Archermind launched Mediatek X20 board powered by Mediatek Helio X20 deca-core processor, and compliant with 96Boards CE hardware specifications last year for $199. The company has now been working on a “professional” version, dubbed Mediatek X20 Pro that adds supports for 3G and 4G / LTE, as well as extra I/O connectors for cameras, LCD modules, and an RF baseboard.
Alpha Star Mediatek X20 Pro board specifications:
SoC – Mediatek Helio X20 (MT6797) deca-core processor with two ARM Cortex A72 cores @ 2.1~2.3 GHz, four Cortex A53 @ 1.85 GHz, four Cortex A53 @ 1.4 GHz, and ARM Mali-T880 GPU @ 700 MHz
The board only supports Android 6.0, with Linux support depending on what Mediatek decides to do. You’ll find some hardware and software document on the Wiki which still has many non-working links…, and none of them seem related to the Pro version yet.
If you want to use 3G or 4G cellular , you’ll need to get “Mediatek X20 RF sub-board” that connects to X20 board via two board-to-board connectors with the following key features:
Modem Features – World-mode Modem with Single RF for all Markets
FDD/TDD LTE R11 Cat-6 (300Mbps/50Mbps) with 2x20MHz DL carrier aggregation support
RF Board Band Support – WCDMA band 1,8; TDD-LTE band 38,39,40; FDD-LTE band 1,3
Dimensions – 100 x 71 mm
Charbax interviewed the company at Linaro Connect Budapest 2017 where they showcased their new X20 Pro board and corresponding add-on boards, as well as the upcoming Mstar Altra board compliant with 96Boards TV Platforms specs (7:48 mark in video) based on Mstar MSD6A838 quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 SoC with 4K M-Genuine Video Engine supporting Motion Estimation/Motion Compensation (MEMC), HDR, color enhance, de-noise, and so on.
It’s unclear whether Mediatek X20 Pro is available now, and we don’t know the price yet, but considering the non-pro version sells for $200, we could probably expect the 4G version to sell between $250 to $300 with the RF baseboard and SIM card adapter board. Some more information is available on the product page.
Linaro Connect Budapest 2017 is taking place this week in Hungary, and during George Grey – Linaro CEO – keynote, he provided a status updates for the Linaro group, addressed some of Linaro’s criticisms from members and the community, and unveiled two upcoming boards compliant with 96Boards IoT edition both running Zephyr OS, and adding to BLE Carbon board announced last year.
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The first board is BlueSky IE board with the following key specifications:
System Memory – 485KB SRAM. It’s unclear if that’s only the on-chip SRAM, and there’s also some external PSRAM added.
Storage – 8Mb NOR flash 802.11 b / g / n HT20 / 40 mode
Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi with support for HT20 / 40 modes
Crypto security hardware
The second board is WRTnode IE:
SoC – Mediatek MT7697 ARM Cortex-M4 wireless MCU @ up to 192MHz with 64KB ROM, 353 KB SRAM
Storage – 4Mb NOR flash
Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 LE
Crypto security hardware
Neither boards are available now, and Linaro and their members must still be working on them before the launch. There’s currently very little information about RDA5981(A) MCU except on some Chinese websites, but you’ll find many more resources for Mediatek MT7697. Mr Grey also demo’ed Orange Pi i96 board announced last year with an Ubuntu distribution developed by Shenzhen Xunlong Software.
Linaro also announced four new members with Acer joining the Linaro IoT and Embedded (LITE) Group, Guizhou Huaxintong Semiconductor Technology Co., Ltd (HXT Semiconductor) & Fujitsu Limited coming to the Linaro Enterprise Group (LEG), with the latter also joining as founding member of the LEG High Performance Computing Special Interest Group (HPC SIG), and Google joined as a Club member.
You might be interested in watching the keynote with all those announcements, and to be more up-to-date with Linaro’s progress.
Embedded World 2017 will start in about one week, and take place in March 14 – 16 in Nuremberg, Germany, so we can expect interesting embedded news coming soon. Arrow has written a blog post with plans to announce three 96Boards at the event: Meerkat based on NXP i.MX 7Dual, Chameleon96 based on Intel/Altera Cyclone V FPGA + ARM SoC, and Systart Oxalis 96Boards EE board powered by NXP LS1020A single core ARM Cortex A53 SoC. I’ll start with Chameleon (Chameleon96) today, as it’s the first with FPGA fabric, and I could find some technical details and photos about the board.
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Chameleon96 board specifications:
SoC – Intel PSG / Altera Cyclone V SE 5CSEBA6U19I7N with a dual core ARM Cortex A9 processor @ up to 800 MHz and FPGA fabric with 110K Logic Elements
Chips, Ports and Features connected to FPGA:
Integrated USB-Blaster II JTAG cable
Configuration sources: SD Card, JTAG
HDMI display output
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.1 module interface
Chips, Ports & Features connected to ARM system (HPS)
2x 30 High speed expansion connector with USB 2.0 Host, SPI, I2C, GPIO, and MIPI CSI-2 connectivity
Debugging – 3-pin UART connector
Misc – User LEDs, power button, reset button
Power Supply – 12V DC (8~18V supports as per 96Boards CE specifications)
Dimensions – 85 x 54 mm
The company will provide a Linux image and source code at launch with the board shipping with a 12V DC power supply, a USB to serial cable, a USB 2.0 AB cable, and a micro SD card pre-loaded with a Linux distribution with a graphical user interface, and source code.
One of the first use of the FPGA will be IoT security with the board including a “quantum-resistant” Ironwood Key Agreement Protocol, and WalnutDSA Digital Signature Algorithm reference design from SecureRF.
Block Diagram for Chameleon96 Board – Click to Enlarge
LeMaker is about to launch a successor to Hikey board with a new 96Boards compliant development board with HiKey 960 featuring the powerful Hisilicon Kirin 960 processor found in Huawei Mate 9 smartphone, as well as 3GB LPDDR4 memory, 32GB UFS storage, HDMI, USB 3.0 ports and so on.
Hikey 960 board specifications:
SoC – Kirin 960 octa-core big.LITTLE processor with 4x ARM Cortex A73 cores @ up to 2.4 GHz, 4x Cortex A53 cores @ up to 1.8 GHz, and a Mali-G71 MP8 GPU
Video Output / Display Interface – 1 x HDMI 1.4 up to 1080p, 1x 4-lane MIPI DSI connector
Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac? WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 with two antennas
USB – 2 x USB 3.0 type A host ports, 1x USB 2.0 type C OTG port
Camera – 1x 4-lane MIPI CSI, 1x 2-lane MIPI CSI
PCIe Gen2 on M.2 Key connector
40 pin low speed expansion connector with +1.8V, +5V, DC power, GND, 2x UART, 2x I2C, SPI, I2S, 12x GPIO
60 pin high speed expansion connector: 4L MIPI DSI, 2L+4L MIPI CSI, 2x I2C, SPI (48M), USB 2.0
Misc – LEDs for WiFi & Bluetooth, 4x user LEDs, power button, reset button
Power Supply – 8V-18V/2A via 4.75/1.7mm power barrel (EIAJ-3 Compliant); 12V/2A power supply recommended; PMU: Hi6421GWCV530, Hi6422GWCV211, Hi6422GWCV212;
Dimensions – 85mm x 55mm
The board will support Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and Linux. Some instructions to build AOSP from source code and get started with the board can be found on Github, and a Wiki page has also been setup, but it’s basically empty right now, except for a short comparison between Hikey (620) and Hikey 960. Linux support will be done via Linaro Reference Platform Build (RPB), which should mean Debian support.
Android TV is based on Android, but adds the TV Input Framework and the Lean Back APIs with the user interface designed for larger displays. LHG has not changed the apps and higher level software from AOSP, but they’ve made sure it could work on Hikey board by working on the Linux drivers and Android user space stack to make sure the Live TV App and Android TV Channel Service implemented in AOSP can work properly on the hardware.
Now that does not mean any random Chinese TV box manufacturer will be able to ship TV boxes running “Android TV” instead of Android for phone or tablet, as AOSP lacks Google Mobile Services (GMS), and Android TV solutions must be licensed and approved by Google, and must pass various tests such as the Android Compatibility Test Suite (CTS), the Compatibility Definition Document (CDD) and various audio & video performance criteria. But at least most of the low level software should be taken care of, so it would simplify and speed up development.
Android TV Sample App – Click to Enlarge
Hikey board hardware complies with 96Boards “Consumer Edition” specifications, but lacks typical TV box features such as an IR receiver, which is why 96Boards TV Platform specifications were published last year. LHG probably started with Hikey because development has been going on for a longer time, and the platform is more mature, but one of the next steps will be to work on 96Boards TV Platform compliant boards such as HiSilicon Poplar board.
You’d think Cyber Monday should be over by now, but ITEAD Studio still has a clearance with real 70% discount, as 96Boards hardware compliant LeMaker Hikey board is now sold for just $29.70 instead of the usual $99 price.
A quick reminder of the specifications:
SoC – HiSilicon Kirin 620 octa core Cortex A53 processor @ 1.2 GHz with ARM Mali-450MP4 GPU
System Memory – 2 GB LPDDR3 @ 800 MHz
Storage – 8GB eMMC + micro SD slot
Video Output / Display – HDMI up to 1080p, MIPI-DSI interface
Connectivity – 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 LE (WL1835MOD module)
Geniatech is better known for their set-top boxes, and the company also offer development board as well as custom design for system-on-modules based on Amlogic and Qualcomm processor. Their latest board dubbed Developer Board IV looks fairly similar to 96boards compliant Dragonboard 410c board with its Snapdragon 410 processor, but adds an Ethernet port, and an RTC battery.
Developer Board 4 specifications:
SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 (APQ8016) quad-core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ 1.2 GHz with Adreno 306 GPU
Dimensions – 85×60 mm (96Boards CE dimensions: 85×54)
Temperature Range – Operating: -25°C to +70°C
96Boards CE specifications only support Ethernet on their 96Board CE Extended specifications with much larger PCB dimensions (85×100 mm), and the dimensions do not comply with either standard or extended specifications. But Geniatech has taken most of 96Boards specifications, and made a mostly compatible with some useful extra features.
The company only list Android 5.1 operating system, but it’s quite likely any operating systems support by Linaro/96Boards, and working on Dragonboard 410c will also work on Developer Board IV.
I could not find any links to purchase the board, and I understand Geniatech is only working with companies for such board, so it’s not an hobbyist board that anybody can buy like DragonBoard 410c. You’ll find a few more details on the product page.
While 96Boards platforms may not be selling like Raspberry Pi boards, the form factor is quite popular with vendors, as there are now around 10 development board either directly supported by 96Boards, or at least compliant for the form factor. Fujitsu has also made their own 96Boards compliant F-Cue board powered by SocioNext MB86S71 quad core Cortex A15/A7 processor, as well as F-Cue extension board
with Ethernet & PCIe interfaces.
Dimensions — 85 x 54 x 19.7mm (with expansion board?) as per 96Boards CE specifications
Temperature Range – 0 to 70 ℃
SocioNext MB86S71 Block Diagram
Fujitsu can provide a Linux BSPwith the Linux Kernel, U-boot, and device Drivers, as well as middleware libraries for Video & JPEG Codecs, OpenCL and OpenGL. As mentioned in the introduction, F-Cue comes with an optional MSB7701-E01 expansion/mezzanine board adding Gigabit Ethernet and a 4-Lane PCIe slot.
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Most Japanese silicon vendors don’t seem to be that interested in the maker/hobbyist market, and F-Cue is no exception as the board will sell for 30,000 JPY (~$285), and the expansion board for 5,000 JPY (~$47.5) starting November 14. Potential applications include home & factory automation, connected office equipment like multi-function printers, robotics, security systems, IoT gateways, digital signage, and more. You’ll find more details on F-Cue board product page (Japanese only), and if you attend Embedded Technology 2016 conference on November 16-18 in Yokohama, Japan.