While checking out Linux 5.17 changelog, I noticed the MediaTek MT7986 WiFi router processor that I had never heard of. It turns out MT7986 is the codename for MediaTek Filogic 830 quad-core Cortex-A53 processor designed for Wi-Fi 6/6E routers with up to 6 Gbps bandwidth, and two 2.5Gbps Ethernet interfaces.
Banana Pi has already been working on a router board based on Filogic 830/MT7986A named “Banana Pi BPI-R3” that offers an upgrade to the company’s Banana Pi BPI-R2 board powered by a MediaTek MT7621 processor.
Banana Pi BPI-R3 specifications:
- SoC – MediaTek MT7986A (Filogic 830) quad-core Arm Cortex A53 processor with hardware acceleration engines for Wi-Fi offloading and networking
- System Memory – 2GB DDR RAM
- Storage – 8GB eMMC flash, MicroSD card socket, support for M.2 NVMe SSD
- 2x 2.5GbE SFP cages, 5x Gigabit Ethernet ports (1x WAN + 4x LAN) via MT7531AE 7-port switch
- WiFi 6 4×4 2.4GHz WiFi via MT7975N
- WiFi 6 4×4 5GHz Wifi via MT7975P
- 8x u.FL antenna connectors
- USB – 1x USB 3.0 Type-A ports, 2x USB 2.0 headers
- Mini PCIe slot with USB signals only + MicroSIM card slot
- M.2 KEY-M PCIe interface (2-lane PCIe 2.0)
- 26-pin GPIO header
- Debugging – Debug UART header for serial console
- Misc – Reset and WPS buttons, fan header, boot switch
- Power Supply – Via DC jack or 2-pin header
Banana Pi says the board can be used as an “internet service router”, a wireless router, a repeater, a home security gateway, an home automation gateway, a NAS device (using an M.2 to 5x SATA adapter), as well as other network and communication applications. There’s no information about software support at all, but the video below, dated January 20, 2022, shows the system running OpenWrt 21.02 with Linux 5.4.171.
Note that OpenWrt currently uses Linux 5.15, so the code used in the demo above cannot be upstreamed to OpenWrt. Having said that I’m just writing about this board because MT7986 just got added to Linux 5.17, so there may be hope.
You’ll also notice an SFP to RJ45 adapter in the thumbnail or video above. Note while there are many of those available online, they may not all work as expected, and the ones most likely to work can be pricey (around $500). The good news is that Banana Pi BPI-R3 apparently works with a cheaper SFP to RJ45 adapter sold for under $30 on Aliexpress.
Banana Pi BPI-R3 board is not for sale just yet, and the company did not say when they expect it to become available. Additional information may be found on the product page.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.