96Boards Compliant HiKey 960 ARM Cortex A73 Development Board is Now Available for $239

The most powerful 96boards development board – HiKey 960 – has finally been launched, and can be purchased for $239 on Aliexpress, Amazon US, Switch Sense (Japan), Seeed Studio, or All Net (Germany).

HiKey 960 specifications have not changed much since we found out about the board:

  • SoC – Kirin 960 octa-core big.LITTLE processor with 4x ARM Cortex A73 cores @ up to 2.4 GHz, 4x Cortex A53 cores @ up to 1.8 GHz, and a Mali-G71 MP8 GPU
  • System Memory – 3GB LPDDR4 SDRAM (PoP)
  • Storage – 32GB UFS 2.1 flash storage + micro SD card slot
  • Video Output / Display Interface – 1 x HDMI 1.2a up to 1080p, 1x 4-lane MIPI DSI connector
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 with on-board antennas
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 type A host ports, 1x USB 2.0 type C OTG port
  • Camera – 1x 4-lane MIPI CSI, 1x 2-lane MIPI CSI
  • Expansion
    • PCIe Gen2 on M.2 Key connector
    • 40 pin low speed expansion connector with +1.8V, +5V, DC power, GND, 2x UART, 2x I2C, SPI, I2S, 12x GPIO
    • 60 pin high speed expansion connector: 4L MIPI DSI, 2L+4L MIPI CSI, 2x I2C, SPI (48M), USB 2.0
  • Misc – LEDs for WiFi & Bluetooth, 4x user LEDs, power button, copper heatsink for CPU
  • Power Supply –  8V-18V/2A via 4.75/1.7mm power barrel (EIAJ-3 Compliant); 12V/2A power supply recommended; PMU: Hi6421GWCV530, Hi6422GWCV211, Hi6422GWCV212;
  • Dimensions – 85mm x 55mm

The board officially supports Android Open Source Project (AOSP) with Linux 4.4. Binary images, and instructions to build from source are available in the Documentation page. You’ll also find the hardware manual and schematics over there. There’s no firm commitment to a Linux distributions release, but based on comments from the launch video (embedded below), there could be some later on, and Linux mainline is also being worked on. Stocks are currently limited so you can buy one or two boards, but larger quantities would require a longer lead time. LeMaker also mentions kits with power supply, mini PCIe card… being available soon.

The video will eventually be uploaded to YouTube, but in the meantime I’ve embedded the Facebook video.

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boudyka
boudyka
3 years ago

all that processing power with 10 year old hdmi…cough….why!!!!

m][sko
3 years ago

Any information about other linux base distros?

sandbender
sandbender
3 years ago

@boudyka
The Kirin is a phone/tablet chip so MIPI-D/CSI is the hi-res interface (will go up to 4k). Using HDMI to drive a phone/tablet screen would just add unnecessary complexity and power draw. LeMaker could have added a bridge but that would have driven up the cost on an already pricey board.Hackaday.io has a few MIPI DSI to HDMI shield projects if you’re interested.

hex
hex
3 years ago

f*ck gen2 x4 🙁 no gen3

blu
blu
3 years ago

On-board flash storage is monstrous. RAM, eh, not so much. Great SoC, overall.

dxin
dxin
3 years ago

if mali g71 then mainline is a joke.

Philipp Blum
Philipp Blum
3 years ago

With the RK3399 this could be one of the most interesting boards. The price is also great.

blu
blu
3 years ago

@dxin
What’s the problem with G71 and mainline?

Fossxplorer
Fossxplorer
3 years ago

Can we get a 1GbE NIC adapter using the M.2 mPCIe connector?

Richard Krehbiel
Richard Krehbiel
3 years ago

USB3 will carry 1Gb Ethernet all day…

Fossxplorer
Fossxplorer
3 years ago

Sure, i had in my mind that USB3 ports were for disks and NAS 🙂

vincele
vincele
3 years ago

Will this get any support other than android ? Ie linux mainline. I won’t hold my breath…

Mike Schinkel
3 years ago

@Philipp Blum I was about to comment on how I thought the price was crazy high, then saw your response. What are you comparing with? It seems outrageous to me, but then I am desperately looking for a board with storage that can support the random IO of MySQL but need it to be less than US$100 because I plan to buy in high volume. To everyone: Also, why m2? m2 storage is significantly more expensive than mSATA storage, and I wonder if this board can even saturate mSATA let alone m2? Note, I am still learning all these details… Read more »

hex
hex
3 years ago

@blu
new gpu archinectures always is closed source blob.few years later may be we can see open source gpu in mainline.

hex
hex
3 years ago

@Fossxplorer
ı think you can only use ssd or wifi module.

Jay
3 years ago

Nice specs, minus the 1080p limitation. Dang! If only there was a case for this.

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@Mike Schinkel You’re talking about ‘random IO of MySQL’, then ‘saturate mSATA’ (which is sequential and not random IO) and then consider buying an Android phone without enclosure and Linux support for the task? Good luck to get even correct specifications (LeMaker is amongst those vendors that really don’t care which words and numbers they randomly assemble to fill a web page with ‘specifications’ in the title) and if you want to build a product on this weird phone in 96boards format you should be aware that everything you stick into this M.2 thingie will project over the board, that… Read more »

blu
blu
3 years ago

@hex
Isn’t that a different proposition, though? I mean, the statement ‘This GPU is supported via a binary blow, and thus will likely not run with the latest mainline’, and ‘This GPU is supported via a binary blow, and thus will not run with mainline per se’ are not equivalent to me.

lvrp16
lvrp16
3 years ago
m][sko
3 years ago

Any idea where I can order 1pc of board in Europe ? I don’t want to pay any import tax and All Net is for companies only

Philipp Blum
Philipp Blum
3 years ago
Philipp Blum
Philipp Blum
3 years ago

@Mike Schinkel
It’s a x1 PCIe Interface. So, it’s as slow as SATA. I wish more a PCIe x4 Interface like the RK3399

m][sko
3 years ago

I did benchmark on Hikey960 board and I don’t understand why it is so slow
https://discuss.96boards.org/t/odroid-xu4-cortex-a15-vs-hikey-960-a73-speed/2140/12

Anybody have good experience with Cortext A72, A73 and get papers speed ??
As it looks like Cortex A15 has same speed as A73

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

Settings matter. I would first run github.com/ssvb/tinymembench (click on the ‘Wiki’ tab there or simply do a web search to compare results — tinymembench will tell you also about L1/L2 caches). Then I would also try out sysbench even if this is the most stupid CPU test ever (it is a compiler test more or less but the one good thing is that it does not depend on memory bandwidth). You’ll need sysbench version 0.4.12 (0.5 shows lower numbers) and GCC 5.4 (GCC 4.x shows lower numbers, no idea what higher GCC versions do). If you’re on Ubuntu Xenial the… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago


Well, there’s L2 cache being mentionend (that’s why I mentioned tinymembench yesterday, some contradicting statements (DT/kernel vs. ATF) but no numbers. I wouldn’t call this a ‘it turned out’ situation 😉

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@m][sko Now that’s some interesting numbers over in the thread 🙂 You got a sysbench execution time of 4.5521s on the big cores and 4.9342s on the littles which makes at least sense for the little cores (an ODROID-C2 running 4 A53 at 1.5 GHz scores 6 seconds and 5 vs 6 seconds is exactly what to expect when comparing 1.5GHz vs. 1.8GHz). The A73 only finishing in 4.5521s and not below 2 seconds illustrate the or let’s say one problem. At least sysbench is not affected by memory bandwidth so IMO it makes some sense to look for (L2)… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@m][sko To further elaborate on my babbling above. If I would be interested to get a clue how this thing operates in as less time as possible the next test would be four other sysbench runs. Since while sysbench is a horribly misleading benchmark when used appropriately it can be somewhat useful (since not memory bandwidth dependent and scaling linearly to core count). Shell taskset -c1 sysbench --test=cpu --cpu-max-prime=20000 run --num-threads=1 taskset -c4 sysbench --test=cpu --cpu-max-prime=20000 run --num-threads=1 taskset -c4-5 sysbench --test=cpu --cpu-max-prime=20000 run --num-threads=2 taskset -c4-6 sysbench --test=cpu --cpu-max-prime=20000 run --num-threads=3 1234 taskset -c1 sysbench --test=cpu --cpu-max-prime=20000 run --num-threads=1taskset… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@m][sko
And a last one: I was asking for leo-yan providing tinymembench numbers to look for his memory performance in general and whether there’s also a high increase in latency when jumping from 2097152 (2MB) to 4194304 (4MB) –> tinymembench used to detect presence and sizes of caches.

And another obvious test is to remove heatsink/fan, run a ‘stress -c 8’ and then tinymembench in parallel again.

Maybe it’s worth to link to these comments here in the thread over there if you get taskset -c4 sysbench –test=cpu –cpu-max-prime=20000 run –num-threads=1 execution time significantly lower than 10 seconds.

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft) I agree, L2 cache active or not might be part of the problem. But I believe numbers already indicate that there’s at least one other ‘problem’ present. @m][sko: One final remark: both tools I recommended help you interpreting the validity of results (covariance, standard deviation) without having to stupidly repeating the same set of test ‘just in case’. With tinymembench you get this shown in brackets when exceeding a specific percentage (so when there’s 3% shown you already know that there’s something going on invalidating your results –> throw numbers away, do some investigation, test again). With… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft) Tinymembench should be useable on Android, at least @ssvb explained in the readme how to crosscompile for Android. No idea about sysbench. But both tools provide only insights when used correctly (and the problem with sysbench is really that it’s a compiler benchmark so only if using same version built with same compiler and settings you get comparable results). I think the problem tablet/phone A72/A73 SoCs face is that they must feature specifications that look good (customers buying numbers), they must show high irrelevant performance numbers (detecting being AnTuTu benchmarked just like ‘Clean Diesels’ detecting being benchmarked… Read more »

m][sko
3 years ago

@tkaiser
I posted question on arm community forum
As ARM celebrate A73 has same speed as Intel Core
but I didn’t saw that results 🙁

I will paste all results to 96board forum

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

m][sko : As ARM celebrate A73 has same speed as Intel Core but I didn’t saw that results Well, ARM celebrated an A73 to be made with 10nm process and up to 2.8GHz clockspeeds while we’re talking here about something made in TSMC’s 16nm FFC process, officially limiting max cpufreq to 2.4GHz and obviously prioritizing the GPU (larger die, most probably also preferred wrt thermal budget) which IMO makes sense on a smartphone SoC like this. Just try the sysbench tests running only on 1, 2 or 3 big cores and we know a little bit more. BTW: When I… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

It’s fun over there interpreting the numbers.

nobe
nobe
3 years ago

just for reference, m][sko has found a 4.9-based kernel which solve his performance issue.
all numbers are much higher. results are on 96boards forum.

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

nobe :
m][sko has found a 4.9-based kernel which solve his performance issue

Huh? ‘Solved’? The kernel he tried in between had broken cpufreq scaling, now numbers look better but IMO still far away from ‘solved’. Usually coming up with performant settings takes a lot more time (and needs intensive monitoring as suggested over there, especially if you’re dealing with a design that is prone to overheating)

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