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AllWinner A80 To Support 5 Operating Systems, Products To Become Available in May

April 21st, 2014 3 comments

AllWinner has released some more materials about their AllWinner A80 Ultracore octa core big.LITTLE SoC ahead of the Hong Kong Electronics Fair 2014, and we’ve learned more about OptimusBoard, as well as tablets and TV boxes availability through a video interview shot by Charbax at the exhibition.

AllWinner A80 System Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

AllWinner A80 System Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

Part of the release was more detailed specifications:

  • CPU
    • Octa-Core big.LITTLE Cortex-A15/7
    • Low-power CoolFlex power management architecture
    • 2MB + 512 KB L2 Cache
  • GPU – Imagination Technologies PowerVR 64-core G6230 with support for OpenGL ES 3.0/2.0, OpenCL 1.x, RenderScript, DX 9.3/10.0
  • Memory
    • Supports dual-channel DDR3/DDR3L/LPDDR3/LPDDR2, up to 8GB
    • Supports Raw NAND with 72-bit ECC
    • Supports eMMC V4.5
  • Video
    • Supports UHD H.264/VP8 4Kx2K@30fps video playback
    • Supports multi-format FHD video decoding, including MPEG 1/2/4, H.263, H.264. WMV9/VC-1, etc
    • Supports H.265/VP9 1080p@30fps video playback
    • Supports H.264 HP/VP8 4Kx2K@30fps video capture
    • Supports 3840×1080@30fps 3D decoding, BD/SBS/TAB/FP supported
    • Supports 3840×1080@30fps 3D encoding
    • Supports RTSP, HTTP, HLS, RTMP, MMS streaming media protocolsDisplay
  • Display
    • Supports dual-channel LVDS 1920×1080@60fps
    • Supports RGB LCD 2048×1536@60fps
    • Supports 4-lane MIPI DSI 1920×1200@60fps
    • Supports 4-lane eDP 2560×1600@60fps
    • Supports HDMI 1.4
  • Camera
    • HawkView ISP
    • Integrated parallel and MIPI I/F sensor
    • Supports 5M/8M/12M/16M CMOS sensor
    • Supports 8/10/12-bit YUV/Bayer sensor
  • Connectivity
    • 2x USB Host, USB 3.0/2.0 Dual-Role (host/device)
    • Ethernet MAC
    • 4x SPI, 7x TWI, 7x UART
    • 4x SD/MMC
    • HSIC for LTE support
    • PCM/I2S

The company expects AllWinner A80 to be used in tablets, android boxes, notebooks, Smart TVs, All-in-One PCs, and digital signage players. That’s probably they’ve done some work to officially support 5 operating systems: Android, Chrome OS (work in progress), Ubuntu, Firefox OS, and Windows RT (commercial negotiations and work in progress).

AllWinner UltraOcta A80 is said to achieve 41556 in Antutu showing it easily outperform Exynos 5420 Octa core processor found in Galaxy Note 3, but this result has been achieved with a development board featuring heatsink and fan, so it’s unlikely you’ll get such score in your AllWinner A80 based tablet and TV box.

In the video below, you see some demos with real-time 4K video decoding/encoding with a 16MP pixel and 4K TV, HEVC video playback, 3D face rendering to show off GC6230 GPU performance, and a network video recording demo that can be used in automotive applications. You’ll also a reference tablet, and some charts showing the performance / power consumption ratio.

There are some good news about the OptimusBoard as it should be available in May for less than $100 via Cubieboard and/or PcDuino teams. Android tablets will be available by the end of May, and TV boxes a little latter.

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Linaro Connect Asia 2014 Opening Keynote – Status and Future of ARMv8 Linux & Android [Video]

March 3rd, 2014 No comments

Linaro Connect Asia 2014 has just started in Macau today and will take place until Friday. You can follow the sessions live and/or their recordings via Linaro OnAir YouTube Channel. I’ve watched the opening keynote, and embedded the video at the bottom of this post. The keynote focuses on ARMv8 for Linux and Android on servers, mobile devices, digital home, and more, and involves two main speakers: George Grey, Linaro CEO , and Jon Masters, Chief ARM Architecture at Red Hat.

Linaro_Connected_Asia_2014

The speaker beginning of the video provides some practical information and the schedule for Linaro Connect. The keynote itself really starts around 15:50 with George Grey who spends the first 10 minutes introducing the latest Linaro members: Qualcomm, Mediatek, ZTE, AllWinner and Comcast. He then talks about the new Mobile sub-committee (MOBSCOM) that will focus on big.LITTLE, Android optimization and Android on ARMv8, as well as the soon-to-be-announced Linaro Digital Home Group composed of AllWinner, ARM, Comcast, Fujitsu, HiSilicon, and STMicro, that will work on STB / IPTV software implementation such as secure media playback. A large part of the talk is about boot architecture (ACPI, UEFI, ARM Trusted firmware…), and the debates ACPI vs FDT (Device Tree), U-boot vs UEFI, and so on. Other subjects discussed are ARM security with the recently formed Security Working Group, Virtualization, Middleware working on Aarch64 (LAMP and OpenJDK) and Android on 64-bit. The latter will require a lot more work, and actual hardware for validation of the work done on ARMv8 fast models, and to speed up code development. Finally he quickly mentions Linaro is still working on ARMv7 architecture, and preliminary work is done for Cortex-M with Yocto/OpenEmbedded support.

At the 50 minutes mark, Jon Masters takes over to talk about 64-bit ARM servers. He stresses several key points for ARM to be successful in the server market:

  1. Upstream first (to kernel.org), as Red Hat will only use code from mainline for servers
  2. Single binary required
  3. Must follow standards (SBSA, ACPI, UEFI…)
  4. Default to open (source and communication)

He explains that compared to last year hardware is now available, talks about hyperscale computing, and mention the “up to 25% market share for ARM servers in 2019″ quote from AMD. He explains there are challenges however, and the server market is much different from the embedded world, so CENH (Cute Embedded Nonsense Hacks) are not allowed for ARM servers. Long term (10+ years) support for toolchain and kernel are needed, with backports if necessary, and Fedora/Red Hat will never ever release an OS with a device tree file and/or U-Boot.

Finally he announces a Red Hat ARM Server Developer Preview will be released later this year, compliant with SBSA, and using UEFI and ACPI, and show demo running on Applied Micro X-gene Mustang board running an early version of the developer preview which boots with UEFI, and supports ACPI.

Watch the full keynote below for details (1h30).

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AllWinner UltraOcta A80 big.LITTLE SoC Officially Announced, Includes PowerVR G6230 GPU

February 24th, 2014 9 comments

Allwinner has formally announced AllWinner UltraOcta A80 SoC at Mobile World Congress 2014. The SoC featurs four Cortex A15 and four Cortex A7 cores in big.LITTLE configuration as well as Imagination Technologies PowerVR G6230 GPU, and a VPU with H.265 and VP9 support. The processor will be used in tablets, OTT media players, notebook PCs, all-in-ones, and smart TVs.

Allwinner_A80_Block_Diagram_no_VP9

AllWinner UltraOcta A80 Block Diagram (Updated without VP9)

Key Features:

  • Ultra low power, high performance 28nm UltraOcta SoC with heterogeneous eight-core CPU computing
  • Ultra performance graphics – PowerVR G6230 GPU with two shader clusters and 64 FP32 ALU cores
  • CoolFlex power management system – optimized big.LITTLE technology to dynamically activate energy-efficient or high performance processor cores based on computing workload
  • Next generation video engine – 4K encode/decode, H.265, VP9
  • Triple-screen display support

Imagination PowerVR G6230 Rogue GPU is said to embed power saving technologies such as PVRTC and PVRTC2 texture compression formats, PVRIC (lossless image compression)  and PVRGC (lossless geometry compression). It supports OpenGL ES Next/3.0/2.0, OpenGL 3.x, DirectX 9_3/10, OpenCL and Renderscript APIs.

The press release appears to have been puit out mainly to describe features of PowerVR 6230 GPU, and details about peripherals are still missing, although we can see AllWinner A80 features MIPI, USB host, HDMI and an audio subsystems.

Beside AllWinner PR, you can also read more about the GPU in AllWinner A80 on Imagination Tech blog.

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AllWinner Linux-sunxi Community Presentation and Status Report – FOSDEM 2014

February 17th, 2014 11 comments

Oliver Schinagl, a member of linux-sunxi community working on open source kernel and bootloader for AllWinner SoCs, has given a presentation of the community at FOSDEM 2014 to give an overview, and show what progress has been made to date. I’ll write a summary in this post, but if you want to watch the video and/or access the slides scroll down at the bottom of the post.

AllWinner_sunxi-linux_fosdem_2014After explaining what sunxi is, and introducing himself, he gave some information about AllWinner and their SoCs:

  • Founded in 2007 in Zhuhai, Chiang now with 550 employees including 450+ engineers
  • 15% market share in 2013 for tablet SoCs, only behind Apple.
  • Products: F-series SoC (2010), A10 (2011), A13, A10s (2012), and A20 (2013). (cnsoft He skipped A31(s) and A80 here as they are not really supported by the community).
  • They list “Open Source Source” and “GPLv3″ in their marketing materials although they clearly violate GPL in some part of the code. Progress is slowly being made however.

Sunxi community was born out of arm-netbook community working on EOMA68 boards in order to specifically target AllWinner SoCs, and now count over 600 mailing list subscribers (Google Group), 130 in IRC (#linux-sunxi), but only around 20 active developers.

Oliver then talks about the progress and status of different part of the software:

  • Bootloader
    • U-boot (lichee) NAND-only released by AllWinner, but requiring boot0/boot1 that were binary only until a source code release recently.
    • U-boot (sunxi) MMC / SDCard only, developed by the community, and preferred bootloader as it boots from SD card.
    • Barebox
    • Initial work on Coreboot
  • Operating Systems – Linux, FreeBSD, Tizen, Firefox OS and Minix (Interest only)
  • Distributions:
    • Fedora 18/19 maintained by a Red Hat employee in his spare time, and the best supported distro right now according to Oliver
    • Others – Linaro ALIP, Arch / Gentoo, Debian / (X)Ubuntu, (Xen).

Interestingly one important OS is missing: Android. The main reason is because there’s no community around Android with sunxi, but there’s still minimal work being done on Replicant/CyanogenMod, and AllWinner SDK for Android has been released.

He then goes through the different Linux kernel and branches on linux-sunxi github repo:

  • Lichee 3.0, 3.3 and 3.4 (with some 3.8 backport) from AllWinner. Some code in 3.4 version comes from sunxi linux work
  • Sunxi 3.0 (deprecated), 3.4 (maintenance), experimental 3.10 (Long term support kernel, likely to be used by Android 5.0, with AllWinner SoC support in mainline, and features like KVM and CMA),
  • Mainline kernel with two branches: sunxi-devel (latest code) and sunxi-next (with patches accepted into mainline). All mainline work has been done by the community, with no involvement from AllWinner. Currently CPU, interrupts, Timers, RTC, Watchdog (also used for reset), Ethernet and I2C are working, and you can boot a headless server. More info @ http://linux-sunxi.org/Linux_mainlining_effort.

He also talked of FEX files, the configuration files for AllWinner SoCs, that have a functionality similar to device tree, and in kernel 3.10 both device tree and fex files are supported. There’s also a tool called sunxi-babelfish that converts fex files into device tree files.

That’s all of the open source software part of the talk, and next is a list of hardware for playing around with AllWinner SoCs:

  • Olimex LIME board, fully open source hardware
  • Cubieboard 1 & 2, with schematics (PDF), but not all files to be fully open source hardware
  • EOMA68 / Improv. Improv, the baseboard, is open source hardware, but EOMA68 is not yet, although it should become open source hardware once the company (QiMod) gets back its initial investment
  • If you don’t have one of the three development platform above, you can also use one of the many tablets, media players, or HDMI TV stick available on the market.

AllWinner based device are unbrickable, as they can always to booted from a micro SD or SD card, and if no SD card is available, you can use FEL-mode to access the board via USB.

So all in all there’s currently good support for sun4i (A10), sun5i (A10s and A13) and sun7i (A20) SoCs, and it could even become FSF endorsable, but nothing is perfect, as the community is not really involved in A31, A31s and A80 development as these are based on PowerVR GPU, with no hope of ever getting open source GPU drivers in Linux, and there are binary blobs with Mali GPU (3D), GPS, and touchscreen drivers, and the Boot ROM (BROM) and CedarX libraries (APU/VPU) are only available in binary format.  There’s however work on open source Mali GPU driver (Limare) which could be usable this year, and there’s reverse engineering work being done for video decoding.

Oliver shows a demo of hardware video playback with a 100% open source implementation, capable of even playing files not supporting by the official binary only version, and gets a around of applause when he announces the complete presentation was done on an AllWinner board.

The talks ends with detailing the different ways you can contribute to the community: editing the Wiki, adding new supported devices, helping porting AOSP, CyanogenMod, Ubuntu Touch or Firefox OS, and submitting kernel patches.

The presentation slides are available here.

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How to Build and Run Tizen 2.0 on AllWinner Boards – FOSDEM 2014

February 16th, 2014 No comments

Leon Anavi has spent some time building and running Tizen for Olimex A10s-OLinuXino-MICRO board based onAllWinner A10s cortex A8 processor, and gave a short presentation at FOSDEM 2014 showing the main steps involved in the project. The final result is basically a non-portable Tizen tablet with a main board connected to an LCD display. If you have an LCD screen, you could also use a monitor (VGA/HDMI) instead.

Tizen_allwinnerAfter a short description of the hardware, and explaining it should also work on other AllWinner platforms such as Cubieboard, Leon gave a few no-nonsense recommendations he learned from his mistakes:

  • Get a USB serial board for debugging
  • Use recommended accessories from the manufacturer such as power supply or LCD display to make development easier
  • Buy a board that can boot from micro SD or SD card, again for ease of development
  • If something does not work… Restart the board! :)

In other to port Tizen to Allwinner, he took an existing port for the Pandaboard (TI OMAP4), use linux-sunxi bootloader and Linux kernel code, and followsed three main steps:

  1. Build the Linux kernel and bootloader (U-boot)
  2. Build an Tizen platform image, ARMv7 in this case
  3. Prepare a bootable (micro) SD card

You can download the binaries for A20-OLinuXino-MICRO and A10s-OLinuXino-MICRO, and get the instructions to build an image for other AllWinner based devices on tizen-sunxi github repository.

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A80 OptimusBoard Features AllWinner Octa-Core big.LITTLE SoC

January 10th, 2014 39 comments

Allwinner is currently at CES 2014 showcasing their latest Octa-core A80 SoC, and corresponding  development board, the A80 OptimusBoard. Apart from the picture below, there were very little details for the initial announcement, but we now know, the board comes with 2 GB RAM, 8 GB NAND flash, and other features of the board, as well as the company behind the GPU in AllWinner A80.

AllWinner A80 Development Board (Click to Enlarge a bit)

AllWinner A80 Development Board (Click to Enlarge a bit)

A80 OptimusBoard specifications:

  • SoC – AllWinner Ultra Core A80 4x Cortex 15, 4x Cortex A7 big.LITTLE processor with an unnamed Imagination Technologies PowerVR GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB NAND Flash
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4a
  • Connectivity – Dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, and Ethernet (GMAC)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 OTG HIC, 2x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Audio codec – AC100 Codec
  • Camera I/F – 12MP MIPI CSI
  • Debugging – UART and JTAG
  • Expansion – 32-pin GPIO header
  • Misc – IR receiver, reset and power LEDs.
  • Power management – AXP806, AXP809
  • Power Supply – DC IN (5V?), and battery
  • Dimensions – 135x70mm

So AllWinner A80 features a PowerVR GPU from Imagination Technologies, most probably one of PowerVR Series 6 GPUs (G6xxx) compliant with OpenGL 3.0 and OpenCL 1.x. This will probably disappoint a few people that hoped for Mali GPU in order to get better support in Linux.

That’s all I know for now, and I could not find details about supported operating systems, although Android is a given (Kitkat?), the company may also have decided to support one or more Linux distributions. Price information is not available either.

Via 1pad.cn

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What to Expect from AllWinner, Rockchip, Mediatek, and Other Silicon Vendors at CES 2014

January 4th, 2014 8 comments

CES 2014 is coming soon, and it will take place on 7 – 10 January, 2014, and we can expect some interesting SoC news. Samsung suggested they will unveil their 64-bit ARM SoC (Exynos 6?) at CES 2014, Nvidia will hold a press conference to “showcase new NVIDIA Tegra mobile technologies, gaming innovations and advanced automotive display technologies”, and Qualcomm has been quiet for now. However, several Chinese SoC vendors, namely AllWinner, Rockchip and Mediatek, have already announced what they will showcase at CES 2014, albeit with few details.

AllWinner at CES 2014

Allwinner announced will showcase their OptimusBoard based on their Ultra Octa Core A80 SoC, as well as 4G tablets powered by Allwinner A31/A31s, and dual-SIM phablets sporting A23 dual core.

AllWinner A80 Development Board

AllWinner A80 Development Board (Click to Enlarge)

Allwinner A80 is an Octacore processor featuring four ARM Cortex A7 cores, and four Cortex A15 cores @ 2.0GHz together with an unnamed GPU offering 2x more performance over previous generations, and supporting OpenGL ES3.0 and GPU compute. This will certainly be a new generation of GPU from either ARM Mali or Imagination PowerVR SGX GPUs.

AllWinner announced the availability (to selected partners) of Android 4.4 KitKat SDK for their AllWinner A31/A31s, and the latest version of Android will be running on 4G tablets using these solutions.

Allwinner has slowly, and discreetly, started to enter the smartphone space last year, and the company will showcase dual-SIM phablets based on Allwinner A23 dual core processor @ 1.5Ghz, with 512MB RAM, and GMS-certified.

Rockchip at CES 2014

The company did not announce anything directly but the sent out invite for CES 2014 giving clues about what to expect.

Rockchip_RK3288_CES2014We’ve found out about RK3288 last July, and it appears Rockchip will showcase their latest SoC during CES 2014. The Cortex A17 mentioned in the picture. above is most definitely a typo, as RK3288 is a quad core Cortex A12 processor coupled with an ARM Mali-T628 GPU. The processor should support H.265, but it’s still unclear if it will use GPU compute or have a dedicated hardware block, as well as 4G LTE.

Several sites have also reported Rockchip will display a Smart Glass Solution at the conference. The glasses will be based on RK3168 dual core Cortex A9 processor, and support Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS, comes with a microphone and stereo output, as well as 720p display and 5MP camera.

Mediatek at CES 2014

Mediatek has put out a press release detailing what they’ll show at CES 2014, namely:

  • LTE Modem – MediaTek MT6290 is an LTE Release 9 Category 4 modem built on the 28nm process.
  • Mobile SOCs – MediaTek MT8135 quad core  big.LITTLE SoC for high-end tablets, and  MediaTek MT6592 (Launched in November 2013 eight-core Cortex A7 processor.
  • Home Entertainment  – Unnamed SoC for Digital TV market supporting UltraHD (4K2K) video playback and HEVC decoding @ 60Hz. Sampling to begin in Q2 2014.
  • Connectivity – MediaTek MT7621A dual-core 11ac Wi-Fi router platform (already available).
  • Wireless Charging – Unnamed SoC supporting multimode inductive Qi and resonance wireless charging.
  • Wearables – Aster all-in-one solution for wearables.
  • Internet of Things – Cloud applications, video over Wi-Fi (VoW), indoor positioning and smart home automation

Other SoC Vendors

Another Chinese SoC company, Actions Semiconductor, announced they’ll showcase their latest tablet and multimedia solutions based on ATM7039 and ATM7021 SoCs, but without much details.

AMLogic did not announced anything for now, but I’d expect Geniatech based M801/M802 Android set-top box to be demonstrated at CES 2014.

I could not find anything about Broadcom, also some report the company will launch their own 64-bit ARM processor, just like Samsung and Qualcomm are expected to do.

Both Texas Instruments and Freescale have more or less left the consumer’s orientation application processor business to focus on the industrial / embedded part, but TI will showcase some IoT, automotive, audio, and projector solutions at the conference, and Freescale will host an “Exclusive VIP event“, but no details were provided, and nothing about i.MX7 or i.MX8.

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