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Open-spec networking Mini-ITX has 1, 2.5, and 10 GbE ports

Apr 25, 2017 — by Eric Brown 6,424 views

SolidRun’s “Marvell MacchiatoBIN” is a $349, Mini-ITX networking SBC that runs Linux 4.4 on Marvell’s quad -A72 Armada 8040, and supports ODP, OFP, and NFV.

SolidRun, which is known for its NXP i.MX6 based HummingBoard SBCs and Marvell Armada 38x based ClearFog Pro and scaled down ClearFog Base networking boards, has spun a $349 (and up) Marvell MacchiatoBIN SBC that showcases Marvell’s high-end Armada 8040 SoC. The 170 x 170mm “community” Mini-ITX board ships with schematics and layout files, and offers an open source, mainline Linux 4.4x BSP.

Marvell MacchiatoBIN from two angles
(click images to enlarge)

The Marvell MacchiatoBIN is notable for combining a relatively low price with support for high-end networking features like OpenDataPlane (ODP), OpenFastPath (OFP) and ARM network functions virtualization (NFV). Linaro’s ODP, which was announced back in 2013, is an open source data plane API that enables Linux software portability between networking SoCs, regardless of the underlying chip architecture.

OpenFastPath is an open source implementation of a high performance TCP/IP stack. ARM NFV — ARM’s fairly recent answer to Intel’s NFV — is designed to work with ODP to enable virtual network function (VNF) applications, such as deploying virtual set-top boxes.


The MacchiatoBIN’s Linux BSP is said to be optimized for ODP. The BSP includes U-Boot 2015.x, mainline U-Boot, UEFI EDK2, Linux LTS kernel 4.4.x, mainline Linux, Yocto 2.1, SUSE Linux, and netmap.

Marvell MacchiatoBIN front panel view
(click image to enlarge)

Marvell’s Armada 8040 (88F8040) supplies far more networking support and overall firepower than the single- or dual-Cortex-A9 Armada 38x found on the 38x-MicroSOM computer-on-module that drives the ClearFog boards. Marvell also offers a similar dual-core sibling called the Armada 8020.

Marvel Armada 8040 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

Unlike the ClearFog and HummingBoard SBCs, the MacchiatoBIN does not house the SoC on a separate COM. The Armada 8040 is hidden under a heatsink needed to dissipate the heat from four Cortex-A72 cores that can run at up to 2GHz. There’s no GPU on this headless SoC, but you get networking acceleration, including a packet processor with a security co-processor, and DMA and XOR (RAID 5/6 acceleration) engines.

MacchiatoBIN simplified block diagram (left) and detail view
(click images to enlarge)

The Armada 8040 also implements Marvell’s Modular Chip (MoChi) architecture and associated MoChi interconnect (MCI), which “enables driver-transparent expansion beyond the standard device offering.” MCI is said to support the MacchiatoBIN’s dual 10GbE and single 2.5GbE and 1GbE Ethernet ports, as well as the 4x PCIe 3.0, USB 3.0, 3x SATA 3.0, and microSD 3.0 interfaces.

The SoC’s MoChI/MCI functionality is expressed via a USB-C port, and “is essentially transparent to the driver,” says Marvell. All the connected MCI interfaces appear to drivers as though they were integrated functions of the SoC itself, enabling a Virtual System-on-Chip (vSoC) implementation, says the chip designer.

The Marvell MacchiatoBIN ships with 4GB or 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and offers unspecified, possibly optional amounts of SPI and eMMC flash. The microSD slot is available with an optional, empty 8GB card.

In addition to the I/O listed farther above, you get USB 2.0 and UART headers, a JTAG interface, and a Marvell TDM low-speed module expansion header. The TDM header includes SPI, I2C, TDM, and power interfaces. A Mini-ITX case is standard, and power supplies for the 12V input are optional.

Other community-backed networking boards include the Banana Pi BPI-R2 router board and Turris Omnia router board. Neither has 10GbE or 2.5GbE ports, however.

Specifications listed for the Marvell MacchiatoBIN include:

  • Processor — Marvell Armada 8040 (4x Cortex-A72 cores @ up to 2GHz); packet, security, DMA, and XOR co-processors
  • Memory/storage:
    • 4GB to 16GB of single-channel DDR4 RAM with optional ECC and single/dual chip select support
    • SPI and eMMC flash (unspecified, possibly optional)
    • MicroSD slot with optional 8GB card
    • 3x SATA 3.0 connectors
  • Networking:
    • 2x 10GbE ports via copper or SFP
    • 2.5GbE port via SFP
    • 1GbE (Gigabit Ethernet) port via copper
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 3.0 port
    • Micro-USB port with UART console support and converter cable
    • USB 2.0 headers
    • USB-C port with MoChi MCI interface
    • 2x UARTs
    • Reset and fan headers
    • Boot and frequency selectors
    • 20-pin CPU JTAG debugger
  • Expansion — 4x PCIe 3.0 slots; Marvell TDM low-speed module expansion header
  • Other features — Reset button; 3x heatsinks (1x CPU, 2x Ethernet); Mini-ITX case
  • Power — 12V DC input and adapter with ATX connector; optional 12V (110/220V) or ATX power supplies
  • Dimensions — 170 x 170mm (Mini-ITX)
  • Operating system — Linux BSP with U-Boot 2015.x, mainline U-Boot, UEFI EDK2, Linux LTS kernel 4.4.x, mainline Linux, Yocto 2.1, SUSE Linux, and netmap/DPDK

Further information

SolidRun’s Marvell MacchiatoBIN starts at $349 with 4GB RAM, or $498 with 16GB. An FCC waiver is required for U.S. import. More information may be found at SolidRun’s Marvell MacchiatoBIN product page, shopping page, and wiki.


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