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Posts Tagged ‘arm’

Thread is a New IP-based Wireless Protocol Leveraging 6LoWPAN and 802.15.4 Standards

July 21st, 2014 2 comments

Wi-Fi is a neat way to connect devices to Internet, but it has two main inconveniences: relatively high cost and power consumption. Luckily there are standards that addresses the cost and power consumption issues. Radio chips based on IEEE 802.15.4, a standard which specifies the physical layer and media access control for low-rate wireless personal area networks, are common place and found in many existing devices relying on higher level wireless protocols such as ZigBee, ISA100.11a, WirelessHART, and MiWi. AFAIK, Zigbee is the most popular of the aforementioned protocols, but is hindered by the requirements of the license for commercial products (annual fee), Zigbee membership requirements conflict with many open source license such as GPL, and the standard suffers from lack of interoperability and IPv6 support, and power requirements that are too high for some applications. So a consortium of seven companies namely ARM, Big Ass Fans, Freescale, Nest, Samsung, Silicon Labs, and Yale Security, have come together to start working on “Thread”, a new wireless protocol leveraging 802.15.4 standard and existing transceiver chips,  that is legacy-free, and is based on 6LoWPAN (Low Power IPv6 connectivity), and UDP protocols.

 

Thread_Wireless_Protocol

Thread specifications are currently work in progress, but it will be a low power IP based open protocol supporting mesh networking (Up to 250 devices), that is both secure and user-friendly, and provides fast-time to market thanks to existing radio silicon. It will be used in various products such as electric appliances, access control, climate control, energy management, lighting, as well as safety and security devices. Two products companies are part of the group Nest and Big Ass Fans, so thermostats and fans based on Thread are likely to be available soon. Nest V2 actually comes with a 802.15.4 capable SoC (Ember EM357) that used to be disabled, but “is already being used successfully in Nest products today” thanks to a simple firmware upgrade, although I’m not sure if this is the case internally, or on customer’s premises.

The Thread Group is now looking for new members, and companies that are interested in Thread can join the consortium as a Sponsor (with more voting rights), or Contributor member. There’s no individual membership at this stage.

Via Semiwiki

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The World’s Cheapest Linux Computer? Pogoplug Mobile Now Sells for $7

July 19th, 2014 8 comments

Somebody asked “Anyone knows a computer cheaper than a Raspberry Pi with a network interface?” on Google+ mini PCs community. Some OpenWRT routers such as TPLink WR703N selling for about $20, or the VoCore Wi-Fi module selling for about the same price (Wi-Fi only) were parts of the answers, and I also mentioned some HDMI TV dongles that now sell for around $35, which is still a little cheaper than the Raspberry Pi model B when one considers shipping. But I found the answer by dhead666 particularly interesting:

Pogoplug Mobile goes for 7$ on Amazon and that includes psu and network cable.
It run Linux great (I’m using Arch) but you will want to have a ttl-usb cable and soldering iron available in case you manage to mess u-boot (go to the doozan’s forums for more info about the u-boot).

Let’s have a look.

PogoplugPogoplug Mobile is not a new device, as I wrote about it as far back as 2011, but it was certainly not selling for $7 at the time.

Pogoplug Mobile has the following specifications:

  • Processor – Marvell Kirkwood 88F6192 ARMv5TE compliant processor @ 800 MHz
  • System Memory – 128 MB RAM
  • Storage – 128 MB NAND + SD card slot
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port

You can find a review of the device, including board and device pictures, on SmallnetBuilder. The product is sold as a backup device connected to a cloud service, but as we’ll see below, you can also install Arch Linux ARM. There are also other Pogoplug models with USB 3.0 and SATA II, but obviously they cost more.

Pogoplug_Mobile_Rear

What about the $7 claim? Pogoplug Mobile can indeed be found on Amazon for about $7, and it’s actually one of the best selling items in the NAS category. I’ve also looked for other models with SATA and USB 3.0, and gotthe following price list

If Amazon US won’t ship to your country, it’s also available on Ebay, but you’ll have to shop around as shipping costs may be prohibitive…

Even at $7, it’s not really a Raspberry Pi killer, as there’s no video output, and it does not seem you have easy access to GPIOs, yet for headless non-embedded applications it looks certainly interesting especially for storage application as it provides Gigabit Ethernet which should be much faster than the 10/100M Ethernet via USB you get with the Raspberry Pi, and it’s a very cheap way to connect any USB hard drive to the network. At this price it’s almost like they sell you the Ethernet cable and power supply, and give you the device for free. The Series 4 are also cost effective if you want SATA, more USB ports, and extra performance with USB 3.0.

To say the least the reviews on Amazon are mixed, with many people saying the device does not work as expected, and they lost their files. Luckily the Pogoplugs are hackable, and instructions to run Arch Linux ARM from SD card are indeed available for Pogoplug Mobile and Pogoplug Series v4, and somebody also managed to boot Debian. There are various instructions from people who played with this extra cheap device on the net.

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Raspberry Pi Model B+ with 4 USB Ports, a micro SD Slot, and More GPIOs Coming Soon

July 13th, 2014 21 comments

With over 3 million boards sold, the Raspberry Pi is by far the most popular ARM Linux board on the market, but people are often asking for hardware upgrades with a faster processor, more RAM and so on. The good news is that a new Raspberry Pi board seems on the way, but since the real competitive of the Raspberry Pi is not the cheap hardware only, but software support and the community around the little ARM board. So instead of designing of completely new board, they’ve kept Broadcom BCM2835 and 512MB RAM, and mostly made some changes to the ports, and form factor.

Raspberry Pi Model B+ (Click to Enlarge)

Raspberry Pi Model B+ (Click to Enlarge)

Since the board has not been officially announced just yet, the full details are available, but according to various reports, the specs should be as follows:

  • SoC – Broadcom BCM2835 ARM11 processor @ 700MHz with VideoCore IV GPU
  • System Memory – 512 MB SDRAM (PoP)
  • Storage – micro SD card slot (push release type)
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI and AV via 3.5mm jack.
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 ports, 1x micro USB for power
  • Expansion
    • 2×20 pin headerfor GIO
    • Camera header (MIPI CSI?)
    • Display header (MIPI DSI?)
  • Power – 5V via micro USB port.

Raspberry_Pi-Model_B+_Board

The new Raspberry Pi appears to be better suited for enclosure thanks to the placements of the various ports, and four mounting holes. It loses the RCA connector, but the 3.5mm jack appears to combine both audio and video. The SD card is replaced by a micro SD card, and instead of just 2 USB ports, it gets 4 USB ports via Microchip LAN9514 USB to Ethernet chip. There are also report of a better audio codec being used, but it’s nowhere to be seem on the picture, and possibly soldered at the back of the board.

Raspberry Pi Model B+ was first spotted by AppDated on European retail site Reichelt, but the page have now been remove, and it was not clear whether it was an official Raspberry Pi foundation product or made independently by a third party. But I found the first picture above in Google Cache, and it looks pretty official, as it will be apparently sold by Element14, one of the main Raspberry Pi sellers, and there’s a “Raspberry Pi” copyright on the board’s silkscreen.

Since it’s a leak, there’s obviously no availability or pricing information available.

Via Liliputing

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Renesas RZ/A1H Starter Kit and Emtrion DIMM-RZ System-on-Module Run Segger embOS RTOS or Linux with 10MB SRAM

July 10th, 2014 1 comment

Announced just about a year ago, Renesas RZ/A1 ARM Cortex A9 processor family can be used for human machine interface applications, and has the particularly to embed large amount of SRAM, especially the RZ/A1H series with 10 MB SRAM which allows the development of some applications without external RAM chip, lowering both board size and BoM cost. I’ve just come across a development kit dubbed “RZ/A1H Starter Kit”, and the just released Emtrion DIMM-RZ system-on-module both powered by Renesas RZ/A1H SoC.

Renesas RZ/A1H Starter Kit+ (RSK)

Renesas_Starter_Kit_for_RZA1HThe development kit includes the mainboard, a 7″ TFT LCD (Optional), a detachable Colour LCD Board Pmod Compatible,a detachable AD Adjustment Shaft, Segger J-LINK Lite debugger, various connection cables, a power supply, a Quick Start Guide, and a DVD-ROM with documentation, ARM DS-5 IDE (with 32K code limit), KPIT GNU compiler for Cortex A9, Segger debugger drivers. and sample code.

The mainboard has the following specifications:

  • SoC – Renesas RZ/A1H ARM Cortex A9 processor @ 400 MHz with 2D GPU and 10MB SRAM
  • System Memory – 64MB to 512 MB SDRAM
  • Storage – 128MB to 1GB QSPI flash, 256MB to 2GB NAND Flash, 64MB to 512MB NOR Flash, 16KB EEPROM, SD/MMC card slot
  • Video I/O – LVDS, RGB888 to LVDS for external display panel, 8- or 16-bit Digital Video Connector (MIL), 2x Channel Composite Video Input
  • Audio I/O – Line IN, Line OUT, S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet
  • USB – 1x USB host / function, 1x USB function / host
  • Other I/Os – 2x CAN, CMOS camera connector, SIM card (pads only, not fitted)
  • Expansion – 2 Pmod interfaces, SSI interface header, 4x “Application” headers
  • Debugging – JTAG: JLINK 20-pin ULINK2, 20-pin ETM, USB to serial interface
  • Misc – 4x user LEDs, 4x Power LEDs, configuration switches, analog potentiometer
  • Power – +5V by default, +12V can be set with a jumper
  • Dimensions – 180x150mm
RZ/A1H Starter Kit+ Block Diagram

RZ/A1H Starter Kit+ Block Diagram

The board can be programmed without operating systems, but Segger can also provide embOS RTOS for the platform.

Some documentation can be downloaded online via Renesas Starter Kit+ for RZ/AH1 page including schematics (PDF) for the TFT board and mainboard, a user’s manual, a quick start guide, and a tutorial for ARM DS-5. There’s also supposed to be a hardware manual, but I could not find it online. A Windows installer can also be download with ARM DS-5 IDE, compiler, emulator debugger, sample code and documentation (Registration required). The development kit appears to be available now with or without the 7″ TFT LCD module, and it’s listed on Digikey for around $1,100 including the LCD module. But if you’ve working for a company, you may be able to get a free evaluation sample.

Emtrion DIMM-RZ SoM

If you’ve developed your application with a development kit, and would rather have a CPU module for your end product, instead of designing the complete board, Emtrion DIMM-RZ system-on-module could be one option.

Emtrion_DIMM-RZA1HHere are the listed key features for the module:

  • SoC – Renesas RZ/A1H Cortex A9 processor @ 400 MHz with 10MB SRAM
  • System Memory – No external RAM
  • Storage – Up to 64 MB NOR Flash, 1x SD Card Interface (SDIO)
  • Video Output – RGB or LVDS output up to WXGA with a 4-wire resistive touch interface, and capacitive touch in option
  • Audio – SSI interface (Analog), S/PDIF In/Out
  • Camera – 1x CMOS camera I/F up to WXGA or PAL/NTSC codec
  • USB – USB 2.0 Host and Device
  • Connectivity – 100BaseTX Ethernet
  • Other I/O – 2x CAN 2.0 A/B, 1x serial Interface, 3x LVTTL, 10x GPIO, 2x SPI, 2x I²C
  • Misc – RTC support (battery buffered)
  • SoM Connector – 200-pin SO-DIMM
  • Power Consumption – Max. 450mA @ 3.3V
  • Temperature range – Commercial: 0°C to 70°C; Industrial: – 40°C to 85°C (option)
  • Dimensions – 67.6 x 45 x 10 mm
Emtrion_DIMM-RZ_Block_Diagram

Emtrion DiMM-RZ Block Diagram

The company provides Segger embOS real-time operating system with the module by default, but Linux 3.2 can also be used on request. Emtrion can also provide carrier boards, development kits and custom solutions for their SoM. DIMM-Base Cadun is the baseboard that can be used with DIMM-RZ (and other Emtrion DIMM modules). It exposes an Ethernet RJ45 connector, USB ports, HDMI, RGB and LVDS interfaces, serial ports, and various headers for expansion.

DIMM-RZ and Cadun baseboard appear to be available now at unspecified price. You can find more information on Emtrion DIMM-RZ and DIMM-Base Cadun product pages.

I’ll complete this post by embedding an 8-minutes video that explains the advantages of Renesas RZ/A1H compared to traditional MCU and MPU solutions for HMI applications.

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Peek into the Smart Home of the Future with ARM Seamless Computing IoT Demo

July 3rd, 2014 No comments

We’ve seen lots of home automation being launched on crowdfunding platforms in the last year or so, and companies like Samsung, Archos, Google and Apple have launched, announced, or bought smart hone solutions. Recently ARM has hosted a demo for the smart home based on Cortex-M MCU mbed development boards, a single board computer gateway, and sensinode connected home software framework.

Smartphone as Desktop PC on Wireless Charging Desk

Smartphone as Desktop PC on Wireless Charging Desk

Although some parts of the demo are unlikely to really have uses, e.g. you can look at the window to check the weather, I found the demo to be very interesting, especially with regards to the central role of the smartphone, and computing convergence. The list of different demos that can be seen in the video below is as follows:

  • As you walk close to the main door, the system checks the weather, and if it rains, blinks a LED and emits a sound close to your umbrella, and if it’s sunny, does the same for your hat.
  • Place your smartphone on a wireless charging desk, and it switches to desktop / tablet mode, connects to a display via Miracast, and Bluetooth mouse and keyboard automatically. Take it back in your hand and it become a smartphone again. No desktop computer needed.
  • Now sits on your living room’s sofa (a seat is used), it starts your TV and launch a TV remote app automatically on your phone.
  • Turn on your kindle, and PhotonStar Halcyon connected reading light will turn on, turn it off, the connected light will turn off.

You could also envision your smartphone fulfilling all your computing needs seamlessly;smartphone on the the go, desktop PC on your wireless charging desk, media player in your wireless charging coffee table in your living room or bed table in your bedroom, and so on.

Via ARMdevices.net.

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Linaro Announces 64-bit ARM Android Port on Juno ARM Development Platform

July 3rd, 2014 2 comments

Last week, Linaro 14.06 was released and one of the highlights was Android booting on ARMv8 models, but the organization has actually ported Android to a new 64-bit ARM platform. Juno ARM Development Platform is actually software development platform for ARMv8-A, including Juno Versatile Express board and an ARMv8-A reference software port developed by Linaro.

Juno Versatile Express Board (Click to Enlarge)

Juno Versatile Express Board (Click to Enlarge)

Juno VExpress Board has the following key hardware features:

Juno SoC Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

Juno SoC Simplified Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

  • SoC – 2x ARM Cortex A57 cores @ 1.1 GHz (2MB L2 cache), 4x Cortex A53 cores @ 850 MHz (1MB L2 cache) in big.LITTLE configuration with Mali-T624 GPU @ 600 MHz. Compliant with SBSA specifications Level 1.
  • I/O FPGA – Xilinx SPARTAN-6
  • MCU – ARM Cortex M3 for Motherboard Configuration Controller (MCC)
  • System Memory – 8GB DDR3L @ 1600 MHz
  • Storage – User and configuration micro SD card lots, 64MB NOR flash, configuration EEPROM
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet + 10M “configuration” Ethernet
  • Video Output – 2x HDMI
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host port + “configuration USB”
  • Serial – 2x UART (1x DB9 interface)
  • Debugging – P-JTAG (Processor CoreSight debug) port, coresight trace port
  • Expansion – 2 headers (HDRX and HDRY) for LogicTile Express FPGA daughterboard
  • Misc – Push buttons, LEDs, energy monitors, etc…

The hardware enables development of ARMv8-A AArch64 kernel and tools, secure OS & hypervisors through ARM Trusted Firmware, 3D graphics and GPU compute with native big.LITTLE and Mali support, Middleware & file systems porting and optimization to 64-bit, and real-time debug, trace and performance tuning with CoreSight technology. Expansion is also provided with LogicTile Express 20MG FPGA board that connects directly to the platform and can be used for driver development and prototyping.

Juno Board Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

Juno Board Block Diagram

This type of board is not for everybody, and mostly reserved to silicon vendors, and people working on ARMv8 software development that can’t wait for actual silicon. Juno SoC is not optimized for performance (see relatively low frequencies) and most probably not for power consumption, it’s just to let people run and optimize software for ARMv8. The other reason it’s not for everyone is the price which should be several thousand dollars, and I would not be surprised if this board cost over $10,000, as older versatile express board sell for about $6,000. You can find more details on ARM’s Juno product page.

Linaro’s ARMv8 ports are based on Linux kernel 3.10 (Linaro Stable Kernel), and compiled with GCC 4.9 and can run both Juno and ARMv8 fast models. You can download ARMv8 ports for OpenEmbedded and Android Open Source Project (AOSP).

The OpenEmbedded ARMv8 release supports on-chip USB, non-secure UART, HDMI output, keyboard and mouse functionality of P/S2, and Ethernet. The big.LITTLE multiprocessing implementation supports all 6 cores (optimizations still required), boot is done via UEFI using the NOR flash, USB mass storage, or Ethernet, ARM trusted firmware and SCP firmware are both supported.

The Android ARMv8 release supports all OpenEmbedded features, and comes with a unified kernel and kernel config for Android and Linux, and the AOSP file system based on a snapshot from the 1st of June 2014, with ART Runtime enabled as default and booting in 64-bit primary mode, GPU and HDLCD support, although there are still some bugs leading to visual artifacts.

In theory, it should be possible to run Android or OpenEmbedded ARMv8 ports on any computers using ARMv8 fast models, but be prepared to be very very patient. I won’t try it…

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Marvell Armada 370 Processor Datasheet Released, Mainline Linux Kernel Supported on Netgear ReadyNAS 102/104

June 13th, 2014 3 comments

Free Electrons has been working on porting several ARM SoC to the Linux kernel (mainline), including Marvell XP and 370 SoCs, and they’ve been informed by Marvell that the company finally released Marvell Armada 370 processor publicly without requiring NDA nor registration. Marvell Armada XP dual and quad core processors datasheet found in higher-end NAS and cloud servers has not been released (yet), but we’ve been told many peripheral blocks are very similar, so Marvell Armada 370 datasheet can also be used for Armada XP processors to some extend.

Marvell Armada 370 () Block Diagram

Marvell Armada 370 (88F6710) Block Diagram

Two documents have actually been released for Marvell Armada 370: the functional specification and the hardware specification (datasheet). The first document is actually the one with the most information with 1148 pages providing details about peripherals, against 164 pages for the latter providing details about pins and electrical characteristics.

So we’ve got an ARM SoC with mainline kernel support, and decent documentation. That’s already good, but there’s more as at least three devices based on Marvell Armada 370 are supported in mainline:

So you could just download the kernel from kernel.org, build it with your needed/required features, and use the relevant DTS files (armada-370-mirabox.dts, armada-370-netgear-rn102.dts, or armada-370-netgear-rn104.dts) to run the latest Linux kernel on your device.

Let’s just check the hardware specs of Netgear RM10200:Netgear_ReadyNAS_102

  • CPU – Marvell Armada 370 ARMv7 processor @ 1.2GHz
  • System Memory – 512MB
  • Storage – Some flash for firmware, 2x bays for 2.5″or 3.5″ SATA/SSD supporting up to 8GB in total, 1x eSATA expansion port
  • Connectivity – 1x Gigabit LAN port
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0
  • Misc – 2-Line LCD display, 92mm fan
  • Power Supply – 12V, 5A External 60W: input 100-240V AC, 50/60Hz
  • Power Consumption – 31W during operating, 1W on Waker on LAN mode, and 210 mW in power off mode.
  • Dimensions – 220 x 101 x 142 mm
  • Weight – 2.12 kg

If you want to see more technical details including pictures of internals, details about the chips inside the NAS, instructions to get access to the serial console via a USB to TTL debug board, and step by step instructions to build the kernel and install Debian, you can visit natisbad blog.

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