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Teeny weeny Linux SBCs

May 08, 2009, 16:03 (0 Talkback[s])

"Some of these products also provide CompactFlash or PCMCIA slots, which facilitate both memory and peripheral interface expansion. Many now include support for operation from batteries, making them ideal platforms for specialized handheld and portable equipment.

"One noteworthy concern relative to this class of products, with the exception of PC/104 form-factor SBCs (which are too numerous to include here), is the utter lack of plug-and-play interoperability among these tiny modular systems. Although there is the hint of a trend toward matching the size and connector styles of DIMM or SIMM memory modules, there is no consistency whatsoever in how their signals are assigned to the module connectors. Also, with many of these products taking advantage of the latest high-integration system-on-chip processors (StrongARM, Elan, Etrax, etc.), which are not typically x86 compatible, PC compatibility has become the exception rather than the rule.

"However, despite their lack of plug-and-play interoperability, the availability of embedded Linux ports for these tiny SBCs, combined with their excellent integration/size ratios, make these products highly appealing for applications that can't tolerate the size of standards-compliant SBCs. The hope, of course, is that using one of these tiny single-module-systems will eliminate the costly, risky, and time-consuming process of developing a custom embedded computer."

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