A20-SOM Update


A20-SOM is small 80x55mm module with A20, Power managment and DDR3 memory only. We announced the prototypes early in September and were working on the software support.

We build also A20-SOM-EVB which is low cost two layer board and allow different A20 solutions to be rapid prototyped and tested.


On A20-SOM-EVB we put two new peripherials: Gigabit Ethernet and 2Mpix @30fps camera.

The Gigabit Ethernet gave us a little bit of troubles at the beginning as the Gmac pinmux was quite different than Emac, but now it works.

What is a bit dissapointing is that Gigabit Ethernet can’t achieve more than 330Mbit/s transfer with the current state of the drivers, there were few comments that this may improve a bit later, but ARMs seems not quite capable with Gigabit Interfaces if you read for other popular ARMs like imx6 also can’t have full throughput of Gigabit Ethernet.

What Oliver Schinagl point out in #linux-sunxi IRC channel is that A20 emac and gmac share different multiplexing on different ports and use different registers, so it may be possible A20 to have two Ethernet ports one 100Mbit and one 1Gbit as same time, but this nobody try yet as no hardware to check.

Sure with A20-SOM it would be easy to modify the current EVB and to add second 100Mbit Ethernet interface and to try if it works.

Last thing we fight now is the camera, it is GT2005 and supported in Android but the support in Linux is not complete, nevermind we are going to run A20-SOM now in production and deal with the camera later as at hardware level everything seems ok.

So we are going to rework some mistakes we found on the prototypes and will run production, so in November A20-SOM should be ready in stock.

23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. John
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 09:37:39

    These are exciting news, regardless the ethernet issues. We are looking forward to use these two boards in our next projects. A20-SOM has a lot of posibilities!


  2. Martin Schleisner Ibsen
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 09:43:22

    Very exciting. Can’t wait to get some updates on the A13-SOM:)


  3. Mex
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 11:52:51

    You will probably never achieve full GbE throughput, not only “with the current state of the drivers”, as you say. I read somewhere that Freescale, when asked, said, that the GbE module on the SoC is connected to a slower internal bus not capable of GbE speeds because they followed design recommendations by ARM to connect it that way and that all current SoCs implement GbE that way. You need an extra chip for full GbE speeds. You can see this in the Utilite computers, where one of two GbE ports is connected via PCIe and an external chip.


    • wtarreau
      Oct 18, 2013 @ 23:09:54

      I disagree, I have a number of ARM chips (ARMv5 and ARMv7) which are perfectly capable of saturating their internal gigabit NICs. Buy any outdated 3-years old plug computer and you’ll see it fill the gig link. It’s true that Freescale indicated in their doc that 470 Mbps was the design limit for the iMX6’s NIC, and it’s possible that the A20 will be the next lamer casting a shadow on ARM’s suitability in network environments. That’s too bad, Gigabit Ethernet is already old technology by now and seeing CPUs designed for NAS devices still not capable of coping with technology that’s been mainstream on every laptop for the last 10 years is really really sad. If none of these chip manufacturers wakes up NOW, for sure Intel will win the low-end server market with their new Atoms (4 gig ports inside and 18nm), and will later spread to all other devices. We need some competition to see progress in all these designs.


  4. zoobab
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 14:45:05

    How easy it would be to power that board and just have serial access, without the daughter board?


  5. zoobab
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 14:52:08

    The console connector is on the back on the board then?


  6. Morgaine
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 19:55:44

    A20-SOM and its EVB do look nice. Once these are in the production pipeline, is work expected to refocus on A20-OLinuXino-MICRO[-4GB], or is this already in progress? I haven’t seen it mentioned for a while, but presumably this is because the A20-SOM takes priority. Is this correct?


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Oct 09, 2013 @ 20:03:19

      A20-OLinuXino-MICRO is in production and thousands are already in use, it has most complete Android and Linux support from all our board, so I do not understand what do you mean by refocus? now we work on A10S/A13 Android and Linux to achieve same support as A20 have


  7. Morgaine
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 21:09:46

    Woohoo! That’s excellent news, thank you very much! 🙂

    Oh dear, entirely my mistake. I was very eager to see this board and wrote about it many times on the Element14 forum, but I probably missed some announcement after the in-development blog posts, and the lack of A20-OLinuXino appearing at Farnell UK (unlike the other OLinuXinos) supported the false idea that it wasn’t yet in commercial release.

    I’m very happy indeed to hear I was wrong!!! (I’ll wait for it to appear at Farnell UK, but that doesn’t usually take them long).

    Many thanks again! 🙂


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Oct 16, 2013 @ 23:06:03

      for UK stock you can always check http://www.olimex.co.uk which stocks all our boards a week after we release them
      Mouser, Farnel, Digikey usually need more time to list new boards


      • Juggel
        Oct 16, 2013 @ 23:48:33

        They run an eBay shop, but unfortunately, you can’t buy there, for there are some restrictrions for buyers which I’m not entirely clear about. When I tried to bid there, eBay told me that I couldn’t use this shop, for I either didn’t have a PayPal account or no account associated with my eBay profile. I’m not sure whether that’s an accident or on purpose. I don’t see these restrictions with other sellers, although I’ve occasionally seen it with a few Chinese sellers, too. Couldn’t find any pattern though.

        Funnily, I can’t even contact them (the Olimex.co.uk eBay shop that is), because it is not possible to ask questions about their offers on eBay. When you click “Ask a question” in one of their listings, eBay tells you, that the vendor cannot be contacted. If you are in contact with them, maybe you could ask whether they could change their eBay settings in case they weren’t even aware of the fact, that they have set such restrictions.

      • OLIMEX Ltd
        Oct 17, 2013 @ 07:52:57

        easier way to contact them is to send e-mail to info@olimex.co.uk

  8. harolimex
    Oct 23, 2013 @ 10:49:50

    Yay !!
    Can’t wait for this……this is amazing.
    You guys rocks !


  9. Stefan
    Dec 02, 2013 @ 18:33:39

    As November has passed, i wanted to ask about the Status.

    I would like to use the Module for a future Product so it would be nice if you could tell the expected release date. If development has finished, Board Layout and Schematics would help me to start the Design.


  10. MarkusS
    Jan 29, 2014 @ 23:51:01

    Any update for us? Can’t wait to get those boards in my hands


  11. Vitacmm
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 08:18:23

    Is this board allready on sale? Olimex A20 in website is a bit different and more expensive.
    Any date for sale?



  12. mucko
    Mar 09, 2014 @ 13:09:56

    When this board will be relesed?


  13. hunterhu
    Jul 08, 2014 @ 23:27:33

    I bought 2 A20-SOM-EVB boards with the Debian SD cards, the GMAC ethernet won’t work. After booting up the interface stay off, no leds at all, but the lsmod showing sunxi_gmac kernel module loaded though.

    What am I missing here?


  14. Nick
    Nov 10, 2014 @ 20:12:41

    I have A20-SOM-EVB. And make external board with PHY LAN8710 and RJ45. And tryed to bring up both ethernet. Gmac on port A, and emac on port H. I used openWRT and make changes in dtb file(dtc utility can make dts from dtb, and dtb form dts). But when i make emac “okay” in dts then both inerface not working. They can see link, but no transfer even pings. emac transfer trash packest with 4 random bytes. =(((


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