Posts for: #single-board-computer

Raspberry Pi Unveils PCIe FFC Connector and New HAT+ Specifications

Raspberry Pi Unveils PCIe FFC Connector and New HAT+ Specifications

One of the most notable features of the new Raspberry Pi platform is its small, vertical, 16-way FFC (Flat Flexible Cable) connector on the left-hand side of the board. This connector exposes a single-lane PCI Express interface.

The Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCI Express or PCIe) is a board-level interconnect that enables high-speed data transfer between a processor chip and external peripherals such as NVMe SSDs, Ethernet cards, and AI/ML accelerators. PCIe achieves this by serializing data transfers and sending one bit at a time down a single channel. Each channel consists of one or more differential pairs on the PCB, which are controlled waveguides made by closely spaced wires. In the case of a single-lane PCIe interface, there is a single transmit pair, a single receive pair, and a clock pair, requiring three differential pairs and six wires. The Raspberry Pi 5, based on the BCM2712 processor, is connected to the RP1 I/O controller via an ×4 interface.

The PCIe specification also requires sideband signals such as reset, clock request, and wakeup. The 16-way connector on the Raspberry Pi provides all these signals, along with two pins for controlling board power and automatically detecting a properly designed PIP (PCIe Peripheral) by the Raspberry Pi firmware.

Instead of adding an M.2 connector to the Raspberry Pi 5, which would be large, relatively expensive, and require a 3.3V, 3A power supply, the Raspberry Pi team opted for a small, low-cost FFC connector. This allowed them to provide a PCIe interface without increasing the board size or imposing additional costs on users.

At the launch of the Raspberry Pi 5, the team did not have a specification for building peripherals that attach to the 16-way PCIe connector. They wanted to thoroughly test their own prototype product and consider the interaction of PCIe peripherals with Raspberry Pi power states and firmware. They have now released the first revision of the specification and are in the final stage of prototyping their own M.2 M Key HAT+. This HAT+ will be launched early next year.

In addition to the PCIe connector specification, the Raspberry Pi team has also released a preliminary version of the new HAT+ specification. The original HAT specification, written in 2014, is in need of an update. The new specification simplifies certain aspects, including the required EEPROM contents, and consolidates everything into one document. It also adds new features. While there is still work to be done on this standard and the EEPROM utilities have not been updated, this release provides a glimpse into the changes in the HAT standard.

The Raspberry Pi team wanted to ensure that the HAT+ standard is developed correctly, as it is expected to be in use for as long as the old HAT standard. They believe that PCIe boards (PIPs) that go on top of the Raspberry Pi should be HAT+ boards, and their own M.2 HAT+ will adhere to this standard.

More information can be found in the first revision of the Raspberry Pi Connector for PCIe datasheet, and the Raspberry Pi HAT+ Specification datasheet.

Radxa ROCK 3B: Fusion of Pico-ITX and Raspberry Pi Form Factors

Radxa has released the ROCK 3B, a “PI-CO ITX” single-board computer (SBC) that combines the benefits of Pico-ITX and Raspberry Pi form factors. The board, measuring 100x72mm, features all main ports on the rear side and supports expansion through a 40-pin Raspberry Pi-compatible GPIO header and several M.2 sockets for storage and wireless modules. The ROCK 3B is the larger brother of the ROCK 3A, a business card-sized SBC introduced in 2021. Both boards are powered by the Rockchip RK3568 SoC and support up to 8GB LPDDR4. The ROCK 3B features two gigabit Ethernet ports, an M.2 B Key socket for 4G LTE/5G cellular modules, an M.2 PCIe 3.0 x1 socket for an M.2 2280 SSD, and an M.2 Key-E socket for WiFi 6.

The specifications of the ROCK 3B include:

  • SoC: Rockchip RK3568 (J)
    • CPU: Quad-core Cortex A55 processor at up to 2.0 GHz
    • GPU: Mali G52 GPU with support for OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0/3.2, OpenCL 2.0, Vulkan 1.1
    • VPU: 4Kp60 H.264/H.265/VP9 video decoder, 1080p60 H.264/H.265 video encoder
    • AI accelerator: 1 TOPS NPU; INT8/INT16/FP16/BFP16 MAC hybrid operation; support for TensorFlow, TF-lite, Pytorch, Caffe, ONNX, MXNet, Keras, Darknet
  • System Memory: 2GB, 4GB, 8GB LPDDR4
  • Storage: Pluggable eMMC module, MicroSD card slot, M.2 M key socket for NVMe with PCIe 3.0 x2
  • Video Output: HDMI 2.0 port up to 4Kp60, 2x MIPI DSI connectors (4-lane and 2-lane), eDP connector, Touch Panel connector
  • Camera: 1x MIPI CSI connector
  • Audio: 3.5mm audio jack, digital audio via HDMI
  • Connectivity: 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports, WiFi 6 via M.2 E key socket with PCIe 2.0 x1/SDIO/UART, 4G LTE/5G cellular via M.2 B key 3042 socket with PCIe, SATA, USB interfaces, and a SIM card socket
  • USB: 2x USB 2.0 ports, 2x USB 3.0 ports (1x OTG+1x HOST)
  • Expansion: Color-coded 40-pin GPIO header mostly compatible with ROCK Pi 4 and Raspberry Pi 3/4, exposing 5x UART, 1x SPI, 2x I2C, 1x PCM/I2S, 1x CAN bus, 6x PWM, 1x ADC, 6x GPIO, 1x USB 2.0, and 5V, 3.3V, and GND power signals
  • Misc: RTC with connector for backup battery, IR receiver, RGB LED, Fan header, Power and recovery buttons
  • Power Supply: 6V to 20V DC via USB-C port with USB PD 2.0, QC 3.0, or fixed voltage support, 5V via GPIO pin 2 or 4
  • Dimensions: 100 x 75 mm (Pico-ITX and PI-CO ITX form factors)
  • Certifications: CE/FCC

The Rock 3B was first unveiled in 2021 with a slightly different design, which was modified based on user feedback. The board is now available for purchase, with prices starting at $45 for the 2GB RAM version, $55 for the 4GB RAM version, and $75 for the 8GB RAM version on Arace Tech. However, it may be challenging to find compatible accessories as the website’s accessories section is not clear, and some accessories are missing.

Source: CNX Software – Embedded Systems News.

Olimex Unveils STMicro STM32MP157 SoM and Open-Source Hardware EVB

Olimex has recently released the STMP157-BASE-SOM-EXT system-on-module (SoM) powered by an STMicro STM32MP157 dual-core Cortex-A7 microprocessor. The SoM is accompanied by the STMP157-BASE-SOM-EVB evaluation board, which is open-source hardware designed in KiCAD. The CPU module features 1GB RAM, an EEPROM for configuration, and power management circuitry. The carrier board provides various interfaces and features including HDMI video output, LCD display interfaces, a 2MP camera, gigabit Ethernet, USB ports, CAN bus terminal block, audio jacks, and several GPIO headers.

The specifications of the STMP157-BASE-SOM-EXT System-on-Module are as follows:

  • Microprocessor: STMicro STM32MP157DAA1 dual-core Cortex-A7 processor @ 800 MHz with Arm Cortex-M4 real-time core @ 209 MHz, and Vivante 3D GPU with OpenGL ES 2.0 support
  • System Memory: 1GB DDR3
  • Storage: Linux configuration EEPROM
  • Host interface: 6x 40-pin board-to-board connectors with 1.27mm pitch for I/Os
  • Misc: User LED, 24 MHz oscillator
  • Power Management: AXP209 PMIC, LDO, DCDC power management
  • Dimensions: 72 x 48 mm

The STMP157-BASE-SOM-EVB carrier board is compatible with the STMP157-BASE-SOM-EXT CPU module and offers the following specifications:

  • Storage: MicroSD card slot
  • Video Output: HDMI output, MIPI LCD connector, RGB LCD connector compatible with LCD-OLinuXino-5CTS, LCD-OLinuXino-7.0CTS, LCD-OLinuXino-10CTS
  • Camera: 2MP MIPI CSI camera (OV2640-120 sensor)
  • Audio: 3.5mm headphones jack, 3.5mm microphone jack
  • Networking: Gigabit Ethernet port
  • USB: 2x USB 2.0 Type-A host ports, 1x USB OTG port
  • Serial: 2x CAN Bus terminal blocks
  • Expansion: UEXT connector, EXT1 and EXT2 GPIO connectors
  • Debugging: 3-pin UART connector, optional JTAG connector (not populated)
  • Misc: Reset button, Power LED, flash module connector, boot configuration slide switch
  • Power Supply: 5V/2A via power barrel jack, 2-pin connector for LiPo battery with built-in charging circuit
  • Dimensions: 122 x 106 mm

Olimex provides a minimal Debian 11 image with Linux 6.x for both the module and EVB. User manuals, PDF schematics, and a Linux user guide can be found on the product page for the SoM, while the KiCAD hardware design files, PDF schematics, and user manual for the EVB can be found on GitHub. Pre-orders for the STM32MP157 SoM and EVB are now available for 30 Euros each, with shipping scheduled to begin on November 30. More documentation and the option to purchase can be found on the respective product pages.

Source: CNX Software – Embedded Systems News.

Banana Pi BPI-R4: WiFi 7 Router Board Powered by MediaTek Filogic 880 Processor

Banana Pi has released a new WiFi 7 router board called the BPI-R4. This router board is powered by the MediaTek MT7988A (Filogic 880) quad-core Arm Corex-A73 processor. It features 4GB DDR4 RAM, 8GB eMMC flash, and 128MB SPI-NAND flash.

The BPI-R4 also includes two 10GbE SFP cages, four Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 ports, a USB 3.2 port, an M.2 socket for a 4G/5G modem or an NVMe SSD, and two mini PCIe slots with PCIe 3.0 to support WiFi 7.

The specifications of the Banana Pi BPI-R4 are as follows:

  • SoC: MediaTek MT7988A (Filogic 880) quad-core Arm Corex-A73 processor @ 1.8GHz with AI-powered packet accelerator
  • System Memory: 4GB DDR4
  • Storage: 8GB eMMC flash, 128MB SPI NAND Flash, microSD card slot, M.2 Key M for NVMe SSD
  • Networking: 2x 10GbE SFP cages, 4x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 ports
  • USB: USB 3.2 port
  • Expansion: M.2 Key-B slot with USB 3.2 interface for 5G or 4G LTE connectivity, M.2 Key-M slot with 1-lane PCIe 3.0 for NVMe SSD, 2x mini PCIe slots with 2-lane PCIe 3.0 for Wi-Fi 7 NIC, 26-pin GPIO header for expansion
  • Debugging: 3-pin header for 3.3V serial console
  • Misc: Reset button, WPS button, bootstrap switch, RTC battery connector
  • Power Supply: 12V/5.2A or 19V/3.2A via DC jack, 20V DC input via header, optional PoE module (RT5400), 5V/12V output header
  • Dimensions: 148 x 100.5 mm
  • Weight: 250 grams

The Banana Pi BPI-R4 currently has three OpenWrt images available for eMMC, NAND flash, or microSD card boot. A Debian image is also in development. The board does not come with a WiFi 7 module by default but can support it through the two mini PCIe sockets.

The WiFi 7 iPA NIC Module, which can be added to the BPI-R4, is based on a four-chip design with MediaTek MT7996 (WiFi 7 tri-band BE19000 SoC), MT7995N (2.4 GHz WiFi), MT7977AN (6 GHz), and MT7977B (6 GHz).

The Banana Pi BPI-R4 is available for purchase on Aliexpress for $103.15, but the WiFi 7 card must be purchased separately. Coupon codes are available for discounts during the Black Friday promotion.

Overall, the Banana Pi BPI-R4 is a powerful WiFi 7 router board with a range of features and expandability options.

Source: CNX Software – Embedded Systems News.

Banana Pi BPI-M4 Zero: A Raspberry Pi Zero Clone with Allwinner H618 and Dual USB-C Ports

The Banana Pi BPI-M4 Zero is a small computer board that closely resembles the Raspberry Pi Zero in size and shape. However, it offers some notable differences, such as dual USB-C ports instead of micro USB ports and a more powerful processor.

The BPI-M4 Zero features an ARM Cortex-A53 quad-core processor, 2GB of LPDDR4 memory, and 8GB of eMMC flash storage. It also includes a Raspberry Pi-compatible 40-pin connector, making it compatible with a wide range of accessories.

Compared to the Raspberry Pi Zero, the BPI-M4 Zero boasts a 1.5 GHz Allwinner H618 processor, which is the same chip used in another Raspberry Pi Zero clone, the Orange Pi Zero 2W.

In terms of ports and connectors, the Banana Pi model includes a mini HDMI 2.0a port, two USB Type-C ports (one with support for 5V/3A power input), a microSD card reader, a 24-pin FPC connector (supporting USB 2.0, 100 Mbps Ethernet, and IR), a 40-pin header, and a WiFi 5 & BT 4.2 module. The board also features two status LED lights, a wireless antenna, and two hardware keys functioning as a reset button and a FEL button.

Measuring 65 x 30mm, the BPI-M4 Zero should fit in most cases designed for the Raspberry Pi Zero or similar boards.

Pricing and availability for the Banana Pi BPI-M4 Zero have not been announced yet. However, it is expected that the board will be priced under $20, which is typical for this kind of device.

Source: Liliputing.

Banana Pi BPI-M7: Powerful RK3588 Chip, Dual 2.5 GbE Ethernet and PCIe NVMe SSD Support

The Banana Pi BPI-M7 is an upcoming single-board computer that offers impressive specifications and expansion options. Powered by a Rockchip RK3588 processor, the BPI-M7 boasts up to 32GB of RAM and up to 128GB of eMMC storage. It also supports WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2.

What sets the BPI-M7 apart is its compact size and extensive expansion capabilities. With dimensions of just 92 x 62mm, it is comparable to a Raspberry Pi Model B. Despite its small size, the BPI-M7 can support up to three displays, has two 2.5 GbE Ethernet ports, and features an M.2 M-Key slot with PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD support.

The Rockchip processor at the heart of the BPI-M7 offers powerful performance, with four Cortex-A76 CPU cores running at 2.4 GHz, four Cortex-A55 cores running at 1.8 GHz, Mali-G610 MC4 graphics, and a neural processing unit with up to 6 TOPS of AI performance. The system also supports different memory and storage configurations, including 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB of LPDDR4x onboard memory and a 64GB or 128GB eMMC flash storage module.

In terms of connectivity, the BPI-M7 offers a range of ports and connectors, including USB Type-C with DisplayPort Alt Mode for up to 8K/30Hz output, HDMI 2.1 for 8K@60Hz display, and MIPI-DSI for 4K/60Hz display. It also features two 2.5 GbE Ethernet ports, an M.2 M-Key slot for PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD, a microSD card reader, USB 3.0 Type-A ports, MIPI-CSI camera connectors, a 40-pin GPIO header, a fan connector, and an audio header.

The Banana Pi BPI-M7 supports both Android 12 and Debian 10 “Buster” with Linux kernel 5.10. While mass production and pricing details are yet to be announced, the makers of the BPI-M7 have produced a small number of samples. With its powerful specifications and expansion options, the BPI-M7 looks promising for server enthusiasts, Linux users, DevOps professionals, and home lab enthusiasts.

Source: Liliputing.