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A80 OptimusBoard Development Board Pictures and Benchmarks

August 29th, 2014 8 comments

A80 OptimusBoard is a development board featuring the latest AllWinner A80 SoC with 8 ARM Cortex A15/A7 cores in big.LITTLE configuration, and a PowerVR GC6230 GPU. Availability was announced about 2 weeks ago for $345, but partially thanks to reader comments on CNX Software, Merrii Technology decided to lower the price to $169 (and $50+ for shipping) to stay competitive against similar boards such as Hardkernel ODROID-XU3. I’ve now received a sample for evaluation. I won’t go again through the specs, but today I’ll take a few pictures of the board, and provide benchmark results to compare them to the ones I got with Rockchip RK3288. Normally, I would also play with the SDK provided with the board, but sadly (and amazingly), there’s currently no such SDK for A80 OptimusBoard, except a leaked Linux SDK which failed to build with recent tools and operating systems.

A80 OptimusBoard Pictures

I’ve received the board via DHL from WITS Technology in the following package.

A80_OPtimusBoard_PackageInside the package, we’ve got the board itself in a transparent acrylic “enclosure”, a 5V/3A power supply, and a USB to serial cable.

A80 OptimusBoard with Power Supply and Debug Cable (Click to Enlarge)

A80 OptimusBoard with Power Supply and Debug Cable (Click to Enlarge)

I’ve also taken several pictures of the board. The top view shows AllWinner A80 SoC with 4 SKHynix chips for 2GB RAM, an AP6330 Wi-Fi module, and AXP809 PMIC, as well as various header for camera, serial, GPIOs (32 pins), battery, and JTAG. There’s also an IR receiver, and two small buttons for reset and power\ on this side of the board.

Top of A80 OptimusBoard (Click to Enlarge)

Top of A80 OptimusBoard (Click to Enlarge)

One thing that surprised me is that they did not include a heatsink with the board. Normally these kind of board comes with heatsinks and even maybe a fan small to let developers push the performance.

On the back of the board, there’s mostly the 16 GB Samsung NAND flash, and a micro SD slot.

Bottom of A80 OptimusBoard (Click to Enlarge)

Bottom of A80 OptimusBoard (Click to Enlarge)

Connectors include a USB 3.0 OTG port, HDMI output, two USB 2.0 host ports, the DC jack, an Ethernet port (RJ45), and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Connectors (Click to Enlarge)

Connectors (Click to Enlarge)

A80 OptimusBoard Benchmarks

I’ve connected an HDMI cable between the board and my TV, my air mouse RF dongle, an Ethernet cable, and the power supply to start the board. Boot time takes about 25 seconds.

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

I’ve been told the benchmarks may not be as high as for AllWinner A80 tablets. But let’s try anyway. Luckily, Google Play is installed with the firmware, but although I can login and search for apps, clicking on install did nothing. No problem, as I can install them by selecting “No Carrier AllWinner UltraOcta A80 OptimusBoard” on Google Play website.

But before running benchmarks, let’s get some details about AllWinner A80 SoC and the board with CPU-Z.

CPU-Z For AllWinner A80 (Click to Enlarge)

CPU-Z For AllWinner A80 (Click to Enlarge)

Since only some Cortex A7 cores (between 480 MHz and 1.20 GHz), CPU-Z appears to ignore Cortex A15 cores, and wrongly reports eight Cortex A7 cores. The codename of the board is “kylin_optimus”, which may be something useful to know when looking for information. It’s running Android 4.4.2 on top of Linux kernel 3.4.39, and everything have been built in early July. Resolution is 1920×1016, only 1205MB RAM is reported, most probably because some is reserved for the GPU, and some other hardware buffers. There’s 12.82 GB of internal storage.

The first benchmark I ran is Antutu 5, which they released yesterday.

Antutu 5 on A80 OptimusBoard (Click to Enlarge)

Antutu 5 on A80 OptimusBoard (Click to Enlarge)

It gets 33,921 which seems a little low, considering Amlogic S802 (Probox2 EX) got 37,000 with Antutu 5 (Beta), but as mentioned above they have not optimized the current firmware and hardware for performance. I haven’t run Antutu 5 on Rockchip RK3288 devices yet, so I can’t do a direct comparison yet. The firmware is also dated July 3,2014, so some more optimization may have been performed on the firmware since then. Yet no new firmware has been released.

Next… Quadrant benchmark could not run at all, and all I got was a black screen, just like with UyeSee G1H TV Box.

Vellamo worked, but I had to try twice to complete the benchmark.

A80_OptimusBoard_VellamoThe browser score is better on AllWinner A80 (2,308) than with Rockchip RK3288 (2,147), but A80 firmware defaulted to the Chrome browser, whereas UyeSee G1H used the stock Android Browser for this test, so both results can’t be compared. The Metal scores are somewhat similar with 1,287 (A80) and 1,323 (RK3288). Surprisingly, the Multicore (beta) test us much better on the quad core RK3288 (1,972) compared to the eight core A80 (1,340).

A80 Optimus Board Vellamo Multicore Comparison (Click to Enlarge)

A80 OptimusBoard Vellamo Multicore Comparison (Click to Enlarge)

During the tests, I also connected the serial console. Here’s what I got during the multicore test:

[   86.078970] CPU4: shutdown
 [   90.610468] CPU1: Booted secondary processor
 [   91.092528] CPU2: Booted secondary processor
 [   91.592556] CPU3: Booted secondary processor
 [   92.119633] CPU4: Booted secondary processor
 [   94.104631] CPU5: Booted secondary processor
 [   95.105115] CPU6: Booted secondary processor
 [   97.106251] CPU7: Booted secondary processor
 [   98.767201] CPU Budget: Limit state:1 item[1200000,4,1608000,4 0]
 [   98.774392] CPU Budget:update CPU 4 cpufreq max to 1608000 min to 600000
 [  100.591363] CPU7: shutdown
 [  100.917218] CPU Budget: Limit state:0 item[1200000,4,1800000,4 0]
 [  101.106648] CPU6: shutdown
 [  101.578869] CPU5: shutdown
 [  102.069103] CPU3: shutdown
 [  102.578981] CPU2: shutdown
 [  103.594914] CPU5: Booted secondary processor
 [  105.099015] CPU6: Booted secondary processor
 [  107.092366] CPU2: Booted secondary processor

AllWinner A80 cores are booted in sequences. The Cortex A7 cores with 500ms interval, and the first two Cortex A15 are started first in 1 second intervals, and then 2 seconds interval. These delays may explain the lower performance of AllWinner A80 compared to Rockchip RK3288, and are probably done to optimize power consumption, rather than performance. You’ll also notice that when all 8 cores are running the Cortex A15 frequency is limited to 1.6 GHz, and after CPU7 is shutdown, it is re-adjusted to 1.8 GHz. Checking “/sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu1/cpufreq/scaling_governor” show it’s set to “interactive”. so it would probably be possible to get a higher performance, with the CPU governor set to “performance”. I’m not sure how to change the behaviour since “cpupower” does not seem to be available (by default) in Android, and “cpufreq” directory is not available with shutdown cores. Maybe I should study about this, and write my finding in a separate post. Tips are welcome.

I’ve also noticed that running “cat /proc/cpuinfo” will only show the cores that are not shutdown, so during idle time you may just see one core.

AllWinner A80 embeds an Imagination Technologies PowerVR GC6230, which is supposed to provide some decent performance. So I’ve also run “Ice Storm Extreme” tests part of Futuremark’s 3Dmark benchmark.

3DMarks Ice Storm Extreme on A80 Optimus Board (Click to Enlarge)

3DMarks Ice Storm Extreme on A80 Optimus Board (Click to Enlarge)

But yet again, the results are somewhat disappointing, as A80 OptimusBoard got 5,841 points against 7,278 points for Rockchip RK3288, but the main culprits are the Physics score and test which for some reasons are much lower on AllWinner A80. The other scores are similar to Rockchip RK3288.

Finally some Linux benchmarks results. There’s still no Linux distribution available for A80 Optimius Board, but Linuxium ran some tests from the Phoronix test suite in a Linux chroot in Android comparing it to ODROID-U3 (Samsung Exynos 4412), MINIX NEO X8 (Amlogic S802), and Radxa Rock (Rockchip RK3188). These are all ARM Cortex A9 quad core processor, and the AllWinner A80 development board easily outperform these in most test.

A80_Optimus_vs_ODROID-U3_vs_MINIX_NEO_X8_vs_Radxa_Rock_LinuxAll these benchmark results should be taken with grain of salt, as the firmware is rather old, and I’d expect some performance improvement with newer firmware, and CPU governor set to performance.

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Tronsmart Orion R28 (Beta) TV Boxes with Rockchip RK3288 SoC Feature up to 4GB RAM, 32GB eMMC, Come with Android SDK

August 29th, 2014 2 comments

I’ve recently reviewed my first Rockchip RK3288 Android mini PC, UyeSee G1H, and while it’s not catastrophic, the box still have stability issues related to Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, AV video output, Wi-Fi performance and so on. Now Geekbuying has just announced availability of the beta versions of their Tronsmart Orion R28 Android TV box also powered by the quad core ARM Cortex A12/A17 processor. This first batch (180 pieces) is geared towards tinkerers and “ROM makers”, rather than people who just want something that works, and these first boxes will ship with an Android SDK (5.1GB) on a micro SD card.

Tronsmart_Orion_R28There will be three models: Orion R28 Pro (8GB flash, 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi), Orion R28 Meta (16GB flash, 802.11ac Wi-Fi), and Orion R28 Telos (4GB RAM, 32 GB eMMC, 802.11ac Wi-Fi). They’ve just manufactured the first two models in the first batch, with 90 pieces each.

Tronsmart Orion R28 specifications:

  • SoC -  Rockchip RK3288 quad core ARM Cortex A12 / A17 processor @ 1.8GHz with ARM Mali-T764 quad-core 3D GPU with support for OpenGL ES 3.0, OpenCL 1.1, and DirectX11
  • System Memory
    • Pro and Meta – 2GB DDR3
    • Telos – 4GB DDR3
  • Storage
    • Pro – 8GB eMMC Flash + micro SD slot
    • Meta – 16GB eMMC Flash + micro SD slot
    • Telos – 32GB eMMC Flash + micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60fps, 3.5mm AV jack
  • Audio Output – HMDI,  AV, and optical S/PDIF
  • Video Codecs – MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4,H.263, H.264, H.265,AVS, VC-1,RV, VP6/VP8, Sorenson Spark, MVC 3800 x 2160P 60FPS
  • Video Containers – H.264, H.265, AVI, TS, TP, TRP, VOB, MKV, MP4, MOV, ISO, ASF, FLV, DAT, MPG, MPEG, SWF, OGM, WMV, ASF, RM/RMV
  • Audio Codecs – MPEG1, MPEG2(Layer I/II), MP3, AC-3, E-AC-3, AAC-LC, WMA, HE-AAC
  • Connectivity
    • Pro – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6210 module)
    • Meta and Telos – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6335 module)
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB port
  • Misc – Power LED, power button, update button for recovery, and IR receiver.
  • Power – 5V/3A
  • Dimensions –  15.87 x 8.23 x 2.84 cm
  • Weight – 176 grams

Tronsmart_Orion_R28_Connectors

These media players will run Android 4.4., come pre-loaded with XBMC, and support OTA updates (yes!). The package will also include a Wi-Fi antenna, an HDMI cable, a USB cable, a simple IR remote control, a 5V/3A power adapter, and a user’s guide.

The first beta devices comes at a discounted price. Tronsmart Orion R28 Pro sells for $79.99 instead of $99.99, and R28 Meta for $99.99 instead of $119.99. If you happen to be the first to release a custom ROM you’ll get a full refund, same thing if you are the first to post a review (video or article). Anybody that posts a review will also get a $10 coupon for future purchases. But again, if you’re really looking for something that works, wait before purchasing a Rockchip RK3288 box. Software bugs can be fixed with firmware upgrades, but if there’s an hardware defect in the beta samples, albeit unlikely, you’ll be out of luck.

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MeLE V10 Android TV Box Features an Internal SATA Bay, HDMI In, USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet

August 28th, 2014 6 comments

Like UyeSee T1H, MeLe V10 is a quad core Android TV box powered by Mstar 9810 with HDMI In, USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet, but adds an internal SATA bay supporting either 2.5″ or 3.5″ hard drives or SSDs. It also comes with better specs by default with 2GB RAM, and a 16 GB eMMC flash.

MeleV_10_TV_BoxMeLe V10 specifications:

  • SoC – Mstar MSO9180 quad core ARM Cortex A9 @ 1.5GHz with a quad (or octa-core ARM Mali-450 MP GPU @
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3 @ 1866MHz?
  • Storage – 16 GB eMMC flash, internal SATA bay for 2.5″ or 3.5″ hard drive or SSD up to 3TB, and an SD card slot
  • Video I/O – HDMI 1.4a out up to 4K30, HDMI in, AV (CVBS)
  • Audio I/O – HDMI in/out, optical S/PDIF, AV port
  • Video Playback
    • MPEG-1/2, MPEG-4, DivX, H.264, H.265/HVC, VC-1, H.263, Real Media, MVC…
    • Up to 4K, 60Mbps (H.264)
    • 3D H.264 MVC Decoder/H.264 Encoder (720P)
  • Audio Formats and Codecs
    • MPEG, WMA, WAV, APE, OGG, FLAC, ACC, MPEG1,MPEG2(Layer I/II), MP3, AC-3, E-AC-3, AAC-LC, WMA, HE-AAC.
    • Dolby Digital Plus/Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD MA 7.1ch pass-through
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802 b/g/n Wi-Fi with external antenna
  • USB – 2x USB2.0 host ports, 1x USB 3.0 host port, 1x USB 3.0 device port.
  • Misc – IR receiver
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A
  • Dimensions – N/A
  • Weight – N/A

Mele V10_Rear_Panel

The box is said to run Android 4.4. I’m not sure which accessories are included, and it’s not available on Aliexpress yet. AndroidPC.es reports the box sells for around 160 Euros ($210) in China, and that there will be a version for international market with a different firmware. I could also find it on a little known website called iAndroidTVBox for $219. You can also find more details and pictures in Chinese on Mele BBS.

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Categories: Android, Hardware, Mstar Tags: Android, media player, mele, stb

MIPS Creator CI20 Development Board Formally Announced, Free to Selected Developers

August 28th, 2014 9 comments

Earlier this month, I discovered MIPS Creator CI20 development board based on Ingenic JZ4780 dual core MIPS processor thanks to one of my reader.  Imagination Technologies has now launched the board, which will run Debian 7 first, soon support Android 4.4 and others Linux distributions, and the company places their MIPS board as a competitor to the popular ARM based boards such as the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black. This is the first board part of Prpl initiative for open source Linux and Android software for the MIPS architecture.

MIPS_CI20_Development_BoardAs a reminder, I’ll list the hardware specifications again:

  • SoC – Ingenic JZ4780 dual core MIPS32 processor @ 1.2 GHz with Imagination PowerVR SGX540 GPU. 32kI + 32kD per core, 512K shared L2.
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB NOR flash, 1x SD card slot, 1x SD card slot via expansion
  • Video Output – HDMI up to 1080p
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, Audio In and Out via 3.5mm jack
  • Video Playback – Up to 1080p60
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, Wi-Fi + Bt 4.0 module (IW8103)
  • USB – 1x USB OTG, 1x USB 2.0 Host.
  • Expansions Headers – Access to 23x GPIOs, 2x SPI, 1x I2S, 7x ADC on header, including 5-wire touch and battery monitoring function, 1x UART, Transport Stream I/F.
  • Debugging – UART, and 14-pin MIPS EJTAG header
  • Misc – IR receiver, power LED, and button
  • Power Supply – 5V via 4mm/1.7mm barrel connector
  • Dimensions – 90x95mm

One thing I did not mention the last time are the multimedia capabilities of the Ingenic SoC, as it can handle codec such as MPEG-4, H.264, VP8, MPEG-2, and RV9 thanks to the video hardware, “making it ideal for HTPC enthusiasts” according to Imagination. The Linux source code  (3.0.8 and 3.16 kernel) is currently available on github and Imagination plans to up-streamed support to mainline. Graphics support includes Xorg-compliant OpenGL 2.1 and OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 drivers, which means Linux distributions available for the board should have 3D GPU acceleration. The complete documentation is available on eLinux.

MIPS_Creator_CI20_vs_Raspberry_Pi_vs_BeagleBone_BlackBased on the comparison table above, MIPS Creator CI20 are significantly higher than Raspberry Pi, and even BeagleBone Black, and the board size is about double, so it’s unlikely it will compete on price with either, unless it’s sponsored. Its specs are more akin to the Cubietruck (except for 2GB RAM, SATA support, GbE…) which sells for $89, so something between $70 to $80 could be expected.

With regards to availability there are good and bad news. The bad news is that you can’t buy it right now, and they haven’t announced the price yet. The good news is that if you are involved in an open source project, you may be able to get it for free by requesting one. Eventually MIPS Creator CI20 should sell via Imagination Technologies e-Store.

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Review of UyeSee G1H Rockchip RK3288 Android TV Box

August 27th, 2014 4 comments

UyeSee G1H is one of the first Android TV boxes powered by Rockchip RK3288 quad core Cortex A17 SoC. I’ve already listed specs, and shown a few pictures of the device and the board in my “UyeSee G1H Unboxing” post, so today I’ll write a full review, checking out the user interface, testing video playback capabilities, network and storage performance, play a few games, check hardware features are working as expected, and runs some benchmarks on the platform.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

There’s an infrared remote control with the device. I’ve inserted a CR2032 battery, and although it works great in the user interface, it becomes useless with Android apps, so instead I’ve opted to use Mele F10 Deluxe air mouse which brings mouse and keyboard support. Before powering up the device, I’ve connected an HDMI cable, the RF dongle for Mele F10 Deluxe, a USB hard drive, and an Ethernet cable. Connecting the power supply will start the device automatically, and the boot is super fast compared to other devices I’ve tested, as it takes about 18 seconds only.

UyeSee_G1H_Android_Home_Default_640px

UyeSee G1H Android Launcher (Click for Original Size)

There’s a custom launcher as shown above, as well as the stock Android home screen as shown below. The status bar is disabled by default, but I’ve enabled it for easier control with the air mouse, and to take screenshots. It looks pretty, but unfortunately this must have been designed for the Chinese market, and all buttons report “App not installed”, except the Settings button which goes to the Android settings. You can use the arro keys to navigate, and if you go right, you’ll find the all the you’ve installed apps. This menu has some animation that are extremely smooth, probably thanks to the Mali-T764 GPU. However, if you click on the screenshot above you’ll find out the resolution is set to 1280×720. I’d assume most people don’t buy the latest Android mini PC to get a 720p machine, but you can change to 1920×1080 resolution in the settings, and the user interface will also be set to 1080p. I don’t have a 4K TV so 4K options did not show up. The launcher above won’t look very nice at 1080p, because graphics are made for 720p, and a large part of the bottom of the screen will not be used. There’s no such problem when switching to the stock Android home screen.

UyeSee_G1H_Android_Home_640px

Android Home Screen (Click for Original @ 720p)

Going to the Settings, we’ve got all usually Wireless and Networks options for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet, including VPN, Portable Hotspot and so on. There’s a Home menu to select the launcher, and ScreenshotSetting  menu, both of which I did not notice in most other firmware. The Sound settings like you choose between “Default Output” (PCM / Down-mixing), “Spdif Passthough”, and HDMI Bitstream (HDMI pass-through), but I don’t have an audio receiver yet, so I could not try the pass-though options. The Display settings will allow you to hide or show the status bar, adjust for overscan, select HDMI, YPbPr, and “TV” (Composite) video output, as well as the resolution: “auto”, 1080p 24/25/30/50/60Hz, 720p 50/60, 720×576 or 720×480. If you have a 4K TV, 4K options should show as well. I’ve been informed there’s currently a bug for 4K @ 60Hz, but it will be resolved in the next firmware upgrade. I’ve done most of my testing with HDMI, and I had no problem, but I also tested composite and component (YPbPr) video output.

Composite (Click to Enlarge)

Composite (Click to Enlarge)

Component (Click to Enlarge)

Component (Click to Enlarge)

Composite looks fine, but there’s a green line on my TV that could not be removed even after using the “Screen Scale” menu. YMMV. Component output is more problematic as it is only shown in Grey (Y signal), I could not get the Chrominance signal to show which any cable combination I tried.

About_UyeSee_G1HMy device comes with a 8GB NAND flash, and they’ve partitioned it with a 1.91GB “Internal Storage” partition for apps, and a 3.88 GB “NAND FLASH” partition for data. I really prefer a single partition for everything, but even after installing all apps I needed for testing I still had 1.17GB free in the “Internal Storage” partition. It may become a problem if you install many apps, especially games which can be rather large.

Other settings are pretty standard, and the developer option are enabled by default. The “About device” section reports the model number as “rk3288″, Android 4.4.2 on top of Linux kernel 3.10.0. The firmware is not rooted, and I don’t have male to male USB cable, so I could not root it via the OTG port.

I could install most applications I tried on Google Play Store including Root checker, Antutu, Quadrant, Beach Buggy Blitz, etc…, but a few would just report my device is not compatible such as Real Racing 3 (but many Android STB have the same issue) and Vidonn activity tracker app. I have had some 941 errors from time to time, failing to install an app, but these were possibly network error unrelated to G1H. Paid apps such as Sixaxis Controller installed properly. In order to play Riptide GP2, I also installed Amazon AppStore without issue.

There’s no power button, so you can’t power off the device gracefully, only put it in standby mode with the IR remote control power button, The soft power button in the status did not work for me. Despite having only a 5V/2A power adapter, connected a USB hard drive, I did not seem to have issues with a lack of power, except possibly at the end of one Antutu test at 1080p where the screen went blank. The box can get pretty hot however. After Antutu, the max temperature on the top and bottom of the box were respectively 53 °C and 60 °C, after after playing Riptide GP2 for 30 minutes at 1080p, it went all the way up to 63 °C and 71 °C, which means the processor even gets hotter, possibly well over 80 °C, I’m not sure this can be good if this happens too often.

The firmware is very smooth most of the time, except when it’s writing to the flash, while installing an app for example, where the mouse pointer may not react for short periods of time. Stability is OK, but I had the screen turn off at the end of Antutu benchmark once, requiring a power cycle, and another time the box rebooted itself, while browsing files in ES File Explorer. I like the fact that you can switch between 720p and 1080p user interface, as you want prefer the former for smoother games, and the former for video playback for example.

You can watch the video below to see what the UI looks like at 1280×720 and 1920×1080 resolution, as well as the difference settings options available.

Video Playback

I normally play videos from a SAMBA share over Ethernet using XBMC. However, the box does not come with XBMC, and currently XBMC does not support hardware decoding for HEVC, so instead I’ve chosen to test videos with MXPlayer. I did try to install XBMC using XBMC Updater, and downloaded both stable and nightly apk, but the system reported the apk were not recognized. So I tried to install SPMC via Google Play instead, but atfirst I got a 941 error, and I could only manage install it after most testing was complete at a later stage. Using Es File Explorer, I connected to my SAMBA share, and unfortunately even 480p video were buffering like crazy, so I ended up using a USB hard drive. The Ethernet issue may not be due to G1H, but my Gigabit switch, as I’ll explain in the networking section. Nevertheless, the takeaway is that videos were played from USB hard drive with MXPlayer, unless otherwise stated.

I start with videos samples from samplemedia.linaro.org, and as well as videos with H.265/HEVC codec from Elecard:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container, 480p/720p/1080p – Video playing at an estimated 2 to 4 fps, with most frames skipped [SPMC test: OK, but every second or so, there will be a subtle change of color / screen jump]
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB) – RV8, RV9, and RV10 – OK, much smoother than any other device I’ve tried, and according to MXPlayer using HW decode.
  • WebM / VP8 – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container – No video, audio only.

I’ve also tested some high bitrate videos:

  • ED_HD.avi – OK, no problem even in fast moving scenes
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK. (Audio needs to be decoded by S/W)
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – OK
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – OK  (Audio needs to be decoded by S/W)
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – OK

Most high definition audio codecs (except AC3 and TrueHD) could not play with MXPlayer, but I tried later with SPMC (XBMC fork on Google Play), and all could play:

  • AC3 – OK
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 / Dolby Digital 7.1 – OK
  • TrueHD 5.1 & 7.1 – OK
  • DTS-MA and DTS-HR – OK

Sintel-Bluray.iso Blu-ray ISO file could play in MX Player but with video only, I could not get audio to work, even switching to software decode.

Rockchip RK3288 is supposed to handle 4K videos, even with HEVC, so let’s try a few in MX Player:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – Can play but with some slow downs from time to time. I can get audio by switching to audio S/W decoding.
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 – OK, but some white “fog” appears on the black background
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 – OK
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts – Cannot play.

Several AVI, MKV, FLV and MP4 videos in my library could play fine with SPMC. I also played a complete 1080p video (1h50) in the box, and I had no issues either.

At first, I was not too happy with video playback using MX Player only, but when you put SPMC (XBMC) into the mix, it looks much better. The main thing you lose (confirmed) with XBMC is H.265 / HEVC hardware video decoding.

Links to various video samples used in this review and be found in “Where to get video, audio and images samples” post and comments.

Network Performance (Wi-Fi and Ethernet)

The network test consists in transferring a 278 MB file between a SAMBA share and the internal flash using, and vice versa, repeating the test three times using ES File Explorer. Wi-Fi performance appears to be inconsistent, as I had three much different transfer times: 3m20s, 2m43s, and 4m31s, averaging a rather disappointing 1.31 MB/s. I also tested Miracast via Rockchip’s “Wi-Fi display” app included with the firmware, and after a few tries I managed to mirror my Android phone display.

Wi-Fi_UyeSee_G1H

Wi-Fi Performance in MB/s

Now.. Ethernet.. This gets interesting. At first, when I used the device connected to Ethernet, it felt sluggish in the Play Store, and soon found some serious issues while transferring a file from a SAMBA share using ES File Explorer, as throughput was around 300 to 500 KB/s most of the time, and sometimes it would even stall. This looks very similar to the issue I had to Wetek Play. I’ve recently purchased a D-Link DGS-1005A 5-port Gigabit switch for test, and used it in my last five reviews. That means three products had no problem with the switch, and two had issues. Which item is guilty is difficult to prove. So I decided to insert my older (D-Link) 10/100M hub, between the device and the Gigabit switch and it worked. I tried to connect the device to my Gigabit switch with a different cable, and it also worked, but the connection is only 100M. If I used the original cable (the same I used for all other reviews), it will detect a Gigabit connection, but the Ethernet LEDs will “funnily” blink on the device, and the Link LED will turn on and off. So at the end of the day, I did not manage to get a proper Gigabit connection, so I tested Fast Ethernet, and the result is OK.

Ethernet_UyeSee_G1H

Ethernet Performance in MB/s

Like with Probox2 EX, this test used the ES File Explorer version with improved SAMBA performance, which may have helped a bit for Ethernet, but did nothing for Wi-Fi.

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

Transferring a picture via Bluetooth worked just fine, after pairing G1H with my Android smartphone (ThL W200).

I skipped Sixaxis test for PS3 Bluetooth Gamepad support, as it required root.

After installing Vidonn app for Vidonn X5 activity tracker, it could connected via Bluetooth 4.0 LE to retrieve the data.

Storage

Both a micro SD card and a USB flash drive formatted to FAT32 could be mounted and accessed successfully.
I’ve also connected my USB 3.0 hard drive with NTFS, EXT-4, FAT32, and BTRFS partitions. and as usual the Linux file systems are not supported, at least not by default.

File System Read Write
NTFS OK OK
EXT-4 Not mounted Not mounted
FAT32 OK OK
BTRFS Not mounted Not mounted

After setting the custom locations set to /mnt/usb_storage/USB_DISK2/USB3_NTFS in A1 SD Bench to benchmark the NTFS partition, I got a read speed of 27.5MB/s and a write speed of 25.98MB/s.

UyeSee_G1H_USB_Drive

USB Hard Drive Performance in MB/s

There’s not that much differences between difference platforms at USB 2.0 speeds.

Last time, the eMMC flash in Probox2 EX could be read at 27.57MB/s, and written at 15.11 MB/s, and the eMMC used in G1H as better read speed at 44.50 MB/s, but much slower write speed at 7.3 MB/s, which may explain some the rare slowdowns I experienced while playing with this mini PC.

USB Webcam

Skype sort of worked with my UVC USB webcam. I tested audio successfully with the Echo service, and I could see the video, but as I tried to leave a video message the app crashed.

Google Hangouts could detect the webcam, but when I did a video call the camera image did not show up.

Gaming

With Mali-T764 GPU, Rockchip RK3288 should be a star when it comes to video games. I’ve tested the three games: Candy Crush Saga, Beach Buggy Blitz, and Riptide GP2. Candy Crush Saga unsurprisingly worked fine as with any device. Beach Buggy Blitz is a little more challenging, and based on my experience Riptide GP2 is even more demanding.

Testing games was actually the first thing I did, at first the resolution was set to 720p. I used Tronsmart Mars G01 wireless gamepad to control both games. I went to Beach Buggy Blitz settings, and maxed out the graphics settings which normally make devices based on Amlogic S802 struggle to have a decent framerate. But with UyeSee G1H, the game was just extra smooth. I did the same with Riptide GP2, and yet again very smooth most of the time. I could even win races, or battle with the lead driver at all games. That’s not usual at all, as normally I’m always fighting for third place in other Android TV boxes :). Beside the high framerate, one of the reasons gameplay is better is that I don’t have lag with Tronsmart Gamepad in this device.  Switching to 1080p, Beach Buggy Blitz is still super smooth, except sometimes during the first one of two seconds of the game. Riptide GP2 is still very playable, and I’m still fighting for victory!, but it feels like the framerate may drop in the low 20, or even 15 at times. I’ve played Riptide GP2 for 30 consecutive minutes, and albeit the box gets very hot (70 C), everything is stable and smooth.

UyeSee G1H Benchmark

Since it’s my first Rockchip RK3288 device, I’ve run a few more benchmarks than usual, and also checked the CPU details with CPU-Z app.
Rockchip_RK3288_CPU-Z
CPU-Z has apparently not yet heard about Rockchip RK3288, as it reports a Rockchip RK3066 processor. The CPU architecture is 0xc0d, which stands for ARM Cortex A12, whereas Cortex A17 should be 0xc0e, according to this. So finally Rockchip RK3288 might be a Cortex A12, at least for the first versions. If there are other ways to check let me know.  The CPU clock can scale between 126MHz and 1.8 GHz, the GPU is correctly detected as Mali-T764, and there’s indeed 2GB RAM in my device, but CPU-Z only takes the “internal flash” partition reporting 1.91 GB storage for the 8 GB flash.
UyeSee_G1H_Antutu
Antutu 4.x score is excellent with 40,497, one of the top device on the market. That score has been achieved with a resolution of 1280×720, switching to 1920×1080 brings the score down to a still very good 39273 points. I’ve created a table below showing comparing S802 in Probox2 EX, and RK3288 in G1H  to find out where it shine in the tests:

Amlogic S802 Rockchip RK3288
Multitask 5744 10415
Runtime 2018 4698
RAM Operation 2997 2066
RAM Speed 1596 2797
CPU integer 3781 3162
CPU float-point 2815 5218
2D Graphics 1648 (607×1008) 1641 (1280×672)
3D graphics 8717 (607×1008) 8404 (1280×672)
Storage I/O 1801 1461
Database I/O 630 635

Results are quite surprising. According to Antutu 4.x scores, RK3288 shines in multitask, runtime, and CPU floating point testes, but graphics are about equivalent to S802 (at slightly different resolutions), and CPU integer is faster in the S802 @ 2.0 Ghz compared to RK3288 @ 1.8 Ghz. Probox2 EX has slightly better storage performance compared to UyeSee G1H but this part is mostly independent from the processor.

I also tried to run Quadrant, but all I got was a grey screen as I ran the test. Vellamo benchmark is now at version 3.0, so I can’t really compared it to earlier tests I did, but UyeSee G1H performance is also pretty good here.

Vellamo_UyeSee_G1H_Rockchip_RK3288In the new Multicore (beta) benchmark, this Rockchip RK3288 solution even beats all other players.

Rockchip_RK3288_Vellamo_MulticoreIn the browser score, UyeSee G1H is only outperformed by LG G3 smartphone (Qualcomm Snapdragon 801), and in the metal score, its performance is about equivalent to LG Nexus 5 (Qualcomm Snapdragon 801).

Despite the clear superior performance in games, the graphics benchmarks in Antutu were somewhat disappointing, so I’ve run Ice Storm Extreme test in 3DMark.

3DMarks_RK3288_UyeSee_G1H

3DMark Benchmark Results (Click to Enlarge)

A score of 7278 points is about equivalent to a phone based on Snapdragon 600 with Adreno 320 GPU. Many recent devices based on Qualcomm 800 and greater get score above 10,000 or simply maxes out the test, so again I was expecting the GPU to perform better in benchmarks.

Conclusion

First, I’d like to thank Shenzhen UyeSee Technology for being the first company to send me a product based on Rockchip RK3288. The product is still new, and although there are positives, there’s still some work that need to be done. Compared to existing products, the main benefits of Rockchip RK3288 are HEVC video decoding and a 3D gaming performance unmatched by other Android TV boxes

PRO:

  • Fast new processor
  • Excellent 3D graphics performance for games, which for some reasons does not really show in benchmarks.
  • Both 720p and 1080p user interfaces are supported
  • Video Output – 1080p support 24, 25 ,30 , 50 and 60 Hz output which may be important for some videos. 4K will eventually support 60Hz thanks to HDMI 2.0.
  • HEVC video decoding support
  • OTA firmware updates appear to be supported (but I cannot confirm).
  • Webcam supported in Skype (although it did not work in Google Hangouts)

CONS:

  • Rare stability issues (1 reboot, one black screen over 8 hours of testing)
  • Lacklustre Wi-Fi performance
  • XBMC not pre-installed
  • Issues with some videos in MX Player (MPEG2, several HEVC/H.265 can’t be played, some audio issues)
  • Somewhat slow eMMC flash write speed potentially leading to slowdowns
  • Potential Gigabit Ethernet issues, at least confirmed with my switch (D-Link DSG-1005A).
  • No proper power off (standby only)
  • The device can get pretty hot (70+ C)
  • A few apps are not compatible in Google Play
  • Video output – Component only output the Luminance signal with my TV, composite has a green bar at the bottom
  • “TV” Launcher is only made for 720p resolution

I had quite a few problem with networking with this hardware. First Wi-Fi is stable, but relatively slow, and then the box did not want to play nice with my Gigabit Ethernet switch, but connection and performance were fine with a Fast Ethernet hub. Video playback is decent, but may still need more work, a version of XBMC with support for H.265 would be nice, but I’d assume at first all Rockchip RK3288 TV boxes will suffer from the same flaw, at least initially. If you’d like to play some 3D games this TV box will give you a much better experience than what you can achieve with the fastest Cortex A9 solution (Rockchip RK3188, Amlogic S802), and after testing the box, this is currently the main selling point of this media player.

You may find more information and/or contact the company via G1H product page. UyeSee G1H is not yet listed on their Aliexpress Store, but some hardware with similar specs, but different enclosure, can be bought for $90 including shipping on Aliexpress, so we might expect a similar price for G1H.

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How to Build and Run Android L 64-bit ARM in QEMU

August 23rd, 2014 6 comments

Most people can’t afford Juno Cortex A57/A53 development board, and mobile processors based on the latest 64-bit ARM cores are only expected by early 2015. But thanks to a small team at Linaro, you can now build and run Android L 64-bit ARM in the latest version of QEMU that supports Aarch64. Alex Bennée, an engineer working for Linaro, wrote a blog post in Linaro’s Core Dump blog explaining the Android emulator is actually based on QEMU,  the differences compared to mainline QEMU, the work they’ve done on Android L at Linaro, and most importantly, provided the basic steps showing how to build and try Android L 64-bit ARM (ARMv8) in QEMU. I’ve just done that, but unfortunately, albeit the builds complete, I could not manage to start Android L in QEMU yet. If you still want to give it a try, you’ll need a Linux PC, and patience, as it may take about one day to retrieve the source code, and build everything from source.

Android_L_64-bit_ARM_QEMU

I’ve done all this in a computer running Ubuntu 14.04 with an AMD FX8350 processor and 16 GB RAM.

First, you’ll need to install an ARM 64-bit toolchain, some dependencies, and tools:

sudo apt-get install gcc-aarch64-linux-gnu build-essentials git bison zlib1g-dev \
libglib2.0-dev libpixman-1-dev gperf android-tools-adb

The next step is to cross-compile a Linux 3.10 kernel for Android:

mkdir -p ~/edev/linaro
git clone https://git.linaro.org/people/christoffer.dall/linux-android.git
cd linux-android
git checkout ranchu-linaro-beta1

There’s a bug include the current version of the toolchain in Ubuntu 14.04 (https://bugs.launchpad.net/linaro-linux-baseline/+bug/1258013) which prevents the build to complete. You can either remove CONFIG_DEBUG_INFO=Y in arch/arm64/configs/ranchu_defconfig (I did that), or update your toolchain. Let’s complete the build:

ARCH=arm64 make ranchu_defconfig
ARCH=arm64 make CROSS_COMPILE=aarch64-linux-gnu- -j8

Now you need to build the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). If you haven’t done so, you’ll have to install the repo tool:

mkdir ~/bin
PATH=~/bin:$PATH
curl https://storage.googleapis.com/git-repo-downloads/repo > ~/bin/repo
chmod a+x ~/bin/repo

Then get AOSP source code (master as below, or l-preview branch):

cd ..
mkdir AOSP
repo init -u https://android.googlesource.com/platform/manifest
repo sync

The last step can take a few hours depending on your internet connection to Google servers.
Now download and apply a patch made by Linaro:

wget http://people.linaro.org/~christoffer.dall/linaro-devices.tar.gz
tar -xvf linaro-devices.tar.gz

Possibly configure git:

git config --global user.email "[email protected]"
git config --global user.name "Your Name"

And build Android L for ARMv8:

source build/envsetup.sh
lunch ranchu-userdebug
m -j8

The last step will again take a while. It took my machine 2 or 3 hours, and the total time was actually a bit more than than as my PC suffered two thermal shutdowns during the build, and I had to restart the build twice. The last time, I decided to underclock my CPU to 3.4 GHz, and the build went through.

The last step before running Android L is to build QEMU:

cd ..
git clone https://git.linaro.org/people/peter.maydell/qemu-arm.git
cd qemu-arm

git checkout ranchu-linaro-beta1
make -j8

Builds should now all be successfully complete. We just need to create some symlinks helping to shorten qemu command line, and run QEMU:

cd ..
ln -s linux-android/arch/arm64/boot/ ranchu-kernel
ln -s AOSP/out/target/product/ranchu/ ranchu-build
./qemu-arm/aarch64-softmmu/qemu-system-aarch64 -cpu cortex-a57 -machine type=ranchu -m 4096 \
-kernel ./ranchu-kernel/Image -append 'console=ttyAMA0,38400 keep_bootcon' -monitor stdio \
-initrd ranchu-build/ramdisk.img -drive index=2,id=userdata,file=ranchu-build/userdata.img \
-device virtio-blk-device,drive=userdata -device virtio-blk-device,drive=cache \
-drive index=1,id=cache,file=ranchu-build/cache.img -device virtio-blk-device,drive=system \
-drive index=0,id=system,file=ranchu-build/system.img -netdev user,id=mynet \
-device virtio-net-device,netdev=mynet -show-cursor

That’s the output I get:

QEMU 2.0.50 monitor - type 'help' for more information
(qemu) adb_server_notify: Failed to establish connection to ADB server
console on port 5554, ADB on port 5555
VNC server running on `127.0.0.1:5900'

So it’s quite possible there’s a problem with adb, but Google did not help, and I failed to go further. More detailed instructions will soon be posted in Linaro Wiki, so I may be able to find out where I made a mistake once it’s posted.

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Unboxing of UyeSee G1H Android TV Box Powered by Rockchip RK3288

August 23rd, 2014 20 comments

So finally after month of waiting, and various delays, Rockchip RK3288 based Android TV box are finally coming to market. Shenzhen UyeSee Technology is the first company to send me a sample with their G1H Android TV Box, as well as their M2 wireless music streaming receiver, which will be the subject of another post. I’ll list the specifications and show some pictures of the media player and board today, and write a full review in a few days.

UyeSee G1H Specifications

These are the specifications provided by the company, reformatted in CNXSoft style :):

  • SoC -  Rockchip RK3288 quad core ARM Cortex A17 processor @ 1.8GHz with ARM Mali-T764 quad-core 3D GPU with support for OpenGL ES 3.0, OpenCL 1.1, and DirectX11
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3 (2GB Optional)
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC Flash (16G/32G optional) + micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60fps, 3.5mm AV jack
  • Audio Output – HMDI,  AV, and optical S/PDIF
  • Video Codecs – MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4,H.263, H.264, H.265,AVS, VC-1,RV, VP6/VP8, Sorenson Spark, MVC 3800 x 2160P 60FPS
  • Video Containers – H.264, H.265, AVI, TS, TP, TRP, VOB, MKV, MP4, MOV, ISO, ASF, FLV, DAT, MPG, MPEG, SWF, OGM, WMV, ASF, RM/RMV
  • Audio Codecs – MPEG1, MPEG2(Layer I/II), MP3, AC-3, E-AC-3, AAC-LC, WMA, HE-AAC
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6330 module)
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – Power LED (On:Blue; Standby:Red), reset Button for recovery, and IR receiver.
  • Power – 12V/2A (but provided power adapter is 5V/2A…)
  • Dimensions – 107 x 107 x 26 mm
  • Weight – 150 grams

G1H runs Android 4.4.

UyeSee G1H Unboxing

I’ve received the parcel via Fedex in a bland carton box, as they may not have the retail package ready, or customize them depending on their customers. It may also be an engineering sample, as they included the bare minimum in the package with the device, a 5V/2A adapter, and a simple IR remote control without the required CR2032 battery.

G1H and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

G1H and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

In the final retail package, it’s likely you’ll also get a least an HDMI cable, and a user’s manual.

UyeSee G1H (Click to Enlarge)

UyeSee G1H (Click to Enlarge)

The device is a tiny rectangular black box. The rear panel features the AV output, the Gigabit Ethernet port (RJ45), an optical S/PDIF port, HDMI output, and a power barrel, and you’ll find a reset/recovery button, three USB 2.0 ports, and the micro SD slot on one side of the device.

You can watch the unboxing video for a few more details.

UyeSEE G1H Board

To open this product, remove the four rubber pads on the bottom of the enclosure, remove the 4 screws, and the bottom part of casing should pop-up relatively easily.

Top of UyeSee G1H Board (Click to Enlarge)

Top of UyeSee G1H Board (Click to Enlarge)

The heatsink placed on the Rockchip processor is rather small, and based on previous temperature testing for RK3288, this probably means the device is clocked @ 1.6 GHz for better stability. The Wi-Fi module is the widely AP6330 chip providing 2.4/5.8 GHz Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. There does not seem to be an obvious way to connect UART, The UART pins should be the GTR (Ground, Tx, Rx) solder pads close to the micro SD slot on the top left of the picture.There are also lots of test points. The USB port just next to the micro SD slot might also act as a USB OTG port. The board name is BX20_V1.2.

Bottom of G1H Board (Click to Enlarge)

Bottom of G1H Board (Click to Enlarge)

There’s not much to see on the back of the board, except a Realtek chip.

UyeSee G1H is not yet listed on their Aliexpress Store, but you may find more information and/or contact the company via G1H product page. Price is not available, but the commercial invoice I received list the device for $68, which probably means a retail price of about $100 after taking into account shipping, Aliexpress fee, and reseller margin.

Since this media player is very new, I’ll check with the company to make sure I can do a full test now, or have to wait for a firmware upgrade before writing a review.

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