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96Boards CE v2.0 spec with LAN and dual PCIe to debut on Rockchip SBCs

Mar 25, 2021 — by Eric Brown 1,083 views

Linaro has posted a 96Boards CE v2.0 spec that adds LAN support and the option for a second high-speed connector with SPI, USB 3.0, 2x PCIe, and a second CSI-2. Beiqi is prepping the first two v.2.0-compliant SBCs based on the Rockchip RV1126 and RK3568.

The 96Boards project from Linaro has published 96Boards Consumer Edition Specification v2.0. This set of minimal requirements and acceptable options for open-spec, Cortex-A SBCs running Linux or Android maintains backward compatibility with the original 96Boards CE boards via support for existing Mezzanine add-ons. As before, the 96Boards Consumer Edition (CE) spec is available in standard (85 x 54mm) or extended (85 x 100mm) footprints.

96Boards hardware partner Beiqi has posted preliminary specs for the first two 96Boards CE v2.0 SBCs. Due in May are a TB-96AIoT-1126CE CE standard board based on Rockchip’s Cortex-A7-based RV1126 and a TB-96AI-3568-CE extended board based on Rockchip’s quad-A55 RK3568. Both SoCs provide NPUs for AI acceleration (see farther below).

96Boards CE v2.0 standard (left) and extended reference designs
(click images to enlarge)

96Boards CE v2.0 brings new support for Ethernet, as well as new optional expansion features. There have been non-certified 96Boards CE models with Ethernet, such as Geniatech’s Snapdragon 410-based Development Board IV, but the certified models are limited to the required WiFi/Bluetooth.


The standard spec can now call on options that were previously available only on the extended model, including second low- and high-speed connectors. Better yet, the optional new second high-speed connector now adds SPI, USB 3.0, 2x PCIe, and a second CSI-2, which can be 2-lane or optionally 4-lane.

The new expansion interfaces enable more “PCIe for external acceleration or 5G modems, ethernet, field buses, multi-cameras and multi-display interfaces such as CSI-2/DSI/LVDS/eDP,” says Linaro, an ARM-backed not-for-profit engineering group that offers standardized open source Linux and Android software for Cortex-A SoCs. The intent is to better support applications such as AI, mixed-reality, intelligent HMI, automotive, and 5G.

96Boards CE v2.0 requirements
(click image to enlarge)

The list of minimum required specs shown in the chart shown above has changed little. 96Boards CE now requires USB Type-C client port rather than micro-USB, and Android RAM requirements have jumped to 4GB. Other features, not all of which are listed in the chart, such as mandatory WiFi/Bluetooth, appear to be the same.

The standard spec now joins the extended spec in supporting a second high-speed 60-pin connector with the new I/O capabilities, as well as the optional 14-pin, low-speed LS2 expansion option for mic, speaker, and headset audio plus 5V/GND. An example of a CE v1.0 extended board with a second high-speed link and the 14-pin connector is Arrow’s DragonBoard 820c.

The CE v2.0 extended spec, meanwhile, now has mandatory placements for Ethernet and the optional M.2 or mini-PCIe slots. It also appears to support a second LAN port.

Beiqi Cloud TB-96AIoT-1126CE and TB-96AI-3568-CE

The TB-96AIoT-1126CE is a 96Boards CE Standard board based on Rockchip’s quad-core, Cortex-A7-based RV1126, which we saw recently on T-Firefly’s CAM-C11x cameras. The camera-oriented RV1126 offers a more powerful, 2.0-TOPS NPU compared to the 1.2-TOPS AI chip on the dual-core RV1109, which is used by the JWIPC R19x SBCs covered in the same report.

TB-96AIoT-1126CE, front and back
(click image to enlarge)

The TB-96AIoT-1126CE offers the new 14-pin audio header option. We do not see the second, optional high-speed header, but this may have been redirected for the board’s M.2 slot with SIM card slot located on the back. Other features include an Ethernet and HDMI ports plus 2x USB 2.0 host ports and micro-USB 2.0 OTG and debug. The board offers dual CSI camera interfaces, a microSD slot, and a WiFi module, which likely also supports Bluetooth.

TB-96AI-3568-CE, front and back
(click image to enlarge)

The TB-96AI-3568-CE is a CE Extended board based on Rockchip’s new quad-A55 RK3568, which we recently saw on Geniatech’s RK3568 Development Board. The up to 2.0GHz RK3568 ships with a Mali-G522EE GPU and a 0.8TOPS NPU and supports 4K H.264/H.265 decode with multi-channel decoding.

The TB-96AI-3568-CE is equipped with 2x GbE, HDMI 2.0, USB 3.0 OTG, USB 2.0 host, and an M.2 B-key slot with a SIM card slot that supports 5G. The SBC offers the 40- and 14-pin audio low-speed connectors and the two 60-pin high-speed-connectors. Other features include microSD, eMMC, LPDDR4, WiFi/BT, and an RTC.

96Boards background

96Boards has enjoyed some modest popularity, especially with the 96Boards CE standard spec. There are now 23 officially sanctioned Mezzanines listed on, although this far short of the number of standardized add-on HAT boards available with the Raspberry Pi.

DragonBoard 410c

96Boards CE was launched in 2015 on a HiKey SBC based on Huawei’s octa-core, Cortex-A53 based Kirin 6220. The SBC was built by CircuitCo and distributed by Avnet and Arrow, but supply was limited, and it was not until LeMaker made its own HiKey model that it achieved full production. The first widely available 96Boards CE board was the Snapdragon 410 based DragonBoard 410c from Arrow and Qualcomm.

96Boards went on to define a larger, industrial server oriented 96Boards Enterprise Edition form factor and a low-power 96Boards IoT Edition, the only spec that supports both Linux and non-Linux, RTOS-based processors. In 2018, Linaro and the Industrial Internet Consortium announced a partnership to collaborate on a 96Boards Industrial Edition, although that was the last we heard about it.

Also in 2018, Linaro made its first attempt to support AI when it launched a initiative. However, this was more of a marketing promotion than a spec, as it encompassed new boards that used different 96Boards specs.

In 2019, 96Boards published two 96Boards System-on-Module (SOM) compute module specs, with early modules including Beiqi Cloud’s TB-96AI and TB-96AIoT. There is also a 96Boards Auto Edition in the works.

Further information

96Boards Consumer Edition Specification v2.0 may be downloaded here. More information may be found in Linaro’s announcement.

Beiqi Cloud’s new boards will be available for purchase in May. More information may eventually be found at the 96Boards CE page and Beiqi Cloud’s website.

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One response to “96Boards CE v2.0 spec with LAN and dual PCIe to debut on Rockchip SBCs”

  1. sander says:

    Thank you for this article! I’ve been following the 96Boards spec and was a bit disappointed with the growth.

    “Other features include an Ethernet port (presumably 10/100)”

    The [1]image just below that line seems to suggest Gbit with the text “1000M LAN”.


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