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COM runs Linux on quad-core Marvell Armada XP SoC

Oct 7, 2014 — by Eric Brown — 1,550 views

Pactron announced a Linux-based “Sherwood” COM Express Module and hardware development kit built around Marvell’s Armada XP SoC featuring four ARMv7 cores.

Silicon Valley based contract manufacturer and ODM specialist Pactron is debuting on LinuxGizmos with a COM Express Type 5 module based on a system-on-chip that’s been around for awhile. The Armada XP is several years old, but was only fully documented by Marvell this July. The Sherwood COM Express Module uses the quad-core version of the SoC, which has ARMv7 cores somewhat similar to a Cortex-A9 design. Other modules based on the Armada XP include Cogent Computer’s SODIMM-style CSB1726, which is also available with the dual-core version.

Sherwood COM Express Module
(click image to enlarge)

On the Sherwood Armada XP Development Kit, the Armada XP ships with a 1.333GHz clock rate, but it can be ramped up 1.6GHz, says Pactron. The SoC is paired with dual cryptographic security acceleration engines.

The 95 x 95mm Sherwood COM Express Module ships with 2GB of DDR3 RAM, 8MB SPI NOR flash and 1GB NAND flash. An SD interface and dual SATA interfaces offer storage expansion, while device expansion is provided by four Mini-PCIe x1 sockets and two PCIe x4 slots.

Sherwood Armada XP Development Kit, with and without module
(click images to enlarge)

The module supplies dual gigabit Ethernet controllers, three serial interfaces, and six USB 2.0 interfaces, with optional USB 3.0. Wifi (802.11n), Bluetooth, and 3G/4G are also said to be optional. The module ships with a heatspreader and fan, as well as a Linux 3.2.40 BSP.

Block diagram of Sherwood module and carrier board
(click image to enlarge)

The Sherwood Armada XP Development Kit consists of an irregularly shaped carrier board of unstated dimensions. In addition to offering a socket for mounting the Sherwood COM, the carrier board adds 4GB SLC NAND flash along with an SD slot, plus buffering and real-world connectors for dual SATA ports, dual gigabit ports, and six USB 2.0 host ports. You also get expansion slots for a pair of PCIe x4 cards, plus sockets for six Mini-PCIe x1 cards.

Summary of Sherwood COM specs

Specifications listed for the Sherwood COM Express Module include:

  • Processor — Marvell Armada XP (MV78460):
    • 4x ARMv7 cores clocked at 1.33GHz
    • 2MB L2 cache
    • IEEE 754 single/double precision FPU
    • 2x on-chip cryptographic and security acceleration coprocessors supporting AES128, DES/3DES, MD-5, SHA1 hashing, etc.
  • Memory/storage:
    • 2GB DDR3 SDRAM (64-bit wide plus 8-bit ECC; 667MHz)
    • 8MB SPI NOR flash; 1GB NAND flash
    • 4-bit SD interface
    • 2x SATA Gen 2 (1.5Gbit or 3Gbit/sec) channels
  • Networking — 2x gigabit Ethernet controllers with PHY
  • Other I/O:
    • 6x USB 2.0 (2x native, 4x via onboard hub) with optional USB 3.0
    • 3x RS-232
  • Expansion — two PCIe x4 plus six PCIe x1 Gen 2 channels
  • Other features — heatspreader; fan; onboard ATXMEGA MCU controls power sequencing, boot configuration, fan control, and thermal monitoring
  • Dimensions — 95 x 95 x 8mm; COM Express Type 5
  • Power — 12V DC input; consumption unspecified
  • Operating system — Linux v3.2.40

Further information

No pricing was available for the Sherwood COM Express Module, but the development kit, including the module, goes for $2,500. More information may be found at the Sherwood COM Express Module page, and at the Sherwood Armada XP Development Kit page.

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