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Posts Tagged ‘96boards’

Getting Started with MediaTek X20 Android Development Board

July 17th, 2017 No comments

Thanks to CNX for helping me get a hand on the 96Boards compliant Mediatek X20 board that was generously donated by Seeed Studio. In this article, I will walk through the steps to get the board up and running and also compile Android from the source code. The current Android is version 6.

Unboxing the Beast

Figure-1 : DHL Packet

Figure-2 : MediaTek X20 Box

Figure-3 : Standoff, board and instructions

Figure-4 : Front Facing

Figure-5 : Powerful tiny MediateTek chip

Figure-6 : Side Shot

Figure-7 : Backside Shot

Figure-8 : Multiple Antenna

First Boot Up

The board boots up from the eMMC, and the first time you boot up you will get Android screen as shown in Figure-9. This is the default Android image from the factory, which surprisingly looks like it was setup for a phone screen mode, which is not sufficient for a HDMI monitor. It would be better to install the images that are made available at Linaro website or build your own. See the other section to flash the board with different images.

Figure-9 : Out-of-the-box Android

Figure-10 : Partition mount information

Switching to Fastboot Mode

Flashing image files are done using fastboot tool in bootloader mode. There are 2 ways to switch to bootloader mode. To prepare the board to be flashed it will need pin 3 (USB Host Set) located at the back of the board as shown in Figure-11 to be set to OFF

Figure-11 : Switch OFF pin 3

Method 1

The first method requires that you boot your board into Android. Power the board and let it boot to Android. Once it boots to Android you can switch to bootloader mode by typing

Once it switch to bootloader mode you can use the fastboot to flash the image

Method 2

The 2nd method require the xflash tool which can be downloaded from the following link http://builds.96boards.org/releases/helio-x20/mediatek/aosp/16.10/mediatek-x20-aosp-16.10.tar.xz. Unzip the file and you will see something like Figure-12.

Figure-12 : Tools and Image files

Extract xflash.tar.gz and you will see something like Figure-13.

Figure-13 : Inside xflash.tar.gz

Unplug the power supply, and plug your computer USB cable to the micro USB cable of the board and run the xflash tool as follow

The location of MT6797_Android_scatter.txt can be found inside the <your_unzip_mediatek>/Images/Normal Image/ as shown in Figure-14

Figure-14: Scatter File

Power up your board after running the xflash tool. You will see print out on the screen as shown below.

Once you see the text ‘END’ the board has been switched to bootloader mode, and is ready to be flashed.

Flashing Android Image

Before flashing the new Android image make sure your board is indeed in bootloader mode by running the following command

You know that you are in bootloader mode, once you get a reply like the following

You can either flash using the image files provided by Linaro or build your own custom image. You can download a ready made image file from http://builds.96boards.org/releases/helio-x20/mediatek/aosp/16.10/mediatek-x20-aosp-16.10.tar.xz (the image file are inside the <directory>/Images/Normal Image).

The extracted mediatek-x20-aosp-16.10.tar.xz wil look like Figure-15.

Figure-15: All image files

Copy all the different files inside /Normal Image and /Special Image to a separate folder and flash the files using the fastboot command as follows:

Building From Source

Android 6.0 is supported on the X20 board. Use the following command to checkout the AOSP source code

You will need to download the binary drivers from Linaro website. The driver binary can be downloaded from https://builds.96boards.org/releases/helio-x20/mediatek/aosp/latest/. Download the file called sla.tar.gz and unzip it. You will see something like Figure-16.

Figure-16 : Content of sla.tar.gz

Copy the contents of device/, prebuilts/ and vendor/ into the AOSP directory. After completing the copy steps follow the steps below to start compiling

  1. source build/envsetup.sh
  2. lunch
  3. You will be shown the selection like Figure-17

    Figure-17 : Lunch menu

  4. Select 8 (or even 9)
  5. make -j10

Once the build process is complete, you will see list of files as shown in Figure-18.

Figure-18 : Local image files

The image files are now ready to be flashed to the board. Use the same flashboot commands as above to flash the new compiled image.

Mediatek X20 Board Info and Antutu Benchmark

I’ll complete this guide by showing the info provided by CPU-Z and Antutu benchmark for the board for people wanting such details.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

If you’re interested in the board, you can purchase it for $199 plus shipping on Seeed Studio.

References:

  1. http://builds.96boards.org/releases/helio-x20/mediatek/aosp/16.10/
  2. http://www.96boards.org/documentation/ConsumerEdition/MediaTekX20/Downloads/ThirdParty/AOSP/LinuxFastboot.md/

Orange Pi i96 96Boards IoT Edition WiFi & Bluetooth Development Board Finally Launched for $8.80

July 1st, 2017 30 comments

Orange Pi i96 board was first unveiled at Linaro Connect US 2016 in September of that year, as one of the first boards compliant with 96Boards IoT Edition specification, and expected to sell for just $9.99. The good news is that the board is now finally available for $8.80 plus shipping on Aliexpress ($12.19 in total in my case)

Orange Pi i96 specifications:

  • SoC – RDA Micro 8810PL ARM Cortex A5 processor @ up to 1.0 GHz with 2Gbit (256 MB) on-chip LPDDR2 RAM, 4Gbit (512 MB) on-chip SLC NAND flash , 256KB L2 cache, and Vivante GC860 3D GPU
  • External Storage – micro SD slot
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11 b/g/n + Bluetooth 2.1/EDR module (RDA5991)
  • Camera – MIPI CSI-2 connector for camera sensor up to 5MP
  • Video – 1080p30 H.264 encoding
  • USB – 1x USB host port, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Expansion – 40-pin GPIO header with SPI, I2C, GPIOs, etc…
  • Debugging – 3x pin UART for serial console
  • Misc – 8 selection jumpers, power button, power LED, boot selection header
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port; optional support for battery power
  • Dimensions – 60 x 30 mm as per 96Boards IoT Edition specification
  • Certifications – CE and FCC based on the silkscreen

The hardware is a cost-down version of Orange Pi 2G-IoT board without 2G / GSM support, no display interface, no heaphone jack, and a smaller PCB (60×30 mm vs 68×42 mm). The company claims the board supports Android 4.4, Ubuntu, and Debian, and we already have Android SDK with Linux and u-boot source code. Note that the board is not listed on 96Boards IE page yet, and I’d like to remind readers that while 96Boards specifications target both hardware and software, many companies do not comply with the software part of the specifications, and having a 96Boards compliant board does not mean Linaro engineers themselves are working on it. RDA Micro 8810PL processor on development boards is also pretty new, so you can’t expect everything to mostly work out of the box, like you would on Allwinner H3 boards, and for example booting Linux from NAND (Android is OK), and controlling GPIOs may still be an issue at this stage.

Nevertheless, the price, features, and dimensions of this Linux board could make it an alternative to ESP32 boards such as Wemo LoLin32 for some IoT projects, especially where the RAM and storage might be tight. The board could also be interesting for connected camera applications.

Thanks to theguyuk for the tip.

96Boards Compliant HiKey 960 ARM Cortex A73 Development Board is Now Available for $239

April 26th, 2017 37 comments

The most powerful 96boards development board – HiKey 960 – has finally been launched, and can be purchased for $239 on Aliexpress, Amazon US, Switch Sense (Japan), Seeed Studio, or All Net (Germany).

HiKey 960 specifications have not changed much since we found out about the board:

  • 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
  • System Memory – 3GB LPDDR4 SDRAM (PoP)
  • Storage – 32GB UFS 2.1 flash storage + micro SD card slot
  • Video Output / Display Interface – 1 x HDMI 1.2a up to 1080p, 1x 4-lane MIPI DSI connector
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 with on-board antennas
  • USB – 2x 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
  • Expansion
    • 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, copper heatsink for CPU
  • 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 officially supports Android Open Source Project (AOSP) with Linux 4.4. Binary images, and instructions to build from source are available in the Documentation page. You’ll also find the hardware manual and schematics over there. There’s no firm commitment to a Linux distributions release, but based on comments from the launch video (embedded below), there could be some later on, and Linux mainline is also being worked on. Stocks are currently limited so you can buy one or two boards, but larger quantities would require a longer lead time. LeMaker also mentions kits with power supply, mini PCIe card… being available soon.

The video will eventually be uploaded to YouTube, but in the meantime I’ve embedded the Facebook video.

ArcherMind Mediatek X20 Pro Development Board Adds 3G, 4G LTE and More I/Os

March 28th, 2017 3 comments

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
  • System Memory – 2GB LPDDR3 2-ch @ 933 MHz
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC 5.1 flash + micro SD 3.0 card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI up to 1080p @ 30 fps
  • Video Support – 25MP @ 24fps / 25MP @ 30 fps; WQXGA 2560×1600 60fps; FHD 1920×1080 120fps; 4Kx2K 30fps H.265 w/HDR
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 (MT6631), GPS with antenna connector
  • Cellular Connectivity – Modem with support for WCDMA B1/B8, FDD-LTE B1/B3,TDD-LTE B38/B39/B40
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB port (device only).
  • Expansion:
    • 1x 40 pin low speed expansion connector – UART, SPI, 2x I2C, 12x GPIO, DC power
    • 1x 60 pin high speed expansion connector – 4L-MIPI DSI, USB, 2x I2C, 2L+4LMIPI CSI
    • IO extended interface – Support one 2k LCM or two 1080P LCM, 13M+13M dual camera
    • Optional 16-pin analog expansion connector – Stereo headset/line out, speaker, analog line-in, and more
    • 2x connectors on the bottom of the board for RF sub-board
  • Misc – Power, reset and volume buttons. 6 LEDS (4x user, 1x Wifi, 1x Bluetooth)
  • Power Supply – 8 to 18V DC input
  • Dimensions – 85 x 54 mm

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
    • HSPA+ R8 (42Mbps/11Mbps) / TD-SCDMA Rel.7 (2.8/2.2 Mbps)
    • CDMA2000 1x/EVDO Rel.A, SRLTE support
  • Transceiver Features
    • Transmitter – Direct conversion(LTE/3G/8PSK) and DFM for GMSK; Dedicated power detection circuits for power control over specific power range; 4LB/4MB/2HB TX output port
    • Receiver – Hybrid direct-conversion(4G/3G/C2K) /low-IF (GGE, DC-HSDPA) receiver; 14+14 RX input ports; 4 RXIF IQ outputs
  • 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.

New 96Boards IoT Edition Boards Showcased at Linaro Connect 2017: BlueSky IE and WRTNode IE

March 9th, 2017 10 comments

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.

Click to Enlarge

The first board is BlueSky IE board with the following key specifications:

  • SoC – RDA Micro RDA5981A ARM Cortex-M4 Wireless MCU with 64KB ROM, and 32KB cache
  • 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.


If you are in a rush, you may prefer flicking through the keynote presentation slides instead.

Arrow Chameleon96 Board To Feature Intel Altera Cyclone V SE FPGA + ARM SoC in 96Boards Form Factor

March 7th, 2017 No comments

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.

Click to Enlarge

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)
    • 512MB DDR3 SDRAM (16 bit data bus)
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
    • Micro SD card interface
    • Serial UART
    • User LEDs
    • Warm reset button
  • Expansion Connectors
    • 2x 20-pin Low speed expansion connector with UART, SPI, I2C, I2S, GPIO connectivity
    • 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

The board is not yet listed on Arrow Electronics website, but you can get some extra details on Rocketboard’s Chameleon96 Wiki page.

HiKey 960 Development Board Powered by Hisilicon Kirin 960 Cortex A73/A53 Processor To Sell for $239

March 4th, 2017 19 comments

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
  • System Memory – 3GB LPDDR4 SDRAM
  • Storage – 32GB UFS flash storage + micro SD card slot
  • 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
  • Expansion
    • 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.

You may be able to find more information on LeMaker’s Hikey 960 product page, and the board is currently listed for $239 on Lenovator, but out of stock.

Thanks to Theguyuk for the tip.

Linaro Home Group Releases “AOSP” Android TV for Hikey Board

February 3rd, 2017 1 comment

The Linaro Home Group (LHG) was setup to work on “open source software for ARM-based set top boxes, smart TVs, media boxes, TV dongles and home gateway products”, and after having worked on OP-TEE (Open Portable Trusted Environment Execution) firmware as one of their first endeavors, they’ve now ported Android Open Source Project (AOSP) Android TV to 96Boards compliant Hikey board.

Click to Enlarge

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.

If you want to try it on your own Hikey board, you can do so by building AOSP Android TV from sources.

Hikey Board – Click to Enlarge

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.