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Radxa Rock-5B PCIe and RTL8125B networking in U-boot

Eugen Hristev avatar

Eugen Hristev
May 18, 2023

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The Radxa Rock-5B board uses an external network controller, a RealTek 8125B 2.5 Gbps controller, which is connected to the RK3588 SoC via PCI Express.

The built-in network controller inside the RK3588 is not used on this board. In the U-boot bootloader, currently there is no support for PCI Express for this board, nor for the RealTek 8125B whatsoever.

The goal is to get networking working in U-boot, such that the Linux kernel can be loaded via TFTP or some other network protocol.

For this purpose, support for PCIe 2.0 has now been added: https://marc.info/?l=u-boot&m=168258091432022&w=2 

Hardware description of the Radxa Rock-5B board.
Source: https://wiki.radxa.com/Rock5/hardware/5b


This way the PCIe bus is started and devices on the bus are enumerated.

The RTL8169 driver had to be adapted to support the 8125B variant: https://marc.info/?l=u-boot&m=168242860627356&w=2

And now, the networking on the board works at 100 Mbps, which is very good progress, even if the gigabit does not work yet. The important goal is achieved: the network boot works!

And because this is Open Source, implementing the changes into RTl8169 was not so difficult. Reusing the code from the Linux driver, which already supports the 8125B controller, saved a lot of time and effort.

Publishing code as Open Source can benefit many different other projects, such as getting boards and devices up to speed, and allows anyone to benefit. If and when someone is interested in creating a project based on this board, or on this SoC, for a real-world application, a head start is already in place.


Comments (4)

  1. Serhii N.:
    Aug 24, 2023 at 10:24 PM

    Hello, are you planning add support for Orange Pi 5 Plus. I have checked schematics of this two boards (Rock Pi5B and Orange Pi 5 Plus) and looks like it almost the same (difference only with PCI-E which used by second network instead, all other things looks the same if I correctly understand)

    For example I just built upstream U-Boot for RockPi 5B and it properly run Debian 12 with Linux 6.4 from eMMC on Orange Pi 5 Plus.

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    1. Eugen Hristev:
      Aug 25, 2023 at 01:17 PM


      At the moment I do not have this board available.
      Are you interested in this board on a personal level or you have more in mind ?
      If someone could send me a board, I could definitely have a look at some point if I have some time available.

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      1. Serhii N.:
        Aug 27, 2023 at 07:19 PM

        I interested in this board on a personal level. I can not send it (quiet expensive to send it from Ukraine to Europe). I can test it basically or even adapt some parts of your solution (from device tree) from Rock 5B for Orange Pi 5 Plus (but I not sure that I can do it with all parts).
        I have tested upstream U-Boot for Rock 5B on OPI 5 Plush and it works and load upstream kernel 6.4 from Debian. Also found some strange problem with U-Boot, it can not load correctly from SPI (it try to load from e/MMC only).

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        1. Eugen Hristev:
          Aug 28, 2023 at 04:07 PM

          If you managed to get your U-boot to work, you can try to send your changes as a patch and add the board yourself.
          If you just hacked around the code and are unable to send something, you will have to wait until someone with the board can do it.
          Regarding the bug which you found, you can send an e-mail to u-boot mailing list and ask the question, maybe someone can figure out if you are doing something wrong, or it's really a bug, in which case someone can try to reproduce and see if it can be fixed

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