Friday, May 06, 2011

Beagleboard, OMAP, and Angstrom

I've been doing a lot lately at work with the BeagleBoard, shown at right. It uses an OMAP processor from Texas Instruments. The OMAP family is ARM-based and includes a DSP core, along with an intimidatingly rich set of on-chip peripherals. The OMAP is built with a package-on-package arrangement so that the RAM die sits right on top of the processor die.

The board typically costs about $150 in the United States. You'll need a few things to work with it: an SD card, a USB adapter to write the SD card, a USB-to-serial adapter to communicate with the board, a 5-volt power supply, and later (maybe sooner) you'll want a USB hub with a RJ-45 ethernet jack.

A minimal setup is shown at right. This is just enough to connect to the board over a serial port (115.2 kbaud, 8N1, no flow control) and verify that you get a working Linux shell. The Angstrom Linux distribution has a bit of a learning curve but it seems well thought out.

I'm thinking of trying Angstrom on one of the AT91SAM7S boards from Sparkfun when I get a little spare time. I think that would work, and it would really rock to see full-blown Linux running on a $36 board. I don't know how I'd handle networking in that kind of situation, though.

Update: I am reminded that the SAM7S lacks an MMU so it can't run Angstrom. There is a different Linux distribution called uCLinux (see that would work, maybe I'll try that some day.