There is the perpetual endeavor of making the Linux kernel work on possibly any piece of hardware available. A part of this work takes place inside of projects like OpenWrt, but also inside of the companies that design, manufacture or vend the hardware respectively products based upon it. More or less of this work sooner or later ends gets mainlined, i.e. the code becomes part of the mainline Linux kernel.
Whereas of today we take it for granted to have wireless functionality as a convenience everywhere around us, in the beginning, it was a royal PITA. The IEEE 802.11 family of standards fired the imagination of what could be realized with it, BUT the available drivers for the Linux kernel were poorly written, lacked features or were non-existent. This is actually still true for some of the wireless hardware sold on the market. No matter how fantastic or potent it may be, its Linux drivers don't offer much.
From its foundation on OpenWrt has been focusing on CPE hardware such as routers or NAS, and much dedication was invested to support IEEE 802.11 as extensively as possible. Given that the initial hardware, the Linksys WRT54G, was sold about 400,000 times in the first months, it is safe to assume that the work done by the OpenWrt project had an impact.
Most SoC manufacturers license a (soft or hard) IP core for a certain CPU design from a licensor like MIPS or ARM, then combine this with other (self-developed or licensed) (soft or hard) IP cores for DSP-, wireless-, VoIP-, Sound-, Switch-, etc-functionality and commission the manufacturing of Chips at some semiconductor foundry. These Chips, SoCs, are acquired by different manufacturers of Routers. The latter design PCBs for whatever purpose and solder the purchased chips (SoC, RAM, Flash) onto them.
|Company||CPU||IP for Mixed-signal integrated circuit|
|Intruction set license for||own IP||wired||optical||wireless|
|Broadcom||MIPS32, MIPS64||ARMv6, ARMv7, ARMv8||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Marvell (Intel)||ARMv5 (XScale, Sheeva), ARMv6, ARMv7||✔||✔|
|Qualcomm (Atheros, ZyDAS)||MIPS32||ARMv5, ARMv6, ARMv7||Ubicom32, Ubicom64||✔||✔|
|MediaTek (Ralink)||MIPS32||ARMv5, ARMv6, ARMv7||✔||✔||✔|
|Lantiq (Infineon, Texas Instruments)||MIPS32||✔||✔||✔|
|Samsung||ARMv4, ARMv5, ARMv6, ARMv7|
|Texas Instuments||ARMv5, ARMv6, ARMv7||TMS320||✔|
|Ikanos (Conexant, Analog Devices)||MIPS32, Lexra||ARMv5, ARMv6||✔|
|Intel (Digital Equipment Corporation) (Texas Instruments)||ARMv4 (StrongARM), ARMv5 (XScale), ARMv6||x86, x86-64, IA-64||✔||✔||✔|
|AMD||MIPS32, MIPS64||ARMv8?||x86, x86-64|
|Cavium Networks||MIPS32, MIPS64||ARMv4|
|Applied Micro Circuits Corporation||ARMv8||✔|
|Freescale Semiconductor||ARMv5, ARMv6, ARMv7||✔||Motorola 68000|
|Allwinner Technology||ARMv5, ARMv7|
|Renesas Electronics||MIPS64||ARMv7||SuperH ,M32R|
Now that we have an overview over the companies that own/license semiconductor IP, let's have a look of the available support of their products in the mainline Linux kernel or in the OpenWrt Linux kernel. We don't much care about the Android Linux kernel or about heavily modified (and outdated) Linux kernels.
For mainlined Linux kernel-drivers for the
Each different OpenWrt platform represents a set of hardware that share certain common features, such as being part of the same family of SoCs. Depending on the semiconductor company that designs the SoC, a SoC-family can consist entirely of IP blocks that are all well-supported, maybe already mainlined. But it can also contain IP blocks, for that only raggedly written, feature-poor code exists, that would never be mainlined. Or IP blocks that are completely unsupported by the Linux kernel.
Qualcomm Atheros AR5xxx boards (Atheros brand)
Qualcomm Atheros AR7xxx, AR9xxx and QCA9xxx boards
Infineon WildPass ADM8668
XWAY, XRX200 SoCs with ADSL2+ and VDLS2 support in OpenWrt.
ramips, see MediaTek-Ralink ramips
Broadcom 47xx boards
Broadcom 6338, 6345, 6348, 6358, 6361, 6368, 63168 among other SoCs. Working with no driver for the on-board DSL/VoIP
Minimal support for some of these SoCs.
ARM-based bcm53xx and ARM-based bcm47xx SoCs:
Marvell Armada XP/370
Only 2 known devices (supported). Devolo dLAN USB Extender
Freescale i.MX23 series
Freescale i.MX6 series
Oxford Semi OX82x / PLXTECH NAS782x
Realtek RTL8196C is unsupported, see https://forum.openwrt.org/viewtopic.php?id=31551
Ubicom is not supported
QCA msm arch was removed from Linux mainline and is unsupported.