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Networking SBCs run Linux on quad -A53 and -A72 NXP LS chips

Oct 18, 2019 — by Eric Brown 1,674 views

Forlinx’s sandwich-style OK1043A-C and OK1046A SBCs run Linux on NXP’s quad -A53 LS1043A and quad -A72 LS1046A SoCs, respectively, and offer a 10GbE port and up to 6x GbE ports with optional SFP.

Forlinx has posted product pages for two similar COM Express modules and carrier boards that run Linux on NXP’s networking focused LS series processors. The FET1043A-C module taps the up to 1.6GHz, quad-core, Cortex-A53 LS1043A while the FET1046A-C uses the up to 1.8GHz, quad-core, Cortex-A72 LS1046A. All the processors are headless — without GPUs.

FET1043A-C (left) and FET1046A-C

The sandwich-style OK1043A-C and OK1046A carriers build on these respective modules with very similar designs that provide up to 6x or 7x Gigabit Ethernet ports, respectively. There’s also a 10GbE port and on the OK1046A, an optical SFP cage.

OK1046A (same image shown for OK1043A-C)

Somewhat confusingly, the only image provided for either board is an overhead shot that shows either 4x, or as identified in the detail view, 8x GbE ports. It appears there are 8x double-stacked RJ45 ports with only up to 6x or 7x of them active. Alternatively, we’re looking at a base-level 4x GbE configuration, and the optional additional ports are located elsewhere.

NXP LS1043A block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

Chinese embedded vendor Forlinx doesn’t always announce its products, as it did with its recent, i.MX6-based FCU1201 IoT gateway and did not with last year’s TI Sitara AM5718 based OK5718-C SBC and FET5718-C module. The OK1043A-C and OK1046A SBCs and their modules were discovered in the wild this week by CNXSoft.


As we scroll through the Forlinx website we see that the company offers a variety of Linux-supported modules and sandwich-style SBCs we haven’t covered, including an OK1012A-C SBC based on the single-core, Cortex-A53 LS1012A. In September, Forlinx published benchmarks for the OK1012A-C showing a CoreMark score of 4111.


There are also several i.MX6 and i.MX6 UL boards and an OKT3-C SBC with a quad -A53 Allwinner T3, an automotive variant of the Allwinner R40 found on the Banana Pi M2 Ultra. In addition, Forlinx sells a line of Samsung S5Pxx18 boards up to the octa-core S5P6818 based OK6818.

FET1043A-C and FET1046A-C modules

The two almost identical modules that power the OK1043A-C and OK1046A boards adopt the 84 x 55mm COM Express Type 10 Mini form factor. The FET1043A-C and FET1046A-C both ship with 2GB DDR4, 8GB eMMC, and 16MB QSPI NOR flash.

The modules support up to 7x or 8x GbE ports, respectively. Four SerDes interfaces on both modules control 3x PCIe and SATA III. The FET1046A-C module on the OK1046A adds four more SerDes lanes than the FET1043A-C for 8x total, providing additional networking options. The 12V powered modules support -40 to 80°C (FET1043A-C) or -40 to 75°C (FET1046A-C) temperatures.

FET1043A-C (left) and FET1046A-C
(click images to enlarge)

BSPs with source code are provided to customers for Ubuntu 18.04 and OpenWrt 17.01.6 Linux 4.14.47 with U-Boot. This not an open hardware project, however.

OK1043A-C and OK1046A

In addition to their differing networking features, the almost identical carrier boards offer an mSATA connection (SATA III), a mini-PCIe slot, and 2x PCIe 2.0 lanes, all provisioned via SerDes. A SIM card slots supports 4G mini-PCIe modules. The OK1046A uses its four additional SerDes lanes for a 10Gbps optical SFP+ or SFP-GE cage.

OK1043A-C detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The OK1043A-C and OK1046A are equipped with an SD slot, dual USB 3.0 ports, a coastline serial debug port, 3x UARTs, JTAG, and 2x fan interfaces. There’s also a 12V DC input jack, a power switch, and an RTC with battery holder.

Specifications listed for the OK1043A-C and OK1046A SBCs include:

  • Processor: NXP LS1043A (OK1043A-C) or LS1046A (OK1046A) via FET1043A-C and FET1046A-C modules — 4x -A53 @ up to 1.6GHz (LS1043A) or 4x -A72 @ up to 1.8GHz (LS1046A)
  • Memory (via FET1043A-C and FET1046A-C):
    • 2GB DDR4
    • 8GB eMMC
    • 16MB QSPI NOR flash
  • Storage:
    • SD slot
    • mSATA (SATA III)
  • Networking:
    • Up to 6x (OK1043A-C) or 7x GbE (OK1046A) ports
    • 10GbE port
    • 10GbE SFP+ or SFP-GE on OK1046A only
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 3.0 ports
    • Serial RS-232 debug port
    • 3x UART
    • 2x fan
    • JTAG
  • Expansion:
    • 2x PCIe 2.0 connectors
    • Mini-PCIe slot
    • SIM card slot
  • Other features — RTC with battery holder
  • Power — 12V DC input; power switch
  • Operating temperature — -40 to 80°C (FET1043A-C) or -40 to 75°C (FET1046A-C) for modules
  • Operating system — Ubuntu 18.04 and OpenWrt 17.01.6 BSPs with Linux 4.14.47 with U-Boot

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the FET1043A-C and FET1046A-C modules or the OK1043A-C and OK1046A-C SBCs. More information may be found on Forlinx’s product pages for the FET1043A-C, FET1046A-C, OK1043A-C, and OK1046A-C.

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