Linaro announces 96Boards initiative to accelerate ARM software development

96Boards is an open hardware specification for ARM 32-bit and 64-bit developer boards, and a Community Program for software delivery to developers, makers and OEMs

HONG KONG, China; 9  FEBRUARY 2015

Linaro Ltd, the not-for-profit engineering organization developing open source software for the ARM® architecture, today announced the launch of the 96Boards initiative.

96Boards is the first open hardware specification that provides a platform for the delivery of compatible low cost, small footprint 32-bit and 64-bit Cortex-A boards from the full range of ARM SoC vendors. Standardized expansion buses for peripheral I/O, display and cameras allow the hardware ecosystem to develop a range of compatible add-on products that will work on any 96Boards product over the lifetime of the platform.

In addition, the 96Boards website at www.96Boards.org provides software downloads and updates, information on products compatible with 96Boards and a forum for software developers, makers and OEMs.

The 96Boards initiative is designed to offer a single software and hardware community across multiple vendor boards supporting a range of different features. A fixed set of minimum functions including USB, SD, HDMI and standardized low speed and high speed peripheral connectors are provided. Vendors may add customized hardware and feature sets provided the minimum functions are available. We expect this to extend the platform life, increase the market for add-on hardware, and accelerate open source upstreaming of support for new SoC features.

Specifications for low-cost ARMv7-A and ARMv8-A development boards target the mobile, embedded, digital home, networking and server segments. The first of these standards – the Consumer Edition – is available now from www.96Boards.org. The second – the Enterprise Edition – will be available in Q2 2015.  These specifications are intended to foster the delivery of multiple ARM hardware platforms targeted at software developers, the maker community, higher education, and embedded OEMs.

Prior to the launch of 96Boards compatible boards, Linaro will work with the board manufacturers and chip suppliers to bring up core software and ensure stability of the platform, including continuous integration testing in Linaro’s Automated Validation Architecture (LAVA). The core software will include builds of Debian and Android running on a recent mainline kernel. Additional software may be made available, depending on the target market for the individual boards.

Supporting Quotes

“Actions Technology plans to combine its low-cost design and manufacturing experience with Linaro’s software expertise to produce the most cost-effective development platform for the full spectrum of software developers, from professional developers in large corporations to individual hobbyists and makers,” said Dr. Zhenyu Zhou, President of Actions Technology. “We look forward to helping build the 96Boards community and bring the benefits of Actions Technology’s products to developers around the world.”

“The work we’re doing with Linaro is key for driving collaborative software engineering on the ARM architecture,” said Suresh Gopalakrishnan, general manager and corporate vice president, Server Business Unit at AMD. “We look forward to the 96Boards initiative not only as an effort to extend ecosystem partner collaboration, but also to enable the developer community with a cost-effective platform for ARM server software development.”

“Linaro’s initiative is perfectly timed to strengthen the 64-bit developer community,” said Vincent Korstanje, vice president of marketing, systems and software group, ARM. “A diverse range of ARMv8-A based devices will appear in consumer, embedded and networking infrastructure markets this year. This program will fuel the pace of 64-bit innovation by providing developers access to low-cost development boards.”

“We are incredibly excited to be a part of the Linaro effort,” said Glenn Carlson, Corporate Supplier Manager at Arrow Electronics.  “As a solutions oriented partner, we are continually seeking new and exciting ways to help our customers solve their most challenging problems.  Our ARM expertise and supply chain experience coupled with Linaro enablement will allow us to explore technologies we never thought possible.”

“The 96Boards program takes on one of the greatest challenges facing designers looking to leverage ARM-based hardware platforms – software complexity and compatibility,” said Tim Barber, senior vice president, design chain business development, Avnet Electronics Marketing, an operating group of Avnet, Inc. (NYSE: AVT). “This program, and its supporting development community, will expand the array of cost-effective, ARM-based platforms available to engineers and will accelerate time-to-market with next-generation equipment and devices.”

About Linaro

Linaro is the place where engineers from the world’s leading technology companies define the future of open source on ARM. The company is a not-for-profit engineering organization with over 200 engineers working on consolidating and optimizing open source software for the ARM architecture, including developer tools, the Linux kernel, ARM power management, and other software infrastructure. Linaro is distribution neutral: it wants to provide the best software foundations to everyone by working upstream, and to reduce non-differentiating and costly low level fragmentation.

To ensure commercial quality software, Linaro’s work includes comprehensive test and validation on member hardware platforms. The full scope of Linaro’s engineering work is open to all online. For more information about Linaro, visit http://www.linaro.org.

 

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