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720MHz OpenWrt modules offer dual-band WiFi

Nov 11, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 1,549 views

8devices has launched two OpenWrt-ready “Rambutan” modules and a dev kit based on Qualcomm’s 720MHz, dual-band WiFi QCA9550 and QCA9557 SoCs.

8devices, which is known for its Carambola computer-on-modules and COM-like WeIO SBC, both of which run OpenWrt Linux on a Qualcomm Atheros AR9331 WiFi SoC, has launched two more advanced OpenWrt WiFi modules. The Rambutan, which is offered in 0-65°C (standard) and -40 to 85°C (industrial) operating temperature range models, adopt the Qualcomm QCA9557 and QCA9550, respectively, and offer dual-band, 2.4GHz/5GHz 802.11a/b/g/n with 2×2 MIMO.



Rambutan, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Like the Qualcomm Atheros AR9331, the QCA9557 and QCA9550 run OpenWrt on a MIPS core, and offer built-in WiFi. Like Qualcomm’s more recent QCA4531, these two “Scorpion” SoCs, a designation that also includes the QCA9556 and QCA9558, move up to dual-band, 300Mbps WiFi. Instead of using a MIPS24k core, the Scorpion SoCs advance to a faster, 720MHz MIPS74k core, and offer more extensive memory and I/O support.

In addition to offering industrial temperatures, the QCA9550 differs from the QCA9557 in the following ways, says 8devices:

  • 5MHz and 10MHz channelization supported in a 4.9 GHz frequency band only
  • Loopback mode to assist FIPS AES certification
  • High Tx power accuracy at lower power level
  • Small packet size (96 Bytes) in AES encryption at full packet rate
  • 8-bit spectral analysis resolution



Rambutan block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The surface-mountable, 70 x 54mm Rambutan modules integrate 128MB DDR2 RAM, 128MB NAND flash, a 10/100 Ethernet controller. I/O includes 2x USB 2.0 and 2x serial interfaces, plus I2S, SPI, I2C, PCIe, GPIO, and MDIO. Two U.FL antenna connectors are also included.

The Rambutan modules have 3.3V power supplies with 3.7V maximum power consumption, and can output 21dBm power per chain. An OpenWrt flash image and source code are available for download, and forums are available for support.



Rambutan pinout (left) and Rambutan Development Kit
(click images to enlarge)

The commercial temperature Rambutan model is available with a carrier board, sold as a $79 Rambutan Development Kit. The kit, which is offered with schematics, features both 10/100 and Gigabit Ethernet ports, with the GbE port made available via an SGMII interface.


Rambutan Development Kit detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The Rambutan Development Kit is further equipped with a USB 2.0 port, a mini-USB port for console and power, and a mini-PCIe socket. The kit adds two antennas, plus reset buttons and a DIP switch for bootstrap options.

 
Further information

The Rambutan standard and industrial models are available for $35 and $49 respectively in single units. Discounts range to $28.50 and $42.50, respectively, for 1,000 units or more. The Rambutan Development Kit is available for $79, with discounts down to $67 for 100 or more. More information may be found at the Rambutan, Rambutan Industrial, and Rambutan Development Kit product pages at 8devices.
 

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