Beaglebone: Using Linux Device Trees on very different microcontrollers @beagleboardorg

Most of the BeagleBone boards from BeagleBoard.org share the same form factor, have the same headers and therefore can accept the same extension boards, also known as capes in the BeagleBoard world.

Of course, a careful PCB design was necessary to make this possible.

This must have been relatively easy with the early models (BeagleBone Black, Black Wireless, Green, Green Wireless, Black Industrial and Enhanced) which are based on the same Sitara AM3358 System on Chip (SoC) from Texas Instruments. However, the more recent creation (2019) of the BeagleBone AI board and keeping compatibility with existing capes must have been a little more complicated, as this board is based on a completely different SoC from Texas Instruments, the Sitara AM5729.

BeagleBoard.org crew set itself another challenge: implement software that supports each BeagleBone cape in the same way, whatever the board, in particular:

  • To have unique identifiers for devices in Linux, so that there is a stable name for Linux devices, even if at the hardware level they are connected differently, depending on whether the base board has a Sitara AM3358 and Sitara AM5729 SoC.
  • To have DT overlays for capes that are applicable to all base boards, even if peripherals are connected to different buses of the SoCs.

Read about the process they used to have add-ons recognized by two very different microcontrollers in the blog post here.


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