PC/104 Form-Factor Crusoe CPU

Posted 13 Jan 2003 at 14:55 UTC by steve Share This

A LinuxDevices.com story reports that Tri-M Systems and Engineering will release a new PC/104 board based on the Transmeta Crusoe SE TM5500 CPU. The TMZ104 is claimed to be the first Crusoe-based PC/104 SBC. Along with the code-morphing VLIW processor, the 5vdc boards will support up to 288MB of SDRAM, 2 RS-232, parallel, USB, IC Bus, dual watchdog timers, EIDE, floppy interface, and up to a 1GB DiskOnChip. No cooling is needed because of the Crusoe. No pricing announced but single unit prices are believed to be less than $300 USD. Like all Crusoe-based systems, the TMZ104 is optimized to run Linux but will also run most things that run on Intel CPUs.

How compatible is it to the x86 microprocessors?, posted 13 Jan 2003 at 22:40 UTC by earlwb » (Master)

It seems the Crusoe cpu's are x86 code compatible at the outerlayer, and it optimizes the code automatically into VLIW for the chip itself. Is this true? I went looking for a compiler but there doesn't seem to be one per se, so it looks like you would use your favorite x86 based compiler for this CPU. Is this correct? With a 474 pin BGA chip it's just about out of the hobbyists hands to make boards on their own.

But now a PC-104 based board looks real promising. So if the Crusoe can run x86 based programs, can we put Linux, DOS or Windows on it then? And use our regular compilers then?

Board-level power consumption?, posted 14 Jan 2003 at 06:54 UTC by upper » (Observer)

Has anybody seen power consumption figures for this board? I know the CPU uses very little power, but what about the rest of chipset? It seems like an important question.

pc104 and crusoe info, posted 28 Jan 2003 at 02:04 UTC by nevyn » (Journeyer)

The Crusoe is quite capable of running intel instruction sets but does, internally, use a different instruction set (much like the AMD chips). I am unaware of any feature that allows you to turn off the emulation and just run native code. Any software written for the x86 instruction set should work without problems (assuming the other resources are available) - including windows. However, the pc104 boards are usually used in realtime systems and industry control applications so it is more normal to have a varient of linux on them. Although not easy, it is possible to install your own linux setup from scratch - but in a recent project I'm still working on it took close to three months to get everything working! I suggest you try to get hold of pre-configured installs if possible :)

As for power consumption, it is, unfortunatly, not the chip itself that is the greatest problem. I work with a Geod GEO1 processor based board and the chip, on it's own, is actually more efficient than the Crusoe (but only 300MHz pentium speed). It is the peripherals and, mostly, the ram and disk-on-chip that take up all the power. Although the chip is only about 200mA, the board in total draws just over 1A (and lasts about 3 hours on a NiMH high capacity 6v battery pack).

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