11 responses

  1. Bobby
    February 17, 2014

    Hmm – how long has it been now since the first of many “XBMC coming soon to A10″? Two years? How many half-baked solutions, AW statements of support and promising proof-of-concepts? Not that XBMC is the holy grail of computing, but it is a very good indicator of the state of things. I appreciate all the efforts and hard work many people have put into this (an other AW SoCs), but at some point it is probably best to switch horses. Without proper vendor backing, this is an uphill battle which nobody really deserves. Welcome to closed source, NDA hell. The hardware is actually quite nice. It is all so sad :(

  2. Someone from the other side
    February 17, 2014

    @Bobby
    I think it’s worse than that: either you go Qualcomm or straight to X86 if you want half-way decent hardware with drivers that actually work (open source ones in the case of Intel).

  3. zoobab
    February 17, 2014

    Oliver is missing Openwrt in the distro list.

  4. Harley
    February 17, 2014

    Really sad that Allwinner as a company does not realize the opportunity of getting a open source community involved and fully collaborating, basically saying no to free labor, no to broader target audience, and no to a larger user base.

    Very cool however that the FSF (Free Software Foundation) have put CedarX Audio and Video Hardware Accelerator on their list of “High Priority Reverse Engineering Projects”

    http://www.fsf.org/campaigns/priority-projects/reverse-engineering

    CedarX, the VPU used in all Allwinner A10, A13, and A20 SoC is even listed as second highest priority in order for FSF reverse engineering work.

    But unfortunately so far all reverse engineering effort for CedarX still mostly rely on wrapping closed source binary blobs, or else the efforts are still way to immature or to limited for mainlining and broad “production” usage.

  5. Harley
    February 17, 2014

    Hybrid wrapped Android libraries (using libhybris to load Allwinner’s closed source CedarX binaries) is today the only good workaround to get proper CedarX VPU support under Linux that will satisfy an end-user of example XBMC or VLC. Do not think that way is GPLv2 compatible which is why I believe libhybris method is yet not not in mainline XBMC or VLC

    http://linux-sunxi.org/CedarX/libve

    While the CedarX reverse engineering effort at least to us outside the project looks to have completely stalled

    http://linux-sunxi.org/Reverse_Engineering/Cedar_Status
    http://linux-sunxi.org/CedarX/Reverse_Engineering

  6. JotaMG
    February 18, 2014

    “…and you can boot a headless server.”

    By chance, anyone knows of a working A10 kernel based on the ‘sunxi-next’ branch??
    Thanks.

  7. eas
    February 18, 2014

    Harley :
    Really sad that Allwinner as a company does not realize the opportunity of getting a open source community involved and fully collaborating, basically saying no to free labor, no to broader target audience, and no to a larger user base.
    Very cool however that the FSF (Free Software Foundation) have put CedarX Audio and Video Hardware Accelerator on their list of “High Priority Reverse Engineering Projects”
    http://www.fsf.org/campaigns/priority-projects/reverse-engineering
    CedarX, the VPU used in all Allwinner A10, A13, and A20 SoC is even listed as second highest priority in order for FSF reverse engineering work.
    But unfortunately so far all reverse engineering effort for CedarX still mostly rely on wrapping closed source binary blobs, or else the efforts are still way to immature or to limited for mainlining and broad “production” usage.

    Sadder still is how much effort and free labor people are giving a company that doesn’t really seem to give much of a shit.

    Is there any effort into strategic engagement with these Chinese ARM licensees, being very deliberate about holding them accountable to promises, and rewarding good behavior, rather than ongoing bad behavior. Once the foundation is in place, they can be played against each other. Perhaps Intel’s slow progress in the low-cost low-power SoC space is enough to get their attention?

  8. cnxsoft
    February 18, 2014

    @Harley
    I think the demo at FOSDEM 2013 was based on libvdpau-sunxi, with no binary blobs (CedarX) at all. http://www.cnx-software.com/2013/08/30/preliminary-reverse-engineered-vpu-driver-cedarx-for-allwinner-a10-plays-h-264-videos/

    @Someone from the other side
    I’ve hardly seen Qualcomm SoC in any devices other than smartphones and tablets, and I can’t remember seeing Linux run on their platforms.

  9. vlaero
    February 18, 2014

    I agree with the comments about there seemingly being a whole lot of wasted developer effort being put into these socs. I do like the idea of some sort of foundation rewarding good behaviour and directing development resources at those platforms, which in turn should broaden the userbase and sales.
    I can only hope that things like the wibtek mini PC that cnxsoft chased down recently – http://www.wibtek.com/products/Mini-Box-PC/show/?pid=173 – or cheap dual/quad bay trail motherboards in an affordable enclosure start to steal a lot of the mindshare of the XBMC userbase.
    In this case a USB stick is only needed for the install and there is no need for local storage or any more than 2GB ram to be used. Compare the cost of this kind of config against the various ARM based alternatives and the cost/benefit of the ARM solutions starts to be lacking.
    If people see the ~$250 cost that was shown here for a bay trial config they start looking at the half baked arm solutions. Lets give people some options that are closer to the config of the arm solutions so that comparison is more real-world.
    I’d really like to see arm based solutions succeed but the solutions we are getting so far have too many problems and there is not enough pressure being put on to get those issues solved.

    I saw somewhere the other day that someone was suggesting a Minix ARM solution for peoples XBMC needs. Why would that solution make sense over say a lower specced Intel Bay trail NUC? The support will be way better on the Intel platform and the price would be pretty much the same.

  10. ssvb
    February 19, 2014

    With so many commenters being so clueless (have they even watched the video?), appears that it might be useful to have a separate article providing a recap of important events and covering the current open source hardware video decoding support status on Allwinner chips.

  11. Olliver Schinagl
    February 19, 2014

    @Bobby
    Saying that AW/sunxi is at it for 2 years bringing XBMC to the masses is a little unfair. A10 was released in 2011, so products where coming out later that year? We’re not 2 1/2 years later, in which sunxi was ‘formed’ and started to hack.
    I would argue that this probably is the worst time to switch horses, and what horse would you bet on? A PowerVR one? Rockchip one? Who do you think has the biggest community? While being biased, I can tell you sunxi is one of the bigger ones. Also, who is the most opensource one.

    The only alternative is X86 with intel/AMD UVD, which works pretty well, until you start to check the size or power usage.

    @zoobab
    I did indeed, sorry about that ;)

    @harley
    Yeah, well they do try, they have even offered us Optimus boards :) As far as the FSF goes, yeah I knew it was a ‘top prio’ target, but their involvement has been limited I suppose. As to Video Decoding, there’s currently 4 ways to do it. Android with libcedarX.a (which does support android XBMC reasonably).
    Linux with libcedarX.so, which is a horrible hack, but works a little bit
    Linux with libhybris and libcedarX.a, basically the android lib, so support is equal to that
    Linux with libvdpau-sunxi, the RE work you see in the video beeing demoed :)

    @vlaero
    We’re thinking of using some org to help us collect funding, right now we can’t. So that might make it possible to reward devs. As for XBMC needs, with vdpau support very slowly growing, there’s other bits needed, opengl (lima), KMS to get the vdpau/xbmc output going. Very roughly estimating, hopefully next FOSDEM, full opensource XBMC demo ;)

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