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Posts Tagged ‘benchmark’

Debian on DragonBoard 410c Development Board

May 6th, 2016 No comments

I purchased Qualcomm DragonBoard 410c development board last year, and first tested it and run some benchmark on the 96Boards compliant hardware with Android. I found that it was still work-in-progress, and decided to wait before trying Debian on the board. I’ve now done so, and will report by experience installing Debian Linux, playing with the board, and running Phoronix benchmarks to compare it to other ARM Linux boards.

Installing Debian on DragonBoard 410c

The first challenge is to navigate through the documentation that is not always clear or up-to-date. I eventually ended up on DragonBoard 410c Wiki on Github.

DragonBoard_410c_Debian_Android_Opearting_SystemsYou then have to decided which image you want. While there are two official operating systems with Android and Debian, you can three “entities” releasiong their own images. For Debian specifically, you have the Linaro image, and Reference Build Platform (RBP) image. I could not find any changelog or known issues with the former, but the latter as its own Wiki with the latest release being RBP 16.03 (March 2016), and the next one scheduled to be RBP 16.06 in June.

That’s the current list of known issues

  • bug 285 USB host doesn’t detect any plugged devices
  • bug 121 [RPB] Cannot soft power off or shutdown db410c
  • bug 284 [RPB] Dragon board Display sleep not working
  • bug 289 [RPB] USB devices don’t work after reboot
  • bug 207 [RPB] Bluetooth does not work on Dragon board debian
  • bug 153 [RPB] Missing information about hwpack usage

USB host not working did not inspire confidence, so I first tested the Linaro image. The (other) Wiki points to the “latest version”, but the link would point to Linaro Debian 16.02 release, while I could find a more recent Linaro Debian 16.04 which I downloaded in a terminal:

I used a micro SD card to install it. If you use Windows, simply use Win32DiskImager, but in computer running Linux or in Windows via Windows subsystem for Linux, you may want to do it in the terminal. First check the SD card device with lsblk. Mine was /dev/sdb, but your may be different, and I use /dev/sdX in the command below tp flash the Debian installer to a micro SD card:

Now remove the micro SD card from your computer and insert it in to the board, set the jumper to boot from SD card on the DragonBoard 410c, and connect the power. I could see LED 1 blinking, but nothing on my HDMI TV. Last time, I did not  manage to make the serial console (requiring a 1.8V USB to TTL board or cable) using Hardkernel ODROID board, so I went to the support forums, and after several minutes of reading, I found that the RBP image is recommended, as well as a clear explanation between the Linaro and RBP images:

Use the Reference Platform Build instead of the Linaro release. The Reference Platform is an integrated build with support for multiple boards, and that is where all engineering effort is going. The Linaro build is the old single-platform image that we’re not working on anymore.

The reference platform will run on all 96boards CE (Consumer Edition) and EE (Enterprise Edition), while the Linaro image is built specifically for a given board, and they are not really working on it.

So let’s start again from scratch using the RPB image, and download the bootloader, Linux kernel and rootfs to my Ubuntu computer:

Now find a micro USB to USB cable to connect to DragonBoard 410c, install fastboot…

.. and check the device is detected:

Good. After making sure the jumper switch is set to 0000 on the board again, we can  extract the three files, and install Debian as follows:

That was a lot of commands to install the operating system… Now you can unplug the board, remove the micro USB cable, and connect the power again. After a few seconds, you should see the kernel log, and eventually LXDE desktop environment.

Click to Original Size

Click to Original Size

You’ll be asked to configure WiFi, and you’re basically done.

DragonBoard 410c Debian System Info

I’ve then run a few command to learn more about the image and system:

One of the main advantage of 96Boards should be recent Linux version,and that’s exactly what we have here with Linux 4.4 running on the board. Out of a total of 866MB reported RAM, 64MB is free, and the 6.9GB rootfs has 4.8 GB available to the user. Snapdragon 410 SoC is correctly reported as being a quad core Cortex A53 (0xd03) processor.

I used file utility to make sure a 64-bit rootfs is being used here:

Finally, there’s a bunch of modules pre-loaded on the board:

Testing Debian on DragonBoard 410c

The thing that often do not work on ARM Linux board are 3D graphics and hardware video decoding, so I’ve specifically tested these two, and also played with the pre-installed Chromium browser.

If I understand correctly the debian image comes with Freedreno open source graphics driver, and if that’s the case I have the first ever platform with working open source 3D graphics drivers:

So that means both framebuffer and X11 3D graphics acceleration are working. Nice !

I also tried to play Tuxracer as it was part of the board’s test results provided by Linaro.

It works, but it’s so slow that it’s barely playable (see video below).

I installed VLC to play 1080op h.264 videos, but based on the CPU usage the system is clearly using software decoding, and there’s no audio via HDMI. I’ve asked about those two issues on the forums about 24 hours ago, but I have yet to get a reply.

Chromium loads OK, but I did notice some freezes during use, and YouTube will struggle at full screen at 1080p, in similar way to many other low end ARM Linux platforms.

DragonBoard 410c Linux Benchmarks

Let’s install the latest version of Phoronix…

…and run some benchmarks to compare against other development boards:

After over 3 hours the results are in. Bear in mind that the board does not have heatsink, just a metallic shield, and this may affects the performance. It’s also running an OS with a 64-bit ARM rootfs, while platforms like Raspberry Pi 3 features a 64-bit processor running 32-bit code.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I like to check John the Ripper for multi-threaded performance.

DragonBoard_410c_Phoronix_John_The_RipperWhile FLAC audio encoding is nice to single threaded performance.

DragonBoard_410c_Phoronix_FLAC

In theory the CPU performance of Snapdragon 410 and Broadcom BCM2837 (as found in RPi 3) should be equal since both are quad core Cortex A53 processors @ 1.2 GHz, but for some reasons DragonBoard 410c is a little slower in the multi-threaded benchmark, and quite faster during FLAC audio encoding likely due to software differences (Aarch64 vs Aarch32).

You can find the full results @ http://openbenchmarking.org/result/1605068-GA-1604204GA12

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MK808B Pro Android TV Stick Mini Review

April 26th, 2016 7 comments

MK808B PRO is the first Amlogic S905 TV stick readily available for sale, and GeekBuying sent me a sample for review. I’ve already checked out the hardware, and the lack of heatsink is a worry, so we’ll see how it performs in this mini review, where I’ll focus mainly on potential pitfalls, rather than do a throrough review as usual, since I’ve already tested so many Android TV boxes powered by Amlogic S905 processor

First Boot, Settings, and First Impressions

I’ve connected MINIX NEO A2 Lite air mouse RF dongle to the USB port, and Tronsmart Mars G01 wireless gamepad dongle to the mini USB port via the provided USB OTG adapter, and the provided HDMI cable to the AUX port of my AV receiver and nothing else, except the power adapter to the other mini USB port.

MK808_PRO_4K_TV_Stick

Boot time typically takes about one minute that it’s not a speed daemon in that regards. The user interface is familiar, since it’s the same as used in Beelink MINI MX, and a few other models.

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

About_MK808B_ProThe settings are also the same, so I won’t go through them all. But I could set video output to 4K @ 60Hz, and connect to WiFi (2.4 GHz only) without any problems. There’s a single storage partition with 4.41GB in total available for apps and data. The About section reports MK808B Pro model is running Android 5.1.1 on top of Linux 3.14.29. The firmware is rooted.

I also tried the Online Update in the Update&Backup app to get the latest firmware, but sadly OTA firmware update is not implemented.

Since the stick does not come with the remote control, I use an air mouse, but in theory if you don’t have one, you should be able to use RemoteIME app after enabling “Remote” in the “Remote & Accessories” settings. This did not work for me the first time with the app unable to find MK808B Pro, but as I tried again a few hours later, it worked pretty well with keyboard, mouse, and remote control modes.

The lack of remote also raise a problem when you want to turn off the device, especially since there’s no power icon on the task bar. I could turn off the device by connecting a USB keyboard, and pressing the Power key. It works, and power consumption in that mode is only 0.3 Watt. However, the only way to turn the stick back on is to manually power cycle it, by disconnecting the power supply for a few seconds, and putting it back in. So it’s definitely not user-friendly.

I could install most apps needed for review the first time I used Google Play, except most games would not be compatible with my device. I tried again later, and i could install Candy Crush Saga, and Beach Buggy Racing. So Google Play is working OK. Amazon Underground refused to install though. After 5 or so minutes trying to install the apk, it will just say “App not installed”. I downloaded it twice, and tried to install it a few minutes with the same result.

MK808B Pro feels a little sluggish compared to other device, and you may have to be especially patient when installing apps. Sometimes apps exit by themselves, while other times, I would only get a black screen with the status bar when trying to get back to the home screen. I wonder if it would be because memory is tight. So my first impressions were not that good about the device.

Kodi in MK808B Pro

Then I switched to the pre-installed Kodi 15.2 which comes with some add-ons.

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

For some weird reasons, Kodi 15.2 reports a 1280×720 screen resolution, but if you enlarge the screenshot below, it is instead 1920×1080.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Nevertheless, just a small issue. A much bigger issue was the disaster the box is to play 4K videos:

  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 (4K H.264, ~ 8 Mbps) – Choppy as hell, frequent audio cuts, artifacts may appear after a while.
  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – Not smooth at all, unwatchable

I was about to give up at this stage, but later I found that Kodi had an update in Google Play, so they may have the original version of Kodi without modifications, except installing add-ons. I did the update to Kodi 16.1, and the videos played a bit better, but still not watchable:

  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 (4K H.264, ~ 8 Mbps) – Video somewhat smooth at the beginning, but then becomes more choppy with frequent audio cuts. Kodi decided by itself it could not take it anymore, and exited by itself.
  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (H.264) – Not smooth, then buffering kicks in (60 Mbps is too high for WiFi)
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (H.265 @ 60 fps – ~6.5 Mbps) – Video not smooth, and some audio cuts, but no buffering issues here. After a few minutes, Kodi exited.

If I wanted to access Kodi UI while the video is playing, key inputs from my air mouse were either irresponsive, or with 10 seconds or so delay.

I’ve decided to to waste any more with Kodi, and video playback, on that TV stick.

Wi-Fi & Storage Performance

WiFi throughput averaged about 2.6 MB/s after several transfers between the internal flash and a SAMBA server. Not a catastrophe, but still below average.

Throughput in MB/s

Throughput in MB/s

I also tested the internal storage performance with A1 SD bench app, and the results clearly show why the stick is so cheap.

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s

Gaming and Performance Stability

I’ve only played Beach Buggy Racing game on MK808K Pro. At the beginning it was not quite as smooth as on some other Amlogic S905 based TV boxes, but still playable. However, the games became very slow near the end of my first races (one lap – less than 1 minute play), and stayed that way after that. I measured the temperature on the top and bottom of the device, and both were around 60 C. I’ve also notice that at the beginning my power meter reported 4.4 Watts, but when it became slow, it dropped to 3.0 Watts, most probably because the system was throttling.

So the lack of heatsink, possibly combined with high ambient temperature (30 C), is really a problem with the stick, and you can’t expect good performance over time.

MK808B Pro Benchmark and System Info

I’ve finally ran CPU-Z and Antutu 6.1.4 to complete the review.

MK808B_Pro_CPU-Z_System_Info

Click to Enlarge

The package mentions the CPU was clocked @ 1.5 GHz, but CPU-Z and Antutu info both reports a Quad coe Cortex A53 processor clocked between 100 MHz and 2.02 GHz. But whenever it reaches 2.02 GHz, it won’t stay there for long, as we’ve seen before. The total RAM is only 775 MB, with 4.41 GB internal storage. MK808N Pro is also based on p201 board.

MK808B_Pro_Antutu_6.1.4

Antutu 6.1.4 score is 31,5166, but that’s without 3D graphics. I tried to run the benchmark again, but it would always get stuck during “Image Processing Fisheye” test right after the 3D benchmark successfully completed. It was a complete system freeze, I noticed the power draw was 8.4 watts, and my IR thermometer reported 88 C. I had to turn if off, and let it cool for 5 minutes to be able to use the stick again.

Conclusion

I wonder why anybody would buy MK808B Pro, even if the price is so low, as I’ve had so many problems, it performs slowly, Kodi 15.2 & Kodi 16.1 don’t handle 4K video very well at all, and WiFi performance is under par, at least with my setup. Maybe the stick works better at a lower ambient temperature, but I would not bet on it.

GeekBuying kindly provided the sample for review, and if for some reasons you feel the urge to buy it, you can do so for $34.99 including shipping.

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Mini Review of Doogee Smart Cube P1 Android Projector

April 22nd, 2016 4 comments

Doogee Smart Cube P1, or just Doogee P1, is an Android projector powered by a quad core Amlogic processor. I’ve already taken some pictures of the device, and gave it a quick try, so today, I’ll write a little more about my experience using it in standalone mode with an air mouse, as well as with an Android phone using both Miracast and DLNA. The device also supports Airplay, but I don’t think I have any compatible device, so I have not tried this mode.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Doogee P1 in Standalone Mode with an Air mouse (or other wireless/USB input device)

After connecting MINIX NEO A2 lite air mouse’s RF dongle to the only USB port on the device, I pressed the power button for 5 seconds to start it up, and boot is pretty fast in around 30 seconds. You’ll need to adjust the focus with the wheel button on the side. It will start with the stock Android launcher, showing “Hotspot mode” on the left in the notification bar, but instead I went to the settings to connect to my WiFi network. My 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz access points were detected, but if you don’t input the password fast enough that “Hotspot mode” notification will come up again, and you have to start again. After a few unsuccessful frustrating attempts, I finally managed to connect to my WiFi network.

So I went to Google Play Store to install YouTube. I could sign-in with any issues, but I got some error message when installing the app.

Doogee_P1_YouTube_Installation_Issue

It also happens with all other apps, and two other reviewers actually contacted me to know if I had the same problem with Google Play. So there’s definitely a problem with the firmware here. However, at the end of the review, I finally found out that Wireless update works, and March 30, 2016 firmware did fix Google Play. So make sure you update when you receive the device.

Since YouTube app was not an easy option at the time, I instead started the pre-installed Chrome Browser, went to youtube.com, and started playing videos, and it worked well with audio coming out of the built-in speakers. I also tried to connect some Bluetooth headset, but the projector would not detect it.

I’m pretty sure some people would have asked me about Kodi, so I installed SPMC 16.2.1, and played a 1080p H.264 video (Big Buck Bunny) from the USB flash drive connected via a USB hub, and no problem here.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The projector resolution is 854×480, but it still feels sharp enough.

Doogee P1 with an Android Smartphone (Miracast + DLNA)

Since Smart Cube P1 does not come with a user’s manual that part may be tricky at first, and I eventually found out that you need to press the power button twice to get to connection instructions, and the first time, download Doogee app for Android 4.0+ or iOS 7.0+. Then each time you start the project, you have to pair it with your smartphone again.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

You’ll need to tap on the top right icon, scan the QR code, and the relevant icon will turn green and show “Connected”. You’ll be able to control the projector with the remote.

Doogee Smartphone App - Click to Enlarge

Doogee Smartphone App – Click to Enlarge

However, since it is in Hotspot mode, there’s no Internet connection by default, so you’ll need to tap on the WiFi button, just under DLNA, to seatch for WiFi access point, and connect. Sadly I also have to do this each time, and the WiFi is not saved by the app.

Now that configuration is done, you can play with DLNA or Miracast. Starting with Miracast, the system will show the app has crashed, but you can still go ahead enable Wireless Display in your phone, and connect to the projector. I’ve played YouTube videos, and played Beach Buggy Racing from my phone, which I’ll be able to see in the demo video further below, and it worked reasonably well. Later, I played some music videos in YouTube, and noticed artifacts from time to time. Anyway, Mircast is working reasonably well.

On the other end, my DLNA  experience was pretty poor, with videos and photos super slow to load with BubbleUPnP, and most of the time the video would just end before completion. The projector was only 4 to 5 meters (+ one wall) from the router.

The demo video below shows my experience in standalone mode, and with Miracast & DLNA using a Mediatek smartphone.

Doogee P1 System Info & Antutu Benchmark

Let’s check the system details with CPU-Z first.

Doogee_Smart_Cube_P1_CPU-ZSo we have a quad core Cortex A5 processor @ 24 MHz to 1.54 GHz with a Mali-450 MP GPU. That’s similar to Amlogic S805 processor, but it’s likely Amlogic T826 processor since it also targets “smart projectors” The model is P1, and the screen resolution is confirmed to be 848 x 480 pixels. There’s 799 MB total RAM (part of the 1GB RAM are probably used for the GPU or VPU), and 5.32 GB storage with 5.08 GB free after installing a few apps. The device runs Android 4.4.2 on top of Linux 3.10.33.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The projector achieves 16,210 points in Antutu 6.0.4, which is about what I expected. I had to run the benchmark three times to get 3D to succeed.

Doogee Smart Cube P1 OTA firmware update

When I went to the About section of the Android settings, I noticed both System update and Wireless update options.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

System update reported that the device was up-to-date, but Wireless update detected a new firmware. I should have done this earlier…, or rather a first time setup app should have made me go through it… Anyway, I clicked on Download to start the process.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The changelog only mentions “System optimizations” and “Fix errors”. The update went through and did not delete any of my apps and settings. I tried to access Google Play, but the app would just exit. So I powered off the device (5 second press on the power button), and powered it on again, and I could access the Google Play Store, input my credential again, and install YouTube! Hooray!

Conclusion

I liked the DLP projector from the start with a bright and sharp image, and that’s straightforward to focus. At first, I had troubles with the Google Play Store, which did not work at all, but luckily the projector supports OTA firmware updates, and after the update I could install apps from the Play Store, which makes Standalone mode a much user-friendly option. Controlling the projector with my Android smartphone worked well, although I would have like a touchpad area to control the mouse pointer. Miracast worked OK most of the time, but DLNA performance was really poor. However, since Doogee has implemented OTA firmware updates, I’m hopefully many of the issues will be fixed overtime. The projector is also small and cute.

I’d like to thank GearBest for providing the sample, and you could consider purchasing it for $168.99 including shipping (+$4 discount with GBP1 coupon). Only a few other shops list the device on Aliexpress.

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Matricom G-Box Q2 Android TV Box Review

April 21st, 2016 2 comments

Another guest review from Karl, this time, with Matricom G-Box Q2 Android 5.1 TV box based on Amlogic S812 processor.

First Impressions

gbox_q2_package

Today I will be reviewing the G-Box Q2 by Matricom. This is a follow up device to the popular G-Box Q. The first day I plugged it in and did some basic first impressions I thought it was laggy…..but after using it and setting up the way I am accustomed to using it…I found it very fast and responsive. From the time power is applied to launcher is loaded is about 33 seconds. The software seems solid and I ran into only minor issues. It got very respectable scores between 38000 and 42000 on Antutu. The box does have a lot of software that I am not a fan of, but these can be easily uninstalled. The launcher that comes with it is ok but I prefer a more vanilla launcher. I do wish it had gigabit Ethernet it would help streaming high bitrate 4K movies but in reality other than test videos I have no 4k movies. I did end up testing a USB 3.0 gigabit adapter and was pleasantly surprised it just worked and got significant improvement over the integrated Ethernet.

gbox_q2_accessories

Specs

  • CPU/GPU – Amlogic s812 Quad Core @ 2GHz Mali-450 Octo Core 3D GPU
  • Memory – 2GB DDR3 SK Hynix
  • Storage – 16GB Flash Storage Samsung
  • Android OS – Android Lollipop
  • USB Ports – Two (2) USB 2.0
  • Ethernet – 10/100 Full Duplex
  • Wi-Fi – Broadcom 5G 802.11 Dual Band Via AP6330
  • Bluetooth – V.4.0 Low Power, Full Speed
  • Dimensions – Length: 12.5cm, Width: 12.5cm,
  • Height: 2.5cm

gbox_q2_board

gbox_q2_board_closeup

Chrome

Chrome is the only app that I found major deficiencies with…it was very laggy. The built it browser worked much better for me. I recently installed an Emby server and it takes a good minute for it to load,  and when I click a link 5-10 seconds for a response. I found 5-10 seconds to respond on most pages.

Video

SPMC works great plays everything in my collection. Further down I did testing with some test vids. With the Masters going I loaded there app from the play store….I watched several pre-recorded items and they played well but live was jittery. YouTube plays 1080p and is nice and fluid.

Launcher, Home, and UI

The stock launcher is OK, and you can install others, but there is no way to make it default unless the Matricom launcher is totally removed. One thing that kind of grew on me is when pressing the home button the app switcher loads at the bottom of the screen. The app switcher is part of the Matricom Launcher so I opted to keep it and just click Nova Launcher every boot.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

One thing I found odd was there is a mixture of double clicks and single clicks in the UI. There are no notifications or navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen. To get around the lack of app switcher to kill a process I had to hold an alt-tab and slide the app off the screen to kill it.

Testing

Moving Files around

Scenario Size in MB sec MBytes/sec
From NAS to Internal SD over Wi-Fi 5GHz

1575.246

658

2.393990881

From NAS to Internal SD over Ethernet

1575.246

194

8.119824742

From Internal SD to NAS over Ethernet

1575.246

226

6.970115044

From NAS to External SD over Ethernet

1575.246

174

9.053137931

From Internal SD to External SD

1575.246

154

10.22887013

From External SD to Internal SD

1575.246

102

15.44358824

From USB Thumb to Internal SD

1575.246

57

27.63589474

From Internal SD to USB Thumb

1575.246

142

11.09328169

External SD to USB Thumb

1575.246

146

10.78935616

From NAS to Internal SD over Gig USB to Ethernet

1575.246

98

16.07393878

From Internal SD to NAS over Gig USB to Ethernet

1575.246

157

10.03341401

After connecting a USB Gigabit adapter you can tell there is a significant advantage to using it. My NAS is the limiting factor. I max out around 16-17 MB/s. I would imagine it could go as high as the USB to thumb drive move of about 27 MB/s which is about the typical throughput of USB 2.0.

4k Video Test

Kodi 16.0

MX Player

SPMC 16.2.1

big_buck_bunny_1080p_H264_AAC_25fps_7200K_short.MP4

ok

ok

ok

big_buck_bunny_1080p_MPEG2_MP2_25fps_6600K_short.MPG

ok

ok

ok

big_buck_bunny_1080p_MPEG4_MP3_25fps_7600K_short.AVI

ok

ok

ok

big_buck_bunny_1080p_VC1_WMA3_25fps_8600K_short.WMV

ok

ok

ok

big_buck_bunny_1080p_VP8_VORBIS_25fps_7800K_short.WebM

ok

Stutters

ok

Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv

Pauses occasionally almost perfect

Pauses occasionally

Pauses occasionally almost perfect

jellyfish-120-mbps-4k-uhd-hevc-10bit.mkv

Weird video issue

Plays few frames skips plays few frames skips

Weird video issue

Samsung_UHD_Dubai.ts

ok

Plays few frames skips plays few frames skips

ok

tears_of_steel_4k_H264_24fps.mov

ok

ok

ok

tears_of_steel_1080p_H264_24fps.mov

ok

ok

ok

140626_4k_hm130_4s_sao_dbf_qp27.265.mpeg

Slight stutter

ok

ok

140803_4k_hm130_4s_sao_dbf_qp27.265.mpeg

Slight stutter

Ok but slight pause at same spot every time

ok

SPMC is the clear winner.

Benchmarks

CPU-Z

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Antutu 6.0.1

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Vellamo

gbox_q2_vellamo3DMark Ice Storm Extreme

gbox_q2_3dmark_ICS

Apps

  • Netflix – Only SD
  • Asphalt 8 – OK
  • Riptide GP 2 – OK
  • YouTube 1080 – OK
  • Google Play Movies – Black Screen no audio
  • Crackle – OK
  • Hulu – OK
  • Emby – Works well with MX player as external player. Everything stretched 16:9
  • Plex App – OK, some streams won’t play

Final notes

I have really enjoyed my time with this box. Everything but Chrome seemed to work very well. Video test went very well. S/PDIF worked perfectly. I do wish it had a notification bar and navigation bar so I could kill apps and get notifications easily. I would have tried to change this but I was fearful I would brick the box and not get it back. Matricom/Google should resolve the Chrome issue soon. I would say it is the best overall box that I have played with, behind the NVidia Shield.


CNXSoft here. Matricom G-Box Q2 can be purchased for $97 on Amazon US, but I have to thank Sandroid.co.uk instead, as they are the one who sent the device for review, and they sell it in the UK for £83.33 to £94.16 depending on the chosen remote control. And of course, thanks to Karl for the review!

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Android and Linux Benchmarks on MiQi Development Board

April 20th, 2016 25 comments

MiQi is an upcoming low cost development board powered by Rockchip RK3288 SoC that will sell for $35 with 1GB RAM and 8GB storage, and $69 for the version with a  2GB / 32GB combination. Since Rockchip RK3288 was launched in 2014, most available benchmarks were made on Android 4.4, and since MiQi is the first low cost board based on the processor, other RK3288 based board such as FireFly have not been that popular. So I’ve decided to run updated benchmarks in MiQi both in Android 5.1 and Linux (Lubuntu 14.04), which was easy since a dual boot image is pre-installed. But since I received an early sample without heatsink, I found a spare heatsink added some thermal paste and placed it on top of the processor and partially on RAM and eMMC flash.

MiQi_Board_HeatsinkMiQi Board Android 5.1 Benchmarks

I ran Antutu both using 1080p60 and 2160p30 video output, and for both output, the system achieved a little over 51,000 points, which remains a good score even today, and better than recent Rockchip RK3368 or Amlogic S905 based devices (35,000 to 38,000 points)

MiQi_Board_Antutu_6.0.1You can get the full details about the score here.

Vellamo Score is also very good with 3308 points for Chrome Browser, 3,021 points for the stock Browser, 2,019 for multicore, and 1,322 points for the Metal test.

MiQi_Board_VellamoIt’s not quite as fast as Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced, but still offers superior performance (orange bars) compared to most Android TV boxes on the market.

MiQi_Board_Vellamo_TV_Boxes3DMark Ice Storm Extreme is about the same as on Android 4.4 RK3288 devices launched about 18 months ago with 7,758 points.

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MiQi Board Linux / Ubuntu 14.04 Benchmarks

I’ve installed Phoronix, and repeated the benchmarks run recently on some other developer platforms such as Orange Pi boards, Banana Pi Boards, Raspberry Pi 3, ODROID-C2, ODROID-XU4, and so on.

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Let’s have a closer look at a couple of benchmarks.

MiQi_John_The_RipperJohn the Ripper is a password cracker benchmark that makes good of all available cores, and while octa-core boards like ODROID-XU4 and Banana Pi M3 do great, MiQi somehow edges out ODROID-XU4 board.

MiQi_Board_FLAC_Audio_EncodingFLAC audio encoding is mostly a single thread benchmark, and here ODROID-XU4 does best, followed closely by MiQi board. The diffference with

Full detailed results can be found  here.

The results are mostly in line with what to expect in theory, but bear in mind that while Android benchmarks are rather short, and most of the time cooling is not that much of an issue, Phoronix Test Suite benchmarks in Linux may take around one hour to complete, and the heatsink got really hot at some stage (67 degree with IR thermometer) and too hot to leave the fingers on it for more than a few seconds, so it’s quite possible that adding an fan to the heatsink may have yielded slightly better results in some cases.

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Software Matters, or How SinoVoIP Crippled Banana Pi M2+ Performance.

April 15th, 2016 4 comments

The most common way to use a development board is to simply go to the manufacturer website, and download the images from there. They are the ones who made the hardware after all, and they should be the most knowledgeable about their platform. But it may not always be true as tkaiser found out when he ran some Phoronix benchmarks on Banana Pi M2+ (aka BPI M2+) board with SinoVoIP (the manufacturer), Armbian, and Raspbian images. The results speak for themselves.

Banana_Pi-M2+_BenchmarkThe last three columns are what is of interest here, and in some benchmark Banana Pi M2+ is about 3 times slower with SinoVoIP image compared to Armbian, while with others the performance is quite similar. John The Ripper password cracker benchmark shows a massive difference between distributions…

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… while FLAC audio encoding not so much.

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So what’s going on here? First Jon the Ripper is a multi-threaded applications, while FLAC audio encoding works mostly on one thread, so SinoVoIP image does not seem to be negatively impacted by tasks using a single core. More clues comes with one comment, after SinoVoIP released a new Android 4.4 firmware on April 11:

the maximum clockspeed for bpi m+ is just 1Ghz not 1.2 as advertised and cpu cores stops after full load

So the massive performance degradation in multicore benchmarks appears to be related to the CPU throttling implementation, with the SinoVoIP image simply killing cores instead of decreasing frequency in order to manage the CPU temperature. That means multi-threaded tasks may run on a single core after a short time with SinoVoIP image, instead of the 4 cores on Allwinner H3 processor on Armbian and Raspbian images. The small performance difference is also explained by the lower maximum CPU frequency, as Allwinner H3 is rated to run at 1.2 GHz, but SinoVoIP decreased that to about 1 GHz.

tkaiser explains further:

Unfortunately SinoVoip again tries very hard to ignore any bug fixes or improvements which will lead to the BPi M2+ being the slowest H3 board ever. Their THS settings limit the CPU clockspeed to 1008 MHz (compare with the 1.2GHz they advertise with) and to killed CPU cores instead of lowering the CPU clockspeed. So chances are great that you end up with H3 running just at 1008 MHz and only one active CPU core after running heavy stuff on the board.

While Armbian already takes special precautions for the M2+ to bring back killed CPU cores and implements sane throttling (240MHz to 1200MHz) SinoVoip chose to ignore all of this.

What’s even more frustrating is that, as I understand it, all what is needed are some modifications of script.bin (aka FEX file) – Allwinner configuration files -, and specifically the cooler_table and dvfs_table sections of the file. Hopefully, SinoVoIP, and potentially other manufacturers, will read this post so that they can provide optimized images for their Allwinner boards and devices. In the meantime, you’d be better served by using Armbian images, unless you need to run Android, although simply replacing script.bin should help.

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Windows Subsystem for Linux (Ubuntu Bash on Windows) Benchmarked Against Native Ubuntu 14.04 and 16.04

April 13th, 2016 8 comments

Microsoft recently announced that they brought Ubuntu userspace to Windows, and that this features will be officially released in Windows 10’s Anniversary Update and called Windows Subsystem for Linux. But people part of the company’s insider program can already try the beta version of “Bash on Windows”, and Phoronix ran some benchmarks in bash in Windows 10, and repeated the tests in Ubuntu 16.04, Ubuntu 14.04, and Clear Linux. The test machine was based on an Intel Xeon E3-1280 v5 Skylake CPUwith 16GB of RAM and 120GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD.

Many of the results show Windows Subsystem for Linux (I’ll just call it Windows 10 in the rest of the post) just performing a little slower than on the Linux distributions, but there are also some outliers, which I’m going to cover here.

The most surprising results is when Windows 10 clearly outperforms Linux at its own game, and should be happening.

Windows_10_Bash_vs_Linux_Bash_Stream_Triad

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That’s the case for Stream 1.2 triad and add benchmarks. Stream is supposed to benchmark the system memory (RAM) performance. The copy operation from the same benchmark is still faster in Linux however, except in Ubuntu 14.04.

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The table below summarize the operation for the 4 stream tests:

I don’t have any explanation for the issue, but maybe some people can provide some clues in the comments.

There were also benchmarks where bash on Windows 10 is  much slower, likely due to the use of NTFS instead of EXT-4.

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The Compile bench “tries to age a filesystem by simulating some of the disk IO common in creating, compiling, patching, stating and reading kernel trees. It indirectly measures how well file systems can maintain directory locality as the disk fills up and directories age. This current test is setup to use the makej mode with 10 initial directories”. Since Ubuntu bash on Windows is designed for developers this may actually matter. The poor performance is confirmed with Timed PHP compilation benchmark.

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So it may pay off to try some other file systems if possible in Windows 10.

SciMarks v2.0 Fast Fourier Transform is another benchmark that’s quite faster in bash in Windows 10.

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That one is also odd, so there must be some operations that the Windows kernel does faster than the Linux kernel, even after the overhead of converting Linux calls to Windows calls.

Windows 10 got back to struggling with Redis open-source data structure server benchmark that’s likely reliant on storage I/Os.

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The other benchmark results where more or less in line with expectations, although there were some regressions between Ubuntu 16.04 and Ubuntu 14.04.

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Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced / Pro (Mediatek MT8693) Benchmarks and System Info

April 12th, 2016 36 comments

Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced is the first TV Box I’ve tested with a processor featuring ARM Cortex A72 cores, so I’m very eager to see how its performs, and I’m expecting it to be quite faster than Rockchip RK3288, but still not quite matching Nvidia Tegra X1 processor found in Nvidia Shield Android TV box. But first let’s check the system information with CPU-Z app.

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First, it looks like CPU-Z does not detect big.LITTLE processor very well, as it detect a six core ARM Cortex-A72, instead of a six core processor with two Cortex A72, and four Cortex A53 cores. The clock speed ranges between 507 MHz and 1.57 GHz, but that’s likely the number for the Cortex A53 core, as the marketing materials report the Cortex A53 cores run at up to 1.6 GHz, and the Cortex A72 cores up to 2.0 GHz. Antutu info reports the frequency ranges between 507 MHz and 1989 MHz.

The GPU is Imagination Technology PowerVR Rogue GX6250 with screen resolution set to 1920×1080, and the system has 1931 MB RAM, and 5.37 GB internal storage. The board, called kungfupanda, is running Android 5.1 on top of Linux 3.10.61+. The product is codenamed MiBOX3_PRO in the firmware.

Let’s run now Antutu 6.0.4.

MiBox3_PRO_Antutu_6.0So that’s 65,007 points, not bad for a $85 device, and as expected much better than the 35,000+ points in Amlogic S905 and Rockchip RK3368 platforms. I could not find results for Rockchip RK3288 processor and Antutu 6.0, but I’ll have a new set of data soon as I’m expecting a new RK3288 board in Raspberry Pi form factor very soon. That’s still about half of the 117,820 points achieved by Nvidia Shield Android TV box, but it’s not quite the same price point.

[Update: While resolution matters, video output usually does not. But it seems to have a significant impact on Mediatek MT8693 processor either because of some bottleneck of a firmware/driver bug. The test above is done with 3840×2160 @ 60 Hz video output and 1920×1080 frame buffer resolution, but I’ve repeated the test using 1080p @ 60 Hz video output and 1920×1080 resolution.

MiBox3_PRO_Antutu_6.0_1080p

The newer score is significantly higher (71,562 points) because of a much better 3D score.]

Next is Vellamo 3.2.

Xiaomi_Mi_Box_3_Pro_Vellamo

2,010 points for Multicore, 4,159 points with Chrome Browser, and 2,392 points using the Metal benchmark. Since Vellamo scores are not quite as well known as Antutu, it’s probably a good idea to update my comparison chart. Bear in mind that I normally use the stock Browser with Vellamo, but since it is not available in Mi Box 3 Enhanced, I’ve installed Chrome instead. The downside is that it may skew that particular benchmark, and have added or removed a few hundred points.

Xiaomi_Mi_Box_3_Enhanced_MINIX_NEO_U1_Vellamo

Nevertheless, Mi Box 3 Enhancement is clearly ahead of the competition for all three Vellamo benchmarks, with other devices featuring Amlogic S905, Amlogic S812, Rockchip RK3368, and Hisilicon Hi3798M V100 processors.

[Update: Here are the results with 1080p60 video output, where the Browser score is a little higher.

Xiaomi_Mi_Box_3_Pro_Vellamo_1080p]

The last benchmark I’ll run is 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme. The fastest smartphones and Nvidia TV box all max out that one at 60 fps.

The first result is using 3840×2160 @ 60 Hz video output and 1920×1080 frame buffer resolution.

Xiaomi_Mi_Box_3_3DMark_Ice_Storm_Extreme

The device did not max out the benchmark, but still achieved 5,987 points. That compares to 4,327 points for MINIX NEO U1 (Amlogic S905 with penta-core Mali-450MP GPU), and 7,513 points for Tronsmart Orion R28 (Rockchip RK3288 with ARM Mali-T764 GPU).

The second result is using 1920×1080 @ 60 Hz video output and 1920×1080 frame buffer resolution.

Xiaomi_Mi_Box_3_3DMark_Ice_Storm_Extreme_1080p

I’ll soon make a detailed side-by-side comparison between Rockchip RK3288 and Mediatek MT8693 processors.

GearBest provided the device for review, and they sell Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced TV box for $79.99 including shipping. Other shops selling the device include GeekBuying, and Aliexpress.

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