Credit-Card PCs as ECS interface

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"When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered that ballpoint pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat the problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 billion to develop a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on almost any surface including glass and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to 300 C. The Russians used a pencil."

In LHCb small (credit-card size) embedded PCs will be used to  provide the necessary local intelligence on an electronics board. They are connected to the central ECS via a  conventional Ethernet  and allow accessing the various components of the board. The core of this Credit-Card PC (CC-PC for short) is a SM520PC SmartModule produced by Digital-Logic, Inc. This module comprises a PC-on-a-chip aka micro-controller, the Elan520 from AMD, an Ethernet interface, and a Flash RAM . It can run any standard PC operating system and runs Linux in LHCb.

Most, if not all, CC-PC applications in LHCb use a dedicated glue-card providing the interfaces needed for controlling on-board electronics devices.  The glue-card (v2.0) has been designed by the Genoa electronics group. It provides a PLX 9030 local bus, 4 I2C and 3 JTAG interfaces. 


Mailing List

There is a dedicated mailing list for annoucements and discussions around the LHCb Creditcard PC:
You can consult the archive.
To post you must subscribe: either send a mail to me or follow the SIMBA instructions.
Feel free to post any Creditcard PC question!



Panels, libraries of functions (with documentation) to operate with Credit-Card PC form a PVSS Project can be found at


There you will also find documentation about how to set up a server for CCPCs
Servers are kept up to date using yum. Please make sure you have the latest yum.conf file installed. 

Software Development on the CCPC

How to write  programs for the CCPC (library documentation).

Histogramming on the CC-PC...


This is the most recent documentation available for the various components in the CC-PC/glue-card system. The links to the manufacturers attempt to be specific: i.e. they point to the relevant product, if possible. Unfortunately these links can become outdated. Please let me know if you find such a case.

N. Neufeld Creditcard PC Software Guide (Latest version - more details)

F. Fontanelli et al. CC-PC Gluecard Application and User's Guide, LHCb-2003-098


SmartModule SM520PC Datasheet v1.1 from Digital Logic (the CC-PC module)
Élan™ SC520 Microcontroller User's Manual and SC520 Register Manual from AMD (the microcontroller in the SM520PC)
Insyde Software BIOS for the DIMM-520 from Insyde (the BIOS used for the SM520PC)
SmartModule 480 Bus Integration Manual v1.7 from Digital Logic (the bus used by the SM520PC to connect to the outside world). This is the most important document from a hardware integrator's point of view
i82259 datasheet and i82559 application-note  from Intel (the Ethernet controller used on the SM520PC)
PLX PCI 9030 Datasheet from PLX Technology (the PCI to local bus bridge used on the glue-card)
PCF8584 I2C Controller from Philips Semiconductors (the I2C controller used on the glue-card)
PCA9516 I2C Hub Datasheet from Philips Semiconductors (the  I2C hub used on the glue-card)
JTAG controller 74LVT8980 Datasheet from Texas Instruments (the JTAG TAP controller on the glue-card)
SCANSTA111 Enhanced SCAN bridge from National Semiconductor (the JTAG three-way bridge on the glue-card)
Xilinx XCS05 the FPGA on the glue-card

Notes & Presentations

"On-board PCs for interfacing front-end electronics", presentation JCOP team meeting, April, 2002 (pdf)
"News from the Credit Card PC", presentation LHCb-Week February 2002, (pdf)
"The use of  Credit Card sized PCs for interfacing electronics boards to the LHCb ECS", LHCb 2001-147


Credit-Card PC @ CERN
Credit-Card PC Archive
CCPC Manager (a software package to manage the servers for the CCPCs)

Please send comments and suggestions to

This page last edited by NN on November 01, 2006.