AMD Geode LX TR2350 mini x86-compatible motherboard

5.00 avg. rating (94% score) - 1 vote

After my previous experiment with the eBox 3350MX, a mini x86 compact PC, I came across the TR2350, a mini motherboard that is based on an AMD Geocode LX processor and measures only 13x17cm. This board can be found in the AMD product catalog and is commonly used in thin clients and other embedded solutions. To further experiment the board, I spent just over 30 USD on eBay to purchase it:

IMG_20150420_140543

This board has the following configuration:

  • 500 MHz AMD Geocode LX processor that is x86-compatible
  • CF slot for the hard disk, which will be detected as an IDE drive. CF cards up to 32GB are supported.
  • 3 USB 2.0 ports
  • 1 VGA port
  • 100Mbps Ethernet port
  • 1 DDR2 slot, which can take up to 512MB PC400 notebook RAM.
  • PS2 port for mouse/keyboard
  • Serial port
  • Audio output/input sockets

Unlike the eBox 3350MX, this board has a usable PC speaker and the POST beep can be heard. However, for some reasons the sound card midi output (MT32) seems to be routed to the PC speaker, and not to the audio output socket. The sound card does not work with Quick View for DOS PCI drivers and I could only make QuickView play an MP3 file at very poor quality using the PC speaker driver (SPEAKER.SDR).

The CMOS is using a standard CR2032 battery to keep system settings. There is also a 2.5″ IDE connector on the board, but it is unlikely that the BIOS supports dual hard disk configuration, so be sure to only use either the CF card or the IDE connector, but not both. Power for the board is supplied via a 12V 1A connector. In my case, I used a power adapter from an external Seagate USB hard drive. A reset button is present on the board near the power LED, allowing you to quickly reboot without having to disconnect and reconnect the power.

The BIOS

Pressing F2 repeatedly shortly after turning on the board will allow you to enter the BIOS:

IMG_20150419_210212

Although I have not yet tried, this BIOS supports network boot via PXE. It also supports legacy USB emulation so you will be able to use USB mouse, keyboard and hard drives under DOS. However, USB CD-ROM drives are supported as legacy device only for boot up under floppy emulation mode (e.g. a CD-ROM that boots up to DOS and show an A:\> prompt). If the system is started via other means, the BIOS will not register the USB CD ROM drive as an IDE CD-ROM drive, so operating systems like DOS will not be able to see the drive unless a proper USB driver is configured. This also makes it impossible to boot early versions of Hiren Boot CD or the Windows 98 installation CD as they will assume that an IDE CD-ROM drive is present and will try to initialize the drive using software such as MSCDEX. Linux live CDs such as Ubuntu or Puppy Linux are not affected.

On a related note, there is not enough power on this USB port to host CD-ROM drives, so you will likely need an external adapter for your drive. You can tell when this is the case – the drive would refuse to open the tray and the busy LED will just keep on blinking. There also seems to be some sort of power leak or grounding issue on this board. If external power is applied to the USB CD ROM drive that is connected to the USB port, the board will still remain powered and working as normal even after its 12V supply has been removed.

This is the screen output after POST, summarizing the system configuration:

IMG_20150419_210445

Although there is no floppy connector on the board, the BIOS reports that there is a 1.44MM floppy drive connected. This will cause the system to stop responding for as long as 15 seconds if you attempt to access the floppy drive later.

Installing Windows 98

Due to the limitation of legacy USB support for this BIOS, you will not be able to install from the Windows 98 CD. You must make a bootable USB drive using a tool such as Rufus, copy the Windows 98 installer files to another USB drive, and boot up using the bootable drive while keeping the drive with the installer connected. After that, copy the installer files to the hard drive and start SETUP.EXE to begin installation. Do not start the installation from the USB drive as the system will no longer be able to access the USB drive due to the lack of drivers after the first phase of setup once Windows takes over BIOS legacy USB support.

Also for the best experience, it is recommended that you use Windows 98 SE, and not the original version of Windows 98.

If the setup hangs while setting up programs on the start menu, simply reboot and let the setup resume. The second setup attempt should work.

After successful installation, which will take around 40 minutes, open Device Manager, you will find that the following devices are not recognized due to the lack of drivers:

VEN_1022&DEV_2081 AMD ATI® Geode LX Video
VEN_1022&DEV_2082 AMD ATI® Geode LX AES Security Block
VEN_10EC&DEV_8167 Realtek RTL8169/8110 Family Gigabit Ethernet NIC
VEN_1022&DEV_2093 Realtek AC’97 Audio Driver / Geode WDM Audio Drive
VEN_1022&DEV_2095 AMD ATI® USB Controller
VEN_1022&DEV_209A AMD ATI® Geode Companion CS5536

For those who have to learn things the hard way, the Windows 98 Device Manager screen does not show the devices’ hardware IDs, which are needed to search for missing drivers. You can still find this information by opening the System Information application and select Components > Problem Devices from the left panel.

After extensive research, I managed to find Windows 98 drivers for the graphics card, sound card, and Ethernet port, which can be downloaded here. Take note that during my test, I can only get the graphics driver to display 640×480, not much better than the default VGA driver that comes with Windows. However, when I tried VBEMP, a generic VESA driver for Windows 9x/ME, the resolutions could be increased up to 1280×1024 without any issues. If you have plenty of RAM on the board, try to go to BIOS and set the video memory to 32MB for better display output – the default is only 16MB.

Unfortunately I could not find drivers for the USB chipset, and the default Standard Enhanced PCI to USB Host Controller driver does not work. So even with the USB mass storage drivers for Windows 98, using USB thumb drives or hard disk under Windows is still out of the question on this board. The only alternative to transfer files to this board under Windows is to use the Ethernet port.

Despite the limitations, Windows 98 boots up in less than 30 seconds and performs quite fast on this board with 512MB of RAM installed. I could get Microsoft Office 97, Visual Studio 6.0 and other applications to run without issues. The board also supports ACPI so shutting down Windows is a breeze.

Windows XP, Linux and other OS

I tried to install Windows XP. The installation took over 2 hours and once completed, Windows took more than 3 minutes to boot. Except for the USB controller which is now recognized allowing USB thumb drives and hard disks to work out the box, the network card, graphics card and audio hardware still require drivers to be installed. However, the overall user experience is really too slow for me and I decided not to experiment further with the Windows XP setup.

On the bright side. Puppy Linux live CD boots fine on this board, with support for sound and graphics driver. Ubuntu 10.04 boots fine, supporting audio, network and graphics drivers. With Ubuntu 10.04 I could play music, perform light web browsing on the board and edit documents using Open Office at an acceptable speed. USB chipset is detected correctly and thumb drives are automatically supported too. So I guess Ubuntu 10.04 is the recommended OS for this board – it works out of the box without the hassle of installing and configuring drivers.

During my research I also found attempts to run Windows CE on the TR2350. I guess that requires the usage of Microsoft Platform Builder to build the BSP with the correct drivers for this board. I also found some Windows CE drivers for various hardware components (sound, network, graphics) for this board. Without the time to investigate this possibility, I will leave this as an exercise for the readers to experiment. Feel free to leave a comment here if you have anything interesting to share.

See also

Habey BIS-6620 Intel Atom Z510 Fanless Embedded PC
eBox 3350MX x86 Compact PC
Relisys RWT200EM (Exilis TR333) Thin Client

5.00 avg. rating (94% score) - 1 vote
ToughDev

ToughDev

A tough developer who likes to work on just about anything, from software development to electronics, and share his knowledge with the rest of the world.

12 thoughts on “AMD Geode LX TR2350 mini x86-compatible motherboard

  • April 25, 2019 at 5:50 am
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    the board in your pics, did you sell it on ebay? cause if so, the one i bought, all the numbers match. so does the MAC Address. if that is indeed the case, i have the exact board from this post. I’ll be trying other OS’s in it to see what else runs. like maybe 10, just for giggles.

    https://i.imgur.com/GxoVEMV.jpg

  • ToughDev
    April 25, 2019 at 9:33 am
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    Yes, the board featured in this post was sold on eBay, so you’re having the exact same board. :) If I remember correctly, Installing Windows 10 or Windows 8 on this board will be quite a feat as the setup process will check the CPU for the NX bit, which is not supported. You might be able to get 8/10 to run by cloning an existing installation to the CF card, instead of using setup. Let me know how it goes. Enjoy the board!

  • April 26, 2019 at 6:54 am
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    If i get it running, i’ll be sure to comment.

  • September 23, 2019 at 5:39 am
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    I also have a TR2350 (FSC Futro A210) though with 128MB RAM and 4GB CF Cards.

    I have also tried several operating systems and have been successful with Damn Small Linux v.4.11.RC2 and Windows 2000 Professional SP4.

    Right now it’s running win2k like a dream with VBEMP + Ethernet drivers.
    Audio driver is not used, because I like the POST beep.

    But I can’t find any data sheet about the internal connectors/jumpers, like the IDE connectors pinout.

    do any of you have more info or data sheet?

  • ToughDev
    September 24, 2019 at 12:32 pm
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    Hi, I never tried the IDE port on this board. Although I believe the port is just standard 40-pin IDE, it is unclear if the BIOS would detect any drive attached to this port, as the board is designed to work with CF card. The board was sold a few months back and I am not able to test this further.

    There used to be full documentation for this board on AMD website but unfortunately the link has since been removed. I will try to search for it and if I manage to find any other information, I will update this article.

    Did you get USB to work on this board running WIndows 2000?

  • September 24, 2019 at 1:22 pm
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    Thanks for the quick reply.

    I’m planning on trying the IDE port, and have now figured out the pinout.

    The IDE port on this board is a little different than usual, because pin 20 (VCC) is present.

    So a normal IDE cable will not fit in the board, because pin 20 is blocked/solid in connector on the cable.

    Link for IDE pinout: https://cromwell-intl.com/technical/ata-ide-sata-usb-cable-pinouts.html

    And yes, USB works great in Windows 2000.

    The reason I write here is because this is where I found the most information about this board, thinking that it might be a good idea to gather all the good info we all contribute in one place, so others can also enjoy that.

  • October 4, 2019 at 11:11 pm
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    So I have news about the IDE interface.
    But first, important information!
    It’s either CF card or IDE, not both!

    I have successfully tried the following IDE drives:
    IDE Flash DOM 512MB with power from motherboard IDE
    IDE 3.5 “160GB HDD with external PSU
    IDE 2.5 “100GB HDD with external PSU
    but have only tried with one drive at a time and it works perfectly.

    The next thing I will try is running with both Master HDD and Slave HDD.

    However, I have discovered that every single chip on the RAM module (1GB PC2700 SoDimm) gets very hot and the CPU heatsink does not get as hot as RAM, so a little fan cooling does wonders.
    (I used a 24v fan 90x90mm on 12v – low noise)

    Next, I have tried to install Windows XP Pro on CF card 32GB, but it does not run very well and installation takes a very long time.

    Windows XP Pro runs perfectly on IDE HDD (installation on HDD I don’t know since I’ve used a ghost image from my CF card)

    But I’m missing a schematic / circuit diagram of the TR2350 board because I’d like to find a 5V 1A output to power a 2.5 “HDD.

    So if anyone has full documentation or a schematic / circuit diagram for this board, I would very much like a copy of this.

  • ToughDev
    October 5, 2019 at 10:13 am
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    Thank you very much for sharing your experiment results. Great to hear that IDE HDDs work. Yes, an IDE DOM module is the best with small dimensions and low power consumption, but too bad large capacity DOMs are expensive. The largest I have is 2GB.

    On the boot summary screen for my board, there is only one option that says “Drive: 32GB” so I am a little skeptical about whether the BIOS has support for master/slave IDE channels. If the BIOS has options for primary/secondary master/slave, there is a chance it might work. Let me know after you have tried.

    Which CF card brand did you try Windows XP Pro on? Newer cards tend to perform better, although flash memory devices like CF cards (and cheap USB devices) will struggle when there are a lot of small files on it, as is the case for Windows XP. Even an old IDE HDD can easily outperform a new CF card in this respect.

    As for the 5V 1A source, although I am not exactly sure since I no longer have the board, there seems to be a 7805 voltage regulator on the board near the CMOS battery from which a 5V output can be tapped from. However, because the board (at least in my case) originally came with a 12V 1A DC adapter and the 5V rails have to support other components on the board too, it is unlikely that you will be able to pull another 5V 1A from the regulator output. If you want to try it, replace the DC adapter with something that is at least 5V 2A and check the regulator specs carefully to make sure it can support the load. A common failure mode of voltage regulators is dead-short, which means it will output 12V to the 5V rail if overloaded, killing your board! A better alternative is just to get a cheap 12VDC – 5VDC converter from eBay, connect it to the DC input jack and find way to mount it nicely somewhere on top of the motherboard.

    Keep me updated on the progress :)

  • October 5, 2019 at 3:07 pm
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    This morning I tried to run with 2 IDE hard drives and it works.
    Master HDD: 2.5″ 100GB (Windows XP Drive)
    Slave HDD: 3.5″ 160GB with jumper set to slave (empty drive)

    My BIOS info:
    Version: TR2350_031908_01
    Built: 03/19/2008 15:55:12 PM

    I’ve tried Windows XP Pro on the following CF cards:
    1. SanDisk Extreme III CompactFlash 4GB (rated 30MB / s)
    2. Noname 32GB CF – Link: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Speicherkarte-32-GB-Compact-Flash-High-Speed-Karte-CF-fur-Digital-Kamera/322091518833?hash=item4afe268b71

    However, I had a suspicion that this 32GB CF card could be fake, so some testing had to be done.

    I’ve done this as follows:
    inserted 32GB CF card in TR2350
    booted up a Windows XP Live CD on USB with h2testw.exe and FAKEFLASHTEST.exe (v1.12)

    First I ran FAKEFLASHTEST.exe and then I ran h2testw.exe, it showed that the card is real 32GB.
    But it’s a little slower than the SanDisk Extreme III CompactFlash 4GB.
    The TR2350 behaves similarly when running Windows XP Pro on either SanDisk Extreme III CompactFlash 4GB or NoName 32GB CF card.

    About 5V source in the TR2350, I also have the same problem with USB CD/DVD drive that the TR2350 cannot supply enough power to the drive.
    And so my suspicion is that it will probably be difficult to supply a 2.5″ HDD from an internal 5V source in the TR2350.

    But therefore, a schematic/circuit diagram of the TR2350 board could be nice to look at.

    You are right that the easiest way would be to use a DC-DC Step-Down Power Supply Converter (12V to 5V) on the 12v jack.

  • October 12, 2019 at 3:59 am
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    Just a quick update.

    I’ve done 2 tests with internal 5V power source and a 2.5″ IDE HDD (labeled 5V 0.7A)

    Test 1:
    2.5″ IDE HDD with power from TR2350 USB, has run for 3 days with no problems.

    Test 2:
    2.5″ IDE HDD with power from TR2350 IDE connector (pin 20 = vcc, most IDE Flash DOM can get power that way), has run for 3 days with no problems.

    During both tests, the TR2350 has been running Windows XP Pro and has been used for network file sharing every day without any problems.

    The only thing that has been connected which also uses 5V is the PS/2 keyboard & mouse, but together they use less than 200mA.

    The VGA connector has of course also been used.

    But for safety reasons, there has been no additional load on the other ports/connectors.

    I disclaim any responsibility for my information destroying your machine!
    The risk is your own responsibility!

  • ToughDev
    October 12, 2019 at 9:10 am
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    Thank you very much for updating your experiment results. It is great to know that the 5V rail on the board can power a 2.5″ IDE HDD.

    With regards to the CF card, my experience is that generic CF cards, even those with large capacities, sold on eBay are usually genuine, although some may operate at a slower speed compared with branded cards. On the other hand, I have encountered quite a few fake high capacity SD cards and rechargeable batteries on eBay.

    I wonder how hot the CPU or RAM will get if the board is kept running 24/7 and whether any additional cooling is needed. Maybe when I am free I will get another board from eBay and experiment with it again.

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