Linux has been known to run on some pretty scaled down hardware over the years, and today’s quirky news item is no exception. Calao, 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. That Star Trek-type schematic over there on the right is what this puppy will look like when it “launches soon.”
It is based on an Atmel AT91SAM9260 processor, an SoC (system-on-chip) powered by an ARM926EJ-S core clocked at 190MHz. 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.
Now, what to use this little ditty for? Secret agent stuff? Hiding documents from the public? I dunno. I’ll call up Dick Cheney, see what he’s got cooking for this cute little USB key computer. For now though, here’s what Calao is targeting: “advanced applications such as GPS application processors.”