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Revolutionary ARM Cortex A104 Leverages the Human Brain and Assets, To Make Smartphones and Tablets Obsolete by 2020

April 1st, 2014 5 comments

The mobile devices we use everyday, such a smartphones and tablets, are all designed around one application processor that’s connected to memories, sensors, a display, some communication modules, and so on. But thanks to the work by ARM, and their Cortex A104, the way we do mobile computing maybe be dramatically transformed in a few years, and mobile devices may completely disappear from the market place. Who is this smartphone killer? Meet ARM Cortex A104 which can connect to the human brain via neurobionic interfaces, and leverage “assets” such as the eyes, ears, and vocal cords.

ARM_Cortex_A104_640pxA display won’t be needed as graphics will be rendered directly in the brain via ARM ImaginationTM Engine, which also handles traditional 2D/3D graphics processing. There will most likely be at least two display modes. If you close your eyes, the system will switch to immersive mode, where everything you see is rendered by the ARM based chip. While your eyes are opened you will be in augmented reality mode, to mixing virtual and real worlds. Applications in this mode are wide ranging, you could see a simple head-on display, or if you feel nostalgic, a virtual tablet or phone could be controlled from your own real hands. Of course, you can also decide to completely live in the reality once in a while, and disable the visual features on your chip, just by thinking about it. For simple command, “think” command will work, but for more complex tasks, you can also use old-fashioned voice commands. Ears can be used for audio recording, and playback. The three other senses, namely smell, touch and taste, will also be supported respectively via your nose, skin and tongue. All can be recorded, and retransmitted to others if need be. The wireless communication protocol will remain standards with protocols such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc… as well as a cellular modem.

ARM_Cortex_A101_Prototype

Experimental Silicon based on ARM Cortex A104

I had the chance to have an exclusive one on one chat with with the director of Innovative Technologies at ARM Ltd, whose full name must remains anonymous, but I’ll refer to him as A.F. below. Here’s the full chat transcript:

CNXSoft: Thanks for accepting to chat with cnx-software, and talk more about this exciting new technology.

A.F.: Thanks for having me.

CNXSoft: Can you tell us how Cortex-A104 came to life?

A.F.: From the very beginning, when we chose the Cortex branding for our fastest and latest ARM SoC, we knew at some points our technology would directly integrate with the brain, and we have been researching brain electronics interfaces for several years already, working at our Cambridge office together with brain experts from the Division of Neurosurgery at Cambridge University. This is state of the art technology, and progress has been slow but steady, and we should be able to get safe and working systems within a few years. We switched naming from double digits (e.g. A17) to three digit (A104) because of the quantum leap allowed by this highly-complex technology.

CNXSoft: What’s the status of development?

A.F.: Basic features are mostly working at this stage, but we still need to work on accuracies, and there’s more work to do with thermal management.There are also legal issues with regards to health, security and privacy, and we are working closely with authorities to bring this IP to market. Installation is currently prohibitively expensive at it requires a team of brain surgeons, but we are working on tiny spider-like surgeon robots, that will be able to perform the installation, removal, and replacement via your nasal cavities at a much lower cost.

Typical Friday Beer Lady at ARM Offices

Typical Friday Beer Lady at ARM Offices

CNXSoft: How do you plan to handle privacy issues, and could a third party potentially taking control of your brain?

A.F.: For privacy issues, no amount of technologies will fix this issue, so this has to be worked out at the legal levels. Security is really critical for obvious reasons, and we are working hard to make sure infiltration risk is close to nil. On the other hand, law enforcement, and military are really excited by this technology, but I can’t really provide much details at this stage.

CNXSoft: You talked about thermal management issues, how would you address these?

A.F.: Every Friday in all ARM offices worldwide, it’s beer day. Based on existing research by Microsoft showing improving coding abilities with the right blood alcohol concentration. We’ve tried this, and noticed some improvements in performance, but with excess temperature that may exceed safe limits. We’ve also noticed significant differences between the type of beer, currently Kingway (China) and Leffe (Belgium) appear to be the best beers, as they do not affect temperature. At ARM, we are committed to get to the root of this problem, and try every possible beers on the planet, and we’ve brought the idea to add a second beer day on Wednesday during a recent board meeting to speed up debugging. We will also have to switch to whisky and other alcoholic beverages at some points. Moreover, we have to consider all type of use for our product, and our QA team has spent a considerable amount of time watching what’s best described as “adult entertainment”, and there were serious thermal issues, and most of time it got really really hot.

CNXSoft: And what about time to market, how fast do you think people will adopt neurochips, considering their may be reticence at first?

A.F.: Technology should be ready in products by 2020, and we believe adoption will be slow at first, because of the initial cost, and many people may feel uneasy getting a brain implant. But as the technology is proved to be safe over time, eventually this will become the norm, and people will just dump their old-fashioned smartphones and tablets, for more personal and powerful brain implants. At a later stage, governments may also make brain implants mandatory, as it would just replace your current ID cards, credit cards, and so on.

CNXSoft: Thanks for taking the time to share more details about ARM Cortex A104.

A.F.: My Pleasure. Bye Bye.

CNXSoft: Bye Bye

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Categories: Processors Tags: arm

Huawei D01 Server Board Features 16 ARM Cortex A15 Cores with up to 64 GB RAM, 3 SATA, 2 GbE Ports

March 18th, 2014 7 comments

During Linaro 14.02 release, I noticed a Huawei D01 board with 16 ARM Cortex A15 core, but details were lacking. Charbax was a Linaro Connect Asia earlier this month, and he could film the board in action, and interview the development team about this server board, and software development.

Huawei D01 Server Board

Huawei D01 Server Board

Huawei D01 specifications:

  • Processor
    • HiSilicon SoC with16 x ARM Cortex-A15 CPU Core @ max. 1.5GHz (up to 84000 DMIPS)
    • Support for CPU configuration as AMP/SMP
    • Configurable Big or Little endian. Default: Little endian
  • System Memory – 2x 64bit DDR3 DRAM Dual Inline Memory up to 1600 MHz, Module(DIMM) sockets:(2)&(3) . Default capacity: 8GB, upgradeable to 64GB
  • Storage – 2x 1Gb NOR Flash, 2x 512MB NAND Flash, 3x SATA III for 2.5″ hard drives or SSD, 1x SD card
  • Connectivity – 2x 10/100/1000Mbit/s Gigabit Ethernet ports, 1x 10/100Mbit/s FE port
  • Other Peripheral Interfaces
    • 2x USB 2.0 Host ports
    • 2x UART, 4x I2C, 2x SPI supporting four CSs
    • GPIO – 8x LED interfaces, 8x switches
    • 2x Tracer Connector
    • 1x JTAG interfaces( 5×2 pin CPU Connector, ARM Connector)
  • Expansions – 1x PCI Express interfaces, 3x MDIO interfaces
  • Hardware Monitor Subsystem – Power consumption sense
  • Misc -  Power-off and reset buttons

The BIOS resides in the NOR Flash and support update via FTP. The board runs Ubuntu server OS with Linux 3.13 (upgraded to 3.14 soon), and the target market is mostly cloud based applications. Linaro will use the board for developing software for Hisilicon, and as a native ARM build machine.

Watch the video below. Warning: Noisy ARM server!

You can find more technical details on Linaro D01 page.

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Dedicated Hosting Services on ARM Development Boards (Cubieboard2, Raspberry Pi, ODROID…)

March 12th, 2014 11 comments

At least two companies have recently launched hosting services using dedicated ARM servers based on low cost development boards: NanoXion with its NX-BOX service powered by PiBox (Raspberry Pi) and CubieBox (Cubieboard 2) microservers, and miniNodes with servers based on Cubieboard2 first, then ODROID development boards, and possibly AllWinner OptimusBoard once/if it becomes available.

PiBox Dedicated Server

PiBox Dedicated Server

The PiBox will feature a Raspberry Pi Model B with 512 MB RAM, and 16GB Class 10 UHS-1 microSD card by Samsung, and the dual core Cubiebox comes with 1GB RAM and a Crucial M500 SATA III 120GB SSD. Both NX-BOXes run Linux Debian Server NX distribution, support instant remote reboot, with guaranteed 10 Mbps connectivity for IPv4 & IPv6, and unlimited bandwidth. The boards are all hosted in France.

The company expects their ARM servers to be used as private cloud servers, backup servers, private chat servers, web servers, mail servers, DNS Servers, monitoring servers, and well as some other proprietary solutions their customers may come up with.

Pricing starts at 7.19 Euros per month for the PiBox, 11.18 Euros per month for the Cubiebox, including an IPv6 address, and the service requires a commitment of one year.

miniNodes, which is US based, has just started yesterday to offer Cubieboard2 dedicated server for early adopters and enthusiasts. Cubieboard 2 features a dual core AllWinner A20 SoC @1.0 Ghz, 1 GB RAM, and 4 GB NAND that runs Ubuntu Server 13.04. There does not appear to have any external storage in their microservers at this stage, and bandwidth information is not available. The only option is currently hosting costs $19 US per month, but once they officially launch they’ll offer options to purchase clusters with up to 25 Cubieboard2 and more choices for the OS (Ubuntu or Fedora). If everything goes according to plan quad core hardkernel ODROID boards will be added to the line-up soon, and Allwinner Optimus Board powered by AllWinner A80 octa-core processor might also be considered.

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DATA MODUL mini-ITX Board Supports Freescale i.MX6 & Intel Bay Trail-I QSeven Modules

March 5th, 2014 1 comment

DATA MODUL, a specialist supplier of display technology, has recently unveiled eDM-mITX-CB-Q7-Info, a mini-ITX Baseboard for ARM & x86 Qseven modules optimized to drive large panels for digital signage applications. In theory, the board should support any Qseven modules, but for now only Data Modul’s Freescale i.MX6, and Congatec conga-QA3 Intel Atom E3800 series modules have been optimized and officially certified to work with the motherboard.

DATA MODUL eDM-mITX-CB-Q7-Info

DATA MODUL eDM-mITX-CB-Q7-Info (Click to Enlarge)

Precisely, the board is optimized and certified for the following modules:

  • DATA MODUL ARM Qseven SoMs:
    • eDM-QMX6 (i.MX6Quad)
    • eDM-DMX6 (i.MX6Dual)
    • eDM-DLMX6 (i.MX6Dual lite)
  • Congatec x86 Qseven SoMs:
    • Conga-QA3 with Atom E3845 (Quad core)
    • Conga-QA3 with Atom E382x (Dual core). Three models: Atom E3827, E3826 or E3825.
    • Conga-QA3 with Atom E3815 (Single core)

You may have heard about EDM, a competing module standard, previously, but the eDM prefix in the ARM modules or the mini-ITX board names has nothing to do with this standard, as all is based on Qseven standard.

DATA MODUL eDM-mITX-CB-Q7-Info give access to the following external interfaces (depending on the used module) :

  • 1 x RS232
  • Up to 2x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2 x USB 2.0/3.0, 1 x USB OTG
  • 1 x DVI-D, 1 x DisplayPort 1.2
  • 1 x Audio Line Out

You can also connect a monitor via the 2x 24 Bit LVDS interface, and access more I/Os via connectors on the board including more USB Ports, CAN, SPI, GPIOs, I²C, and SD Card. Optical isolated RS485/422 Interface modules, IR-remote control interface, light sensors, external LEDs, temperature sensors and up to 6 PWM system fans are also available as an option. The company also mention a 2.5″ SATA slot to connect SSD or HDD without cables. It can be seen on the picture, so I’m not sure if it’s another option, or the slot is just at the back of the board. The baseboard can be powered by +12VDC or +24VDC and optionally +5VDC can be supported for standby voltage.

DATA MODUL can provide its own Monitoring Software for Linux (QT) and Windows operating systems.

Availability and pricing information has not been disclosed, and there’s very little information about this ARM/x86 Qseven mini-ITX board except the actual announcement. There are however more details about the company eDM-QMX6 module. Refer to my post about conga-QA3 for more details about the Bay Trail-I Qseven modules.

Via LinuxGizmos

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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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ARM Interview about Cortex A17 Processor [Video]

March 3rd, 2014 1 comment

ARMv8 AnnoucementWhen ARM announced their new Cortex A17 core, I could not quite understand why they would release another core with performance and features somewhat similar to Cortex A12 and Cortex A15. Charbax interviewed Nandan Nayampally, ARM VP of Processor Marketing, at Mobile World Congress 2014 and everything is much more clear now.

Cortex A17 is based on A12, but adds support for big.LITTLE processing support with Cortex A7, and further improves performance. In some work loads Cortex A17 can currently match Cortex A15 performance, and by 2015, Cortex A17 will have performance similar to A15, and replace it in mid range devices as it has a lower footprint and lower cost. High-end products will switch to 64-Bit with Cortex A53 or A57 next year. The interviewee did not say this explicitly but it could be many companies will simply skip Cortex A12, and directly use Cortex A17, just like Rockchip decided to do with RK3288. One last interesting point is that processors using Cortex A17 are likely to use 28nm process due to cost constraints.

Actual products should start to become available in Q4 2014 / Q1 2015.

Via ARMdevices.net

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Samsung Exynos 5260 Hexa Core Cortex A15/A7 big.LITTLE Processor

February 20th, 2014 8 comments

Samsung has been teasing with “Exynos Infinity” before Mobile World Congress 2014, and many expect the Korean company to announce their 64-bit mobile processor (Exynos 6 ?). But it’s likely another Exynos SoC will (also) be announced, as a quick search shows recent patch submissions for Exynos 5260, which happens to be an hexa-core processor using two ARM Cortex A15 cores @ 1.7 GHz, and four ARM Cortex A7 cores @ 1.3 Ghz in big.LITTLE configuration supporting HMP (Heterogenous Multi Processing) / GTS (Global Task Scheduling). The official name might be something like Exynos 5 Hexa (5260).

Exynos5260_patchThere’s also a device tree file for Samsung XYREF5260 EVT0 development board.

It would probably be possible to go through the patches to find out more, but there’s an easier solution, and some blogs have already posted details about a leak showing Exynos 5260 used in the upcoming Galaxy Note3 Neo, where we learn the GPU is an ARM Mali-T624. The mobile phone itself boasts a 5.5″ display @ 1280×720, 2GB RAM< 16Gb Flash, an 8MP rear camera and 2.1 MP front camera, and a 3,100 mAh battery. Reports indicate Android 4.3 is currently running on the device, but that it should be eventually be upgraded to 4.4.

Exynos 5260 Antutu and CPU-Z (Click to Enlarge)

Exynos 5260 Antutu and CPU-Z (Click to Enlarge)

The phone gets 29,3282 points in Antutu 4.x, just below Samsung Galaxy Note 3 powered by the more powerful Exynos 5 Octa 5420 or Snapdradong 800.

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