A New Embedded Paradigm
U-MoBo is an open, fully documented modular system for rapid development of high end embedded platforms, targeting the community of technology users. An expandable and future-proof design ensures the reusability of the components across multiple applications, ranging from the DIY to low and mid volume production of high-mix devices. Beside offering U-MoBo compliant hardware, a complete software support is provided across multiple operating systems.
The building blocks
The primary component of the U-MoBo system is the baseboard, which provides the connectivity to the other components as well as some basic services and interfaces. On the baseboard you'll find support for stereo audio, LCD backlight, resistive touch panel, battery management and connectors for USB host and OTG, Ethernet, serial port, SATA, plus an SD slot - and power plug, of course!
On top of the baseboard, one SoM - or System on Module - and three ExM (Expansion Module) slots are available to be populated with a choice of components in order to build up a custom system. The SoM is the CPU module, while the expansion modules (ExM) are compact boards hosting peripheral devices, such as 3G modem, GPS receiver, WiFi interface, RS-485 or CAN transceivers - but this is just an example. An additional edge connector allows for an additional custom board to be interfaced with the baseboard, to implement even more complex systems.
Capsizing the Perspective
Many companies focused on embedded design are proposing pseudo-standard modules, for which a custom design of a host board is almost always required - even for low volume production. Besides, the adoption of new technologies for peripheral devices is even more demanding - every time a new device becomes available, its integration into an existing design is an hassle. To make the life of designers a little bit easier, U-MoBo has capsized the perspective, moving to a different approach.
Compared to what is currently available on the market, U-MoBo provides a quick way to assemble custom systems using different technologies, freeing the user from the need to invest in a costly design phase. Of course U-MoBo is not suitable for mass production, but it is surely a viable mean to efficiently deal with the ever evolving world of embedded technologies - as well as for low volumes production.
At the hearth of U-MoBo stands the Interconnection Bus found on the baseboard. This bus includes a set of serial interfaces commonly used in the embedded world, such as I2C, SPI and USB - among others.
For as simple as it may look, this approach provides the greatest flexibility in system design at a small extra cost. The SoM (i.e., the CPU module) interfaces directly to some standard interface sockets and plugs hosted by the baseboard, while the interconnection bus provides connectivity to the expansion modules (ExM) - which can implement virtually any peripheral device.
The U-MoBo project targets a wide audience and as such it is an open project. Complete design documentation is available and all public domain software is delivered as source code. Anyone can contribute the U-MoBo community with design ideas, software or even her or his own product. Silicon vendors can rely on U-MoBo community to deliver quickly and efficiently their upcoming technology - which then becomes immediately accessible to the whole community.
U-MoBo has just started and sample units are becoming available for demonstration through selected distributors. Many areas of this site are under construction and soon the documentation will be made available for download. Next, a wiki is expected and in the future U-MoBo products will be available for online purchase. So... stay tuned!