Product of the Day: PMC Sierra Inc. Linux Thin Client

by Vendor Written

Product: Linux Thin Client

Manufacturer: PMC Sierra Inc.

Address: 3975 Freedom Circle, Santa Clara, California 95054

Telephone: 408-239-8000

Giving Linux Some "Tiger Power" from the Far East

The real fascination behind the growth in Linux is going to be Asia. There are a number of factors driving this growth - some economic, some political and of course some technology related. We are witnessing the birth of an IT sector built on Linux. The governments of China, Japan and South Korea are banding together on an open source initiative to unite all Asian languages on a common platform as an engine for economic growth.

New Asian software companies have emerged such as Red Flag in China and Hancom Linux in South Korea, to become that nation's software titan. Many Japanese companies have already been playing with Linux in embedded applications, PDAs, desktops, enterprise servers and High Performance computing (HPC). Sharp's line of Mini-notebooks is powered by the Transmeta chip. And Sharp's PDA won "Product of the Year" from Linux Journal in 2003.

With this upbeat market scenario, we are now starting to see some of the fruits of that market development. PMC-Sierra, Inc. announced its Open Source Network Computing (NC) initiative this October. They have released to the developer community a Linux based MIPS chip that is capable of 64 bit computing with 900MHz speed. The chip is being branded as "PMC Xiao Hu" (pronounced 'Sha hu', meaning "Little Tiger") and is a commercially available single board thin client solution co-developed with China's Tsinghua University, MIPS Technologies, Inc., and ATI Technologies, Inc.

This technology combines open source Linux software with open architecture MIPS-Powered processors from PMC-Sierra. "The Open Source NC Initiative has the potential to redefine computing globally and offers to drive significant increases in networked appliances in developed economies as well as for emerging economies where the government is mandating low cost computer connectivity across education, business, and residences," said Bob Bailey, President and CEO, PMC-Sierra. "

PMC claims that the combination of the PMC Xiao Hu board with Linux software and MIPS-Powered processor achieves significant reduction in power and costs compared to the traditional desktop PC approach . They boast the technology will deliver a 90% reduction in power, 70% decrease in IT administration and lower your hardware costs by 50%. PMC-Sierra is enabling rapid commercialization of this initiative by supplying PMC Xiao Hu Development Kits that include reference boards, reference designs and software.

The kit contains a working prototype of an open source network computing system along with fully documented hardware and software reference designs. The hardware reference design comprises schematics and PCB layout; the software reference design has build instructions for a boot loader, Linux kernel and thin client protocol applications . The PMC Xiao Hu Development Kit is available now and priced at $199 per kit.

Kit Features


  • 64-Bit MIPS-Powered Processors: RM5231A 400 MHz, 128-pin package, pin-compatible upgrades to the 600 MHz RM7035C and up to 900 MHz RM7935

  • System Memory: SDRAM 4M x 16 bit x 4 banks x 4 chips = 128 Bytes

  • Boot Flash/ROM: supports up to 4MB (512K x 8). 32 pin PLCC, socketed. 90ns. Using 3V parts

  • Flash Module: supports IDE flash module

  • System Controller: PM8172(TM) is an Ultra RISC companion chip, 400-pin BGA. (DMA Controllers, Counter/Timers, Real Time Clock RTC)

  • Graphics Subsystem: ATi RAGE XL Graphics Controller (3.3V and 2.5V, 272 pin PBGA)

Software Features

  • Supports X11, RDP and VNC protocols

  • Easy administration and management of server-based software

  • Built using open-source components with no licensing fees


  • MIPS-Linux kernel version 2.4.25 with glibc-2.3.2

  • Busybox embedded Linux utilities version 1.00

  • XFree86 graphical display server version 4.4.0

  • Rdesktop RDP protocol client version 1.3.1

  • RealVNC protocol client version 3.3.7

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