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Posts Tagged ‘linaro’

Secure96 is a 96Boards Mezzanine Expansion Board To Experiment with Hardware Based Security

September 28th, 2017 6 comments

With the Internet of things booming and taking a more important role in our lives, security will become more and more critical. So far, it has often been an afterthought with modems & routers frequently shipping with default username and password, and getting security right is really hard, as shown by the recent CLKSCREW attack that somehow leverages DVFS to break ARM TrustZone security, and that “is not a software bug, nor a hardware bug, it’s a fundamental part of the energy management design”, so most ARM platforms are vulnerable. Optimal security normally combines software and hardware, so having a platform to experiment with different HW security solutions would be useful, and that’s what Secure96 Mezzanine board for 96Boards aims for.

Secure96 expansion board specifications:

  • Security ICs
    • Microchip Atmel ATSHA204A SHA-based CryptoAuthentication crypto element device
    • Microchip Atmel ATECC508A crypto device with ECDH (Elliptic Curve Diffie–Hellman) key agreement
    • Infineon SLB 9670 TPM 1.2/2.0
  • Storage – EEPROM
  • USB – micro USB port connected to FTDI chip
  • Expansion – 4-pin for I2C, 40-pin header to connect to 96Boards

Launched in 2011, ATSHA204A is used for symmetric authentication with a random number generator, a unique 72-bit serial number, I2C/SWI host interface, 88 bytes used for configuration, 512 bytes used for data, and 64 bytes of OTP storage. It can be used for accessory (battery, cartridge, …)  authentication, secure boot, data integrity verification, and session key exchange. Joakim Bech, Tech Lead for Security Working Group at Linaro, has already published some code to leverage that chip, currently (& temporarily) posted on his own Github, but will be moved to Linaro repo later on.

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ATECC508A shares many of the feature of the first chip, but adds asymmetric key pairs. Sadly it requires an NDA to get the datasheet and TRM, It’s supported by the Atmel CryptoAuthLib, so it might be possible to study the code to better understand it. He has not done work on the software part yet for this part. Note that I previously reported about a demo for secure IoT connectivity using ESP8266 + ATECC508A.

Infineon SLB9670 TPM has just been tested with Intel TSS TPM 2.0 resource manager, and the tpm2.0 tools, but again, no software has been implemented for this chip on Secure96 board yet.

Going forward the rough plans are to:

  • Finalize the ATSHA204A implementation
  • Create a library for the ATSHA204A implementation
  • Offline implementation to mimic device behavior (in a Trusted Application in a TEE)
  • Use IC(s) for secure boot on a 96Boards IoT device
  • Get the specification and implement support for ATECC508A
  • TPM chip – Try it out using IMA in Linux & use it to store SSH credentials

You may want to flick through the Linaro Connect presentation slides for more details.

The video has also been uploaded, but the audio is not that clear. Since there’s still quite a lot more work to do, Secure96 mezzanine is not for sale yet, but eventually it should be via 96Boards Mezzanine products page.

Linaro Connect SF 2017 Welcome Keynote – New Members, Achievements, the Future of Open Source, and More…

September 26th, 2017 No comments

Linaro Connect San Francisco 2017 is now taking place until September 29, and it all started yesterday with the Welcome Keynote by George Grey, Linaro CEO discussing the various achievements since the last Linaro Connect in Budapest, and providing an insight to the future work to be done by the organization.

The video is available on YouTube (embedded below), and since I watched it, I’ll provide a summary of what was discussed:

  • Welcoming New Members – Kylin (China developed FreeBSD operating systems) joined LEG (Enterprise Group), NXP added LHG (Home Group) membership, and Xilinx joined LITE (IoT and Embedded).
  • Achievements
    • OPTEE open portable trusted environment execution more commonly integrated into products. Details at optee.org.
    • LEG 17.08 ERP release based on Linux 4.12, Debian 8.9 with UEFI, ACPI, DPDK, Bigtop, Hadoop, etc…
    • LITE group has been involved in Zephyr 1.9 release, notably contributing to LwM2M stack
    • More projects to be found on download page.
  • Open source future with many fields involved including artificial intelligence, security, automotive, automation, etc.
    • Security requires software/hardware combination, and with a single global standard such as OPTEE desirable
    • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
      • Trend is to move out of the CPU to off-load tasks to GPU, FPGA, or NNA (Neural Network Accelerators)
      • Not single API, for example TensorFlow supports CPU and NVIVIA CUDA, using other platforms require heavy customization
      • Linaro to work abstraction layer/ common API for machine learning
      • A.I will bring many benefits, but also potential dangers/issues: privacy, military use, etc… Development in the open is better.
    • Automotive
      • Currently Intel and NVIDIA provides ADAS / autonomous driving platform, both closed sources
      • More open platform needed, maybe a 96Boards Automotive platform with 6x cameras, GPS, touch screen display, processing power good enough for ADAS and IVI (In Vehicle-Entertainment)
      • Linux now mostly handles non-safety critical code, will change in the future. Containers will help.
      • Currently working on proof-of-concept with StreetDrone One autonomous driving development platform, DragonBoard 410c and Gumstix AeroCore 2 mezzanine. More details, maybe demo, at next Linaro Connect
  • 96Boards
    • Recently (and soon to be) announced – Hikey 960, Orange Pi i96, Uranus (WiFi board based on TI CC3220, to run Zephyr OS)
    • Mezzanine boards – NeonKey with sensors and LEDs, Secure96 with crypto chips & TPM (used to play with OPTEE)
  • ARM Platforms for developers – Three types:
  • Microplatforms
    • Definition – open source, minimal, secure, OTA upgradeable distributions
    • Cortex M platforms will use Zephyr OS, Cortex A support will be based on OpenEmbedded with a unified multi-SoC kernel
    • Currently tested on Hikey, DragonBoard 410c, and Raspberry Pi 3, more platforms to be supported in the future
    • Demos with 6x Carbon + Nitrogen board with BLE running Zephyr OS, Raspberry Pi 3 IoT gateway:
      • 1. Use Linaro Developer Cloud (running LED Enterprise Reference Platform) + Hawkbit dash to monitor temperature sensors on the board
      • 2. Switch Raspberry Pi 3 gateway to use Softbank cloud using Alibaba infrastructure on-the-fly, and control lights from Japan severs.
      • The two demos above shows how a multi-standard automation gateway could be implemented solving the problem of incompatibility of devices from different manufacturers
      • BLE mesh demo with six board controlling lights
      • Source code for demos can be found on Github
    • Going forwards downstream microplatforms will be developed by a separate entity: Open Source Foundries, unrelated to Linaro which will keep on focusing on upstream work
  • Linaro also launched the Associate Program for OEMs, ODMs, service providers, startups, and university who want to join Linaro. No details were provided, only an email address [email protected]

You’ll also find the presentation slides on Slideshare.

GIGABYTE SynQuacer 96Boards Enterprise Platform is Powered by SocioNext SC2A11 24-core ARMv8 SoC

September 24th, 2017 21 comments

GIGABYTE, Socionext and Linaro have partnered to design a software development platform compliant with 96Boards Enterprise specifications, with GIGABYTE taking care of manufacturing the hardware based on Socionext SC2A11 processor, while Linaro will provide support via 96Boards community.

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GIGABYTE SynQuacer platform preliminary specifications (based on photos and SC2A11 specifications):

  • SoC – Socionext SynQuacer SC2A11 24x ARM Cortex-A53 MPCore cores @ up to 1GHz, with 32KB/32KB I/D L1 cache, 256 KB L2 cache, and 4MB L3 cache (5W power consumption)
  • System Memory – 4x DIMM slots for 64-bit DDR4-2133Mbps with ECC up to 64GB
  • Storage – 32GB Samsung KLMBG2JENB-B041 eMMC 5.1 flash + 2x SATA interfaces
  • Connectivity – 2x Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45) with IPSec Network Offload Engine
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 ports on motherboard (via Renesas D720201), 4x USB ports on front panel via expansion board
  • Audio – 1x microphone input, 1x speaker output on front panel
  • Expansion – 1x PCie x16 slot (limited to 4-lanes), 2x PCIe x4 slots, other headers for expansion and/or debugging
  • Misc – Power button, power and activity LEDs, reset and power switches, configuration switches, RTC battery
  • Power Supply – ATX connector + ATX power supply
  • Dimensions – board: microATX board (96Board Enterprise compliant)

Linaro have been working on Socionex SC2A11 SoC using their PEC boards for a while, and if you want more details you may check out Linaro Connect Budapest 2017’s presentation. Multiple PEC boards can be interconnected offering up to 1536-core servers, with those systems suitable for IoT gateways, edge computing and servers running programs such as Hadoop/Spark, e-Commerce platforms, OpenStack, and so on. As of March 2017, Socionext SC2A11 supported ARM Trusted firmware, UEFI (edk2), Linux 4.5 with all drivers, Centos 7 Aarch64 rootfs, and Hadoop.

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The new development platform should become available in December 2017, and a prototype will be demonstrated during Linaro Connect San Francisco next week on September 25-29, and Yasuo Nishiguchi (Socionext) will present a related keynote at the event.

MCUBoot is an Open Source Secure Bootloader for IoT / MCUs

May 15th, 2017 5 comments

Bootloaders takes care of the initial boot sequence on the hardware before the operating system takes over. For example, U-boot is often used in embedded systems as the bootloader before starting the main operating systems such as Linux or FreeBSD. MCUBoot is also a bootloader, but it targets the IoT, here referring to MCU based systems with limited memory and storage capacity, and is born out of work on Apache Mynewt OS, when developers decided to develop the bootloader separately from the operating system.

MCUBoot is designed to run on small & low cost systems running on MCU with ~512 KB flash, ~256 KB RAM, and currently supports Zephyr OS and Mynewt, with support for other RTOS also considered. Due to constraint the bootloader uses minimal features with a flash driver, a single thread, and crypto services. The project also aims at solving security and field firmware updates. To address the latter, the flash is partitioned in four sections, one for the bootloader, one “slot” with the primary image, a second slot for the firmware upgrade, and a Scratch partition to swap slots when an upgrade is needed. An image trailer at the end of each slot indicates the state of the slot.

You’ll find the source code in MCUBoot repository in Github, and you may want to watch the presentation at Linaro Connect Budapest 2017 for more details.

Cambrionix PowerPad 15S is a 15-Port USB Hub with 2.1A Output, Control API, Serial Console, Power Consumption Monitoring

April 8th, 2017 8 comments

Many development boards are powered over USB, usually via a micro USB ports, and if you have one board, you’d just use a 5V USB adapter with the right amperage, and it will work fine as long as you have a low resistance USB cable (AWG20 cables recommended for higher loads).  But when you start to running multiple boards using power strips with USB adapter start to take space, so USB hubs are much more convenient. However, you need to find one that delivers enough power, is reliable, and possible allows per port power control. The guys at LAVA (Linaro Automated Validation Architecture) are using a lot of boards to validate software developed by Linaro and their members, with the boards having to run 24/7, and they had various misfortunes with USB hubs, but as Dave Pigott reports they’ve now found that USB hub of their dream with a 15-port USB hub from Cambrionix which should be their PowerPad 15S model.

Cambrionix PowerPad15S technical specifications:

  • 15x USB port supporting charge and sync with up to 2.1A per port
  • 1x USB host port
  • Control Interface – Cambrionix API, Terminal Command Session, SSH, Minicom
  • Charging Method – Cambrionix VIC “Very Intelligent Charging Protocol”
  • Power Supply – 180W external power supply
  • Certifications – CE, FCC, Underwriters Laboratory (UL), WEEE and RoHS

Each port of the USB Hub can be controlled individually (charging, syncing, or off modes), allows retrieval of VID/PID data, and records power consumption (amps, charging time, total power consumed).  The hub can be monitored and controlled using LiveViewer App for Window or Mac OS, but if you want to automate the USB port, for example to power cycle a board that does not answer to ping request, you may want to use the Cambrionix API available for Linux x86/ARM, Windows, and Mac OS.

When Dave connect the HUB to his (Linux) laptop he noticed it was detected as  a serial device only, and after configuring ser2net, he could login via telnet, and help listed a bunch of commands to control each port. As he connected a Hikey boar, he found a command to check all the ports status with their current draw, so he wrote a Python script to control the port as he wanted.

They also found EtherSync Hub from the same company with that’s running Linux, and can be controlled from the network over Ethernet. LAVA team has been running both types of hubs for a while and found them to be reliable, and will update the complete lab with them.

Cambrionix has other USB charging product with various number of ports, and form factor, including a USB charging 1U rack, or a 54-port data transfer USB hub. Check out their products page for details. Those are all nifty USB hubs, but as expected price is pretty high with PowerPad 15 sells for $660 on Amazon US (that’s $44 per USB port), and while there are some other cheaper Cambrionix models on Amazon UK, they probably lack advanced functions like power monitoring. [Update: I’ve been informed model PowerPad 15C (notice the extra C) is much cheaper, as it sells for £159 ex vat (~$200) on Multipad UK. The main difference is that it does not support sync mode compared to PowerPad 15S model].

ArcherMind Mediatek X20 Pro Development Board Adds 3G, 4G LTE and More I/Os

March 28th, 2017 3 comments

Archermind launched Mediatek X20 board powered by Mediatek Helio X20 deca-core processor, and compliant with 96Boards CE hardware specifications last year for $199. The company has now been working on a “professional” version, dubbed Mediatek X20 Pro that adds supports for 3G and 4G / LTE, as well as extra I/O connectors for cameras, LCD modules, and an RF baseboard.

Alpha Star Mediatek X20 Pro board specifications:

  • SoC – Mediatek Helio X20 (MT6797) deca-core processor with two ARM Cortex A72 cores @ 2.1~2.3 GHz, four Cortex A53 @ 1.85 GHz, four Cortex A53 @ 1.4 GHz, and  ARM Mali-T880 GPU @ 700 MHz
  • System Memory – 2GB LPDDR3 2-ch @ 933 MHz
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC 5.1 flash + micro SD 3.0 card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI up to 1080p @ 30 fps
  • Video Support – 25MP @ 24fps / 25MP @ 30 fps; WQXGA 2560×1600 60fps; FHD 1920×1080 120fps; 4Kx2K 30fps H.265 w/HDR
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 (MT6631), GPS with antenna connector
  • Cellular Connectivity – Modem with support for WCDMA B1/B8, FDD-LTE B1/B3,TDD-LTE B38/B39/B40
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB port (device only).
  • Expansion:
    • 1x 40 pin low speed expansion connector – UART, SPI, 2x I2C, 12x GPIO, DC power
    • 1x 60 pin high speed expansion connector – 4L-MIPI DSI, USB, 2x I2C, 2L+4LMIPI CSI
    • IO extended interface – Support one 2k LCM or two 1080P LCM, 13M+13M dual camera
    • Optional 16-pin analog expansion connector – Stereo headset/line out, speaker, analog line-in, and more
    • 2x connectors on the bottom of the board for RF sub-board
  • Misc – Power, reset and volume buttons. 6 LEDS (4x user, 1x Wifi, 1x Bluetooth)
  • Power Supply – 8 to 18V DC input
  • Dimensions – 85 x 54 mm

The board only supports Android 6.0, with Linux support depending on what Mediatek decides to do. You’ll find some hardware and software document on the Wiki which still has many non-working links…, and none of them seem related to the Pro version yet.

If you want to use 3G or 4G cellular , you’ll need to get  “Mediatek X20 RF sub-board” that connects to X20 board via two board-to-board connectors with the following key features:

  • Modem Features – World-mode Modem with Single RF for all Markets
    • FDD/TDD LTE R11 Cat-6 (300Mbps/50Mbps) with 2x20MHz DL carrier aggregation support
    • HSPA+ R8 (42Mbps/11Mbps) / TD-SCDMA Rel.7 (2.8/2.2 Mbps)
    • CDMA2000 1x/EVDO Rel.A, SRLTE support
  • Transceiver Features
    • Transmitter – Direct conversion(LTE/3G/8PSK) and DFM for GMSK; Dedicated power detection circuits for power control over specific power range; 4LB/4MB/2HB TX output port
    • Receiver – Hybrid direct-conversion(4G/3G/C2K) /low-IF (GGE, DC-HSDPA) receiver; 14+14 RX input ports; 4 RXIF IQ outputs
  • RF Board Band Support – WCDMA band 1,8; TDD-LTE band 38,39,40; FDD-LTE band 1,3
  • Dimensions – 100 x 71 mm

Charbax interviewed the company at Linaro Connect Budapest 2017 where they showcased their new X20 Pro board and corresponding add-on boards, as well as the upcoming Mstar Altra board compliant with 96Boards TV Platforms specs (7:48 mark in video) based on Mstar MSD6A838 quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 SoC with 4K M-Genuine Video Engine supporting Motion Estimation/Motion Compensation (MEMC), HDR, color enhance, de-noise, and so on.


It’s unclear whether Mediatek X20 Pro is available now, and we don’t know the price yet, but considering the non-pro version sells for $200, we could probably expect the 4G version to sell between $250 to $300 with the RF baseboard and SIM card adapter board. Some more information is available on the product page.

Socionext SC2A11 Low Power Server Processor Comes with 24 Cortex-A53 Cores, Scales up to 1536 Cores via PCIe

March 15th, 2017 7 comments

Socionext SC2A11 is an 24-core (tetracosa) ARM Cortex-A53 processor designed for low-power server system suitable for edge computing, web server & indexing, cloud computing, and any applications that do not require high single thread peak performance. The company also designed SC2A20 switch SoC that allows up to 64 SC2A11 processors (1536 cores) to communicate over PCI Express using Socionext DDT (Direct Data Transaction).

SC2A11 SoC specifications:

  • Processor – 24x ARM Cortex-A53 MPCore cores @ up to 1GHz, with 32KB/32KB I/D L1 cache, 256 KB L2 cache, and 4MB L3 cache
  • Memory I/F – DDR4-2133Mbps 64-bit + ECC
  • Flash I/F – HSSPI, eMMC
  • PCIe – PCI Express Gen2, Root/Endpoint select, 4 lanes (2 systems/ for SoC IF)
  • LAN – 2x 1Gbps with IPSec Network Offload Engine (wire-speed)
  • Serial I/F – UART, I2C, GPIO

The company did not provide any info about software, but it’s safe to assume it’s running Linux. There’s some code on the Linux mailing list for other Socionext processor,  but nothing for SC2A11. Another interesting use case is to connect several processor element card (PEC) based on SC2A11 using SC2A20 switch SoC, and a few Socionext MB86M30 ASSP via PCIe to encoding raw videos to 4K HEVC / H.265 videos @ 60 fps.

Media Transcoder Server

Socionext was at Linaro Connect Budapest 2017 demonstrating some of those PECs, and Charbax checked them out at the demo event, where they showcase the boards, and explained a little about them, and their relation with Linaro (as a member).

You won’t find than many details on Socionext SC2A11 product page, but at least you can inquire the company if you need more information.

New 96Boards IoT Edition Boards Showcased at Linaro Connect 2017: BlueSky IE and WRTNode IE

March 9th, 2017 10 comments

Linaro Connect Budapest 2017 is taking place this week in Hungary, and during George Grey – Linaro CEO – keynote, he provided a status updates for the Linaro group, addressed some of Linaro’s criticisms from members and the community, and unveiled two upcoming boards compliant with 96Boards IoT edition both running Zephyr OS, and adding to BLE Carbon board announced last year.

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The first board is BlueSky IE board with the following key specifications:

  • SoC – RDA Micro RDA5981A ARM Cortex-M4 Wireless MCU with 64KB ROM, and 32KB cache
  • System Memory – 485KB SRAM. It’s unclear if that’s only the on-chip SRAM, and there’s also some external PSRAM added.
  • Storage – 8Mb NOR flash 802.11 b / g / n HT20 / 40 mode
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi with support for  HT20 / 40 modes
  • Crypto security hardware

The second board is WRTnode IE:

  • SoC – Mediatek MT7697 ARM Cortex-M4 wireless MCU @ up to 192MHz with 64KB ROM, 353 KB SRAM
  • Storage – 4Mb NOR flash
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 LE
  • Crypto security hardware

Neither boards are available now, and Linaro and their members must still be working on them before the launch. There’s currently very little information about RDA5981(A) MCU except on some Chinese websites, but you’ll find many more resources for Mediatek MT7697. Mr Grey also demo’ed Orange Pi i96 board announced last year with an Ubuntu distribution developed by Shenzhen Xunlong Software.

Linaro also announced four new members with Acer joining the Linaro IoT and Embedded (LITE) Group, Guizhou Huaxintong Semiconductor Technology Co., Ltd (HXT Semiconductor) & Fujitsu Limited coming to the Linaro Enterprise Group (LEG), with the latter also joining as founding member of the LEG High Performance Computing Special Interest Group (HPC SIG), and Google joined as a Club member.

You might be interested in watching the keynote with all those announcements, and to be more up-to-date with Linaro’s progress.


If you are in a rush, you may prefer flicking through the keynote presentation slides instead.