Lord Vader, your firewall is ready

It’s May 4, and you know what that means…

It’s Star Wars Day.

We’ve been working on a product with this day in-mind. Internally the project is known as R-1. Once it reaches production status, it will have a name that starts with “SG-“, but until then, we call it R-1.

R-1 is our second system using an ARM architecture. It uses a Marvell Armada 38x SoC a dual-core ARM design. Since the SoC has three Ethernet controllers, we decided on a true dual-WAN design, with a four-port 1gbps Marvell 88E6141 switch, uplinked at 2.5gbps to the third port on the SoC for LAN.

I’ve attached some pictures of the prototype, which we received yesterday. Since this is a prototype, the surface textures, fit and finish are not representative of the final product. it is, however, a functional prototype.

Linux boots and runs on it, and pfSense should run on it soon. To accomplish this, we’ve been using SolidRun ClearFog Pro boards for development, and pfSense software version 2.4.0-BETA boots and runs on the ClearFog Pro.

Some of the interesting features of R-1 include:

  • Marvell Armada 385 (dual core ARM9 @ 1.6GHz) with crypto offload (CESA). Specification
  • 2GB DDR4L RAM
  • eMMC
  • 2 x M.2 ‘B’ key sockets (PCIe, SATA3 & USB)
  • 1 x M.2 ‘E’ key socket (2232 form factor) for WiFi / Bluetooth
  • 1 x miniPCIe
  • 3 user-controllable RGB LEDS on front
  • USB3, USB2, microSIM, and microUSB serial console on backpanel
  • microBUS socket, for community hacking and OEM opportunities.
  • There is a variant designed that supports 2 ports of 802.3at POE.

When you look at the board photo, you might note that there is a microSD slot in-place of the SoC. Remember that this is a prototype. The microSD slot is present to assist in bring-up, but, more importantly, the SoC is on the other side of the board. This allows us to use the large, cast aluminum base as a massive heat-sink.

The JTAG socket will be removed for production, which will allow the microBUS socket to be used.

I’d like to thank our design partner ADI Engineering (a division of Silicom) for being our partner at developing another great system. We look forward to your thoughts and responses.

R-1, because the Empire needed a better firewall.

R1 Proto front R1 Proto rear R1 Proto board