Banana Pi BPI-R3 WiFi 6 router board features MediaTek Filogic 830/MT7986 SoC

While checking out Linux 5.17 changelog, I noticed the MediaTek MT7986 WiFi router processor that I had never heard of. It turns out MT7986 is the codename for MediaTek Filogic 830 quad-core Cortex-A53 processor designed for Wi-Fi 6/6E routers with up to 6 Gbps bandwidth, and two 2.5Gbps Ethernet interfaces.

Banana Pi has already been working on a router board based on Filogic 830/MT7986A named “Banana Pi BPI-R3” that offers an upgrade to the company’s Banana Pi BPI-R2 board powered by a MediaTek MT7623A processor.

Banana Pi BPI-R3 router board

Banana Pi BPI-R3 specifications:

  • SoC – MediaTek MT7986A (Filogic 830) quad-core Arm Cortex A53 processor with hardware acceleration engines for Wi-Fi offloading and networking
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR RAM
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash, MicroSD card socket, support for M.2 NVMe SSD
  •  Networking
    • 2x 2.5GbE SFP cages, 5x Gigabit Ethernet ports (1x WAN + 4x LAN) via MT7531AE 7-port switch
    • WiFi 6 4×4 2.4GHz WiFi via MT7975N
    • WiFi 6 4×4 5GHz Wifi via MT7975P
    • 8x u.FL antenna connectors
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 Type-A ports, 2x USB 2.0 headers
  • Expansion
    • Mini PCIe slot with USB signals only + MicroSIM card slot
    • M.2 KEY-M PCIe interface (2-lane PCIe 2.0)
    • 26-pin GPIO header
  • Debugging – Debug UART header for serial console
  • Misc – Reset and WPS buttons, fan header, boot switch
  • Power Supply – Via DC jack or 2-pin header

MediaTek Filogic 830 router board

Banana Pi says the board can be used as an “internet service router”, a wireless router, a repeater, a home security gateway, an home automation gateway, a NAS device (using an M.2 to 5x SATA adapter), as well as other network and communication applications. There’s no information about software support at all, but the video below, dated January 20, 2022, shows the system running OpenWrt 21.02 with Linux 5.4.171.

Note that OpenWrt currently uses Linux 5.15, so the code used in the demo above cannot be upstreamed to OpenWrt. Having said that I’m just writing about this board because MT7986 just got added to Linux 5.17, so there may be hope.

You’ll also notice an SFP to RJ45 adapter in the thumbnail or video above. Note while there are many of those available online, they may not all work as expected, and the ones most likely to work can be pricey (around $500). The good news is that Banana Pi BPI-R3 apparently works with a cheaper SFP to RJ45 adapter sold for under $30 on Aliexpress.

Banana Pi BPI-R3 board is not for sale just yet, and the company did not say when they expect it to become available. Additional information may be found on the product page.

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11 Comments
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Willy
Willy
3 months ago

Not sure why they’ve made the two 2.5G on SFP. One could be understandable for fiber modules, but that complicates the connection of the second one to the LAN. Also 2.5G modules are not that common and are at least as expensive if not more than 10/25G ones.

JJJ
JJJ
3 months ago

I am pretty sure the MT7531AE only has 5x gigabit PHY integrated, the extra two ports are intended to be SFP. I’m not even sure if they support SGMII, but SGMII PHYs were relatively expensive compared to RGMII or GMII last time I checked, so it’s probably just cost reduction by avoiding having the extra RJ45s.

Willy
Willy
3 months ago

Could be, indeed. SFP cages are very inexpensive so that could be an explanation.

TLS
TLS
3 months ago

The main SoC has a pair of HSGMII MAC interfaces. The matching PHY’s are less than $2 each, guaranteed.

Bertrandonneur
Bertrandonneur
3 months ago

Who feels like playing early adopter for a new board that (1) is by Sinovoip and (2) is based on a Mediatek SoC and (3) has – and will likely have for quite a while – a driver support and documentation up to the “standard” for either (1) or (2), let alone a constellation like this here combining both? I mean, on a purely empirical level: what could possibly go wrong eh?

If anyone does, please post a link to the video of your experience (including install,config,tests) here in the comments.

itchy n scratchy
itchy n scratchy
3 months ago

Its not a mobile soc, it’s coming from the networking group (ex ralink) those SOCs are usually better supported via openwrt, but obviously not yet now…

The rest about bananaware sounds reasonable 😸

Nighthawk
Nighthawk
3 months ago

This would be perfect if they added some SFP28 ports. Optics are finally affordable but there’s not reasonably priced hardware to use them with

TLS
TLS
3 months ago

This looks like it’s based on the feature reduced MT7986B, not the MT7986A, as it had native SATA support, plus ADC, RTC and IR support.

David
David
3 months ago

@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft) said: “You’ll also notice an SFP to RJ45 adapter in the thumbnail or video above. Note while there are many of those available online, they may not all work as expected, and the ones most likely to work can be pricey (around $500).” Huh? $500 for an SFP/RJ45 ethernet module? Am I missing something? The modules below are the ubiquitous 1.25G type, but I think they’ll plug into a 2.5G slot and work. Right? Here’s one SFP/RJ45 module on Amazon for $20.99 with 4.7 out of 5 stars across 630 ratings: * 1.25G SFP-T, 1000BASE-T Copper SFP,… Read more »

Daniel Golle
2 months ago

The R3 should be considered an upgrade to the BananaPi R64, which is based on MT7622 (2x Cortex-A53) rather than being an upgrade for the BananaPi R2 (which btw. is not based on MT7621 dual-core MIPS1004Kc, but rather based on MT7623, a quad-core Cortex-A7 SoC stuck somehow half-way between a smartphone and a router).
@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft) maybe want to fix the first sentence in this article.

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