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Cortex-A8 SoCs gain Linux GUI toolkit

Oct 29, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive

FST (Fluffy Spider Technologies) announced that its FancyPants lightweight graphics stack has been optimized for the Texas Instruments (TI) OMAP3x system-on-chips (SoCs). FST offers a Linux-based software development kit (SDK) for OMAP3x that supports the Cortex-A8-based platform's graphics engine and video… accelerators, says FST.

(Click for larger view of FancyPants running on TI's OMAP 35x EVM)

In May, FST released version 2.0 of FancyPants, a small-footprint embedded graphics framework similar to Qt Core or GTK. Designed primarily for mobile phones, the Linux-compatible GUI environment added object-oriented scripting, custom video thumbs, and the ability to run multiple embedded applications simultaneously on the same screen. In August, FST announced a FancyPants SDK optimized for Moblin-based mobile Internet devices (MIDs).

FST joins a growing number of Linux software and hardware development firms, including MontaVista, Timesys, and RidgeRun, that have announced support for TI's Cortex-A8-based OMAP3x SoCs. TI announced the OMAP35x family in February, and was shipping all four of the OMAP35xx parts by the end of July. The OMAP35x family closely resembles TI's OMAP34x offerings for mobile phones, but with a larger ball-pitch and lower-volume pricing, to accommodate a broader range of consumer and industrial embedded applications.

This Spring, TI shipped an Evaluation Module (EVM, pictured at top) built by Mistral that is based on the low-end OMAP3503. The company also shipped (via DigiKey) a 3-inch, Linux-ready “Beagle Board” OMAP35x evaluation board that is aimed at low-volume embedded developers, hobbyists, and students. Logic, meanwhile, offers both the OMAP35x SOM-LV baseboard and the Zoom OMAP35x dev kit (pictured below). This week, meanwhile, Gumstix announced a new mini-SBC platform based on the OMAP35x called Overo Earth.

FancyPants running on Logic's Zoom 35x dev kit
(Click to enlarge)

FST's FancyPants offers specific support for multimedia features in the OMAP3440 and the higher end OMAP35x models. Supported features include accelerators for digital signal processing (DSP)-based HD digital video acceleration. The SDK is also said to support the platform's OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics and OpenVG video accelerators licensed from Imagination Technologies, which are said to enable special effects, such as “facial features and textured backgrounds that previously were only possible with PCs and gaming consoles,” says FST.

Stated Leon Adams, worldwide strategic marketing, TI, “By leveraging the FancyPants development platform and OMAP3 processors, OEMs can now excite their customers of portable products with rich graphical and multimedia effects that were previously only available in PCs and gaming consoles.”


Demo videos and a FancyPants evaluation kit are available now, says FST, here. FST is demonstrating FancyPants on TI's OMAP3 at the TI Developer Conference (TIDC) India in Bangalore, India on Nov. 5-6, 2008.

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