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96Boards SBC gains AOSP build from Linaro

Mar 7, 2016 — by Eric Brown 1,477 views

Linaro released Android Open Source Project code for the octacore HiKey SBC. This is Linaro’s first AOSP build that will be maintained within the AOSP common tree.

ARM-backed Linaro, a collaborative engineering organization for developing open source ARM software, announced the new AOSP (Android Open Source Project) release for the 96Boards-compatible HiKey SBC at Linaro Connect in Bangkok. Linaro also announced an ARMv8 based Developer Cloud, a cloud-based native ARM development environment that can be used to design, develop, port, and test server, cloud, and IoT applications.

HiKey board, LeMaker version, from both sides
(click images to enlarge)

Google draws from and adds to AOSP with its commercial Android releases, and third-party developers and groups like CyanogenMod tap it to develop open Android distributions. The HiKey Android release is not the first Linaro build for member hardware based on AOSP. However, previous builds have been maintained outside of the AOSP common tree. The HiKey build is maintained by Linaro and AOSP, so developers won’t need to pull patches from other repositories to achieve a working build.

“Moving forward for existing and future versions of Android, Linaro is simplifying its provision of builds and focusing its efforts on getting full support and ongoing maintenance for member hardware into AOSP,” says Linaro. Similar builds for other hardware platforms will follow, says the group.


The HiKey was launched about a year ago as the flagship SBC of the Linaro-backed hardware community and standards group. It was soon followed by Qualcomm’s similarly 64-bit DragonBoard 410c, which supports the same 96Boards Consumer Edition (CE) spec with 40- and 60-pin expansion connectors enabling stackable designs.

Lemaker HiKey (left) compared to Qualcomm DragonBoard 410c
(click images to enlarge)

The 85 x 54mm HiKey is still the most powerful of all community-backed ARMv8 boards, featuring a Kirin 6220 SoC from Huawei’s HiSilicon processor division. The 64-bit Kirin 6220 combines eight 1.2GHz Cortex-A53 cores, a Mali-450MP4 GPU, and an LTE module with 150Mbps download support.

HiKey (LeMaker) details
(click image to enlarge)

The original, $129 HiKey was built by CircuitCo, and distributed by Avnet and Arrow. Availability was sketchy, however, and at this point it is no longer in stock. Fortunately, there is a cheaper new version from LeMaker (Banana Pro) that sells at Lenovator and Seeed for $75 with 1GB RAM and $99 for a new 2GB option. The LeMaker version also doubles flash to 8GB.

The open-spec HiKey provides a microSD slot, an HDMI port, dual USB 2.0 host ports, and a micro-USB OTG port. There’s no Ethernet, but you get WiFi and Bluetooth. The LeMaker version replaces the earlier DisplayPort with MIPI-DSI.

“One of the challenges of developing on AOSP has been the lack of a developer friendly platform combining community hardware with an open source software stack,” stated Tom Gall, Director of the Linaro Mobile Group (LMG). “We’re very happy to have been able to have support for the 96Boards HiKey accepted into the AOSP common tree and look forward to enabling developers.”

Further information

More information on Linaro’s new AOSP release for HiKey may be found on this page. The LeMaker version of HiKey is available for $75 with 1GB RAM and $99 with 2GB at Lenovator and Seeed.

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