dev kit ($70) with bootable 4GB microSD card, regulated DC supply, various adapters and cables
    • Optional metal enclosure ($85)
  • Operating temperature — optional -40 to 85°C
  • Power — 5 VDC or 8 to 28 VDC input
  • Operating system — Linux 3.14 (2.6.34 also available) with Debian 7 “Wheezy”

Further information

The TS-7250-V2 is available now starting at $165 with quantity 100 pricing. Other options and preconfigured option combinations are detailed and priced on the TS-7250-V2 product page.

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0 responses to “Video: Headless ARM9 SBC boots Linux in less than a second”

  1. Gene says:

    Where’s the video of this TS-7250-V2 booting in 0.87 seconds?

    • LinuxGizmos says:

      Technologic Systems just posted a YouTube video demonstrating the board’s fast boot capability. It has now been added to this post.

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