Intel Starts Bringing Up Thunder Bay Full + Prime SoC Support For Linux

Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 22 July 2021 at 06:00 AM EDT. 4 Comments
More details are coming to light on "Thunder Bay" as a forthcoming Intel SoC now that the open-source Linux driver enablement patches have begun.

Thunder Bay was rumored last year to be a SoC with a mix of Xeon CPU and Movidius VPU cores. Well, Thunder Bay is indeed with Movidius but isn't using Xeon cores but rather Arm Cortex A53 cores as confirmed by the Linux patches this week. Intel's use of Arm cores for this SoC is an evolution of the Keem Bay design.

This week brought initial patches for bringing up the Thunder Bay SoC and initial board support under Linux. The patches confirm this new Intel Movidius SoC uses Cortex-A53 CPU cores with the Movidius VPU and that so far are actually two variants to this new SoC. The Thunder Bay "full" configuration has four clusters of four A53 cores per cluster and four VPUs. The Thunder Bay "Prime" configuration has four clusters of four A53 cores but only two VPUs along with less memory. The memory support comes down to 8GB + 8GB + 4GB + 4GB for the Thunder Bay "full" and 8GB + 4GB for the "prime" configuration.

Related Thunder Bay patches were also submitted this week including SPI support and eMMC PHY, among others. I haven't seen any new patches yet on the Movidius VPU kernel driver side around Thunder Bay as the more interesting aspect. The hardware is intended for deep learning and vision processing tasks, thus how they continue to get by with the A53 CPU cores thanks to the Movidius VPUs doing the heavy lifting.

Depending upon how well the kernel review process goes, this initial Intel Thunder Bay support could be mainlined as soon as Linux 5.15 this autumn.
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