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Posts Tagged ‘debian’

MIPS Creator CI20 Development Board Powered by Ingenic JZ4780 SoC

August 13th, 2014 No comments

There are plenty of ARM based development boards running Linux and Android, but with MIPS it’s a different story. Microchip does have some affordable development board powered by their MIPS MCUs, but these don’t have the hardware specs to run Linux based operating systems, and Ingenic Newton Platform for wearables can run Android and Linux, but it appears to be reversed to companies with virtual no documentation. There are some MIPS platform running OpenWRT on hardware such as routers or Wi-Fi boards, but these can’t be considered fully supported development boards. But Imagination Technologies is trying to make MIPS more relevant, first by launching Prpl developers’ community, and MIPS Creator CI20 development board powered by Ingenic JZ4780 dual core MIPS32 (Xburst) core processor with PowerVR SGX540 GPU should soon be available with complete documentation and source code.

MIPS Creator CI20

MIPS Creator CI20

Let’s go through the hardware specifications first:

  • SoC – Ingenic JZ4780 dual core MIPS32 processor @ 1.2 GHz with Imagination PowerVR SGX540 GPU. 32kI + 32kD per core, 512K shared L2.
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB NOR flash, 1x SD card slot, 1x SD card slot via expansion
  • Video Output – HDMI up to 1080p
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, Andio In and Out via 3.5mm jack
  • Video Playback – Up to 1080p60
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, Wi-Fi + Bt 4.0 module (IW8103)
  • USB – 1x USB OTG, 1x USB 2.0 Host.
  • Expansions Headers – Access to 23x GPIOs, 2x SPI, 1x I2S, 7x ADC on header, including 5-wire touch and battery monitoring function, 1x UART, Transport Stream I/F.
  • Debugging – UART, and 14-pin MIPS EJTAG header
  • Misc – IR receiver, power LED, and button
  • Power Supply – 5V via 4mm/1.7mm barrel connector
  • Dimensions – 90x95mm
MIPS Creator CI20 Board Components' Description (Click to Enlarge)

MIPS Creator CI20 Board Components’ Description (Click to Enlarge)

The board will come pre-loaded with Debian 7, but more operating systems will soon be available such as Android, Gentoo, Yocto Sato, Arch Linux, and Angstrom. Software and hardware documentation is available on eLinux. Hardware documentation includes components’ datasheets including JZ4780m, header pinout, and the schematics in PDF format only, so the project is not open source hardware, but it’s the case for most ARM development boards too. The source code for Linux, U-Boot, as well as various hardware libs for JZ4780 is available on Imagination Technologies MIPS github account, which instructions provided via eLinux Wiki which is still in construction, but looks promising. Software projects in the pipeline include XBMC, TSSI tuner, and a Raspberry Pi compatibility layer with the R-Pi like header, as well as support for OpenOCD.

The board has not been formally announced, so I do not know when it will become available, nor the price, but based on the Wiki’s progress, it should be very soon, and be sold on Imagination Technologies e-store for a competitive price since it’s clearly made for hobbyists / makers / individual developers.

Thanks to Frederic for the idea.

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Dual Core VolksPC Android and Debian Mini PC Gets Crowdfunded

August 2nd, 2014 12 comments

Last months, I tested VolksPC’s Android/Debian unified distribution on MK808 mini PC, which runs both operating systems at the same time, and allows you to switch instantaneously and seamlessly between the two. I was impressed by the performance and stability of the system, although there were still a few software bugs, as well as issues related to MK808 hardware (Wi-Fi disconnection), and possibly its 5V/1A power supply (system reboot when inserting SD card reader or flash drive). The company has now started a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo to manufacture dual core Android TV box with their unified distribution.

VolksPC

VolksPC specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3066 dual core ARM Cortex-A9 processor @ 1.4Ghz with Mali-400MP4 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8 GB NAND Flash (for Android),  8GB MicroSD card (Debian Wheezy)
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.3, AV jack
  • Audio Output, HDMI, AV jack, and optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi with external antenna
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0, 1x micro USB OTG
  • Dimensions – N/A

The device runs Android 4.4.2 and Debian Wheezy with XFCE desktop environment with resolution set to 720p (1280×720). The idea with having both operating systems at the same time is to avoid the annoyance that is dual boot, depending on the application you want to run. This leverages desktop applications running in Linux, and Games & video streaming on Android. In the sample I tested (MK808) both operating systems reside in the NAND flash, but in the Indiegogo PC the company opted to run Android in the NAND flash, and Debian in a micro SD card. The class of the SD card is not indicated, but based on my experience, it really matters as with a Class 4 micro SD, Debian may be frustrating to use, whereas a Class 10 micro SD will provided a much better user experience, very close to running the OS from the NAND flash. There’s no 2D/3D GPU hardware acceleration in Debian, but I found out this is not really critical to the performance of the system, at least much less than the storage device performance. VolksPC’s guys even claim that 2D acceleration actually reduces system performance due to the overhead setting up the GPU.

The company tried to raise $80,000 for mass production. The first 100 pieces can be had for $119 (Early bird), after which the pledge will be $129. The device comes with an HDMI cable and a power supply. Since I understand they are using an existing TV box, there’s now hardware development to be done, and they’ll be able to ship the box to backers in October. Shipping is free to the US, but you’d need to add $30 for other destinations. The cost is significantly higher than an equivalent Rockchip RK3066 based Android only TV Box, but if you are the kind of user that frequently switches between Android and Linux, it could be worth it, as both OS run at, or close to, native speed.

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Hardkernel Unveils $30 Raspberry Pi Compatible Module with RTC, ADC, and LiPo Battery Support

July 29th, 2014 13 comments

Hardkernel is better know for its ODROID boards powered by Samsung Exynos SoC. So I was surprised to discover ODROID-W, “a miniature computing module which is fully compatible with all software available for the Raspberry-Pi”.  Software compatible, really? Yes, because they used the same Broadcom BCM2835 SoC found in the Raspberry Pi, packaged it in a smaller form factor, while keeping HDMI, USB, and CSI interface, and expansion headers, and all that for $30, plus just $9 for shipping.

ODROID-W Board (Click to Enlarge)

ODROID-W Board (Click to Enlarge)

Let’s go through ODROID-W specifications first:

  • SoC – Broadcom BCM2835 ARM1176JZ-F processor @ 700 Mhz with VideoCore IV GPU
  • System Memory – 512MB LPDDR2 (Samsung K4P4G324EB PoP)
  • Storage – microSD slot + eMMC socket (bottom of the board)
  • Raspberry Pi vs ODROID-W

    Raspberry Pi vs ODROID-W

    Video Output – micro HDMI (with NXP IP4791CZ12 protection IC)

  • USB – micro USB connector, and USB host (not soldered)
  • Expansion Headers:
    • R-Pi compatible 26-pin expansion header (through holes)
    • R-Pi compatible 15-pin CSI connector
    • 20+6 -pin header for extra GPIO/ADC/Power and USB connection
    • RTC backup battery connector (1.25mm pitch Header)
    • Li-Po battery connector (1.25mm pitch Header)
  • Misc – RTC
  • Power
    • Supply – Via micro USB or LiPo battery
    • PMIC – Ricoh RT5T619 Power Management IC with step-down DC/DC Converters, low-dropout regulators, Real Time Clock, Li-ion Battery Charger, I2C-Bus Interface, Voltage detections, Thermal shut-down, and 12bit Analog-Digital Converter. (0 to 2.5V)
    • Step-up DC/DC converter – TI TPS61259 . For battery-powered portable applications. Supports up to 1000-mA load current from a battery discharged as low as 3.4V. The 5 Volt output is used for USB host and HDMI circuitry.
    • Voltage detector IC – Torex XC61FN2412MR for stable system start (Auto-power on) It includes Voltage detector and Delay circuit
  • Dimensions – 60 x 36 x 7mm
ODROID-W Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

ODROID-W Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

Hardkernel created this board thanks to a request from a customer for a wearable platform. ODROID-U3 consumes too much power, and the Raspberry Pi was just too big. So they created a software compatible module for this purpose, which explains why we lose Ethernet, composite output, the audio jack, one USB port, and the DSI connector, and the SD card slot has been replaced by a micro SD slot, but keep everything else, and gain RTC, 2x ADC, LiPo, and eMMC socket, a few more GPIOs (32 in total), all into a much smaller form factor. Current documentation and resources include the schematics (PDF), the mechanical drawing files (DXF), Linux 3.12 source code with RTC, ADC, etc.. drivers, and ODROID-W Wiki.

The video below shows how you can solder the USB connector to the top or bottom of the boards, and boot the battery-powered board with Raspbian installed on the micro SD card. Nothat if you want network connectivity as well, you’ll need to add a hub. Alternatively, you could also use their $20 W Docking Board for the module which adds 4 USB ports, 10/100M Ethernet, a 3.5mm stereo audio jack, and a UART port for the serial console.

There’s also another interesting video showing how to make your own smartwatch with ODROID-W.

Hardkernel ODROID-W can be pre-ordered now for $30 + $9 for shipping payable by Paypal, with shipping starting on August 26. There are also various accessories such as the W docking board with or without a TFT LCD display, a connector pack (USB + headers), RTC backup battery, a 750 mAh battery, and more.

Thanks to Nanik for the tip.

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MPL CEC10 Compact Embedded Computers Feature Bay Trail SoCs, 5 Gigabit Ports, Rugged Enclosures

July 28th, 2014 No comments

MPL, a company specializing in industrial PCs based in Switzerland, has recently announced their CEC10 series “Compact Embedded Computer” featuring Intel Bay Trail-I E3800 processors, with 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports using RJ45, M12, or SFP connectors, and supporting industrial and extended temperature ranges, and as well as various rugged housings.

MPL_CEC10_Industrial_PC

Specifications for MPL CEC10:

  • SoC – Intel Atom E3800 series single, dual, or quad processor @ up to 1.91GHz with Intel HD graphics.
  • System Memory – up to 4GB DDR3L ECC-RAM
  • Storage:
    • mSATA interface
    • Optional 2.5-inch SATA HDD/SSD
    • Optional eMMC flash (soldered)
  • Video Output- DisplayPort, optional eDP / VGA
  • Connectivity – 5x gigabit Ethernet ports. RJ45 connectors by default, but the system also supports M12 connectors or SFP cages.
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 host port, 1x USB 3.0 device port, 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Serial – 1x RS-232 port, optional RS-232/422/485 or extra RS-232 port
  • Expansion Slots:
    • Mini-PCIe slot (full size) with mSATA support
    • Optional PCie/PC104 board interface with 2x PCIe, 2x HSIC, 2x UART, SATA, SDIO, LPC and I2C.
  • Misc – Watchdog
  • MPL_CEC10_Military_Outdoor_Enclosure

    Military / Outdoor Enclosure

    Power:

    • 8–36V DC supply
    • Reverse polarity voltage, overvoltage, surge and burst voltages protection
    • Electromagnetic discharge protection compliant with MIL-STD-461E, IEC60945, EN50155
    • 8 to 18W power consumption
    • Sleep currents down to 100μA with support for wake capabilities (Ignition/RI) from ignition signal, RS232 ring indicator, or LAN (Wake-on-LAN).
  • Dimensions – 162 x 118 x 62mm
  • Operating Temperature Range – -20 to 60°C or -40 to 85°C (Extended temp. range)
  • Certifications (In progess) – EN 50155 (railway) and IEC 60945 (maritime) certifications

The company can provide various modules compatible with the optional board interface namely UPS LiPo, UPS Supercap, CAN, GPS, RS-232, RS-422/485, and Rugged WLAN modules. Four rugged enclosures are available for the system: DIN-Rail. Flange, Open Frame, and MIL/Outdoor. This industrial PC is said to support Debian Linux and various version of Windows.

MPL CEC 10 appears to be available, and will be for at least 10 more years as the company commit to long term availability. Pricing information has not been disclosed publicly. Further information can be found on CEC product page.

Via LinuxGizmos

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Testing VolksPC’s MicroXwin Android & Debian Distribution in MK808 mini PC

July 27th, 2014 7 comments

Earlier this week, I wrote about VolksPC mini PC running Debian and Android simultaneously, and the developers decided to send me a unit for testing. The hardware I received is the popular MK808 mini PC based on Rockchip RK3066 with 1Gb RAM, and 8 GB RAM, but loaded with MicroXwin unified distribution. MicroXwin is an implementation of Windows X that’s not using a client/server protocol, for instead communicates directly with the drivers for better performance, especially on low-end hardware.

I connected MK808 to my HDMI TV, added a USB hub to connect a USB keyboard as well as Mele Air Mouse, and powered up the device. The boot to Debian takes about 30 seconds, and 50 seconds for Android.

Debian with XFCE using microXwin (Click for Original Size)

As you boot it will enter in Debian with XFCE desktop environment, and you’ll notice two files, namely the Quick Start Guide and Release Notes that explain how to get started and configure the system. All configuration is done in Android, where you can configure the network, language and input, and date and time. The release notes provides the login credentials desktop/desktop and root/root in case you need them, explains how to start and start Android from a terminal window in Debian (stop  zygote / start  zygote), and lists some known bugs. To switch between Android and Debian, press Ctrl+Alt+F7, and as you’ll see in the video below, it’s truly instantaneous.

Android in MK808 (Click for Original Size)

Android in MK808 using microXwin (Click for Original Size)

Both operating systems share the same file system, so you can edit files in Debian, and use them in Android, and vice versa. However, I’ve noticed some directories and files may become invisible in Android, such as the Pictures and Documents directory in the user’s directory (/mwinx/home/desktop). For some reasons, I have not been able to login to a SAMBA share in ES File Explorer although a scan can find my server, and plugging in a USB card reader will crash Debian, and sometimes reboot the system. From time to time, I may also lose control of the USB keyboard, and Wi-Fi disconnects pretty often, so stability is not that great with that firmware.

However, I’m been pleased with the performance in both Debian and Android. Programs such as LibreOffice Writer, and Chromium browser both load under 10 seconds in Debian, and the system feels more responsive that I would expect from such hardware. I wanted to install es2gears and glmark2-es2 to test hardware GPU acceleration, but the packages normally used (mesa-utils-extra & glmark2-es2) could not been found by apt-get.

VolksPC_Debian_Chromium_Libreoffice

Back in Android, I’ve tried several apps (ES File Explorer, Google Play, Youtube..), also including games such as Buggy Beach Blitz, and they all work as expected. Running Antutu 4.x benchmark gives a score of 10521 points, which seems about right for a dual core processor with Mali-400MP4 GPU. If you start playing a Youtube Video in Android, and switch to Debian, the video still plays in the background and you can hear the audio. This means for example, that you can start playing music in Android, and work in Debian, or start a task in one OS, and it will still run, if you switch to the other one.

You can watch the video below to check out he boot time for Debian and Android,  the speed of the switch between Android and Debian, Wi-Fi disconnecting, and the loading times of LibreOffice and Chromium.

I’ve also run a few commands in a terminal windows to check memory and storage:

root@localhost:~# uname -a
Linux localhost 3.0.36+ #173 SMP PREEMPT Wed Jul 2 11:53:59 PDT 2014 armv7l GNU/Linux
root@localhost:~# df -h
df: cannot read table of mounted file systems: No such file or directory
root@localhost:~# free -m
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:           853        815         38          0         24        441
-/+ buffers/cache:        349        503
Swap:            0          0          0
root@localhost:~# lsblk
NAME      MAJ:MIN RM   SIZE RO TYPE MOUNTPOINT
loop7       7:7    0   2.2G  0 loop 
mtdblock0  31:0    0     4M  0 disk 
mtdblock1  31:1    0     8M  0 disk 
mtdblock2  31:2    0    16M  0 disk 
mtdblock3  31:3    0    32M  0 disk 
mtdblock4  31:4    0    64M  0 disk 
mtdblock5  31:5    0   128M  0 disk 
mtdblock6  31:6    0     5G  0 disk 
mtdblock7  31:7    0     4M  0 disk 
mtdblock8  31:8    0   512M  0 disk 
mtdblock9  31:9    0   1.7G  0 disk 
root@localhost:~# 

It’s running an older 3.0.36+ as is common with RK30xx and RK31xx based devices, about 853 MB total RAM is available to the system, and df -h does not work because /etc/fstab is empty.

The take away from my testing is that this unified distribution has great promise, as performance is good, and I did not encounter display issues, but some serious work needs to be done to debug the whole system, as well as improve its stability. It’s not entirely clear however, whether the stability issues are related to microXwin implementation, or the underlying Android firmware for MK808.

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Lemaker.org is Giving Away Banana Pi Development Boards to Developers and Fans

July 26th, 2014 1 comment

Banana Pi is a development board powered by AllWinner A20 dual core SoC with 1GB RAM, and with expansion headers and a form factor very similar to the Raspberry Pi. It can run Debian, Lubuntu, Android 4.2, Arch Linux ARM, Scratch OS, and OpenSuse, but Lemarker.org community would like more educational materials such as open source software or hardware projects, tutorials, etc.., so they’ve launched a program to give away boards to developers and people who can help writing and maintaining documentation.
Banana_Pi_Board

There are three categories of projects:

  • STEAM – “Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Mathematics” educational, open source projects running on the the Banana Pi
  • Hardware or Software Project -  Open source projects based on Banana Pi which could be helpful to the community, including open source hardware peripherals projects;
  • Banana Pi Fans – You don’t need to be as technical as for the two others categories, but you must be committed to write tutorials or user guides, participate to the Wiki, upload video guides, etc.., under CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

To apply, you just need to create a poll in the forums in the category that matches your project, describe the project, the licenses used, links to existing documentation if any, etc…Other members of the community can then comment or/and vote for your project for two weeks, and you’ll be send a board if accepted.Current projects include a Self-Managing Uninterruptible Power Supply for Banana Pi, and WTherm web connected thermostat.

Selected applicants will have to bear the cost of shipping via SF-Express, DHL (Priority), UPS, FedEx, or China Post depending on the applicant’s preference.

All details and conditions are available on Apply for Banana Pi page.

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PcDuino8 Octa-core Development Board Revealed (Video)

July 24th, 2014 9 comments

Two AllWinner A80 powered development boards are currently expected. We’ve already seen some pictures of the Cubieboard8, and today we can gt more details about PcDuino8 development board thanks to Charbax who visited Linksprite, and interviewed the company.

PcDuino8

Here are PcDuino8 (Beta) specifications based on the interview and pictures:

  • SoC – AllWinner A80 octa core big.LITTLE processor with 4 ARM Cortex A15 cores, 4 Cortex A7 cores, and Imagination PowerVR G6200 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB
  • Storage – 4GB flash + micro SD Card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI
  • Audio Output – HDMI, stereo audio jack
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6330 module)
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x Micro-B USB 3.0 port
  • Debugging – 14-pin header for JTAG
  • Expansion Header – 32-pin header
  • Misc – IR receiver
  • Power – Round DC power jack (5V?)

The hardware specs are a bit lower compared to the Cubieboard8, notably when it comes to RAM, and USB ports. LinkSprite is currently working on Android and Debian for the board, but they also said some developers are also working on Chromium OS. The board is expected to be available next month, and they hope to keep the price below $100.

The video below is 19 minutes long, but only the first 1 minute and 30 seconds are about their new Octa-core board. The rest of the video includes:

  • History of PcDuino boards including a new PcDuino3 Nano soon to be available
  • A version of Scratch for PcDuino board with an hardware tab to program GPIOs using the program’s graphical user interface.
  • Quick demo of a Robot powered by a PcDuino board
  • PcDuino for education used in schools in Colorado, USA, Germany, and China. Resources are available at learn.linksprite.com
  • Visit of linksprite’s R&D office
  • Quick talk with the developer of Papilio DUO FPGA board, as it happens to be manufactured by Linksprite.

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