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Embedded Linux Conference 2014 Schedule

April 19th, 2014 No comments

The Tenth Embedded Linux Conference (ELC 2014) will take place on April 29 – May 1, 2014 at the San Jose Marriott in San Jose, California. The event will feature 90+ sessions on embedded Linux, Android and IoT with over 450 attendees expected to attend. It will also be co-located with Android Builders Summit and the AllSeen Alliance Hackfest. Even if you can’t attend it’s still interesting to see what will be discussed at the event to get a grasp of on-going developments, learn a few things about different optimization techniques, and so on. So I’ve gone through the sessions’ description, and I’ve designed my own virtual schedule with sessions that could be of interest.

Embedded_Linux_Conference_2014April 29

Linux has taken the embedded world by storm.  Billions (with a ‘B’) of devices have now shipped with a Linux kernel, and it seems unstoppable.  But will the next 10 billion devices ship with Linux or with something else?  How can Linux be specialized for deeply embedded projects, as characterized by the Internet of Things, while still maintaining the network effects of community cooperation and sharing?  Is this possible or even desirable?  The startling truth might be revealed at this keynote. Or, Tim might just rant a bit about device-tree… who knows?

The past year has seen a remarkable growth of interest in super-low-power and super-low-form-factor computing, in the form of ‘wearables’, the ‘Internet of Things’, and the release of exciting new hardware such as Intel’s Quark and Edison SoCs. Taking advantage of this super-small hardware also implies the need for super-small operating systems and applications to match. This talk will describe a super-small-footprint Linux distribution called ‘microYocto”. The main focus will be the kernel and how we achieved what we think is close to the minimal possible kernel footprint, both in terms of static text size and dynamic memory usage. We’ll talk about the tools and methodologies we used and developed to analyze the problem, such as tracing and machine simulation, and will describe the various technologies developed and applied to achieving this minimalistic system.

Many community resources exist about boot time reduction. However, few of them are up to date and share the exact time savings that can be achieved on recent systems. This talk will detail today’s most efficient techniques to reduce boot time. For each of them, figures will be shared, obtained from recent boot time reduction projects and from the preparation of Free Electrons new workshop on this topic. If you attend this talk, you will know which optimization techniques are worth using first, and will save time not exploring techniques that won’t make a significant difference in your project. Don’t tell your boss, and this will leave your more time to contribute to community projects!

In this talk, Chris will describe the internal workings of the Android graphics stack from the Application layer down through the stack to pixels on the screen. It is a fairly complex journey, taking in two different 2D rendering engines, applications calling OpenGL ES directory, passing buffers on to the system compositor, Surface Flinger, and then down to the display controller or frame buffer. All this requires careful synchronisation so that what appears on the screen is smooth, without jitter, and makes efficient use of memory, CPU, GPU and power resources.

Linux-based platforms such as the Beaglebone and Raspberry Pi are inexpensive powerhouses. But, beyond being cool on their own, what else can you do with them? This presentation will step you through the process of building a Wi-Fi enabled, Linux-based robot that you can build without breaking the bank and without special knowledge of robotics and robotic controls.

Since last year, we have been working on supporting the SoCs from Allwinner, a Chinese SoC vendor, in the mainline kernel. These SoCs are cheap, wide-spread, backed by a strong community and, until last year, only supported by an out-of-tree kernel. Through this talk, we would like to share the status of this effort: where we were a year ago, what solutions were in place, where we are currently, and what to expect from the future. We will also focus on the community around these SoCs, the work that is done there, etc.

April 30

GCC is an optimizing compiler, currently most common compiler to build software for Embedded Linux systems like Android, Yocto Project etc. This tutorial will introduce specific optimizations and features of GCC which are less known but could benefit optimizing software especially for embedded use while highlight the effect of common optimizations. While it will focus on squeezing most out of GCC, it will also cover some of “pessimizations” to avoid and will tip the developer to write code thats more conducive (compiler friendly) for general optimizations. They will also get some contrast with other compilers when needed.

Throughout the last two years, a team of engineers at Free Electrons has been involved in mainlining the support for several ARM processors from Marvell, converting the not-so-great vendor-specific BSP into mainline quality code progressively merged upstream. This effort of several hundreds working days, has led to the integration of hundreds of patches in the kernel. Through this talk we would like to share some lessons learned regarding this mainlining effort, which could be useful to other engineers involved in ARM SoC support, as well as detail the steps we have gone through, the mistakes we’ve made and how we solved them, and generally our experience on this project.

This BoFs is intended to bring together anybody that tests the Linux kernel to share best practices and brainstorm new ideas. Topics may range from .config testing, module/built-in drivers, test methods and tools for testing specific driver subsystems, VM/scheduler/interrupt stress testing, and beyond. The discussion is targeted at Linux kernel developers, test engineers, and embedded Linux product teams/consultants with the common task of testing Linux kernel integrity. Attendees should have a firm grasp of building and deploying the kernel as well as kernel/userspace kernel APIs.

Several vendors are getting ready to start enabling the upstream kernel for their upcoming 64-bit ARM platforms, and it opens up a few questions on things that are not quite sorted out yet, especially on the embedded and mobile platforms. This is an open discussion on the issues these maintainers are anticipating, and what we should do about it.

Communication between components is necessary for effective power management in mobile devices. The System Power Management Interface, also known as SPMI, is a standardized bus interface intended to provide power-management related connectivity between components. Josh Cartwright will provide a high-level architectural overview of SPMI and discuss how to leverage the Linux Kernel software interfaces (expected to land in 3.15) to communicate with devices on the bus.

May 1

While Android has been created for mobile devices — phones first and now tablets — it can, nonetheless, be used as the basis of any touch-screen system, whether it be mobile or not. Essentially, Android is a custom-built embedded Linux distribution with a very elaborate and rich set of user-space abstractions, APIs, services and virtual machine. This one-day workshop is aimed at embedded developers wanting to build embedded systems using Android. It will cover Android from the ground up, enabling developers to get a firm hold on the components that make up Android and how they need to be adapted to an embedded system. Specifically, we will start by introducing Android’s overall architecture and then proceed to peel Android’s layer one-by-one.

This half-day workshop is aimed at embedded developers that want to use Android in their embedded designs.

The MIPS processor cores are widely used in embedded platforms, including TVs and set-top-boxes. In most of those platforms dedicated graphics hardware exists but it may be specialized for its use in audio and video signal processing: rendering of web content has to be done in software. We implemented optimizations for the software-based QPainter renderer to improve the performance of Qt —including QtWebKit— in MIPS processors. The target platform was the modern 74kf cores, which include new SIMD instructions suitable for graphics operations (alpha blending, color space conversion and JPEG image decoding), and also for non-graphics operations: string functions were also improved. Our figures estimate that web pages are rendered up to 30% faster using hand-coded assembler fast-paths for those operations.

Software Freedom Conservancy announced last year a renewed effort for cross-project collaborative GPL compliance efforts, including copyright holders from BusyBox, Linux, and Samba. Conservancy uses an internal system of communication and collaboration to take input from stakeholders to discuss and engage in compliance activity to ensure compliance with the GPL throughout the technology industry and particularly in the embedded device market. Compliance with the GPL is the responsibility of copyright holders of the software, and Conservancy helps those copyright holders pursue the work, so those developers can focus on coding. In this talk, the President of Conservancy will discuss how Conservancy handles compliance matters, what matters it focuses on, and how the copyright holders that work with Conservancy engage in a collaborative effort to ensure compliance with the GPL.

Ubuntu Touch is the new Ubuntu-based OS for phones and tablets. Announced at the beginning of 2013, it gives a new UI and design proposal, but also a new way of developing and supporting many different devices, using either the Android HAL or the traditional Linux stack to build the platform. This talk will go over the Ubuntu Touch internals, presenting the technical decisions and also the work that was done to bootstrap this new platform (camera, radio, video decode, GLES and etc) and the future challenges to support a single stack across mobile and the traditional desktop.

These are just a few sessions out of the 90+ sessions available at the Embedded Linux Conference and Android Builder Summit. You can check the full schedule to find out which sessions are most interesting to you.

If you’d like to attend the event, you’ll need to register online.

The attendance fees have significantly gone up compared to last year, at least for hobbyists, but include entrance for both ELC and Android Builder Summit:

  • Professional Registration Fee - US$600 (Was US$500 until March 29, 2014)
  • Hobbyist Fee – US$150
  • Student FeeUS$150

After the events, many videos are usually uploaded by the Linux Foundation, and you should be able to find the list of talks with links to presentation slides oneLinux.org.

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Linaro 14.03 Release with Linux Kernel 3.14 and Android 4.4.2

March 28th, 2014 No comments

Linaro 14.03 has just been released with Linux Kernel 3.14-rc7 (baseline), Linux Kernel 3.10.33 (LSK), and Android 4.4.2.

This month, I could not find any major changes or updates, but work has been performed on big.LITTLE, Samsung Arndale / Arndale-octa, HiSilicon K3V2 and D01 boards and Broadcom Capri hardware, as well as ARMv8 models.

Here are the highlights of this release:

  • Linaro Stable Kernel (LSK) 3.10.33-2014.03
    • big.LITTLE support – ARM MP patch set, IKS (ARMv7 only). Interactive scheduler enhancements
    • ARMv8 features – CPU frequency scaling, CPU topology, CPU suspend
    • Power efficient workqueue support
    • Android v3.10 patch set from AOSP
    • GATOR
    • ARMv8 4xA57 4xA53 FVP (Fixed Virtual Platform) and Versatile Express TC2 support
  • Linux Linaro 3.14-rc7-2014.03
    • GATOR version 5.17
    • Android topic (linaro-android-3.14-merge) updated to get the recent code from AOSP
    • uprobes v7 (new version)
    • Updated big-LITTLE-pmu topic from ARM LT (Landing team)
    • Updated basic Capri board support from Broadcom LT (bcm590xx pmu and regulator drivers, Kona PWM controller support, and bcm21664 board added)
    • Updated big endian topic
    • Updated Arndale_Octa/Arndale/Origen patches from Samsung LT.
      • proper fix for the data abort issue on Arndale-Octa added (“ARM: dts: Disable MDMA1 node for Arndale-octa board”)
      • drivers/thermal/samsung/exynos_tmu* code cleaned up, TMU support for Exynos5420 SoCs added
    • Updated Versatile Express patches from ARM LT
    • Versatile Express arm64 support (FVP Base and Foundation models) from ARM LT
    • Updated K3V2 board support from HiSilicon LT
    • HiSilicon HiP0x Cortex A15 family / D01 Dev Board support added by HiSilicon LT
    • cortex-strings-arm64 topic (same as in 2014.02)
    • config fragments changes – Thermal config for arndale and arndale_octa enabled
  • Linaro Toolchain Binaries 2014.03
    • updated to latest Linaro TCWG (Toolchain Working Group) releases – Linaro GCC 4.8-2013.03, Linaro binutils 2.24-2014.03
    • updated Android NDK to new upstream release r9d
  • Linaro Android 14.03 – Built with Linaro GCC 4.8-2014.03, mmtest failures in LAVA have been fixed
  • Linaro OpenEmbedded 2014.03
    • integrated Linaro GCC 4.8-2013.03 and Linaro binutils 2.24-2014.03
    • added extra ACPI tools to images
    • switched recipes using git.linaro.org from git to http protocol
    • upstreaming – updated git to 1.9.0, updated FWTS (Firmware Test Suite) to 14.02.00
  • Linaro Ubuntu 14.03 – new package: xf86-video-freedreno 1.0.0, updated packages: libdrm 2.4.52 and linux-linaro kernels
  • Initial HiSilicon D01 member build is delivered
  • Arndale Octa build based on LT kernel has been setup for SWG (Security Working Group)
  • Made good progress on integrating VPS build slaves into android-build.linaro.org

You can visit https://wiki.linaro.org/Cycles/1403/Release for a list of known issues, and further release details about the LEB and community builds, Android, Kernel, Graphics, Multimedia, Landing Team, Platform, Power management and Toolchain (GCC / Qemu) components.

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Nvidia Tegra K1 32-bit and 64-bit Benchmarked with Antutu

March 6th, 2014 3 comments

Nvidia announced their latest Tegra applications processors at CES 2014 with the Tegra K1 32-bit and 64-bit ARM SoCs, as well as Tegra K1 MVC for automotive application. The 32-bit version comes with four Cortex A15 cores up to 2.3 GHz plus a companion core, and the 64-bit version with 2 ARMv8 cores (Cortex A53?) clocked up to 3 GHz. Both SoC features a 192-core Kepler GPU, and we’ve been shown some high-end graphics demo (OpenGL, OpenGL ES, OpenCL…) with in the reference tablet. Some charts has surface showing both 32- and 64-bit Tegra K1 scoring well over 40,000 and with an excellent 3D graphics score.

Tegra_K1_AntutuThe benchmark was run in reference platform with 32-bit or 64-bit Tegra K1, as well as the Tegra Note P1761 tablet with a 32-bit quad core Tegra K1 processor apparently clocked at a lower frequency, and with a not-that-good flash. The dual core, 64-bit version of the Tegra K1 scored 43,617 points (@ 3 GHz), whereas the quad core, 32-bit version achieved 43,851 points in Antutu 4.0. The tablet however just got 38,323, which is still a pretty good, and possibly more relevant to what we’ve see in retail devices. The 64-bit reference platform runs Android 4.4.2 with Nvidia Tegra K1 ARMv8 dual core processor clocked between 510 MHz and 3,000 MHz, a display with 1920×1080 resolution, 2GB RAM and 32 GB RAM (Source screenshot). Tegra_K1_vs_Snapgradon_805

The chart above shows Tegra K1 clearly outperforming Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, which is the best processor available (almost) right now, as it is part of the Samsung Galaxy S5.  Please note, I could not trace the origin of the different charts, and I just know it was posted on some Chinese website, and I do not know exactly which hardware was used to test each processors. This is important because benchmark results may be smaller in a smartphone or tablet, compared to a development board as you can’t just put a huge heatsink in a mobile device. But the results are interesting nonetheless to get a rough idea of the likely performance.

I usually prefer more detailed comparisons, and Sam Mobile posted the benchmark for both the Qualcomm 801 (SM-G900R4) and Exynos 5422 (SM-G900H) version of the Galaxy S5. We only have the benchmark details for Exynos 5422 version which is compared to the Galaxy Note 3 in the chart below.

Qualcomm 801 vs Exynos 5422

Qualcomm 801 vs Exynos 5422

The summarize all this in a table.

Total DB  I/O Storage I/O 3D Graph. 2D Graph. RAM Speed RAM Op. CPU Float CPU Integer Dalvik Multitask
Tegra K1 (2x ARMv8) 43617 645 2534 10997 1585 5078 3059 2291 4207 3875 9349
Tegra K1 (4x A15) 43851 645 2402 10939 1594 2229 2285 5461 4929 3775 9592
Exynos 5422 (4x A15, 4x A7) 35445 540 780 10401 1642 459 2680 4839 5339 1065 7700

According to these results. A dual core ARMv8 processor will perform just as well as a quad core Cortex A15, except with tests relying on more cores (CPU tests). RAM performance is way better with a 64-bit processor as expected. The biggest surprise is that the ARM Mali-T628 in Exynos 5422 appears to be just as good as the Kepler GPU found in Tegra K1.  The things that kill the Galaxy S5 is poor database I/O, RAM speed, and dalvik performance. For some reasons it does not score very well with multitasking despite having 8 cores. maybe the current big.LITTLE implementation and/or Antutu do not leverage the eight cores yet.

As mentioned above, the Tegra K1 scores have been done on a reference platform, and such scores may not be achieve on mobile devices due to heat dissipation issues. SemiAccurate has published several articles about Nvidia Tegra K1 saying the numbers released by the company were deceitful, and their latest article claims a 12V/5A (60 Watt) was used by Nvidia for their Tegra K1 demo at CES 2014, the only problem, if the picture is correct, is that it was for Tegra K1 MVC for automotive applications which certainly does not have the same power requirements as mobile devices. Even though, for now, the numbers looks promising, albeit not amazing, we’ll have to wait and see actual retail hardware to get a proper idea of the performance and power consumption of Tegra K1.

Via PadHZ

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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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Mediatek Smartphone SoC Roadmap Until 2015

February 28th, 2014 3 comments

Mediatek already has over a dozen of dual, quad and octa processors for smartphone and tablets based on ARM Cortex A7, A9 and A15 cores, and they’ve already announced a 64-Bit ARM SoC (MT6732) as well as MT6595 with four Cortex A17 cores. A leaked product roadmap show the timeline for Mediatek smartphone SoCs, as well as showing some new application processors such as MT6591 Hexa-core SoC, MT6571 dual core Cortex A7 and MT6752 octa core Cortex A53 with LTE.

Mediatek_Smartphone_SoC_Roadmap_2015

So let’s recapitulate the new and upcoming SoCs from Mediatek:

  • MT6572/M – Dual core Cortex A7 @ 1.3 GHz / 1.0 GHz with qHD/HVGA screen support. Available since Q3 2013, and found in phones such as Cubot GT72.
  • MT6582/M – Quad core Cortex A7 @ 1.3 GHz with HA720/qHD screen support. Available since Q4 2013, found in phones such as W450.
  • MT6588 – Quad core Cortex A7 @ 1.7 GHz supporting FHD screens. Available since Q1 2014, only found is a handful of phones.
  • MT6591 – Hexa core Cortex A7? @ 1.5 GHz supporting FHD screens. Available in Q1 2014. Unannounced, and I could not find phones yet.
  • MT6592/M – Octa core Cortex A7 @ 1.7-2.0GHz/1.4GHz supporting FHD screens. Available since Q1 2014. and found in phones such as HTM H100.
  • MT6571 – Dual core Cortex A7 @ 1.3 GHz with support for qHD screens, and TD/EDGE. Available in Q2 2014.
  • MT6595 – Octa core big.LITTLE processor with 4x Cortex A17 @ 2.2-2.5 GHz and 4x Cortex A7,  WQXGA (2560 x 1600) screens, and LTE. Available in Q3 2014.
  • MT6732 – Quad core ARM Cortex A53 @ 1.5 GHz with 720p screen support and LTE. Available in Q3 2014.
  • MT6752 – Octa core ARM Cortex A53 @ 1.7 GHz, supporting 1080p displays and LTE. Available in Q4 2014, Q1 2015

I can’t really understand Mediatek’s naming convention, and why they need so many different SoCs, but apparently it’s working for them.

Via Gadgetoadicto and GSM Arena.

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Green Hills Software Announces ARM Cortex A50 Support for INTEGRITY RTOS and Development Tools

February 27th, 2014 No comments

The latest SoCs based on 64-bit ARM Cortex A53 and A57 are not only going to be used in servers and high-end mobile devices, and some embedded applications in automotive, industrial, Mil/Aero  sector, as well as the Internet of Things (IoT) will also leverage the low power, high performance of ARMv8 processors. Green Hills Software has announced their INTEGRITY real-time operating system (RTOS) and MULTI integrated development environment (IDE) will support SoCs based on ARM Cortex A50 series cores.

Integrity OS Architecture

Integrity OS Architecture

Green Hills provide the following solutions on ARMv8 Fast Model virtual platform:

  • INTEGRITY RTOS which comes with functional safety certifications in industrial, medical, automotive and railway, and delivers real-time determinism
  • Green Hills C/C++ Optimizing Compilers/assembler and 64-bit toolchain
  • MULTI 64-bit IDE debugger, MISRA C/C++ code quality adherence, profiler and other integrated tools.

Only ARMv8-A is supported for now, but not ARMv8-R, destined to be used in safety-related applications in automotive and industrial control. Most ARMv8 processors announced to date are not really suited for embedded applications, but the upcoming Freescale i.MX8 could be a candidate, and other companies focusing on the embedded market such as Texas Instruments and Renesas are also likely to provide Cortex A50 SoCs in the future.

The company did not provide details about availability. You can find more information about INTEGRITY and development tools on the Green Hills’ website.

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Marvell ARMADA Mobile PXA1928 SoC Features Four Cortex A53 Cores, Vivante GC5000 GPU, and LTE

February 26th, 2014 No comments

So here we are with another 64-bit ARM SoC for mobile device thanks to Marvell ARMADA Mobile PXA1928 with four ARM Cortex A53 cores, Vivante GC5000 GPU, and a 5-mode modem with LTE TDD/FDD, HSPA+, TD-HSPA+, and EDGE.

The SoC will be used in conjunction with the company’s Avastar 88W8887 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.0 + FM + Near Field Communication (NFC) single chip solution, as well as 88L2000 Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) hybrid location processor, and the new 88NV1088 eMMC 5.0 NAND Flash controller.

Key features of Marvell ARMADA Mobile PXA1928 include:

  • PXA1928 5-Mode Cellular Modem Solution for LTE Cat 4, UMTS Release 7, TD-HSPA+ Release 8, and class 12 GSM/EDGE, and supports multi-radio, CSFB, and VoLTE voice solutions for LTE networks
  • 3G/4G protocol stacks certified on major carrier networks and validated via extensive IOT, GCF and field trial testing
  • Quad-core ARM Cortex A53MP Application Processor Subsystem
  • Support for 1080p display, and 1080p video encoding and decoding
  • Support eMMC NAND Flash memory interface
  • Complete wireless capabilities with WLAN/Bluetooth/NFC solutions
  • Support advanced mobile security features, including secure boot, root key protection, Widevine Level 1 support, and FIPS 104-2 level3 and 140-3 level 2 compliant

The company claims it will support both Linux and Android on its mobile platform.

Marvell did not disclose any pricing nor availability information.

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