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Linux computer fits in USB key

A start-up located in the French Alps near Grenoble is readying a tiny ARM-based Linux single-board computer (SBC) in a USB key form-factor. Calao, based in Sant Martin le Vinoux, is also readying a tiny Linux SBC designed to plug into QIL (quad in-line) IC sockets. Calao's USB-9260 USB key-sized SBC measures 3.3 x 1.4 inches (85 x 36 mm). It is based on an Atmel AT91SAM9260 processor, an SoC (system-on-chip) powered by an ARM926EJ-S core clocked at 190MHz. The SoC targets "advanced applications such as GPS application processors," according to Atmel. The tiny USB key SBC has 64MB of SDRAM and 256MB of NAND flash. I/O includes a USB 2.0 device port (obviously), a 10/100 Ethernet port, and a pair of USB 2.0 host ports. The device also has a 50-pin expansion interface, although the company has not published the pinout, nor announced any specific daughterboards.

Calao says the USB-9260 can be debugged over USB via JTAG and DBGU ("debug unit"). Alternatively an SBC35-A9260 development board (shown below) appears to exist, and to offer a wide variety of I/O, expansion, and debugging interfaces.
Calao previously announced a very similar QIL-9260 SBC (depicted below) based on the same Atmel SoC (system-on-chip), and also measuring 3.3 x 1.4 inches (85 x 36mm). Instead of a USB key form-factor, the QIL-9260 is designed for use in 128-pin quad in-line integrated circuit sockets -- similar to the higher-end models in SSV's DIL/NetPC line (see Related Stories below for examples). The QIL-9260 will be offered with an MB-QIL-A9260 development board measuring 5.7 x 4 inches (146 x 102mm).Both Calao boards will come pre-installed with the open-source U-Boot bootloader and Linux 2.6-series kernels. GNU toolchains also appear to be available from the company.

According to its website, Calao was founded this year by a group of embedded developers, with aim of providing micro/nano hardware products and designs technologies to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) serving industrial markets.


Calao's tiny USB-9260 and QIL-9260 Linux SBCs will be available "soon," according to the company. Pricing was not disclosed.

Additionally, Calao is currently developing USB- and QIL-based boards based on Atmel's AT92SAM9260, an SoC targeting "highly connected image processing applications," according to Atmel -- point-of-sale terminals, Ethernet-based IP cameras, and bar code readers