A Linux Business Card You Can Build

It is a sign of the times that one of [Dmitry’s] design criteria for his new Linux on a business card is to use parts you can actually find during the current component shortage. The resulting board uses a ATSAMD21 chip and emulates a MIPS machine in order to boot Linux.

We like that in addition to the build details, [Dmitry] outlines a lot of the reasons for his decisions. There’s also a a fair amount of detail about how the whole system actually works. For example, by using a 0.8 mm PCB, the board can accept a USB-C cable with no additional connector. There is also a great explanation of the MIPS MMU and don’t forget that MIPS begat RISC-V, so many of the MIPS core details will apply to RISC-V as well (but not the MMU).  You’ll also find some critiques of the ATSAMD21’s DMA system. It seems to save chip real estate, the DMA system stores configuration data in user memory which it has to load and unload every time you switch channels.

By the end of the post you get the feeling this may be [Dimitry]’s last ATSAMD21 project. But we have to admit, it seems to have come out great. This isn’t the first business card Linux build we’ve seen. This one sure reminded us of a MIDI controller card we once saw.

22 thoughts on “A Linux Business Card You Can Build

    1. But Dmitry is the one who did the original Linux on AVR in 2012 mentioned in the other article :-)

      And BTW, the current owners of the MIPS IP are converting their MIPS core to be RISC-V.
      According t them, the architectures are similar enough that this can be done with little effort.


  1. My two-cents is to flip the chips upside down and recess them in the PCB. That might make the board even slimmer with less ‘humps’. But I obviously love the project!

    1. It depends on the licensing of the fonts. For example using a font on a website is different license than using a font for print. This is the case for the extended OCR-A font I bought.

    1. I guess the idea is that you are familiar with the person that’s giving you the USB enabled card therefore there is already a higher level of trust than the random dude that says “hey go plug this into you work PC!”. Also it’s got his name all over it since, you know, it’s his business card. Wouldn’t be a great impression if his business card broke your computer. Pretty sure he’s being careful and only leaving the malware on the thumb drives he dropped in your parking lot.

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