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Solutions for ARM
Operating Systems & Bootloaders for
ARM Single Board Computers

Technologic Systems' ARM solutions stand out in the market. The ARM processors we use are ideal for embedded systems that require low cost, low power, low instruction-set complexity, and high processing performance. Since our design techniques focus on overall ruggedness and reliability, our experience with the ARM architecture has allowed us to create the ideal line of ARM single board computers for hostile environments and demanding applications.

On the software side, our ARM computers are shipped with Linux running out-of-the-box. We decided to provided Linux as the default operating system because we embrace the open-source vision and believe in the benefits provided by an open-source community of developers. Experiences of users in the open source community provide the support developers need to succeed in the embedded industry. Due to the widely varied challenges common to the embedded industry, we believe this kind of support is more useful for development than the support found in commercial and proprietary solutions.

Technologic Systems provides software solutions for its ARM computers which include bootup firmwares and complete Linux operating systems and distributions. In addition, we offer tailored software solutions that leverage the potential of our computers, such as fast bootup Linux (under 2 seconds bootup to Linux) and the Linux boots Linux mechanism.

TS-BOOTROM - Proprietary Bootup Firmware for ARM

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Our ARM single board computers have specific BOOTROM firmwares which perform basic hardware initialization tasks and allow our computers to boot an operating system from different storage media.

For example, on power up, the TS-7200 board executes proprietary Technologic Systems boot-code, then immediately executes RedBoot. The TS-BOOTROM is stored in flash memory and is used to perform the first hardware configuration, such as the EP9301 initialization and TS-7200 hardware specifics, and to load the eCos/RedBoot system. The TS-BOOTROM serves as a reusable way of initializing and checking hardware so that it's not necessary to rewrite standard code for every desired OS. Some of the TS-BOOTROM configuration tasks include:

  • initializes the processor
  • turns off the watchdog timer
  • configures the serial UART to 115200 bps
  • initializes and tests SDRAM and FLASH
  • loads and runs RedBoot from flash

There is an intermediate boot loader on the TS-7000 computers which use the NAND flash technology, named TS-NANDBOOT. For the TS-7200 series, this is required because the EP9302 processor can't handle NAND devices. The TS-NANDBOOT contains specific routines to read the NAND flash memory and load the TS-BOOTROM, allowing the computer to boot from NAND.

Technologic Systems also designed the TS-SDBOOT used in the TS-7300, TS-7400 and TS-7800. TS-SDBOOT allows the processor to read/write code to an SD Card right after power up, using the TS-SDCORE FPGA IP core. Using this improvement, our boards can be designed to fully boot from an SD Card.

The TS-7800 SBC uses a more sophisticated bootup firmware which allows booting from either a micro SD Card, full-size SD Card or from the on-board 2k-page NAND flash. It allows loading of Linux to a shell prompt in under 2 seconds. Technologic Systems is able to provide more functionalities to its proprietary BOOTROMs, should you need further support. For more information regarding custom firmware designs, contact Technologic Systems.

eCos/RedBoot - Feature-Rich Bootloader

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Technologic Systems provides eCos/RedBoot solutions for our TS-7200 ARM9 computers. eCos is an open source, royalty-free, real-time operating system intended for embedded applications. RedBoot is a complete bootstrap environment for embedded systems based on the eCos Hardware Abstraction Layer.

eCos Logo

On the TS-7200 embedded computers, RedBoot is used as feature rich boot-ROM monitor that allows manipulation of the on-board flash, JFFS and YAFFS images, loading and execution of a kernel or executable from either tftp (trivial ftp), http or flash, and gdb debugging stubs. From RedBoot, one can load and execute any standalone binary. Most commonly, a Linux kernel or a Windows CE binary is used. One can also write applications within the eCos environment and load them with RedBoot.

Linux Bootloader for ARM - Linux Boots Linux

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Some of our more recent products, such as the TS-7400 and TS-7800 computers, make use of Linux as the default bootloader. This feature is enabled by our fast bootup process together with a bootload Linux user-space utility.

By using Linux as the default bootloader, all the benefits provided by Linux, such as libraries and various binaries, are available for users in a very early stage of the bootup process. This by itself is enough reason to avoid bootload-specific software such as RedBoot and Uboot. Our fast bootup solutions enable the Linux features to be available to the users in less than 2 seconds after power on. Why make use of a complex and heavy bootloader to load Linux when you already have Linux after 1 to 2 seconds?

Our Linux bootloader enables loading of Linux or any other operating system from a binary file (operating system image) stored in any Linux filesystem type (NFS, MTD, SD Card, etc). This also makes it easier and faster for Kernel and OS developers to deploy their software. For example, one can make use of this solution to test/debug a 2.6 Kernel or WinCE image while booted to Linux 2.4 Kernel.

To learn more about the Linux bootloader, visit the pages below:

Linux OS for ARM - Linux Kernels 2.4, 2.6, and 3.10

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Linux Kernel

When selecting a hardware platform for any embedded system project, it is essential to evaluate the software support provided. Platforms which offer full software support speed up time to market by enabling full focus on the customer's application. Technologic Systems provides Linux support for all our on-board hardware and our full line of PC/104 modules. The Linux Kernel is the default operating system shipped with all single board computers, computer on modules, and touch panel computers. Some third-party accessories provided directly by Technologic Systems also have guaranteed support through the provided Linux Kernel.

Linux Logo

Real-Time Linux

For better system responsiveness and guaranteed hard real-time service (high QoS), we can also provide real-time Linux operating systems either through RTAI (Real Time Application Interface) and other real-time interfaces or through modifications done to the standard Kernel closely coupled to the hardware.

Linux Distributions

Technologic Systems provides Linux distributions that can be as small as 4MB of on-board flash or as large as a complete embedded development environment or a embedded server running out of a Large flash media.

The small Linux distributions are based on the Busybox project. The TS-Linux is a mini-Linux distribution, shipped by default on the TS-7200 series, that includes Busybox, web-server, dropbear-server, FTP-server, and more.

For larger and more complete Linux systems, we make use of the Debian Linux distribution, enabling a desktop-like environment to run on a rugged and low-power embedded platform. The user can take advantage of all the benefits Debian provides, including a full GNU C/C++ development environment, many Linux services (NFS, FTP, SSH, web server, telnet, mail, database) and various Linux libraries and utilities.

In addition, any other Linux distribution that provides ARM support, such as the Fedora project, can be used with our TS-7000 ARM computers. Contact us should you need an alternate Linux distribution available for our ARM computers

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