Banana Pi BPI-M2 Ultra is a development board powered by Allwinner R40 quad core processor with a native SATA interface, as well as Gigabit Ethernet. If you are a developer, and would not mind getting a free sample, Allwinner is giving away boards to people uploading a 1 to 2 minutes video to YouTube.
The rules are detailed below:
Dear Developers of the World,
Allwinner Technology would like to thank you for your outstanding contribution to our open source community and invite you to join our video-shooting program. Please cover the following topics in your video:
Who are you and why did you choose Allwinner in the first place?
What did you do with your Allwinner powered development board?
What are your expectations for Allwinner’s latest open source platform, the R40?
It needs to be:
Shot in a video resolution of 720p or above
1-2mins in length
Submitted between Apr 20th 2017 and May 1st, 2017
Please upload your video to Youtube and then send the link as well as your contact phone number, post code and address to [email protected] so that we can send you our latest R40 development board as a thank you gift.
The videos will be used both to get feedback, and in some cases they may be used in promotion materials. The video should preferably be in English, but I assume if you shoot it in your native language with subtitles in English, it’s also OK.
Allwinner H6 is a new quad core Cortex A53 processor designed for 4K set-top boxes. It will support “6K” video decoding for 10-bit HEVC, VP9, and H.264, integrate HDR10 and HLG video processing, support high speed interfaces like USB 3.0 and PCIe, as well as security features like two ISO7816 smart card interfaces and DRM solutions.
Click to Enlarge
Allwinner H6 specifications:
CPU – Quad-core ARM Cortex A53 with NEON, hardware Java acceleration, and FPU
3D GPU – Dual shader ARM Mali-T720 with support for OpenGL ES3.1/3.0/2.0/1.1, OpenCL 1.1/RenderScript, Microsoft DirectX 11 FL9_3
Memory I/F – DDR4/DDR3/DDR3L interface
Storage I/F – 1x eMMC 5.0 flash interface, 1x NAND Flash interface for SLC/MLC/TLC flash memory with up to 80-bit error-correcting code (ECC), 1x SPI NOR Flash interface, 1x SD Card 2.0
USB – 1x USB 3.0 host port, 1x USB2.0 OTG port, 1x USB 2.0 host port
1x PCIe 2.0 interface
1x SDIO 3.0
Ethernet – 1x 10/100 Mbps Ethernet with PHY, 1x Gigabit Ethernet MAC
5x UART, 5x TWI/I2C, GPIOs
2x ISO7816 Smart Card interfaces
IR receiver and keypad control interface
USB, SD card and flash boot supported
Adaptive voltage scaling (AVS)
Dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS)
Package – 15 x 15 mm BGA451 package
The CPU is not that important in TV boxes and set-top boxes, so there are no changes here except potentially a higher frequency (TBC). The dual shader Mali-T720 GPU should provide 3D performance in the same range as other competing solutions based on Mali-450MP and Mali-T820MP GPU, and includes OpenCL support for GPU compute applications. AFAIK it’s the first Allwinner processor to support HDR, so the company is mostly catching with competitors on the multimedia front. The video decoder supports 4K H.265 and VP9 at up to 60 fps, and 4K H.264 up to 30 fps, as well as 6K up to 30 fps. The processor can also support HD audio formats (as an option), while the transport stream (TS) interfaces to connect one or more more tuners, and Smart Card interfaces make it ideal for set-top box with free or premium content. The addition of USB 3.0 and PCIe will allow for fast storage options, with external PCIe to SATA chips potentially providing better performance than the SATA IP found in Allwinner R40, especially when it comes to write speed.
I found all this information in Allwinner H6 product brief published on linux-sunxi website. There’s no information anywhere else about H6 processor, even on Alibaba, so it will likely take many more months before products and boards are launched with the new SoC.
Allwinner and Qualcomm announced a partnership last year to help Chinese manufacturers design entry-level LTE tablets based on Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, and Allwinner collaborated with Emdoor one several designs including EM-QL8170 LTE tablet with a Snapdragon 210 processor and a 6.98″ display.
Emdoor EM-QL8170 specifications:
SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 (MSM8909) quad core Cortex A7 processor up to 1.3 GHz with Adreno 304 GPU @ 400 MHz
System Memory – 1 or 2 GB DDR3L
Storage – 8 or 16 GB flash + micro SD slot
Display – 6.98″ IPS touchscreen display with 1280×720 resolution
Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, and GPS
The phone runs Android 5.1 and will cost a little over $70 (FOB), which could translate to $120 to $140 on sites like Aliexpress. Emdoor also has various other Qualcomm/Allwinner design all with Snapdragon processor, including a rugged smartphone as you’ll find out in Charbax’ video below.
Emdoor sells about 9 millions tablets (full designs and PCB) per year, mostly through partners, as they work with over 100 companies around the world, and around 50 local partners in mainland China to sell their devices, so you may end up buying an Emdoor tablet under another brand name. You’ll find a few more details on Emdoor EM-QL8170 product page.
Most SoCs have a very limited amount of internal SDRAM just enough to load the bootROM code, but a few integrated a few MB of RAM on-chip such as Renesas RZ/A1H with 10MB on-chip DRAM, in order to reduce costs for some applications that may not require external RAM. Allwinner V3s, designed for dual camera solutions, appeared to be such an SoC with 64MB (512Mbit) on-chip DDR2 RAM, but the block diagram seems to imply it is a System-in-Package (SiP) instead. Nevertheless you still get a single chip with an ARM Cortex A7 processor, two ISPs, a video engine, 64MB RAM, and more.
The makers of Lichee Pi One board have also designed an Allwinner V3s board named Lichee Pi Zero to sell for $6 in China, but I don’t have the full details, and only know some members of linux-sunxi have started to work on it. That still means there may be decent Linux support for the processor in a few months time.
The Khronos Group is the non-profit consortium group behind open standards and APIs for graphics, media and parallel computation such as OpenGL for 3D graphics, OpenCL for GPGPU, OpenVG for 2D vector graphics, etc… OpenVX is one of their most recent open, royalty-free standard, and targets power optimized acceleration of computer vision applications such as face, body and gesture tracking, smart video surveillance, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), object and scene reconstruction, augmented reality, visual inspection, robotics and more. The first revision of the standard was released in 2014, and the latest OpenVX 1.1 revision was just released in May 2016.
We’ve already seen OpenVX 1.1 support in Nvidia Jetson TX1 module & board, but Khronos has a conformance program to test implementations, and if successful, allow companies to use the logo and name of the API. The version first GPU to pass OpenVX 1.1 conformance is Imagination Technologies PowerVR G6230 using an Allwinner A80 hardware platform and Imagination’s OpenVX DDK. OpenVX 1.1 is said to “expands node functionality and enhances graph framework” compared to OpenVX 1.0.
OpenVX Framework Efficiency
Imagination Technologies also has a blog post with further details including a comparison between OpenCV open source software and OpenVX.
Orange Pi Zero is an interesting little ARM Linux board thanks to its low price, but also because it features a new Allwinner H2 / H2+ quad core Cortex A7 processor very similar to Allwinner H3 minus the 4K video decoding part, as well as Allwinner XR819 WiFi module, which I have not seen on any other boards so far.
But hardware without software is pretty much useless, so developers will be happy to find out that Allwinner H2 SDK with Linux (lichee) and Android has been released or leaked, and it also includes the Allwinner XR819 WiFi driver.
You’ll find the SDK on Zoobab server with three main directory / files:
Android folder – Android 4.4.2 SDK
lichee folder – Linux 3.4.39 source code. However you’d probably better use Linux 3.4.113 currently released by sunxi-linux, or Linux mainline. The latter does have some limitations, and may or may not be suitable for your project.
H2-V1.2.tar.bz2 – The tar file with both Android and lichee folder in case you want to download the full SDK on your computer
Orange Pi Zero development board powered by Allwinner H2+ quad core Cortex A7 processor with 256 to 512MB RAM, Ethernet, and USB ports is now available for sale on Aliexpress for just $6.99, which shipping adding $3.39 in my case bringing the total to $10.38.
USB – 1x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
Expansion headers – Unpopulated 26-pin “Raspberry Pi B+” header + 13-pin header with headphone, 2x USB 2.0, TV out, microphone and IR receiver signals
Debugging – Unpopulated 3-pin header for serial console
Misc – 2x LEDs
Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port or optional PoE
Dimensions – 52 x 46 mm
Weight – 26 grams
Based on the hardware features and likely good availability it’s a serious contender to Raspberry Pi Zero (and Nano Pi NEO) for headless applications, and provided Allwinner H2+ is close enough to Allwinner H3 software support should be fairly good, as I expect armbian support very soon. Allwinner XR819 is a completely new WiFi module, at least to me, so there may be driver issues, but if it is working in the firmware image provided by Orange Pi (none so far), it should be possible to add this to other Linux images too. [Update: Orange Pi Zero schematics are now available]
The Aliexpress page explains the default version has 256MB RAM, but it’s not really clear whether / how we can buy the 512MB version. [Update: The 512MB version now available on Aliexpress for $8.99 + shipping]
Allwinner has mixed relationships with open source communities such as Kodi, especially due to issues with its closed-source CedarX VPU drivers, and some GPL violations. However to address the former, linux-sunxi community has been working on open source Cedrus library for the video processor unit on Allwinner processors, that’s been successfully tested on boards such as Orange Pi One. Free Electrons has gone further, as they’ve made sure Cedrus now works with Linux mainline kernel, currently Linux 4.8, and tested it on Allwinner R8 based Pocket CHIP.
The work has been done by Florent Revest, a 19 years old intern at the company, who delivered a new sunxi-cedrus driver, a Video4Linux (V4L2) memory-to-memory decoder kernel driver, and corresponding VA-API backend, with the implementations currently available on Github here and there respectively. Currently only MPEG2 and MPEG4 are working, but adding other codecs such as H.264, and video encoding is possible using the current framework.
The short demo below shown VideoLAN playing an MPEG2 video using Cedrus on Linux 4.8 on PocketCHIP.
A patchset has already been sent to the Linux Kernel mailing list, so support should become available in one of the upcoming Linux releases, and they’ve also updated linux-sunxi Cedrus Wiki to explain how to reproduce this setup on other Allwinner A13 boards.