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Posts Tagged ‘arm’

Renesas GR-PEACH mbed Board Features RZ/A1H Processor with 10MB On-chip Memory

January 19th, 2016 No comments

Renesas RZ/A1 ARM Cortex A9 processors were unveiled in 2013, and one of the differentiating feature was the large amount of on-chip SRAM with up to 10MB for RZ/A1H model. The following year, Renesas’ RZ/A1 professional development kit, and some RZ/A1H modules were launched, and I’ve now just seen a tweet about Renesas GR-PEACH development board that is mbed compatible, feature Renesas RZ/A1H processor, and happens to be pink.

GR-PEACH Full (Click to Enlarge)

GR-PEACH Full (Click to Enlarge)

There are actually two models based on the same PCB: GR-PEACH normal without header, and a “WiFi” connector, and GR-PEACH Full with female headers and an Ethernet port. Both basically share the same specifications:

  • SoC – Renesas RZ/A1H ARM Cortex-A9 Core @ 400 MHz with 10MB on-chip RAM, NEON and FPU, and 128KB L2 cache
  • Storage – 8MB FLASH + micro SD slot
  • Connectivity – Normal: Optional BP3595 WiFi module; FULL: 1x 10/100M Ethernet(Microchip LAN8710A); Both: Xbee connector (unpopulated)
  • USB – 2x micro USB Host/Device interfaces
  • Expansion Headers
    • Arduino compatible pin sockets – 1x 6-pin, 2x 8-pin, 1x 10-pin)
    • GR-Shield pin sockets – 1x 5-pin, 1x 6-pin, 3x 8x-pin, and 1x 10-pinx
    • Signals (Not 5V tolerant): 3xSPI, 3xI2C, 8xUART, 7×12-bits ADC, 2xCAN, 2x Camera Input, 1x LCDC(via LVDS)
  • Debugging – Unpopulated RZ/A1H 10-pin JTAG Connector (CoreSight10)
  • Misc – 1x Power LED, 1x user LED, 1x full color LED, reset and user switches
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB connector connected to mbed-IF or RZ-A1H, or Vin pin (5.5V to 16V)
  • Dimensions – 67.58 x 53.34 mm
Block Diagram for GR-PEACH (Clock to Enlarge)

Block Diagram for GR-PEACH (Clock to Enlarge)

Both boards support GR-PEACH AUDIO CAMERA Shield with two composite (NTSC) inputs, Line IN and OUT, a USB connector, a 20-pin camera connector, and through holes for extra audio interfaces. The normal version supports Rohm BP3595 WiFi 802.11 b/g/n module.

The board supports mbed.org Online Compiler, and high level C/C++ SDK. More technical details can be found on mbed website as well as Renesas GR-PEACH product page. The board has been listed on mbed website for several months, and it never seemed to be available, but you can now purchase GR-PEACH Full for $119 on Digikey, or if you are based in Japan via one of three local distributors.

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AMD Launches 3 ARM based Opteron A1100 Server SoCs: A1120, A1150 and A1170

January 15th, 2016 1 comment

AMD Roadmap showed “Seattle” Cortex A57 server SoC were expected in H2 2014, which later became known as Opteron A1100, and the company unveiled their Optron A1100 development board in summer 2014, but since then there has been a few delays, the announcement of Huskyboard 96Boards EE development board, and finally they announced availability of three Opteron A1100 processors yesterday.

Opteron_A1120_A1150_A1170So there’s one quad core Cortex A57 with Opteron A1120, and two octa-core with Opteron A1150 and A1170 clocked at respectively 1.7 and 2.0 GHz. I was surprised by the rather high TDP at 25W and 32W since one of ARM advantage is low power consumption. But since it is a server SoC it needs to be compared to Intel server SoC, and AnandTech did that against Intel Atom C2750 with eight Silvermont cores @ 2.4 GHz.

On the three important metrics, i.e. price, performance and power consumption, AMD A1170 does not look very good against C2750, with AnandTech estimating the performance of the AMD processor to be about 80 to 90% of the Intel one, yet C2750 has a lower TDP of 20 watts, and the price should be the same for both processor at around $150. So there does not seem to be any incentive to go with AMD ARM based processor… until your look at the interfaces.

AMD Opteron A1100 vs IntelAtom C2700 and Xeon D

AMD Opteron A1100 vs Intel Atom C2700 and Xeon-D

Intel Xeon-D is a low cost ($200+) Xeon processor family and was also included for reference. But compared to Atom C2000 family, AMD Opteron A1100 processor has many more SATA3 interfaces, and supports dual 10 GbE interfaces, instead of only Gigabit Ethernet (or 2.5GbE according to the processor specs) for the Atom processors. So for storage devices, including cloud storage and some cloud applications, AMD A1100 could still have an edge over Intel offering. AMD server processors are currently running Ubuntu 15.10, but they are not officially supported by Canonical.

AMD 96Boards (Click to Enlarge)

AMD 96Boards (Click to Enlarge)

I was also expecting AMD HuskyBoard, which was previously scheduled on Q4 2015, to become available at the same time as the processor, but this will take a little longer with AMD noting:

Targeted for low-cost software development, the “HuskyBoard” is the first product based on the AMD Opteron A1100 Series processor that meets Linaro’s 96Boards Enterprise Edition specification.  Planned availability is expected via distributor in 2016.

HuskyBoard page on 96Boards.org website is currently password protected, so they are not ready to share any info just yet.

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Samsung S3FBP5A Bio-Processor Targets Fitness Tracking Wearables

December 30th, 2015 No comments

We now have many wearables capable of monitoring your activities, be it smartwatches or fitness tracker, and usually they are comprised of several small sensor chips, a low power micro-controller, a Bluetooh radio, and possibly some other ICs . Samsung has been designing and just launched a bio-processor to regroup most of those features into a single chip which should only require a fourth of the area required by current multi-chip solutions.

Samsung_S3FBP5A

While the press release did not mention the part number, the included picture – shown above – sort of gave a clue, and Samsung S3FBP5A bio-processor has the following specifications:

  • MCU – ARM Cortex-M4
  • Memory – 256 KB RAM
  • Storage – 512 KB flash
  • DSP
  • Sensors – 5 Analog frontends (AFEs) measuring:
    • PPG (photoplethysmography)
    • ECG (electrocardiography)
    • Skin temperature
    • BIA (bioelectrical impedance analysis)
    • Galvanic skin response (GSR)
  • I/Os – SPI, I2C
  • PMIC
  • Security units

The sensors will enable measurements of body fat, skeletal muscle mass, heart rate, heart rhythm, skin temperature and stress level in a single chip. The company  also mentioned several wearable reference platforms are now available including wrist band, board and patch type reference devices, but did not provide any details.

Samsung S3FBP5A Bio-Processor is currently in mass production, and should be found in devices in H1 2016. You can visit Samsung S3FBP5A bio-processor page for not that many extra details.

Via Liliputing.

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Bmorn W4301 is a $34 Android Smartphone Powered by Intel Atom x3-C3101 Processor

November 30th, 2015 5 comments

Intel unveils their plans for Atom X3, X5 and X7 processors last year, but so far we’ve mostly seen devices with Atom X5 processors.  The lowest end Intel Atom processor, namely X3-C2101 “Sofia” dual core processor, with an ARM Mali-400MP GPU and 3G connectivity did find its way into Teclast X70 3G tablet that is now selling for $64 and up retail (but there’s a deal on Geekbuying for $45.99), and a company called Bmorn is about to launch their W4301 smartphone based on Intel/Rockchip X3-C2101 SoC for just $34 ( factory price in quantities), but I think the retail price should be around $60 including shipping.

Bmorn_W4301Bmorn W4301 preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x3-C3130 dual x86 core processor @ up to 1GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU @ 533 MHz
  • System Memory – 512MB or 1GB LPDDR2
  • Storage – 4 or 8 GB eMMC
  • Display – 4″ touchscreen with 800×600 resolution
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS
  • Cellular Connectivity – 3G (WCDMA)
  • Camera – 2MP rear camera, 0.3MP front-facing camera
  • Battery – TBD – 4 hours talk-time
  • Dimensions & Weight – N/A

The phone runs Android 4.4, but I understand Android 5.1 Lollipop will be used once the phone ships. There’s little information about the phone right now, but you can still go to Bmorn W4301 product page, and/or watch Charbax video below about this phone, and other products from Bmorn.

If the SoC can be had for such a low price, it could be suitable for a 3G IoT board too.

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Amlogic S905 Source Code Published – Linux, U-Boot, Mali-450 GPU and Other Drivers

November 19th, 2015 26 comments

Amlogic has an open linux website where they regurlarly release GPL source code, and with Amlogic S905 devices coming to market, they’ve released a few tarballs at the beginning of the month including Linux 3.14 source code, U-boot source code, and Mali-450MP GPU kernel source code (obviously not userspace), as well as some other drivers for WiFi, NAND flash, PMU, TVIN, etc…
Amlogic_S905_Linux_MenuconfigLet’s get to the download links:

I quickly tried to build the Linux source. If you’ve never build a 64-bit ARM kernel or app before, you’ll fist need to install the toolchain. I installed the one provided with Ubuntu 14.04:

Now extract the tarball and enter the source directory:

At first I had a build failure due to a missing directory, so I created it, and use the default config for Amlogic S905/S912 (in arch/arm64/configs), before building the Linux kernel.

and it ended well:

So that’s a good starting for anybody wanting to work on the Android or Linux kernel…

Unrelated to Amlogic S905/Meson64, but I’ve also noticed some OpenWRT packages and rootfs  on Amlogic website that was released a little earlier this year. So either some people are using Amlogic Sxxx processors with OpenWRT, or Amlogic is working on a router chip that I missed. Probably the former.

Thanks to Olin.

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Kondor AX FPGA + ARM Networking Board Targets Base Stations, IoT Gateways and IP Cameras

November 18th, 2015 No comments

Mikro Project, a company based in Zagreb, Croatia, has recently introduced Kondor AX “Advanced System Development Board” combining  Freescale i.MX6Solo processor with Lattice ECP5 FPGA, and targeting “low power applications at the network edge including HetNet (Heterogeneous Networks), Small Cells, Industrial IoT gateways and IP Cameras.”

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Kondor AX development board specifications:

Category Lattice ECP5 LFE5UM-85F-BG756 FPGA Freescale i.MX6 Solo SoC
Description
  • 84.000 LUTs
  • 207 Block RAMs
  • 156 18×18 Multipliers
  • 365 IO pins
  • 4 SERDES channels (In/out)
  • 400 MHz LPDDR3 Memory Support
  • 4 PLLs, 4 DLLs
  • ARM Cortex A9 @ 1 GHz
  • 512 KB L2 cache
  • GPU 3D – Vivante GC880
  • Video Decode: 1080p30 + D1
  • Video Encode: 1080p30 H.264 BP/ Dual 720p encode
Programming options
  • On-board USB JTAG interface
  • 10-pin JTAG header
  • Using i.MX6 processor
Memory & Storage
  • 512MB LPDDR3-1600
  • 800 MHz Clock Rate
  • 1x 32-bit channel
  • 512 MB 32-bit DDR3
  • 64Mbit SPI Flash
  • 8GB eMMC
  • Micro SD Card
Connectivity  and peripherals
  • 2x SFP cages
  • FMC Connector
  • GPIO header
  • GPIO (differential) header
  • 10/100M Ethernet (RMII)
  • UART (using USB JTAG interface)
  • HDMI output
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • OTG USB
  • USB serial interface
  • Camera interface
Other peripherals
  • 4x Single color LEDs
  • 4x Dual color LEDs
  • 6x Status LEDs
Boot Options
  • From 64 Mbit on-board SPI Flash memory
  • SPI Slave mode
  • SPI flash
  • eMMC
  • Micro SD card
  • USB OTG
Clocking
  • Onboard 100MHz Differential Oscillator
  • Si5338 Clock Generator
  • 24 MHz & 32.76 KHz
On-board Communication Interfaces
  • PCIe x1 interface
  • EIM interface
  • I2C, SPI, UART
Power Supply
  • 12V Input
Manufacturing
  • RoHS Compliant
Kondor-AX Board Description and Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

Kondor-AX Board Description and Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

The company provides a Linux BSP for Freescale i.MX 6 Solo processor that includes device drivers, applications/services, libraries, GNU Tools (compilers, linkers, …) and “deployment mechanisms”. The ECP5 FPGA can be programmed over JTAG and SPI using Lattice Diamond Programmer from a computer, or directly with i.MX6 using command line tools. The board documentation including the flyer, a Linux BSP setup guide, and the user’s manuals, as well as tutorials for some demos can be found in the download page.

Typical HetNet Application Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

HetNet Application Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

MikroProjeckt did not provide availability nor pricing information for the board, but I’ve been told the sample price is $1,800 + shipping, with a one week lead-time. More details can be found on MikroProjekt’s Kondor AX product page.

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Run x86 Linux and Windows Applications in Raspberry Pi and other ARM Linux Devices with Exagear

November 12th, 2015 10 comments

A few weeks ago, I finally decided to buy a Raspberry Pi 2 board as it could always be useful for some testing, at least for comparison purpose. I ended up buying it from Ebay for $40, as it’s more $3 to $5 more expensive locally. Nevertheless I was not sure what I’ll use it first for, but after seeing a tweet for Exagear Desktop software that allows ARM boards to run x86 Linux or Windows applications, the later through wine. The program is available for Raspberry Pi, Raspberry Pi 2, and ARMv7 devices for $19.95 to $29.95.

I asked for version for testing purpose, and I was given a Google Drive link to download Exagear for Raspberry Pi 2, as well as a 3-month trial key. Installation is very easy.

I started by downloading and installing Raspbian Jessie the usual way on a 32GB micro SD card. It went pretty smoothly, and after installation I had to run raspi-config to extend the partition size, change the timezone, and keyboard layout.

Once you have downloaded the 1.4GB tarball for Exagear, extract it in your Raspberry Pi 2:

Now copy your product key (pk-xxxxxxxxxxxx.key) in the directory, and you should end with the the following files:

Now run the installation script:

The script should auto-detect your operating system and install the right files for your operating system:

You’d definitely need a 8GB micro SD card, and preferably larger, since 6.9GB is taken after Exagear is installed, and before you’ve installed any of your x86 apps:

Let’s compare the kernel in Raspbian and exagear.

So we’ve switched to an i686 machine with four cores (only one shown below):

First let’s try to run Skype for Debian, which has not been released for ARM.

The first step is to download Skype package and install it within exagear:

Installation failed because some of dependencies are not installed, but apt-get can take over from here:

This should complete Skype installation, with 7.2GB now used on the SD card.

I could start Skype from the command or top menu, login, start chatting.

Raspberry_Pi_Skype

Click for Original Size

Great! But when I tried the Echo / Sound Test Service, I noticed no audio. But I found on the forums that I would have to install pulseaudio on the ARM side. After exiting exagear, I did so, and tested audio.

Audio worked, but with pretty bad quality. Some problems related to the Raspberry Pi image, as Exagear is not involved here. I tried Skype again, but I had no luck with audio. [Update: Exagear provided more instructions but still no luck]

Beside the few x86 Linux programs not available for ARM, x86 emulation is particularly interesting to run Windows programs, which is usually done with wine in Linux.

Wine is already installed, so I decided to try Microsoft Windows 2007 Word Viewer, which has a Platinum rating in WineHQ website, meaning it should work well, and I did test it successfully in my Ubuntu 14.04 computer before trying it on the Raspberry Pi 2. Sadly it did not work well when I switched to exagear.

After checking into Eltechs_ExaGear_Desktop_guide_1.2.pdf, the issue is likely related to a kernel / user memory split, but Exagear has supposedly ported wine to support 2G/2G kernel split, and including a table with the versions to install for a given OS.

Kernel Split / OS Version / Exagear Packages

Kernel Split / OS Version / Exagear Packages



My system is running Raspbian Jessie 8 operating system with debian-8-wine2g package installed.  You’ll probably want to try another operating system with a 3G/1G split, such as Debian Jessie 8 to make sure wine runs fine. I’ve asked the company about the audio and wine issues, but did not receive any feedback after nearly 48 hours , so I’ve moved on due to time constraints. [Update: See comments with Skype ionstructions, and a promise to provide a patch for wine]. Other people were more lucky with Exagear and Windows with for instance, some old Windows games running on ODROID boards.

The company claims Exagear is up to 4.5 times faster than QEMU, but I wondered what would be the difference between native ARM programs to one compiled for x86. There’s always going to be a performance hit with emulation, but I built and ran linpack to find out how much.

  • Linpack natively run inside Raspberry Pi

  • Linpack emulated in Exagear.

Linpack x86 in Exagear is about 4.2 times slower than native Linpack (ARM) in the Raspberry Pi 2

I had mixed experience with Exagear. Skype is running well if all you do it chatting, but I had some audio issue, and I did not test video conference which is likely to suffer with emulation. You may have come across some configuration issues with Windows emulation, and unless you use old programs, for example games like Doom, Red Alert, or Duke Nukem 3D, the memory available on most ARM platforms will be a limitation. Finally, Exagear also has competition from both the free QEMU emulator (which is not quite as fast) and  cheap Intel hardware with Ubuntu Intel Atom TV Sticks selling for a little over $70.

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ARM Introduces Cortex A35 64-bit Low Power Core, ARMv8-M Architecture for Secure MCUs

November 11th, 2015 4 comments

ARM TechCon 2015 has just started, and there have been a few announcements including the launch of a Cortex-A7 replacement with Cortex A35 providing 10% lower power consumption, 6 to 40% performance boost, and a better design flexibility making it suitable for SoC for smartphones to wearables.

ARM_Cortex_A35

The main specifications of Cortex A35 cores:

  • Architecture ARMv8-A (AArch32 and AArch64 )
  • Multicore 1-4x SMP within a single processor cluster, and multiple coherent SMP processor clusters through AMBA 5 CHI or AMBA 4 ACE technology
  • ISA Support
    • AArch32 for full backward compatibility with ARMv7
    • AArch64 for 64-bit support and new architectural features
    • TrustZone security technology
    • NEON Advanced SIMD
    • DSP & SIMD extensions
    • VFPv4 Floating point
    • Hardware virtualization support
  • Debug & Trace CoreSight DK-A35

The new core can both be used in quad core configuration at 1 GHz for a smartphone (90 mW per core), or in single core configuration at 100 MHz for wearables (6 mW) in a 0.4mm2 silicon footprint.

Cortex A7 vs Cortex A35 Performance

Cortex A7 vs Cortex A35 Performance

Cortex-A35 also consumes about 33 percent less power per core, and occupies 25 percent less silicon area compared to Cortex-A53. Considering quad core Cortex A53 devices ship for less than $50 today, you can expect ultra low cost (and low power) smartphones, wearables, and set-top boxes by the end of 2016. Cortex A35 is also expecting in low-power servers and smart TVs.

Visit ARM Cortex A35 page for more details.

ARM is also addressing IoT security by bringing ARM TrustZone and stack limits to micro-controllers with ARMv8-M architecture.

ARMv6-M vs ARMV7-M vs ARMv8-M

ARMv6-M vs ARMV7-M vs ARMv8-M

Some of the key features of ARMv8-M include (new in bold):

  • 32-bit architecture
  • ARM Thumb-2 technology for excellent code density
  • ‘C’ friendly exception model
  • Protected memory system support for real-time operating system use
  • Real time deterministic interrupt response
  • Adds fast, low overhead hardware based security extensions with ARM TrustZone for ARMv8-M
  • Enhances debug and trace with more flexible breakpoints and watchpoints
  • Improves productivity by making it easier to scale solutions from the smallest to the most performant
  • Makes it easier to protect code with a simpler to program memory protection unit.

There will be two variants with ARMv8-M Baseline and ARMv8-M Mainline, with the latter adding optional DSP and FPU, more instructions, etc…

Charbax is at the conference and did a good job at filming Mike Muller, ARM CTO, keynote, where he unveiled both Cortex A35 and ARMv8-M, beside addressing imprinted circuits, ARM servers (arm.com is now running on those), weak security for IoT applications, CryptoCell 700 series for Cortex A processors, Cryptocell 300 series for ARMv8-M, and mbed OS 3.0. He concludes with the new industry equation: (trust x perf)/(energy x $) to emphasize the importance of security.

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