EEE3074W: Embedded Systems





Introduction OnLine Details


Scope: This page tells you about the hardware used in the EEE3074W course.


Three types of computer platforms are used in this course: 1) the development computer (the PC on which you run compilers), 2) a host computer (or workstation, which is a PC that is connected to the embedded platform), and 3) the embedded platform which you are developing or adapting. The CSB337 evaluation board from Cogent Computers is used as the embedded platform used in the laboratory practicals, and used as part of the subsystem prototype in The Project.

Development Computer and Host Computer

In the EE laboratories, the development computer is the Linux-based server, and the host computer is the Windows-based workstation you have in front of you in the lab. However, the development computer and host computer may be one and the same; and this is most likely what people will use if they are working at home or using a computer not connected to the UCT network. The diagrams below illustrates the two scenarios.

Scenario 1: Working in a lab

Scenario 2: Working on your own PC or laptop.

If you are planning to use your own PC to do development (i.e. Scenario 2), then your system is recommended to adhere to the following system requirements. The requirements are divided between those for Windows Requirements, and for Linux Requirements, and the Shared Requirements lists requirements common to computers running either operating systems.

Windows Requirements

I recommend using Linux, as I have had more success with using the tools under Linux. However, the compilers and ESAOA work under Cywin on Windows. I have not been able to use the uCLinux framework under Cygwin, but this does not mean to say it is impossible to do so.

Linux Users

My choice of distribution is Knoppix, and for me the GCC i386 compiler, GCC cross-compilers for ARM processors, Snapgear uCLinux framework and tools, and the ESAOA framework works fine on Knoppix. These have also worked on standard Debian, and on Ubuntu.

Shared Requirements

If you plan to connect your PC to the embedded hardware, then you need an available RS232 Com Port (only DB9 cables are provided), and I recommend a second network (otherwise uploading programs and data takes too long). If you have a second network card, configure it to have a static IP of and netmask (obviously disable DHCP for the second card) -- and this will give you the same settings as used in the computer labs.

The CSB337

The CSB337 evaluation board from Cogent Computers is used in the laboratory pracs, and in the class project. This is a single board computer (SBC), as it has a microcontroller and a set of ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits) which provide additional peripherals, such as the Intel flash memory chip and onboard Ethernet controller. The AT91RM9200 ARM9 microprocessor is used on the CSB337; in the photo it is the ATMEL chip to the right of the Intel chip. A battery (top right) is also provided which powers the real-time clock (RTC) when the power is disconnected.

The CSB300CF breakout board has been attached to the CSB337 main board. The CSB300CF provided provides convenient ports, such as the RS232 connectors, and Ethernet port. It also provides a few LEDs and push buttons which can be used to test your embedded software -- as well as the all important reset button.

Some of the pracs, and The Project, involve building your own breadboard circuit on which special-purpose peripherals are deployed. In The Project, COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) products (such as a GPS module, or a RF transceiver module) can be connected up to the board as well, subject to availability of stocks.

Cogent Computers CSB337 Evaluation Board
Click here for larger image

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Copyright (c) 2006, S. Winberg, University of Cape Town. Site maintained by: S. Winberg, Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Cape Town.