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Posts Tagged ‘armv8’

Hardkernel ODROID-C2 64-Bit ARM Development Board to Sell for $40 Next Month

February 3rd, 2016 51 comments

We previously knew ODROID-C2 was in development thanks to a document and source code from Amlogic themselves. We did not have the full details at the time, and Amlogic’s document even got the RAM capacity wrong. Hardkernel has finally announced ODROID-C2 development board based on Amlogic S905 will be selling on March 2016 for $40, and released specifications and some photos.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

ODROID-C2 specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S905 quad core cortex-A53 processor with 3+2 cores Mali-450 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • Storage – eMMC module socket with 8, 16, 32, or 64GB module by Toshiba or Sandisk + micro SD slot supporting UHS-1 SD cards.
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8211F)
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports + micro USB OTG port
  • Expansion Header
    • 40-pin header with GPIO, I2C, UART, and ADC ; All I/Os are 3.3V, except ADC that is limited to 1.8V.
    • I2S interface
  • Debugging – Serial console port (3.3V)
  • Misc – Status & power LEDs, IR receiver, boot selector, power jumper
  • Power Supply –  5V/2A DC input via 0.8mm/2.5mm power barrel, or micro USB port (selectable via jumper)
  • Power Consumption – Less than 500mA in most cases, and up to 2A with USB peripherals
  • Dimensions – 85 x 56mm (Same as ODROID-C1+)

ODROID-C2_BoardThe board will ship with a heatsink covering most of the board, and the company will provide Ubuntu 16.04 and Android 5.1 Lollipop images and source code based on Linux kernel 3.14 LTS. Beside having the same dimensions as ODROID-C1+, the board layout look identical to me so any enclosure and accessories for the 32-bit board should probably be mechanically and electrically compatible with ODROID-C2, except if you need an SPI interface or the internal RTC both of which are lacking on Amlogic S905.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

You can already find some hardware and software documentation on ODROID-C2 wiki, as well as the Android 5.1.1 firmware image.

ODROID-C2 board production will start on February 15, 2016, you’ll be able to purchase the board on March 2, 2016 for US$40 + shipping fees, and actual shipping is scheduled for March 4, 2016.

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Amlogic S905 vs S812 Benchmarks Comparison

January 29th, 2016 14 comments

After seeing benchmarks comparisons between Amlogic S905 and S805, as well as Amlogic S905 vs Rockchip RK3368, several people asked me to compare the older Amlogic S812 32-bit processor to the newer Amlogic S905 64-bit processor, so I’ve gone ahead and compared the results for several benchmarks obtained with WeTek Core and K1 Plus Android 5.1 TV boxes, respectively powered by Amlogic S812 and Amlogic S905.

Amlogic_S905_vs_S812A ratio greater than one means Amlogic S812 is the fastest, and I’ve highlighted the ratio with red or green colors so that red color is a plus for S905, and green color means S812 achieved a better result.

Amlogic S905 Amlogic S812 Ratio
CPU Quad core Cortex A53 @ 2.02 GHz Quad core Cortex A9 @ 1.99 GHz
GPU Penta-core ARM Mali-450MP Octa-core ARM Mali-450MP
Antutu 5.x
Overall 28,027 33,953 1.21
Multitask 4,260 4,701 1.10
Runtime 2,721 3,383 1.24
RAM Ops 1,960 2,228 1.14
RAM Speed 2,420 2,181 0.90
CPU Integer (multi-thread) 2,310 2,393 1.04
CPU float-point (multi-thread) 2,483 2,687 1.08
CPU Integer (single thread) 1,587 1,735 1.09
CPU float-point (single thread) 1,510 1,483 0.98
2D Graphics(1920×1080) 1,374 825 0.60
3D Graphics (1920×1080) 6,126 10,942 1.79
Vellamo 3.x
Metal 763 735 0.96
Multicore 1,572 1,620 1.03
Browser 2,002 2,052 1.02
3DMark – Ice Storm Extreme v1.2
Total score 4,304 5,763 1.34
Graphics score 3,684 5,265 1.43
Physics score 10,468 8,616 0.82

The benchmarks basically match the theory that says Cortex A9 is slightly faster than Cortex A53 for integer performance, at a given CPU frequency, but overall the results are unlikely to be noticeable to the end user, except when it comes to 3D graphics where the octa-core GPU is faster then the penta-core core one, by 34% based on 3DMark, and 79% based on Antutu’s 3D graphics benchmark. For some reasons, 2D graphics appears to be significantly faster on Amlogic S905.

The main advantage of Amlogic S905 over S812 is support for HDMI 2.0 ports allowing 2160p @ 60 Hz video output, and 4K H.265 hardware video decoding up to 60 fps, while both are limited to 30 Hz on S812. Also bear in mind than most Amlogic S812 / S802 devices currently on the market are running Android 4.4, and will not perform quite as fast as Android 5.1 devices such as WeTek Core.

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Rockchip RK3229 and RK3399 32-bit and 64-bit Processors Support 4K 10-bit H.265 and HDMI 2.0

January 12th, 2016 16 comments

Rockchip RK3288 was the first SoC from the company that was supposed to support HDMI 2.0 and 4K 10-bit HEVC, but the HDMI implementation was not perfect since it did not support YUV420 colorspace available on cheaper 4K television like mine (LG 42UB820T), and so I’m limited to 4K @ 30 Hz on RK3288, Rorkchip RK3368 fixed that, but the low cost processor does not support 10-bit HEVC. Rockchip is about to launch two new processor that should bring both features to the low end and high end of the market with RK3229 quad core Cortex A7 processor, and RK3399 hexa core Cortex A72/A53 processor.

RK3229_RK3399

Rockchip RK3229 specifications:

  • CPU- Quad Core ARM Cortex A7 @ 1.5 GHz
  • GPU – ARM Mali-400MP2
  • Memory I/F – DDR3-1866/LPDDR3-1333
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 1.4/2.2 + CVBS
  • Video Codec – 4K2K 10-bit H.265 @ 60 fps (Up to 200 Mbps),  4K 10-bit H.264 @ 30 fps (Up to 250 Mbps) and 4K 8-bit VP9 @ 30 fps (Up to 200 Mbps)
  • Video Encoder – 1080p H.264 and VP8
  • Ethernet – 100Mbps (PHY)
  • Audio Codec – Yes
  • DRM – Widewine Level 1, PlayReady, Verimatrix

The processor also supports BT.2020 to Rec.709/Rec.601 conversion, and is pin-to-pin compatible with Rockchip RK3128. Boot time is about half of the RK3128 with the company claiming a 12 seconds boot time, and they also claim a smaller delay to start playing high bitrate videos compared to S905 and 3798M. One downside is that it only support Android 4.4, no Android 5.1.

Rockchip RK3399 specifications:

  • CPU- Hexa Core processor with 2x ARM Cortex A72 @ 2.0 GHz, 4x ARM Cortex A53
  • GPU – ARM Mali-T864 GPU
  • Memory I/F – Dual Channel DDR3/LPDDR3/LPDDR4
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0
  • Video Codec – 4K2K 10-bit H.265
  • Video Encoder – 1080p
  • Ethernet – Gigabit
  • Audio Codec – No

Information is limited for now, but we can already find some RK3229 TV boxes listed on Alibaba such as Vplus M9 selling for $25 in quantities, but I’m not sure information and pricing can be trusted on this page, as they mention both H.265 and VP9 4K video decoding, and this would be a big omission in Rockchip product table that I found on a NotebookItalia video filmed at CES 2016.

Rockchip RK3399 is particularly interesting as it is the first high-performance 64-bit ARM SoC announced by one of the three main Chinese TV Box SoC manufacturers: Amlogic, Rockchip and Allwinner.

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Broadcom BCM4908 Router SoC Supports 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, and Up to 3.4 Gbps Combined WiFi Speeds

January 5th, 2016 1 comment

While most of us are still talking about megabit per second (Mbps) when it comes to Internet connectivity, some are already enjoying higher maximum speeds of one or more Gigabit per second (Gbps) with services like Google Fiber or Comcast Gigabit Pro (2Gbps) in the US. That means one of the bottleneck include Gigabit Ethernet in most home settings, so to address higher network speeds at home and at the office, Broadcom has designed and unveiled BCM4908 quad core 64-bit ARM SoC for high-end routers that includes an interface for a 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet PHY, and supports the company’s BCM4366 wave 2 5G WiFi MU-MIMO for up to 3.4 Gbps combined WiFi transfer rates across multiple devices.

2.5GbE_5GbE_Cables

Ethernet Cat. 5e, 6, and 6A Cables for 1 to 10 Gbps Ethernet

Some key features of BCM4908 processor include:

  • Quad core 64-bit ARM processor @ 1.8 GHz
  • Zero CPU Wi-Fi offload to free up CPU resources
  • BroadStream iQoS acceleration
  • Dedicated security processor to enable hardware VPN acceleration
  • 2.5Gb Base-X Ethernet WAN/LAN port for supporting fast connectivity to multi-gigabit modem or a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device
  • Peripherals – Integrated SATA III, two USB 3.0 ports and three PCIe Gen 2 ports
  • Low power – 28nm processor technology and advanced power management for more than 50% percent power usage reduction  compared to previous solutions
  • Support for Broadcom’s tri-band (AC5300) 5G WiFi XStream 802.11ac MU-MIMO with:
    • 3x BCM4366 4×4 radios, each with an integrated CPU for host offload processing
    • Providing a total of seven CPU cores (“Septacore”) with more than 9.6 GHz of CPU horse power
  • Hardware acceleration for routing and USB storage

Transfers are handled by Broadcom’s Runner network packet processor, which can handle more than 5 Gbps of system data throughput, freeing up the CPU for other tasks.

Broadcom BCM4908 is currently sampling, but other details have not been provided, and I could not find a product page yet.

Via EETimes

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Unboxing and Teardown of Ugoos UT4 Android TV Box with a Cooling Fan

December 28th, 2015 3 comments

Most Android TV box ship with simple heatsink, which may lead to performance degradation due to throttling if you push your device a little too hard, and Ugoos UT3s was one of the few Android TV boxes to feature a fan. The company now have a new model model with Ugoos UT4 powered by Rockchip RK3368 octa-core processor, and they’ve sent me an early sample for review. Today, I’ll start by taking pictures of the device, and taking it apart to check the hardware and how cooling is implemented, before reviewed the unit in a few weeks.

Ugoos UT4 specifications

Before this, since I’ve only shortly mention Ugoos UT4 in Rockchip RK3368 TV boxes list, I’ll go through the specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3368 octa core Cortex A53 processor with PowerVR G6110 GPU up to 700 MHz
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC + micro SD slot up to 32GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60Hz
  • Audio Output – HDMI, optical S/PDIF, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (AP6335 module), Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 ports (including 1x OTG)
  • Misc – Power button, recovery pinhole, IR receiver
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A
  • Dimensions – 116 x 115 x 22 mm
Ugoos UT4 runs Android 5.1.1 like all other RK3368 devices.

Ugoos UT4 Unboxing

I received the device in its retail package, but they had to cover “Quad core” with “Octa core”. This should probably be fixed once the device ships to end users.
Ugoos_UT4_package
A 5V/3A power supply, a flat HDMI cable (Ugoos branded), an high gain WiFi antenna, a short USB cable (for OTG), an IR remote control, and a user’s manual in English are included with the box. The remote looks exactly the same as the one included with GeekBox replacing blue keys by orange ones, and a different branding.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The devices looks to be made of ABS plastic. One of the side has the WiFi antenna connector, some ventilation holes, and a power button, with the others featuring a 3.5mm AV output hack, a recovery pin hole, a micro SD slot, and two USB ports, including one supporting OTG. The rear panel comes with Gigabit Ethernet, two more USB ports, HDMI 2..0 output, optical S/PDIF and the power jack.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

You can also to watch the unboxing video.

Ugoos UT4 Teardown

I had to loosen four screw on the bottom of the case to open UT4. It was easy, and there are no easily breakable clips holding the two plastic parts together.

Ugoos_UT4_BottomThe board is called XZH-TV13_V1R2, and the bottom of the board mostly includes two Samsung K4B4G1646Q-HYK0 DDR3L chips (2x 512MB). We have also find an unused display or camera connector on the bottom of the board, as well as a MAC Address stating with 98:00:00 that does not look up to any company.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

You can then easily take the board out as no other screws are holding it in place.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I had not read about the device in details before taking it apart so I was quite surprised to find a fan inside the device. There’s also a small battery for the RTC on top of what must be the WiFi module. The fan, heatsink and battery are all glued to the board, so I did not tried to remove or displace them before the review. Mnova MS00731NL transformer confirms Gigabit Ethernet is implemented in the device, Samsung KLMAG2WEMB-B031 eMMC 5.0 flash provides internal storage with 170MB/s and 11 MB/s theoretical read and write speeds, and USB hub chip is also included.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

If you are interested in hacking the board, two I2C and two UART connector footprint can be found on the side of the board.

I’d like to thanks Ugoos for providing a sample for review. If you are a distributor, and are interested in buying in quantity, you may find out more and/or contact the company via Ugoos UT4 product page. I could not find the device listed on the usual e-retailers, but for reference Ugoos UT3s (2GB/16GB) with  is now sold for $119 shipped, so I’d expect UT4 to be slightly cheaper. [Update: Ugoos UT4 sells for $103.90 on Ugoos Aliexpress store]

Update 2: The review is now up @ Ugoos UT4 Android 5.1 TV Box Review.

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ODROID-C2 Amlogic S905 Development Board is in the Works

December 28th, 2015 5 comments

Hardkernel ODROID-C1 and later ODROID-C1+ boards, both based on Amlogic S805 SoC, have been a popular alternatives to Raspberry Pi 2 board this year. But now that Amlogic S905 quad core 64-bit ARM Cortex A53 processor has been available for a few months, people have been wondering whether the Korean company would launch an Amlogic S905 board, and it looks like ODROID-C2 might not be too far off based on firmware files on odroid.in website.

Picture of ODROID-C1+ (Not ODROID-C2 pic yet)

Picture of ODROID-C1+ (No ODROID-C2 pic yet)

The firmware includes a device tree file, which combined with other files give some clues about ODROID-C2 specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S905 quad core Cortex A53 processor @ up to 2.0 GHz with penta-core (3+2) Mali-450MP GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB RAM (in doc), 2GB RAM (in Device tree)
  • Storage – 1x micro SD card
  • Video Output – 1x HDMI out
  • USB – 1x USB hub, 1x USB OTG

I don’t have much more information about the platform.

Buildroot menuconfig with ODROID-C2 config file

Buildroot menuconfig with ODROID-C2 config file

You can also find some ODROID-C2 or “odroidc2” references it in the latest Amlogic buildroot, and for example to build a bootable image based on Linux 3.14.29 for ODROID-C2, you can run:

I guess we’ll have to wait a little longer to find out exactly whether ODROID-C2 is based on the same form factor as ODROID-C1+ board, or closer to ODROID-C0 concept. If you’ve been trying to run Linux on Amlogic S905 devices, using the latest kernel may help fixed some of the issues we’ve had in the past. I have not tried it yet.

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PINE A64 Development Board Kickstarter Campaign is Up

December 9th, 2015 12 comments

As previously announced, PINE64 $15 64-bit ARM Linux computer was due to launch on December 9, and the Kickstarter campaign is now up, and the shipping costs are $7 to the US, and $12 to the rest of the world.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The name have changed to PINE A64 and PINE A64+ since the first announcement, but the specifications have mostly not changed for th two boards with an Allwinner quad core Cortex A53 processor, 512MB to 1GB RAM, a micro SD slot for storage, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 1.4, USB ports, and some other expansion headers for I/Os, displays or cameras. The PINE A64+ however now has an option for 2GB for $29, and we’ve got a bit more information about optional modules and accessories:

  • Wireless module with WiFi and Bluetooth adapter
  • Zwave adapter
  • 7″ LCD touchpanel (PINE64+ only)
  • Dry contact I/O board
  • 5MP MIPI CSI camera
  • Various sensors
  • Various remote controls / air mice
  • 8,000 mAh battery

PINE64_Accessories

These are offered as part of kits:

  1. PINE A64+ 4K media computer with an 8GB Micro SD pre-loaded with Android 5.1, an IR receiver and remote control, a power supply, and an enclosure. Price: $59 for 1GB RAM, $69 for 2GB RAM
  2. PINE A64 IoT package with an 8GB micro SD pre-loaded with openHAB software, 802.11n Wifi + Bluetooth 4.0 module, Z-Wave Plus IO Card, a power supply, and an enclosure. Price: $59 for 1GB RAM, $69 for 2GB RAM
  3. PINE A64+ with touchscreen with a 64GB micro SD pre-loaded with Android 5.1 OS, 802.11n Wifi + Bluetooth 4.0 module, the power supply, a 7″ LCD touchscreen panel, and an enclosure. Price: $89 for 1GB RAM, $99 for 2GB RAM

The other things we’ve learned is that the boards will become available as soon as February 2016 for early bird backers, and later comers should get it in March or April, with the kits shipping in April or May 2016. One thing remains unclear: the company has been evasive about the processor used, and while the name implies it should be Allwinner A64, several pictures on Kickstarter still show Allwinner R18 processor.

[Update: On the software, while Android 5.1 should be supported by Allwinner, and openHAB by openHAB themselves since the CEO is an advisor to the campaign, Linux support is less certain, as the engineering manager for the project has already asked for – what looks like free – help from sunxi-linux and armbian communities]

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K1 Plus Amlogic S905 TV Box Review

November 28th, 2015 34 comments

Videostrong KI Plus is one of the first Amlogic S905 TV boxes to be launched on the market, and it also happens to be one of cheapest model selling for around $45 on various sites, and it’s even available for $39.99 on GearBest for Black Friday / Cyber Monday. I’ve posted the specifications and pictures of the device previously, and after updating the firmware, I’ve finally completed the review.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

As usual, I’ve connected a whole bunch of cables and peripherals to the device to make the power supply can handle it, including a USB hard drive, a USB webcam, a USB keyboard, a USB hub with two RF dongles for Tronsmart Mars G01 gamepad and MeLE F10 Deluxe air mouse, as well as a HDMI, optical audio and Ethernet cables, and a speaker connected to the 3.5mm AV jack and powered by one of the USB port of the device. Turn on the power, and the device will boot automatically (no need to press the power button), with a typical boot taking around 48 seconds.

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

The launcher is quite basic, which can be advantage for a TV interface, with the time, a list of customizable shortcuts which including IPFox and Private Live TV by default, and 5 icons on the bottom for Kodi 15.2, Explorer file manager, the list of apps, settings, and a web browser. There are also some icon on the bottom right for networking and storage. IPFox asks you to scan a QR code to buy something, and Private Live TV will download an IPTV plugin and work out of the box with various TV channels including Sky Sports F1…

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

I quickly tried one of the streams and it worked OK.

The settings’ user interface is basically the same as found as on Android 5.1 Amlogic S812 TV boxes such as WeTek Core, minus some features like automatic frame rate switching.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The most interesting settings include:

  • Network – WiFi, Ethernet, and VPN configuration
  • Display
    • Screen resolution: Auto, 480p-60Hz, 576p-50Hz, 720p 50/60Hz, 1080i 50/60Hz, 1080p 24/50/60Hz, 4K2K 24/25/30/50/60Hz or SMPTE
    • Screen position
    • Screen rotation (middle port, force land, original)
  • Sound – System sound (On/Off), and Digital sounds (Auto detection, PCM, HDMI or SPDIF)
  • Preferences – HDMI CEC (But not working: “This remote device does not support CEC”), and Play back settings with “HDMI self-adaption” On/Off. I don’t really understand what that means…

I had no problem to connect to my WiFi router, and setting video to 4k2k 60Hz also worked perfectly via Onkyo TX-NR636 AV receiver or LG UHD TV. However, the box did not always keep my video output settings, often falling back to 1080p50. I only tested the AV port by connecting it to my speakers, and it worked fine with both HDMI audio and stereo audio outputted at the same time.

About_Mediabox_K1_PlusYou can get to Lollipop Android settings by selecting More Settings. Bluetooth is not built-in into the device, and is completely missing from the settings, so even if you decided to connect a Bluetooth USB dongle it would not work. All other usual settings appear to be here including Printing, Language & input, accessibility and so on. A single 4.66GB partition is used for both app and data with around 4.21GB free space.

The “About Mediabox” section reports KI Plus model running Android 5.1.1 on top of Linux kernel 3.14.29. There’s also a link to the Update&Backup app in this section, but OTA firmware update is not enabled. The sample was sent to my by a manufacturer (Videostrong), and they probably rely on their customers to handle this. This firmware is not rooted by default.

The IR remote control work pretty well, and I could use it reliably as far as 10 meters. The IR learning function is also doing its job and I could program with TV’s remote control Volume, power, and TV input keys. I have no used the remote that much since I prefer using MeLE F10 Deluxe remote control in Android that’s much more user friendly that IR remotes. Since the status and notification bars are missing, I had to use the Home key on the IR remote during testing…

Google Play Store did not work well at all the first time, with most application being incompatible with this device. That’s why I delayed the review, and after installing a new firmware, everything works pretty well. Applications that require telephony, Bluetooth, and GPS can’t be installed, but that’s fine, as well as the ones which can’t be installed where I live (country limitations). Finally I installed Amazon Underground to load and play Riptide GP2 3D racing game.

Power handling has been implemented correctly as I could cleanly power off the device with either the power button on the unit and the remote control. The remote control can also be used to power on the device. There’s no standby mode, so the device will fully boot each time you turn it on.

For those interested in power consumption, I’ve done some measurements both without USB devices, and one USB hard drive in two modes:

  • Power off – 1.3 Watt
  • Idle – 3.2 ~ 3.4 Watts
  • Power off + HDD – 1.3 Watt
  • Idle + HDD – 6.1 ~ 7.4 Watts

There’s still some residual power used in power off mode, but at least the USB ports are turned off.

Temperature is under control most of the time, except possibly when playing games. I measured 42°C and 53°C on the top and bottom of the enclosure after running Antutu 5.7, but after playing Riptide GP2 for about 15 minutes the temperature went up to 50°C and 62°C, and I noticed a lower frame rate in the game.

After updating the firmware, the first impressions were quite good, as despite its low cost, the system was responsive, and stable, which everything from networking to video output working fine, except for video output changing randomly? after a power on.

Video Playback on KI Plus

I usually playing videos from a network share over Ethernet and using whatever Kodi version is pre-installed on the device. So far none of manufacturers have used Kodi from Google Play, and Videostrong is no exception. So I have some Kodi 15.2 app in the device with various add-ons.

Amlogic_S905_Kodi_15.2

For some reasons, the resolution is shown as 1280×720 @ 60Hz in the System information when the video output is set to 4k2k-60Hz, and despite the framebuffer being set to 1920×1080 as we’ve seen with some of the screenshots above.

Kodi_1280x720But when I went ahead with testing videos samples found on linaro website, I realized something was clearly wrong:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny) – 480p/720p/1080p – Letterboxed
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container –  1080p – Letterboxed
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 1080p – Letterboxed
  • VC1 codec (WMV) – 1080p – Letterboxed
  • Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – OK
  • WebM / VP8 – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container (1080p) – Letterboxed
  • WebM / VP9 (no audio in video) – OK

So while all videos could play, most of them would be letterboxed.

Kodi_Letterbox_Amlogic_S905
So with this bug in mind, and my contacts telling me either Amlogic had not spent much resources on Kodi this time, or that many patchsets were still submitted to Kodi to fix Amlogic S905 support, I decided to give up on Kodi on this device, and instead do all my testing with Video Player app in Android. That means you’ll either need to wait for Kodi 16, or go with the daily builds.

Later, I still decided to give Kodi a try with the “reliability” test, playing a 2-hour 1080p movie… and I worked just fine, with a some 3800 skipped frame reported by Kodi’s log overlay maybe because the mismatch between video output and video frame rate. So I was confused, until I saw the video output bug kicked in to force video out to 1080p50, and the System info reported 1920×1080 @ 50Hz…

Amlogic_S905_1080p_kodiSo that means Kodi 15.2 pre-loaded in the box works at 1080p resolution, but has a bug at 4K. VideoStrong should provide a 4K TV to their developers…

I did not re-test the videos at 1080p in Kodi 15.2, as I’m expecting 2 to 3 more Amlogic S905 TV boxes, and I’ll ahve plenty of opportunities to test Kodi on Amlogic S905, so instead I’ll report results in Video Player, using Ethernet, unless otherwise stated.

Linaro samples, plus Elecard H.265, and a low res VP9 video:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny) – 1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container –  1080p – OK
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV) – 1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – OK
  • WebM / VP8 – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container (1080p) – OK
  • WebM / VP9 (no audio in video) – OK

I started to see some issues, when I switched to some higher bitrate videos :

  • ED_HD.avi – Blackscreen
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – Video OK, but no audio
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – OK
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – Could be smoother, and no audio
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – Not very smooth (played from USB hard drive, as Fast Ethernet could not handle this file).

The audio issues are probably due of the lack of DTS and Dolby licenses, and I could confirm it in the audio test below.

Video PCM Output HDMI Pass-through S/PDIF Pass-through
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 No audio OK (Dolby D 5.1) OK (Dolby D 5.1)
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 No audio OK (Dolby D 5.1) OK (Dolby D 5.1)
Dolby Digital+ 7.1 No audio No audio Audio Formats Not Supported over S/PDIF
TrueHD 5.1 No audio OK (TrueHD 5.1)
TrueHD 7.1 No audio  OK (TrueHD 7.1)
Dolby Atmos 7.1 No audio Continuous beep and Dolby D 5.1 shows in AVR
DTS HD Master No audio DTS 5.1 only DTS 5.1
DTS HD High Resolution No audio DTS 5.1 only DTS 5.1

So if you don’t have AV receiver you are out of luck to get any audio, unless you use Kodi, which may not work that well right now, or some other app that also decoded DTS and Dolby by software.

One of the main selling point of Amlogic S905 SoC is support for 4K video including 10-bit HEVC, and it’s doing a pretty good job, as long as you play from a USB hard drive:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – OK from USB HDD, but buffering a lot from network.
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – OK, but no audio.
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) –  OK
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – OK
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – OK from USB HDD, but buffering often from network
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – OK
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – 3 to 4 fps
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – OK from USB HDD (first time ever!), but buffering from network, or even stopping in some instances.
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Audio/video synchronization issues, and the video could be a little smoother
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – Excellent video decoding, but no audio…
  • Samsung_UHD_Dubai_10-bit_HEVC_51.4Mbps.ts (10-bit HEVC / MPEG-4 AAC) – Perfect from HHD, but buffering a lot from SAMBA share.
  • Astra-11479_V_22000-Canal+ UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate.ts (10-bit H.265 from DVB-S2 stream) – Most of the time OK, but it will freeze and the same exact point every time for several seconds. (tested on USB drive only)

You can watch a demo with most of these files via the post entitled “H.264 & H.265 4K Video Playback on Amlogic S905 Android TV Box“. While VP9 and H.264 @ 60 fps are not supported by current revision of S905 processor, I understand a new revision of the silicon should support VP9.

Video Player reports “can’t play this video” when I try to play Blu-ray ISO files such as Sintel-Bluray.iso and amay.iso, so I think it’s just not supported by the app. 1080i MPEG2 video samples (GridHD.mpg & Pastel1080i25HD.mpg) played OK, but Hi10p had the same artifacts issues as on Kodi on Amlogic S812, and lacked the subtitles.

I’ve played some stereoscopic 3D videos to see if the system could decode them (my TV does not support 3D):

  • bbb_sunflower_1080p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (1080p Over/Under) – OK
  • bbb_sunflower_2160p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (2160p Over/Under) – Audio only (Would require a dual 4K decoder)
  • Turbo_Film-DreamWorks_trailer_VO_3D.mp4 (1080p SBS) – OK

Lack of DTS/Dolby support was the main issue when I played several H.264, DViX/XVid, VOB, MKV, and MP4 movies, as many did not play audio at all, and Video Player app can not handle FLV videos, nor IFO files (although VOB is OK).

I installed Antutu Video Tester 3.0 manually, and the score (906 point) is pretty good, although not quite as high as on Amlogic S812 devices (1,000+ points).

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

If you are using premium video streaming applications such as Netflix, it might be important to check whether the level of DRM support, or whether any DRM is actually installed. This could easily be checked thanks to DRM Info app.

DRM_info_K1_PlusAnd sadly, even the basic Widewine security Level 3 is not installed. As a reminder, Widewine Level 1 is required for HD and UHD video playback.

Visit “Where to get video, audio and images samples” post and comments section for links to video samples.

Network Performance (Wi-Fi and Ethernet)

A 278MB file is transferred between a SAMBA share and the internal storage three times using ES File Explorer in order to test WiFi and Fast Ethernet performance. But during the first test,  I only did it twice because the transfer rate was stable but stuck at 130 KB/s during the whole transfer, and it took over 30 minutes for each transfer. Clearly the worst result ever, and at the time my phone could transfer the same file at over 2MB/s. But I tried again, before publishing the results, and the results are much better @ 3.45 MB/s , but I can’t explain what happened…

Performance in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)

Throughput in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)

Amlogic S905 SoC can support Gigabit Ethernet, but K1 Plus is only fitted with Fast Ethernet components, and file transfer performance is under average at about 6MB/s (48 Mbps).

Performance in MB/s

Throughput in MB/s

It looks better while using iperf with “-t 60 -c 192.168.0.104 -d” to test dual duplex transfer for 60 seconds, with a very good Fast Ethernet performance.

Throughput in Mbps

Throughput in Mbps

iperf output:

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

Bluetooth is not support by KI Plus.

Storage

FAT32 (micro SD card), NTFS, & exFAT (USB hard drive) partitions could all be mounted, but the same bug as on Amlogic S812’s Android 5.1 firmware meant the free space was wrongly reported as 10MB, making the NTFS and exFAT partition basically read-only.

File System Read Write
NTFS OK Not really (10 MB free space)
EXT-4 Not mounted Not mounted
exFAT OK Not really (10 MB free space)
BTRFS Not mounted Not mounted
FAT32 OK OK

I had to skip USB storage benchmarks, but I could still check out the internal storage with A1 SD bench app, which reported 22.71MB/s read speed and 8.67 MB/s write speed.

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)

Clearly not the best performance, but it was to be expected for a $40 products, and I have not found it to affect the performance of the device much.

Gaming

I have never seen Candy Crush Saga on device expect when using SoC with Mali-400 GPU, and it played without issue on K1 Plus ising an air mouse. Beach Buggy Racing felt a little sluggish, and once I boosted the graphics settings to “high resolution” it started to become choppy, and at time the game seems to be slow to respond to gamepad inputs. Riptide GP2 was about the same story, but it started pretty well, then set the graphics setting to high resolution, and the game was quite not as smooth, and the game even exited/crashed once. Furthermote, I noticed the frame rate to get worse, the more I played, so the GPU must be throttling when the SoC gets hot, leading to performance degradations. So Amlogic S905 does not seem the best platform for gaming, and better stick with the more powerful Amlogic S812 or Rockchip RK3288 SoCs.

K1 Plus Benchmarks

Before running any benchmarks, let’s see what CPU-Z detects…

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The app does not know Amlogic S905 processor, but it probably detects an ARM Cortex A53 quad core processor clocked between 100 MHz and 2.02 GHz, coupled with an ARM Mali-450MP GPU. The model is called KI Plus (p20x), the board p20x, the UI resolution is set to 1920×1080, there’s 807MB total RAM in the system, and 4.66GB internal storage. It’s running an aarch64 Linux kernel version 3.14.29 as reported previously.

K1_Plus_Antutu_5.7.3
I had already run Antutu 5.7.3 to compare Amlogic S905 and Rockchip RK3368 performance, but following the firmware update, I ran it again, and it yielded a marginally higher score of 29,167 points.

Please also find Vellamo 3.0 and 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme results below for reference.

K1_Plus_Vellamo_3.0

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Conclusion

It’s quite amazing that you can now get an Android TV box with 4K video playback and HDMI 2.0 support for about $40. However, there’s still work to be done, as while their a good based with a reasonably good user interface, and surprisingly smooth video playback at 2160p resolution using Video Player app, the pre-installed Kodi 15.2 version was unusable at 4K resolution with most videos letterboxed, DTS and Dolby licenses are missing, there’s no DRM installed at all, and various other bugs need to be fixed.

PROS

  • Recent Android 5.1 OS firmware that is both responsive and stable
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 2160p 60Hz; 24/25/30/50/60 Hz refresh rates supported; AV port (tested with speakers)
  • Impressive 4K H.265 (10-bit) and H.264 video playback in Video Player app
  • Dolby 5.1, DTS and TrueHD audio pass-through is working.
  • Proper power handling
  • IR remote support IR learning function, and has a good range (>10 meters)
  • 4x USB ports
  • Very good value for money (once issues can be resolved)

CONS

  • Pre-installed Kodi 15.2 version does not work well for 2160p video output is selected (1080p output looks better); automatic frame rate switching is not working either.
  • HDMI – Dolby Digital 7.1+, DTS HD and Atmos pass-through not working; CEC not working; Video output resolution set in settings is not always used at next power on.
  • Missing DTS and Dolby support for PCM output
  • No DRM installed, even Widewine Level 3 required for SD playback on relevant apps.
  • WiFi performance may be erratic (TBC), very good sometimes, and near stall speed at others.
  • 3D games such as Beach Buggy Racing and Riptide GP2 are not playing very smoothly, and performance may degrade with play time (and higher heat).
  • No option to show status and notification bars, no Download icon in app list.
  • Lacks Bluetooth support
  • USB hard drive partitions (NTFS / exFAT) reported as having 10MB free only, basically rendering the partitions read-only.

There are also IPTV apps that depending on your point of view can be PROS or CONS, and OTA firmware update is missing, but this may be due to Videostrong being a manufacturer, and not a brand, so they rely on their customer to handle firmware updates with their own servers and branding.

Videostrong was kind enough to send this first Amlogic S905 box sample for review, and if you are a distributor or resellers, you could contact the company via their Alibaba product page. Individual can purchase K1 Plus (aka Ki Plus) on retail sites starting at $39.99 including shipping on GearBest, GeekBuying, eBay, Amazon US, Aliexpress and others.

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