The nRF9160 PCA10090 is a single-board development kit for evaluation and development on the nRF9160 SiP for LTE-M and NB-IoT. The nrf9160_pca10090 board provides support for the Nordic Semiconductor nRF9160 ARM Cortex-M33F CPU with ARMv8-M Security Extension and the following devices:

  • ADC
  • GPIO
  • I2C
  • MPU
  • NVIC
  • PWM
  • RTC
  • Segger RTT (RTT Console)
  • SPI
  • WDT
  • IDAU
nRF9160 PCA10090 DK

nRF9160 PCA10090 DK (Credit: Nordic Semi)

More information about the board can be found at the nRF91 DK website [2]. The Nordic Semiconductor Documentation library [3] contains the processor’s information and the datasheet.


nRF9160 DK has two external oscillators. The frequency of the slow clock is 32.768 kHz. The frequency of the main clock is 32 MHz.

Supported Features

The nrf9160_pca10090 board configuration supports the following hardware features:

Interface Controller Driver/Component
ADC on-chip adc
CLOCK on-chip clock_control
FLASH on-chip flash
GPIO on-chip gpio
I2C(M) on-chip i2c
MPU on-chip arch/arm
NVIC on-chip arch/arm
PWM on-chip pwm
RTC on-chip system clock
RTT Segger console
SPI(M/S) on-chip spi
SPU on-chip system protection
UARTE on-chip serial
WDT on-chip watchdog

Other hardware features are not supported by the Zephyr kernel. See nRF91 DK website [2] and Nordic Semiconductor Documentation library [3] for a complete list of nRF9160 Development Kit board hardware features.

Connections and IOs


  • LED1 (green) = P0.2
  • LED2 (green) = P0.3
  • LED3 (green) = P0.4
  • LED4 (green) = P0.5

Push buttons and Switches

  • BUTTON1 = P0.6
  • BUTTON2 = P0.7
  • SWITCH1 = P0.8
  • SWITCH2 = P0.9
  • BOOT = SW5 = boot/reset

Security components

  • Implementation Defined Attribution Unit (IDAU [1]). The IDAU is implemented with the System Protection Unit and is used to define secure and non-secure memory maps. By default, all of the memory space (Flash, SRAM, and peripheral address space) is defined to be secure accessible only.
  • Secure boot.

Programming and Debugging

nrf9160_pca10090 supports the Armv8m Security Extension, and by default boots in the Secure state.

Building Secure/Non-Secure Zephyr applications

The process requires the following steps:

  1. Build the Secure Zephyr application using -DBOARD=nrf9160_pca10090 and CONFIG_TRUSTED_EXECUTION_SECURE=y in the the application project configuration file.
  2. Build the Non-Secure Zephyr application using -DBOARD=nrf9160_pca10090ns.
  3. Merge the two binaries together.

When building a Secure/Non-Secure application, the Secure application will have to set the IDAU (SPU) configuration to allow Non-Secure access to all CPU resources utilized by the Non-Secure application firmware. SPU configuration shall take place before jumping to the Non-Secure application.

Building a Secure only application

Build the Zephyr app in the usual way (see Build an Application and Run an Application), using -DBOARD=nrf9160_pca10090.


Follow the instructions in the Nordic nRF5x Segger J-Link page to install and configure all the necessary software. Further information can be found in Flashing. Then build and flash applications as usual (see Build an Application and Run an Application for more details).

Here is an example for the Hello World application.

First, run your favorite terminal program to listen for output.

$ minicom -D <tty_device> -b 115200

Replace <tty_device> with the port where the board nRF9160 DK can be found. For example, under Linux, /dev/ttyACM0.

Then build and flash the application in the usual way.

# On Linux/macOS
cd $ZEPHYR_BASE/samples/hello_world
mkdir build && cd build

# On Windows
cd %ZEPHYR_BASE%\samples\hello_world
mkdir build & cd build

# Use cmake to configure a Ninja-based build system:
cmake -GNinja -DBOARD=nrf9160_pca10090 ..

# Now run ninja on the generated build system:
ninja flash


Refer to the Nordic nRF5x Segger J-Link page to learn about debugging Nordic boards with a Segger IC.

Testing the LEDs and buttons in the nRF9160 DK

There are 2 samples that allow you to test that the buttons (switches) and LEDs on the board are working properly with Zephyr:

You can build and flash the examples to make sure Zephyr is running correctly on your board. The button and LED definitions can be found in boards/arm/nrf9160_pca10090/nrf9160_pca10090_common.dts.