Using Linux with flat panel displays - Embedded.com

Using Linux with flat panel displays

As Linux is increasing in popularity as an industrial operating system, more customers need the security that their embedded single board computer (SBC) and flat panel system will operate effectively with this O/S. Display Technology (DT) has undertaken an implementation program with Redhat Linux 7.0 and kernel 2.2.16-22, giving customers the security that compatibility will not be an issue. It is also likely that if the SBC's are approved with Redhat, there should not be an issue with other mainline Linux 'distributors' visible in the marketplace i.e. Suse, Redsonic etc.One of the SBC's within this ever-growing Linux compatible list is the Aaeon Gene-4312. DT has now configured many of its TFT displays to be driven with the Gene-4312 SBC. The 4312 has a 102 x 146mm 'sub-compact' footprint making it a versatile, compact solution. With an embedded Low Power and fanless NS Geode 300MHz processor, the performance can handle the majority of applications. A single 144-pin SODIMM socket gives the ability to have upto 128MB onboard memory, and a Type II Compact Flash socket offers the option of having solid-state memory, again increasing reliability. On board dual Ethernet capability is achieved through two RTL-8139C, fast 10/100Base-T LAN Controllers (with RJ45 connectors). The built in L2 Cache offers 256KB of memory, along with the FSB running at 66MHz. The 4312 has been described as having 'amazing power for its size'. The board is designed for the industrial market, which makes it suitable for rugged requirements, ie well suited to those applications generally associated with a Linux environment. Sourcing the SBC and display though a single source gives another advantage, which is often unappreciated until development starts. All SBC kits supplied by DT are 100% configured and tested prior being shipped. This gives the end user the knowledge that the BIOS will be set up correctly ensuring the timings of the SBC and display are matched. The kits are provided with all internal cables. This helps by eliminating the need for customers to purchase, approve and assemble of these intricate cable harnesses, which can be cumbersome, inconvenient and time consuming. Another obstacle found when using Linux is that many industrial applications require a rugged touchscreen. Windows drivers have always been readily available, but there has been a void when Linux is being used. Display Technology is now able to offer the Zytronic touchscreen with Linux driver software. The Zytouch solution is based on a projected capacitive technology, which enables the device to sense through a protective screen in front of the display, ie giving an additional 'z' axis. The Zytouch touchscreen is designed to provide the highest levels of light transmission (91%), good readability and protection against a wide range of physical threats. The touchscreen has an RS232 or USB controller built within the construction ensuring it easy to fit, eliminating the need to mount yet another controller PCB. The driver software allows the touchscreen to interface with the host computers operating system by emulating the behaviour of a computer 'mouse' and translates taps on the touchscreen into mouse clicks. Published in Embedded Systems (Europe) October 2002

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