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PowerPC based IoT gateway COM ships with Linux BSP

Jun 16, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 1,582 views

The rugged Arcturus “uCP1020” COM for IoT/M2M gateways runs Linux on Freescale’s QorIQ P1020, with up to up to 64GB eMMC, three GbE ports, and a baseboard.

With the uCP1020, Arcturus Networks has taken Freescale’s dual-core, 800MHz QorIQ P1020 system-on-chip and spun it into an 80 x 80mm computer-on-module supported with a full Linux BSP. The module offers industrial -40 to 85°C temperatures, and is designed for IoT/M2M gateways, ruggedized IP-PBXs, VPNs, access points, or other demanding gateway/edge node equipment and aggregator applications, says the company.

The networking-focused P1020, which can be swapped out for the almost identical, single-core QorIQ P1010, is based on Power Architecture, which was commonly referred to as PowerPC back in the days when the chip architecture dominated Linux networking. PowerPC still plays a large role in networking and industrial equipment, but the segment has shifted toward ARM and MIPS based systems, which for the most part, also typically run Linux. Freescale’s latest QorIQ models are ARM SoCs.

uCP1020 and its block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Arcturus Networks, which started back in 2001, is known for being the principle backer and creator of the lightweight uCLinux distribution. Later, the company made reference designs for Renesas SuperH processors, among other products.

Arcturus now offers a variety of embedded COMs and integrated systems for VoIP gateways and general industrial applications. Many of the COMs, which all start with the letter “u,” run uClinux on Freescale ColdFire processors, while others run the Arcturus Mbarx-M2M stack on Freescale Kinetis microcontrollers, among other configurations.

For the uCP1020 module, Arcturus has provided a more fully featured Linux 3.14 build rather than uCLinux. The Linux BSP, development kit, and demo software, are pre-installed on the module along with Arcturus Management Middleware for remote management and other duties.

Arcturus also offers its Mbarx System Manager Utility desktop PC software, and the company is working on developing other software stacks to support IoT gateways. These include the Arcturus Mbarx Secure Site Controller software, as well as plugins for IoT/M2M communication protocols such as MQTT, CoAP, and LWM2M. The system also ships with a kit including a Hostboard carrier board, as well as schematics and extensive documentation. A YouTube demo can be found further below.

uCP1020 Hostboard with uCP1020 module installed upside down
(click image to enlarge)

The uCP1020 is equipped with 512MB of DDR3 with optional ECC error correction, which can be expanded to 4GB, says Arcturus. The module offers a variety of optional flash installations, including 4GB to 64GB of eMMC, 64MB NOR flash, and 1MB SPI flash. Interfaces are expressed to the Hostboard carrier board via a 120-pin connector.

The module is notable for offering up to three independent 10/100/1000 BaseT Ethernet controllers, although the default is two. Dual SERDES interfaces also add to your networking options.

Other interfaces include USB 2.0, I2C, SPI, 9x GPIO, and dual UARTs with CTS/RTS flow control. You get an IRQ output and up to three IRQ inputs, as well as eSDHC (Enhanced Secure Digital Host Controller) for SD/MMC cards. Expansion is handled via dual PCIe lanes.

The 3.3V module runs at 5-6 Watts, says Arcturus. The company touts the module’s P1020 SoC for its Integrated Security Engine (ISE), which is capable of supporting multi-algorithmic operations in a single data pass. These are said to include algorithms associated with IPsec, IKE, and SSL/TLS.

Full uCP1020 development kit (left) and optional enclosure
(click images to enlarge)

The module is sold with a “Hostboard” carrier board. No detailed specs were listed, but according to the demonstration video (see farther below), the carrier board’s coastline ports include three GbE connectors, two USB ports, and a UART port. It also provides an SD/MMC slot, a mini-PCIe socket, several pushbuttons and LEDs, and a power connector. The COM and Hostboard are part of a development kit that also includes a power supply, cables, and more. Arcturus also appears to offer an optional enclosure for the Hostboard.

Specifications listed for the uCP1020 include:

  • Processor — Freescale QorIQ P1020 (2x Power e500 cores @ 800MHz) or P1010 (1x Power e500 core @ 800MHz)
  • Memory:
    • 512MB DDR3 SDRAM with optional ECC, expandable to 4GB
    • Optional 4-32GB eMMC flash
    • Optional 64MB NOR flash
    • Optional 1MB SPI flash
  • Networking:
    • 2x gigabit Ethernet ETSEC controllers, with an optional third GbE
    • 2x SERDES interfaces
    • IEEE-1588 time sync
  • Other I/O (via 120-pin Samtec connector):
    • USB 2.0
    • Up to 2x UARTs with CTS/RTS flow control
    • SPI with up to 3x chip selects
    • eSDHC (SD/MMC)
    • I2C
    • Up to 9x GPIO
    • Up to 3x IRQ inputs
    • 1x IRQ output
    • 2x PCIe
  • Other features — Hostboard with complete reference design, power supply, net and debug terminations, LEDs, reset, and passive cooling thermal interface; optional enclosure
  • Power — +3.3VDC ± 5%; 5W max consumption, 6W typical
  • Operating temperature — -40 to 85°C
  • Dimensions — 80 x 80mm
  • Operating system:
    • Linux BSP with 3.14 kernel or newer, U-Boot2015.01 (or newer), GCC 4.7.4, GNU binutils 2.24, Libc:eglibc 2.18, various hypervisors, Fast (ASF) Path enhancements, drivers
    • Arcturus Management Middleware with config, webUI, remote logging and provisioning, syslog, system tools
    • Mbarx System Manager Utility for maintenance and monitoring (Windows or Mac only)
    • Optional Asterisk or FreePBX

“The uCP1020 offers both the raw performance to aggregate communications, as well as the connectivity to enable multiple secure wired or wireless data connections, with no need for spinning disks or active cooling,” stated David Steele, product manager.

uCP1020 demonstration on YouTube

Further information

The uCP1020 development kit, including the Hostboard, cables, and power supply, is now available for $1,495. The package includes installation support and access to a dedicated support site. There were no details on availability or price of the uCP1020 module sold on its own. More information may be found at the Arcturus Networks uCP1020 product page.

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3 responses to “PowerPC based IoT gateway COM ships with Linux BSP”

  1. dave says:

    $1,495??? And it is not even Google Glass… I saw this development kit and thought oooh a raspberry pi competitor, and then saw the price of the kit, and thought, no, it’s priced itself to death.

    • dave says:

      Oh, and just remember, the Timex Sinclair, C-64 and many other’s were OS on ROM, this is nothing new, just would nice to have back, if it could be kept up to date.

    • Griff says:

      Yeah, this isn’t Pi competitor or anything like it. This type of product is typically targeted towards commercial and military customers.

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