giggleBits Hackable ARM & FPGA Router Comes with an SFP Cage and 5 Gigabit Ethernet Ports (Crowdfunding)

Remember Snickerdoodle board? If you don’t, the board is one of the cheapest Xilinx Zynq available on the market, and the project is currently on CrowdSupply, and 75% funded with 28 days left. They’ve just posted an update about a new daughterboard that I found interesting: giggleBits which provides 5 Gigabit Ethernet and an SFP cage on top of WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth connectivity already found on Snickerdoodle board.

gigglebitsgiggleBits + snickerdoodle specifications:

  • SoC/Memory/Storage/WiFi via Snickerdoodle board:
    • SoC
      • Xilinx Zynq-7010 dual core Cortex A9 processor @ 667 MHz + FPGA with 430K gates or
      • Xilinx Zynq-7020 dual core Cortex A9 processor @ 866 MHz + FPGA with 1.3million gates (~430K ASIC gates)
    • System Memory – 512MB or 1GB LPDDR2-800
    • Storage – micro SD card slot, 16MB boot flash
    • Ti Wilink 8 –  single or dual band 802.11 b/g/n WiFi + Bluetooth 4.0
    • Expansion – 4x 40-pin TFM headers for access to 100 snickerdoodle JA2/JB1/JB2/JC1 reconfigurable I/O
  • giggleBits daughterboard
    • 5x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 jacks including dedicated LAN (1x) and WAN (1x) ports to Snickerdoodle
    • 1x Gigabit SFP transceiver cage
    • Seven-port Audio Video Bridging Gigabit Ethernet switch (That must be the Marvell part on the board, and Marvell Link Street 88E6350R/88E6350 would fit the description [Update: It’s actually the newer 88E6352, which does not have product page yet, but is similar. Here’s the press release…)
    • 802.1AS, 802.1Qat, 802.1Qav Audio Video Bridging protocols support timing sensitive A/V and industrial control traffic
    • Debugging – Xilinx JTAG header
    • Configuration EEPROM
    • Power – DC power jack 2.5 x 5.5mm
    • Dimensions – 125mm x 120mm

The board supports Linux, ROS, and FreeRTOS, as well as Ubuntu Snappy Core.

Marvell Link Street 88E6350R/88E6350 Block Diagram
Marvell Link Street 88E6350R/88E6350 Block Diagram

One of the reasons I found that board could be interested was the discussion about support for hardware acceleration for NAT, QoS, crypto some of my readers had on Turris Omnia board, and in theory the FPGA could be used to implement and experience various encryption for example, but that means the data would have to be routed to the Xilinx FPGA first instead of just going through the switch.

Marvell AVB (Audio Video Bridge) switch applications listed in the product brief include home networking gear requiring low latency audio/video streaming and guaranteed delivery of VoIP services, industrial network switches, cellular base station backhaul, and automotive infotainment.

While giggleBits board itself is just $85 you’ll also need to add a snickerdoodle with down connectors, meaning the total price would start at $150 with a Zynq-Z7010 board with 512MB RAM, and up to $230 with Zynq-X7020 board with 1GB RAM. You’ll also have to add shipping to the price: $5 to the US, and $20 to most other countries.

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8 Replies to “giggleBits Hackable ARM & FPGA Router Comes with an SFP Cage and 5 Gigabit Ethernet Ports (Crowdfunding)”

  1. Does Marvell switch connects to ARM GMII which is hard IP core? The switch chip is powerful and it can connect any SOC. Can I say the “reprogrammable router” has nothing to do with FPGA?

  2. @Fan
    I think it’s connected that way too. But it should still be possible for example to implement encryption/decryption in the FPGA, and parse the data on the ARM core and get it encrypted / decrypted by the FPGA.

    Details would have to be looked into to see if it is feasible and/or bring any performance benefit. I understand that in many applications the traffic would just go through switch without being processed by the Xilinx SoC.

    Data from Ethernet to WiFi network would have to go through the Xilinx part, and then maybe in that case the FPGA could be used in some ways to accelerate and/or encrypt the payload.

  3. @Fan
    Nice. I did not know about this project.
    NetFPGA page:
    Github (Source & Wiki):
    Purchase from Digilent (but deprecated):

    NetFPGA SUME, a higher end and pricey version (Close to $10,000) with 4x 10Gb connections @,719,1327&Prod=NETFPGA-10G-SUME

  4. @cnxsoft
    Thanks guys for the comparison to a $10,000 product. That brought us smiles!

    BTW, the Marvell chip is an 88E6352 see here:
    It is similar to the 88E6350R but much newer. You can see a public description here:
    Key points over your analysis is that this adds TCAM, EEE and supports a SerDes for the SFP cage that is onboard the giggleBits

    In general our concept with this product was to *allow* for routing and acceleration of the Ethernet traffic passing through the SoC with the FPGA but not *require* it. This makes application development more iterative and is congruent with the use of modern software driven FPGA development tools like SDSoc. See: The FPGAARM interconnect in the Zynq chip is pretty tight and it is possible to synthesize FPGA logic that interfaces with the hard gigabit ethernet MAC over AXI.

    The above along with the fact that the 88E6352 switch IC also integrates 5 Gigabit PHYs and a very large investment in AVB support is the reason we chose it.

  5. @cnxsoft
    Yes not sure what is going on there but I can promise you that we have real Marvell chips we are using.
    As you know a lot of these networking oriented companies work under pretty heavy NDAs which we try to avoid whenever possible. Unfortunately there are no gigabit switch ICs available that I know of that are available with public datasheets that don’t require signing an NDA first.

  6. @Weatherbee

    IMHO the gigglebits is interesting also as a standalone product;

    could it work also without the snickerdoodle plugged?

    can one subscribe on crowdsupply only for this part?

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