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I am really new to hardware design but have a fairly good knowledge of analog and digital circuits. I have only built one automated car using an Arduino board for a lab. However, I have really good knowledge of computer science.

I am trying to build a device with an operating system in it that will be turned on through a USB port. I want the processor to be ARM based and handle FLASH memory of a minimum of 16GB, have a multi touch display and be a really small device. I don't really know how to find any information about even getting started with it.

So, my question is:

  • Can a USB port output enough power to run an ARM Cortex M series?
  • How can I find out how much FLASH memory an ARM Cortex can access? Or does it even matter for microprocessor design?
  • How can I find prices for the microprocessors?

I would really want someone to guide me on my work. If you want me to clarify anything please let me know.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you've never done PCB design before, designing a board for a microprocessor big and fast enough to handle a multi-touch display is beyond your current skills. Maybe you could buy a small ARM device, and connect it to something like an arduino over serial or similar. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf Jun 2 '13 at 5:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Embedded Pi board is based around an ARM M3-Cortex chip. $34 from Element14 and elsewhere. See Data Sheet. Your Arduino experience may help as it can use Arduino "shields" (daughter-boards). It can be USB powered. \$\endgroup\$ – RedGrittyBrick Jun 2 '13 at 9:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ For me multitouch is for future development. I have taken another approach to my small project and see how it gets. And about embedded pi. I actually checked it out. Its a really good solution and I am going to but it for a good prototype of my design. \$\endgroup\$ – Gasim Jun 2 '13 at 19:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Everyone thank you for the response! Its a good start for my summer project:) \$\endgroup\$ – Gasim Jun 2 '13 at 19:45
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To stay within USB requirements you are allowed to use 500mA @ 5V power. This is certainly enough for the microcontroller but the display may probably need more.

Usually the Cortex-M devices feature a little internal (embedded) flash which is usually in the size of 2MB. If you need more memory, you could attache either an SD-Card or some NAND Flash.

I'll just give an example for a evaluation board which has a Cortex-M4, a display and some flash: http://www.atmel.com/tools/SAM4S-EK2.aspx. Yet, there is no support for multi-touch, you would have to implement that by yourself (with a display that supports multitouch of course).

Prices for controllers: digikey or farnell will give you a good idea, if you are to produce more than 10k pieces you'll probably be able to find cheaper sources.

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