Banana Pi has posted specs for a “BPI-R3” router board that runs Linux on a quad -A53 Mediatek MT7986 and offers dual 4×4 WiFi 6 radios plus 2x 2.5GbE SFP, 4x GbE, WAN, USB 3.0, mini-PCIe, and M.2 M-key.
Banana Pi has been ramping up its router board product line over the last year and is now prepping a Banana Pi BPI-R3 model with a Mediatek MT7986 SoC designed for WiFi 6 router boards. The BPI-R3 is a major upgrade over the quad -A7 Mediatek MT7623N based Banana Pi BPI-R2. Other similar boards include the earlier dual -A53 MediaTek MT7622 powered Banana Pi BPI-R64.
Like the BPI-R2 and BPI-R64, the BPI-R3 has 4x GbE ports plus a WAN port. It also adds dual 2.5GbE ports via optical SFP cages. Applications include Internet service router, wireless router, repeater, home security gateway, home automation gateway, and NAS devices.
Banana Pi BPI-R3
(click image to enlarge)
The Banana Pi BPI-R3 was spotted by CNXSoft in the changelog for the recent Linux 5.17 kernel. The board’s quad-core, up to 2.0GHz Mediatek MT7986 SoC is also known as the Mediatek Filogic 830, which was launched last fall along with a Filogic 630, which offers half the WiFi 6/6E bandwidth.
The 12nm Mediatek MT7986/Filogic 830 on the BPI-R3 integrates hardware acceleration engines for offloading WiFi and networking tasks. The headless SoC supports dual 4×4 WiFi 6 or the similarly 802.11ax compliant, Tri-Band WiFi 6E (or Wi-Fi 6E) for up to 6Gbps throughput. It also features dual 2.5GbE support.
Although Banana Pi appears to suggest the BPI-R3 supports WiFi 6E, its MediaTek MT7975N (2.4GHz) and MT7975P (5GHz) modules appear to be limited to WiFi 6. The modules are directly soldered onto the board and are accompanied by 8x antenna mounts. There is also a MediaTek MT7531 networking switch.
Banana Pi BPI-R3 render image and detail views
(click images to enlarge)
Banana Pi has posted basic specs of the BPI-R3 along with a render image. The board will ship with 2GB “DDR” RAM, 8GB eMMC, and a microSD slot. Additional storage is enabled via an M.2 M-key slot with PCIe Gen2 x2. (The bullet points refer to M.2 E-key, but we will go with the detail view, which shows an M-key slot.) There is also a mini-PCIe slot with a micro-SIM slot.
The Banana Pi BPI-R3 is further equipped with a USB 3.0 port, dual micro-USB ports, a debug UART interface, and a 26-pin GPIO header. There are RST and WPS buttons, a boot switch, and a DC input jack.
The BPI-R3 is billed as an open source board. The YouTube video below shows a demo running OpenWrt 21.02-Snapshot with Linux 5.4.171. As noted by CNXSoft, the demo cannot be upstreamed to OpenWrt. Yet, as the MT7986 was just added to Linux 5/17, “there may be hope,” says the story.
YouTube demo of OpenWrt running on BPI-R3
Banana Pi recently revealed an upcoming carrier board based on the Banana Pi RK3588 Core from the same Banana Pi router board unit. The octa-core RK3588 driven dev kit has a similar large-sized form factor compared to the usual Raspberry Pi like Banana Pi models but is limited to dual GbE ports.
No pricing or availability information was provided for the Banana Pi BPI-R3. More information may be found in Banana Pi’s preliminary product page.
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