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Networking board runs Linux on 16-core, -A72 LX2160A

Jun 7, 2019 — by Eric Brown 3,044 views

SolidRun opened $550 pre-sales on a “HoneyComb LX2K” Mini-ITX board with a “CEx7 LX2160A” COM Express module that runs Linux on NXP’s 2.0GHz, 16-core -A72 LX2160A with up to 64GB DDR4 and dual 10GbE SFP+ ports.

SolidRun announced pre-sales of $550 for a developer-oriented “early access” version of a high-end networking board that showcases NXP’s 16-core, Cortex-A72 LX2160A. The beta-stage HoneyComb LX2K early access board ships in September and the final, $750 model with a few extra features will go on sale in October.

The HoneyComb LX2K is the latest in SolidRun’s line of Linux-driven ClearFog networking boards, and was originally called the ClearFog ITX. Recent models include the ClearFog CX 8K and ClearFog GT 8K, both of which use Marvell Armada SoCs. Like the ClearFog CX 8K, the HoneyComb LX2K is a sandwich-style board based on a COM Express Type 7 module, and it’s similarly equipped with 2x 10GbE SFP+ ports and a standard GbE port.

HoneyComb LX2K
(click images to enlarge)

The Layerscape LX2160A is the highest-end model in NXP’s line of networking-oriented QorIQ Layerscape processors. (NXP appears to be shedding the QorIQ label, which is not used here.) It offers twice as many Cortex-A72 cores as the Layerscape LS2084, which appears on Imago’s VisionBox Le Mans and EdgeBox computers. The headless, 16-core SoC offers datapath acceleration optimized for L2/3 packet processing, as well as security offload, and robust traffic management and quality of service, says NXP.

Block diagram for NXP’s Layerscape LX2160A
(click image to enlarge)

The early access HoneyComb LX2K clocks the LX2160A to 2.0GHz while the final version will hit the processor’s official top limit of 2.2GHz. The processor is loaded onto the CEx7 LX2160A Type 7 module, which also includes up to 64GB of dual-channel DDR4. The early version’s RAM is clocked to 2900MT/s while the final model will boost that to 3200MT/s. The module on the early version will offer 64GB eMMC while the final version simply lists “eMMC.”


The 170 x 170mm Mini-ITX board that houses the module is equipped with a microSD slot, 4x SATA III ports, and an optional M.2 2240/2280 slot designed to support SSDs. In addition to the dual 10GbW SFP+ slots and Ethernet slots, there’s an open PCIe x8 Gen 3.0 slot that can support x16 boards.

USB ports include 3x USB 3.0, 3x USB 2.0, a micro-USB serial debug port, and “USB to STM32 for remote management.” There’s also a GPIO header.

The HoneyComb LX2K has an ATX power supply and will be available in 0 to 70°C and -40 to 85°C models. The early version lacks the optional metal enclosure available on the final model, and software support is limited to Linux 4.14x. By comparison, the final version also lists support for mainline Linux, UEFI, and U-Boot, and it adds SBSA compliance.

SolidRun notes that the early version does not support the “workstation configuration” available with the final model. It’s unclear if this refers to the metal enclosure or a higher-end “ClearFog LX2K” model mentioned by the CNXSoft post that alerted us to the product. CNXSoft suggests that the ClearFog LX2K will boost PCIe to Gen 4.0 and add a 100GbW “QSFP28” networking cage. However, the link to the ClearFog LX2K, which was said to cost $980 without RAM goes to the SolidRun home page. We saw no other mention of the product.

Meanwhile, Phoronix is excited by the early benchmarks it conducted of a pre-release version of the HoneyComb LX2K called the ClearFog ITX. Using tests, the board blows away 17 other boards, including the Jetson TX2 dev board.

Further information

The HoneyComb LX2K early access model is available for pre-order in single units at $550, with shipments in September, and the final $750 model will go on sale in October. More information may be found in the SolidRun’s announcement, product page, and shopping page.


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3 responses to “Networking board runs Linux on 16-core, -A72 LX2160A”

  1. Robert Pogson says:

    OH my, yes, I really want this so I can FINALLY replace BEAST. But that damn WINTEL deal has been screwing me over for decades!

  2. Jon says:

    Great! We hope you enjoy it.

  3. Marcus Williams says:

    Well, I purchased one of those HoneyComb LX2K/ pre-release (Early Access) boards. Actually, I got mixed results. Although, I received my unit in late December 2019, as opposed to stated October release date, I did get the one with the 1.4 revision. As my understanding, the earlier revisions, could not boot from eMMC memory. Second, I was surprised that the units are not pre-loaded an OS. Though, one can easily down load and flash their pre-built image to SD card. The system boots up from the SD card and there are instructions on installing a working os (Ubuntu) on either a NVME SSD drive or SATA HDD. However, the system only seems to load the u-boot SPL from the SD card. Although, it’s possible to flash this to the builtin SPI memory, it’s not apparently clear to me on how, based upon the technical material I’ve seen thus far. These units do not have any on board GPU, but there is an available (open ended) PCIe x8 slot. I have been able to plug in an AMD RX550 2GB GPU which worked, once the linux-firmware had been installed. Although, the card was a PCIe x16 type, it worked as expected, though only 1/2 the PCIe bus is used. Unless, a minimal Linux Desktop is installed, the only output available is from the builtin Serial port via micro USB port. I believe, this is good board, though I’m a bit disappointed there isn’t as of yet, an official supported Linux Kernel for the board.

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