ARM Processor Integration - Music server

At BitBox we recognised the value of the ARM processor some time ago, before it became such a very popular and a well-supported architecture. An example of of how we use use these processors is in a music server DFM project.

The Challenge

Our client wished to add a new product to their Home Entertainment Product catalogue: a music server with three separate music audio outputs controlled from a wireless key pad or an Internet browser.

The BitBox approach

We like the ARM because of its high-performance low-power consumption and stable hardware. In addition, the wide range of peripherals now embedded on various manufacturer's parts meant we felt it to be an ideal solution for our client.

Our design team:

  • Scoped the functionality required.
  • Based our design on the ARM Cortex-A8® (iMX51) as the core for this product, running mainline Debian Linux. The hardware has SATA interface for the hard disk, an Ethernet USB connectors for external devices, and a serial port.
  • Used open source compilers to generate the code and wrote our own libraries rather than use the heavy GLib libraries.
  • Used SQLite database for high performance music searching and cataloguing functions.
  • Wrote our own boot-loaders for the processor to give us maximum control of the hardware.


The Linux application chosen and the use of ARM processors ensured the product delivered the required functionality. We manufactured a significant number of these music servers as a customer-ready, compliant product that is available for purchase by our clients customers.

Our development platform now extends to the ARM Cortex-M3, M4 and A8 architectures giving further flexibility for electronics design.