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Sandwich-style 96Boards SBC runs Linux on ST’s new Cortex-A7/M4 SoC

Feb 22, 2019 — by Eric Brown 3,024 views

Arrow unveiled a 96Boards CE Extended “Avenger96” SBC with a compute module that runs Linux on ST’s Cortex -A7/M4 hybrid STM32MP1 SoC. The SBC has 1GB RAM, 8GB eMMC, GbE, WiFi/BT, and 3x USB ports.

Arrow and manufacturing partner DH Electronics are collaborating on a sandwich-style 96Boards CE Extended SBC with a computer-on-module based on STMicroelectronics’ newly announced STM32MP SoC. Details on the Avenger96 SBC are sketchy and partially revealed via EENews Europe and Electronics Weekly posts.

Avenger96 front and back views with the COM mounted on the back and STM32MP SoC model comparison chart
(click images to enlarge)

The COM-and-carrier design is touted for “easy system portability thanks to the transposable SoM from Avenger96 towards final PCB product.” Meanwhile, Arrow promotes the 96Boards platform for offering “hundreds” of universal 96Boards add-on boards. We count only 19 96Boards mezzanine add-ons plus a few accessories like debug adapters and power supplies, but perhaps there are others that are not listed on Linaro’s mezzanine page.

The Avenger96 joins only a handful of sandwich-style 96Boards offerings, including Arrow’s NXP LS1012A-based, Enterprise Edition (EE) form factor Oxalis, which was first revealed back in 2017. The year before, Gumstix announced some 96Boards SBCs based on the Joule and Curie COMs, but those have disappeared with the demise of these Intel modules.


Arrow’s Avenger96 module integrates the high-end STM32MP157 model, which like the two other STM32MP1 variants, offers dual, 650MHz Cortex-A7 cores and a 209MHz Cortex-M4 chip with an FPU, MPU, and DSP instructions. The STM32MP157 model includes the optional, 533MHz Vivante 3D GPU with support for OpenGL ES 2.0 and 24-bit parallel RGB displays at up to WXGA (1280×800) at 60fps. This is also the only model with MIPI-DSI support.

Along with the STM32MP153, the 57 model offers a CAN FD interface, while the entry-level STM32MP15 lacks any of these extras. However, CAN is not listed as an Avenger96 interface.

The Avenger96 module is equipped with 1GB of 533MHz DDR3L, 2MB SPI flash, and an ST PMIC. It’s unclear if the 8GB eMMC and WiFi-ac/Bluetooth 4.2 BLE module are on the compute module or available separately on the Avenger96 SBC.

Avenger96 SBC features include Gigabit Ethernet (Microchip KSZ903) and HDMI 1.4 ports (Analog Devices’ ADV7513). You also get an 8-18V DC input, microSD slot, dual USB 2.0 host ports, and a micro-USB OTG port.

Avenger96 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The dual-lane MIPI-DSI and a MIPI-CSI-2 interfaces appear to come from the usual 60-pin, 96Boards CE high-speed connector, which also includes USB, I2C, and SD/MMC. The 40-pin-low speed I/O can be seen in the block diagram above. The Extended version of the CE spec is larger than the Raspberry Pi sized standard version, at 100 x 85mm. Other 96Boards CE Extended boards include Arrow’s Snapdragon 820E based DragonBoard 820c.

The Avenger96 teaser page mentions an open source Linux distro supported by Linaro. It’s unclear if this is the mainline Linux and Yocto Project based OpenSTLinux distro that ST launched along with the STM32MP1, which is its first Linux-driven Cortex-A SoC. Arrow also notes the availability of the new extended version of ST’s STM32Cube MCU development tools, which are promoted as offering an easy transition for ST Cortex-M developers moving into the Linux realm.

ST is launching its own high- and low-end development boards for the STM32MP1, which are due in April. (See our STM32MP1 report for details.)

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the Avenger96 SBC and module. We imagine the boards won’t appear until April when ST ships its own development boards. More information may be found on Arrow’s Avenger96 teaser page.


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One response to “Sandwich-style 96Boards SBC runs Linux on ST’s new Cortex-A7/M4 SoC”

  1. asdf says:

    Nitpick: ST’s first Cortex-A SoCs were (AFAIK) the short-lived SPEAr-1300 series, which were based on dual-core Cortex-A9s.

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