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Add-on for Octeon TX based SBCs enables up to 21 WiFi access points

Aug 15, 2019 — by Eric Brown — 1586 views

[Updated: Aug. 16] — Gateworks’ GW16081 mini-PCIe expansion modules can be connected to its Linux-driven Newport GW6400 and GW6300 networking SBCs, enabling up to 21 WiFi APs for multi-radio applications.

When Gateworks launched its Ventana line of i.MX6-based SBCs back in 2013, it also announced a line of mini-PCIe based expansion modules for the boards. The stackable, 140 x 100mm modules include a PoE-ready, quad-GbE GW16083, a 4x mini-PCIe GW16082, and a 7x mini-PCIe GW16081.

As it turned out, the Ventana boards’ i.MX6 SoC imposes limitations on the number of full-bandwidth mini-PCIe connections that can be sustained on the GW16081. In recent years, Gateworks launched a line of Newport SBCs that run Linux on Cavium Octeon TX networking SoCs. The Octeon TX features up to 4x Cortex-A53 like ThunderX cores capable of fully exploiting the GW16081. Gateworks is now promoting the GW16081 for use with the 2x GbE Newport GW6300 and 5x GbE Newport GW6400 SBCs as a platform for multi-radio access point applications.



Gateworks Newport GW6300 (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The last of the three mini-PCIe slots on the GW6300 — or the four slots on the GW6400 — can be fitted with an adapter that enables it to integrate the 7x mini-PCIe GW16081 module, thereby enabling up to 9x radios running at once. You need to buy a variant of the GW6300 called the GW6300-SP376 that supplies the connector required to add a single GW16081. For “higher volume customers” Gateworks can equip the GW6400 with the same connector, according to a company rep.

In addition, because the modules are stackable, much higher radio counts are possible. You can order a special version of the GW16081 module called the GW16081-SP282 that allows an additional GW16081 module to be connected, letting you stack three modules to run up to 21 radios.

The capability has been around for over a year, but Gateworks has now posted instructions along with scripts for Ubuntu Bionic for implementing the combo for a 9-radio setup using its GW17032 802.11ac mini-PCI cards. The instructions also show how to configure each radio as an access point (AP).



GW16081 Expansion Module (left) and Newport GW6400
(click images to enlarge)

Cavium’s up to quad-core, 1.5GHz Octeon TX SoCs are well suited for pairing with the GW16081 thanks to their “highly optimized ARMv8 core that can process >11M packets per second,” says Gateworks. In addition, the SoCs support “a large pool of PCI memory address space allowing it to support a large number of PCIe devices.” Combined with faster DDR4 and other enhancements, “the Newport can process all the networking traffic from all the radios with a lot more performance than the Ventana SBCs,” says the company.


GW16081 front and back detail views
(click images to enlarge)

Applications for the multi-radio AP configuration are said to include:

  • Provide dedicated private and open public networks on different frequency bands.
  • Support 2.4G, 4.9G (public safety), 5.8G and other bands simultaneously.
  • Utilize multiple radios with sectored antennas (ie. 45-degree antenna x 8 radios) to increase both transmit and receive ranges. Note that using a high power radio only increases the transmit range so this does not provide any benefit when talking to standard clients (ie. cellphones, tablets, etc.). A high gain antenna amplifies both when transmitting and receiving.
  • WiFi monitor/sniffer applications covering multiple channels/frequencies simultaneously.
  • Mesh networks with dedicated front & back hauls for increased performance.
  • Full featured APs with a combination of WiFi, cellular, satellite and other wireless technologies.

Other recent Newport SBCs include the 2x GbE GW6200 and 1x GbE GW6100. The most recent Ventana SBC is last month’s Ventana GW5910, featuring GbE with PoE, WiFi/BT, and optional GPS, Sub-1GHz, and 2.4GHz radios.

 
Further information

The Multi-Radio Access Point application is available now when combining the Newport GW6300 with the GW16081 mini-PCIe expansion module. Contact Gateworks for ordering the Newport GW6400 with the required connector for the GW16081. More information may be found in the new Multi-Radio Access Point Showcase section on Gateworks’ Expansion Modules page. More on the GW16081 module may be found on the GW16081 product page.

 

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