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Posts Tagged ‘allwinner’

Allwinner H64 based Nobel64 Could the First Affordable 64-bit ARM Development Board

October 13th, 2014 9 comments

Based on the comments I read on this blog many people are early waiting for 64-bit ARM boards. There are already ARMv8 server boards by Applied Micro, AMD and others, but these cost several thousand dollars and are not sold to individuals, and ARM recently launched Juno development board, but it should be well over the budget of most hobbyists too. But the wait may soon be over, as Padnews found out Allwinner and Merrii Technology showcased Nobel64 development board powered by a yet to be announced Allwinner H64 64-bit ARM SoC at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair.

Low_Cost_64-bit_ARM_development_board

Nobel64 development board specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H64 quad core 64-bit ARM processor, most probably based on Cortex A53 cores.
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16 GB eMMC + micro SD card slot
  • Video / Audio Output – HDMI 1.4 + AV port.
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports (Including on OTG port)
  • Camera – Camera connector (below 3814 marking on the pic) for 5MP sensor
  • Expansion – 2x headers
  • Power Supply – N/A
  • Dimensions – 118 x 70 cm

Allwinner SoC roadmap published about a year ago mentioned an Octa-core 64-bit processor (A9X) for Q4 2015, so there must have been changes in their plan, and the company decided to speed up their 64-bit roadmap. Allwinner have A-series (Application), V-series (Automotive Video (camera)), and H-series (Home Entertainment?) processor families, so H64 could be specifically designed for TV boxes and game consoles, just like the recently announced Allwinner H8 processor. Having said that, Allwinner claims “Nobel64 board is suitable for development projects such as tablets, OTT boxes, notebooks, digital signage and AIOs, etc.” The board will support Android L.

The company has not released any pricing or availability information, but based on the features, and PCB dimensions, I would  expect the board to cost a couple hundred dollars at most.

Via Tom Cubie

Update: I’ve received an email from Allwinner with an explanation for different series:

A series processors are used for mobile applications, mainly referring to tablet application here;
H for “Homlet”, mainly used in home entertainment applications, including smart OTT boxes, HDMI mini PCs, gaming boxes, etc;
V for video-related applications, including video surveillance, automotive DVR, etc;
F series are processors based on Allwinner’s melis OS, mainly used in smart video radios, video MP5, etc;

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Allwinner A80 Android TV Boxes Coming Soon, Starting with Zero Devices Z8C Alice

October 12th, 2014 16 comments

Allwinner A80 based tablets such as Onda V989, and development boards such as A80 OptimusBoard started to ship one to two months ago, but there was absolutly no news about Android mini PCs / media player based on the latest Allwinner processor. This is about to change as ZeroDevices twitted about their Z8C Alice TV Box, apparently designed by Sunchip, and in collaboration with a UK based digital signage company called Eclipse Digital Media.

Zero_Devices_Z8C_AlicePreliminary technical specifications that we can infer from the picture above:

  • SoC – AllWinner Ultra Core A80 4x Cortex 15, 4x Cortex A7 big.LITTLE processor with Imagination Technologies PowerVR GC6230 GPU with support for OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0/3.0, Directx 9.3
  • System Memory – N/A
  • Storage – ?? GB eMMC + SD card slot + SATA port (most probably via a USB 2.0/3.0 bridge)
  • Video  Output – HDMI + AV port
  • Audio – HDMI, AV, and optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi, probably Bluetooth too
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 OTG port, 2x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – IR receiver (not soldered on the picture above).
  • Power Supply – N/A
  • Dimensions – N/A

There’s a header at the back of the picture that might be used to connect a small board with for power button, and/or LEDs (TBC). The four through holes very close to the power barrel and S/PDIF connector is most likely the UART pins. Zero Devices also started a thread on Freaktab, where they posted a picture with showing the device get 54,253 points in Antutu. For some reasons, Antutu scores reported with devices and boards powered by Allwinner A80 have varied a lot from just a little over 30,000 to 65,000 depending on the firmware used, so any score should be taken with a grain of salt.

Pricing and availability are unknown at this stage.

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Allwinner H8 Octa-core Processor is Designed for Game Consoles and OTT Boxes

October 10th, 2014 7 comments

Allwinner Technology has just introduced its new octa-core H8 System on Chip (SoC) for “high-end” gaming consoles and video OTT (over-the-top) boxes, right before the Hong Kong Electronics Fair taking place on October 13-16. The processor feature eight Cortex A7 cores clocked at up to 2.0 GHz, coupled with Imagination Technology PowerVR SGX544 GPU @ 700 MHz with support for OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1, OpenCL 1.1 APIs. 

Allwinner_logoOther key features includes:

  • Multi-format 1080p@60fps video processing including H.265/HEVC codec.
  • HDMI video output up to 1080P@60fps, with HDCP 2.0 support; support HDMI CEC
  • Integrated 8M image signal processor
  • USB – USB Host, and USB dual-role interfaces
  • Gigabit Ethernet MAC
  • Three SD/MMC controllers
  • SmartColor technology to deliver higher image quality and better visual effects
  • Manufactured with 28nm HPC (High-Performance Compact) process by TSMC.

We don’t have the full details, but it does look very similar to Allwinner A83T announced last month, but except of focusing on tablets, H8 focuses on Android TV boxes and game consoles. Interestingly, they’ve chosen not to include 4K UHD support in their SoC.

OTT boxes powered by Allwinner H8 are scheduled to hit the market in Q4 2014. That schedule might be a little optimistic, since H8 devices are still nowhere to be seen on Alibaba, or anywhere else on the web for that matter.

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Linux 3.17 Released

October 9th, 2014 5 comments

Linus Torvalds announced the release of Linux Kernel 3.17 on Sunday:

So the past week was fairly calm, and so I have no qualms about releasing 3.17 on the normal schedule (as opposed to the optimistic “maybe I can release it one week early” schedule that was not to be).

However, I now have travel coming up – something I hoped to avoid when I was hoping for releasing early. Which means that while 3.17 is out, I’m not going to be merging stuff very actively next week, and the week after that is LinuxCon EU…

What that means is that depending on how you want to see it, the 3.18 merge window will either be three weeks, or alternatively just have a rather slow start. I don’t mind getting pull requests starting now (in fact, I have a couple already pending in my inbox), but I likely won’t start processing them for a week.

Anyway, back to 3.17. Nothing major happened during the last week, as you can see from the appended shortlog. Mostly drivers (i915, nouveau, ethernet, scsi, sound) and some networking fixes. With some misc noise all over.

Go out and test,

Linus

Kernel 3.16 added Nouveau drivers for GK20A GPU (Tegra K1), ARM64/EFI boot, improved support for Xen, KVM, EFI, NFS, as well as various changed to networking, and more…  Some noticeable changes for Linux 3.17:

  • Gamepads – Added Microsoft Xbox One controller support, improvements to Sony SIXAXIS support
  • Toshiba “Active Protection Sensor” support which stops your harddrive from spinning when the accelerator detects your laptop is in free fall…
  • “Cross-thread filter setting” for secure computing facility:
        int seccomp(unsigned int operation, unsigned int flag, const char *args);
    

    See manpage for details.

  • Enhanced AMD Radeon R9 290 support
  • Miscellaneous Nouveau driver improvements, including Kepler GPU fixes

New features and improvements specific to the ARM architecture include:

  • AllWinner
    • A10/A20 – IR driver
    • A31 – PIO/R_PIO external interrupts, DMAengine, GMAC
    • A23: Timers, UARTs, initial bringup, Basic clocks,  PIO/R_PIO drivers
    • New boards: ba10-tvbox; Merrii A31 Hummingbird; pcDuino V3
  • Rockchip
    • Enabled RK3288 SoC support
    • Added RK3xxx I2S controller, RK3288 clock controller, RK3066 and RK3188 clock driver.
    • Added RK3288 evaluation boards
  • Added basic support for Mediatek MT6589 SoCs
  • NEON implementation of crypto algorithms (SHA1; SHA512).
  • Marvell Kirkwood now fully “device tree-ified”, mach-kirkwood directory deleted
  • Added APM X-Gene SoC ethernet driver support.
  • Various changes for Broadcom BCM7xxx STB SoCs, Fresscale i.MX, Samsung Exynos & S5PV210, Nvidia Tegra, Renesas SH and TI AM43xx SoCs.
  • ARM64 / ARMv8 – Added 48-bit adress space, CONFIG_CC_STACKPROTECTOR (GCC’s -fstack-protector), audit support, and context tracking

I’ve also been asked about MIPS changes last time, so here it is:

  • Add Loongson-3B support
  • Add NUMA support for Loongson-3
  • BCM47XX: Detect more then 128 MiB of RAM (HIGHMEM)
  • BCM47XX: add Microsoft MN-700 and Asus WL500G
  • Support CPU topology files in sysfs
  • kernel: cpu-probe: Add support for the HardWare Table Walker
  • perf: Add hardware events for P5600

Further details on Linux 3.17 changes will soon be available on Kernelnewbies.org. For more details about ARM changes, remember to also check ARM architecture and drivers sections.

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Current Performance and Stability Issues on AllWinner A80 OptimusBoard Development Board

October 4th, 2014 6 comments

Sine A80 OptimusBoard is the first ARM hardware that supports both USB 3.0 and Gigabit that I’ve ever owned, so I though it might be interesting to see what performance I could get with a USB 3.0 hard drive through the USB 3.0 OTG port of the board. For testing purpose, I bought a USB 3.0 OTG adapter on Ebay, but I did not look closely enough as it turned out to be only a USB 3.0 OTG to USB 2.0 female adapter capable of USB 2.0 speeds… Kind of useless item since you can plug a standard USB 2.0 OTG adapter into a USB 3.0 OTG receptacle. But I tried my hard drive anyway, and quickly realized write performance was very poor at 3 MB/s on the NTFS partition, whereas most other devices can handle at least15 MB/s, and usually over 25 MB/s. So I contacted Allwinner with this issue, and they were kind enough to look into it, and provided an updated firmware.

Today, I tried it, and it seems they’ve selected a more aggressive scheduler for the board, as some benchmarks results are much higher. For example, Vellamo Browser score was over 3,000 today, where as during my initial benchmarks, it only achieved 2,300 points. So quite a boost. Unfortunately, this also introduced so stability issues (possibly resolvable with a heatsink and a fan), and did not improve NTFS performance in a major way:

  1. Multicore benchmarks will make the system reboot. Reproducible with Antutu Multi-thread and Vellamo Multicore tests.
  2. Riptide GP2 game will freeze after a short while. Very similar to what I’ve experienced with some Amlogic S802 TV boxes, except it happens much earlier (after one race).
  3. NTFS write speed is now 4.6MB/s, so it’s still an issue. FAT32 write speed is 29 MB/s, which is fine.

I’ve recorded these three issues in the video below.

So if you are wondering why there aren’t any Allwinner A80 mini PCs just yet, why Cubieboard8 is nowhere to be seen, and why no SDK has been provided for OptimiusBoard and pcDuino8, this could be could the explanation, and more work is needed at this stage of development. The first two issues were not present in the first firmware, but a more aggressive scheduler may have introduced the reboot/freeze issues. I don’t have a spare heatsink/fan, so I haven’t tried to work around these with passive/active cooling. Another possibility for the reboot could be the 5V/3A power adapter does not provide enough power to the board.

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How to Upgrade Allwinner A80 OptimusBoard Firmware

October 4th, 2014 4 comments

After informing Allwinner I had some rather slow write speed (3MB/s) to the NTFS partition of my USB drive on my A80 OptimusBoard, they kindly provided a new compressed Android firmware image (sun9iw1p1_android_optimus_v1.2_20140930.img.7z) with some NTFS optimizations that can be downloaded from baidu (password: x2tz), mega.co.nz or simos.info (please only use this link, if the other two do not work as it’s a private website and monthly bandwidth may be limited).

I vaguely remember tools like LiveSuit (Linux) or PhoenixSuite (Windows), and I ended up on sunxi-linux Livesuit wiki as I’m running Ubuntu 14.04 on my PC, but you should be able to flash the firmware with PhoenixSuite if you run Windows. The instructions below can also be used for other Allwinner based devices.

First you need to install LiveSuit, and build Allwinner USB drivers as follows:

sudo apt-get install dkms git build-essential
git clone https://github.com/linux-sunxi/sunxi-livesuite.git
cd sunxi-livesuite/awusb
make
sudo cp awusb.ko /lib/modules/`uname -r`/kernel/
sudo depmod -a
sudo modprobe awusb
cd..

In order to use LiveSuit as a normal user, you also have to create /etc/udev/rules.d/50-awusb.rules with the line:

KERNEL=="aw_efex[0-9]*", MODE="0666"

Finally, we can start the program

./LiveSuit

LiveSuit_AllWinner_A80After uncompressing the downloaded file, you can load sun9iw1p1_android_optimus_v1.2_20140930.img by clicking on the Image icon. In theory, you can follow the instructions in LiveSuit using the power button and another button, but the only is that there are only a reset and power buttons on OptimusBoard, and the reset key will just reboot the board, and can’t be used for that purpose. Some board also have FEL key that enter FEL mode (for firmware upgrade) easily, but it’s not the case either.

I finally found the right method on mininodes’ “Ubuntu on Allwinner A80 Optinusboard” post, which explains you need to connect the USB serial cable provided with the board to your computer, and start a console with minicom, screen, putty, or other preferred terminal program. As the board boots, press the space bar to interrupt it, and type efex to enter FEL mode. LiveSuit should then ask whether you want to format the partition (I answered Yes), and complete the updating process. You can now reboot the board to start Android.

The default language is Chinese, and at the first boot, it will ask some questions related to Google services, to which I answered ‘是’ (Yes), and ‘同意‘ (Agree) as I’d like to use the Play Store.

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AllWinner Announces A83T Octa Core Processor for Tablets

September 4th, 2014 12 comments

AllWinner_A83TSo Allwinner has just announced a new processor. I’ve been disappointed recently when I discovered AllWinner A80 only supports Linux 3.4, whereas most competitors are running Android 3.10 stable kernel, and their partner is distributing A80 OptimusBoard development boards, which looks to be a nice hardware platform, but without any Android or Linux SDK… And with their latest press release you have to wonder… They announced AllWinner A83T processor with “eight highly energy-efficient Cortex-A7 cores that could run simultaneously at around 2.0GHz, and implements the advanced big.LITTLE architecture to maximize the battery life”. The only problem is that with big.LITTLE you need big and LITTLE core, and if AllWinner A83T is just having eight Cortex A7 cores, there’s no big to be found… I guess that just means they can turn cores on and off independently…

Allwinner must also have adopted Qualcomm or Mediatek press release “strategy”, as they release a little information as possible for their first press release… So right now, we just know the processor will be manufactured using TSMC’s 28-nm HPC processor, the cores will run up to 2.0 GHz, a PowerVR GPU is part of the mix, and it will feature Allwinner’s SmartColor technology to deliver better image quality.

Tablets based on Allwinner A83T should start selling in Q4 2014.

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Categories: AllWinner A8X, Android Tags: allwinner, tablet