[Cambridge UK, 22 December 2017] Linaro Ltd, the open source collaborative engineering organization developing software for the Arm® ecosystem, today announced that members of the 96Boards steering committee are working on new System-on-Module (SOM) specifications and they are inviting interested parties to participate in the finalization of the specifications.

96Boards is Linaro’s initiative to build a single software and hardware community across low-cost development boards based on Arm technology. Since 96Boards was announced in 2015, members and other companies have been looking at ways to effectively mass produce prototypes created with 96Boards platforms. Some member companies have worked with third parties to develop proprietary SOM solutions and these have sold in high volume, but without leveraging all the software and hardware work done on the prototype 96Boards-based prototype and with no compatibility across SoCs.

SOM solutions today use a variety of different connector solutions including SO-DIMM connectors used in DRAM and Mini Module Plus (MMP) connectors for certain specialist boards, but there is no agreed standard that provides flexible IO and a robust mounting mechanism. In addition, there is no standard form factor. The new 96Boards SOM specifications aim to address this lack of a standard by producing a general purpose SOM platform that will enable plug and play compatibility between a whole range of different SOM solutions.

There are currently two SOM specifications under development:

  • The Compute Module Specification defines a SOM with generic module-to-carrier board interface, independent of the specific SoC choice on the module. The Compute module addresses the application requirements of segments including industrial automation, smart devices, gateway systems, automotive, medical, robotics and retail POS systems.
  • The Wireless specification designs a SOM for interchangeable wireless module applications supporting standard and/or proprietary wireless standards such as 802.15.4, BLE, WiFi, LoRa, NB-IoT, LTE-M etc. The specification is designed to enable evolution that will support multiple products and future wireless standards.

Both specifications encourage the development of reliable and cost-effective embedded platforms for building end-products.

The initial drafts of the specifications have been created by the current steering committee members and reviewing began today. The 96Boards steering committee includes SoC, SOM, and cloud and software service companies. Companies interested in providing input into the current version of the specifications and/or becoming a part of the steering committee are invited to contact 96Boards@Linaro.org. The final specification will be launched at Linaro Connect in Hong Kong on 19 March 2018 (registration for this open source software engineering event is now open).

About Linaro Linaro is leading collaboration on open source development in the Arm ecosystem. The company has over 300 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. The effectiveness of the Linaro approach has been demonstrated by Linaro’s growing membership, and by Linaro consistently being listed as one of the top five company contributors, worldwide, to Linux kernels since 3.10.

To ensure commercial quality software, Linaro’s work includes comprehensive test and validation on member hardware platforms. The full scope of Linaro engineering work is open to all online. To find out more, please visit http://www.linaro.org and http://www.96Boards.org.